Unconventional computer speakers you absolutely need for your dorm
Easily one of the most aesthetically interesting speakers on the market, the Razer Nommo Chroma are easy-to-setup and moderately good-sounding. They have some issues in sound quality – especially in the farther reaches of the audio spectrum – but exceptional clarity and nuanced mids make up for any shortcomings.
- Aesthetically interesting design
- Exceptional clarity
- Limited frequency response
- No Bluetooth
If you’re in the market for computer speakers, there’s a very slim chance you’ll find anything nearly as cool as the Razer Nommo Chroma – these stereo speakers with RGB underlighting take the boxy form factor that we’re used to seeing and completely flip it on its head.
The result is a surprisingly good-sounding pair of speakers that don’t break the bank – the entry-level models, the Razer Nommo and the Razer Nommo Chroma only cost $99 (£109, AU$169) and $149 (£169, AU$249), respectively. To put that price in perspective, there are plenty of 2.0 speaker systems from companies like Edifier, JBL and Sony that start at $200 and go up from there.
If you’re looking for a little more power, the Razer Nommo Pro adds tweeters, a separate subwoofer, an inline remote – and an extra $350 to the price tag.
The goldilocks of the group, the Nommo Chroma, balances price and performance to deliver a very solid set of computer speakers that will make any dorm-mate green with envy.
The Razer Nommo Chroma is absolutely dripping with Razer aesthetic. The speakers themselves have that matte black plastic finish that we’ve seen so many times on Razer’s mice, keyboards and Bluetooth speakers, and that’s not even mentioning the RGB lighting that pulses underneath the speakers’ stands – a fun, quirky addition that will undoubtedly be hated and loved in equal measure by the gaming community.
The light show, which can be controlled via the Razer Synapse app (a familiar sight for those of you that use Razer mice and keyboards), is actually a surprisingly neat addition in our opinion. It helps set the speaker apart from the aesthetically dull computer speakers we’re used to seeing, plus you’ll also get a DAC built into the Chroma version that boosts the sound from your MP3 player of choice.
Above the glowing bases on the right speaker are two knobs – one that controls the volume and the other that raises and lowers the amount of bass response. Raising the latter too high distorts the mids and highs, but in return you’re given wall-thumping bass that, although a bit muddy, has enough oomph to turn small-sized rooms into makeshift nightclubs.
Spin the speakers around to the back and you’ll find a 3.5mm Aux-In port that allows you to connect your phone, tablet or MP3 player, as well as a headphone jack that conveniently re-routes the noise when it’s time for your roommates to get some rest. There’s also the cable that connects the right speaker to the left speaker and the cable that runs from the right speaker to the USB port on the computer – yes, unfortunately it still requires both power from the wall and a USB connection to the PC.
The biggest compromise of the design is that it doesn’t feature Bluetooth, a feature that’s incredible common on portable speakers in this price range. Having Bluetooth built-in would’ve made it easier to connect to some devices (like, say, the new iPhone X that doesn’t have a 3.5mm jack on it) and reduce the clutter of cables that will now run amok on your workspace, but it’s a small inconvenience in the grand scheme of things.
If you can get over the fact that there’s some very clear catering to the bass-loving crowd, the Razer Nommo Chroma speakers actually sound great – good clarity in the mids and highs, and a powerful bass response that can cater to your tastes.
The first thing you’ll notice when you start using the speakers is just how clear and concise that top end of the spectrum is. Snares and cymbals will crash in your favourite songs in a way that you’ve likely never heard them before – they’ll be fuller, more dynamic and the mix itself will be better off for it. (There are dozens of examples that we could recommend to test this for yourself, but “Cinco” by Ofelia K is a good place to start.)
That being said, due to its size and obvious focus points, the Nommo is missing the depth you’d expect from some higher-quality bookshelf speakers – as well as better stereo separation – but for the most part these compressed little cans can surprise you.
The trade-off for the clarity in the upper register and weighty bass is that the mids can get swallowed up in the process. This can take many forms, but we noticed it most commonly in classic or alt-rock songs where the vocals were very clearly diminished in the mix.
The other downside is that while the Nommo Chroma is bassy, it might not even be bassy enough for the most hardcore of EDM or rap fans. We noticed a drop-off in the 60Hz range of the spectrum and then again in the 15,000Hz range. (For reference, human hearing starts as low as about 20Hz and, in a healthy adult, goes up to around 20,000Hz.)
Realizing that there was potential to go both a bit higher and lower in the audio spectrum, Razer will also release the Razer Nommo Pro, the speakers we mentioned earlier that include separate tweeters and a discrete subwoofer to help reach those peak lows and highs. The Pro version is more costly, however, so you’ll have to decide just how much those different sections of the spectrum are worth.
All that being said, for watching shows and movies or playing games, these speakers are absolutely fine. Sure, there are still some issues with voices not coming through as crystal clear as they should, but the speakers are more than capable of holding their own when it comes to convincingly replicating sound effects, audio cues and the myriad little details that you can find in games like Call of Duty, Overwatch or Battlefield.
If traditional speakers aren’t your style, the Razer Nommo Chroma offers a well-designed alternative that brings the bass in spades. It falls flat in some areas of the audio spectrum – particularly in the highest of highs and lowest of lows – but its spectacular clarity is a redeeming high-note for the speakers.
Are there better values out there? Sure. But if you’re looking for easy-to-setup speakers that require no extra work, you won’t find any better than these.