Living with the HyperX Cloud Review

HyperX has been shipping the HyperX Cloud II headset while we are just now reviewing the original HyperX Cloud which we received from Kingston last year. Fortunately, this review is relevant as the only significant upgrade to Cloud II that is missing from the original Cloud, features a newly designed USB sound card audio control box featuring 7.1 virtual surround sound and upgraded microphone audio.  Fortunately, we have a 7.1 USB sound card by Diamond which provides upgraded audio and we are going to compare the Cloud to our old Grado SR60s.

Since the HyperX Cloud II supersedes the original Cloud that we are reviewing, some great deals on the older model can be had.  For example, the original Cloud is $69.95 at Newegg.com with free shipping, while the Cloud II costs $99.95, which will give you a $30 savings!

100_8603For an extra $30, the HyperX Cloud II features hardware-based  7.1 virtual surround sound.  Also, the microphone is digitally enhanced with noise cancellation, auto gain control and echo cancellation via the USB sound card.  HyperX Cloud II provides clearer voice quality, game sounds and reduced background noise.

The main difference between our Diamond USB sound card, is that with the Cloud II, gamers can toggle on 7.1 virtual Surround Sound to emulate having seven positional speakers for enhanced gaming – this is something that we cannot do, although the sound quality should be similar and an upgrade over notebook audio or even the basic integrated audio found on many motherboards.  When listening to music, the 7.1 virtual Surround Sound should be Off, so the Cloud and the Cloud II will sound identical.  Both HyperX Cloud and Cloud II are USB-powered for PC and Mac to amplify audio and voice, as well as 3.5mm stereo compatible for PS4 and Xbox One.

For the Cloud and Cloud II, the ear cups and headband are 100-percent memory foam to provide maximum comfort when gaming for hours.  The fit, the drivers, the way they sound, and the physical characteristics of the headset are otherwise unchanged between the original Cloud and Cloud II, and this is what we will focus on.

The HyperX Cloud and Cloud II are available in several colors, including white and pink, and they are backed by a two-year warranty and HyperX/Kingston reliability.  Here are the HyperX Cloud and Cloud II Features and Specifications. 

HyperX Cloud/Cloud II Features and Specifications:

Headset:

  • Transducer Type: dynamic Ø 53mm
  • Frequency Response: 15Hz–25,000 Hz
  • Nominal SPL: 98±3dB
  • Operating principle: closed
  • Nominal impedance: 60 O per system
  • T.H.D.: < 2%
  • Power handling capacity: 150mW
  • Sound coupling to the ear: circumaural
  • Ambient noise attenuation: approx. 20 dBa
  • Headband pressure: 5N
  • Weight with microphone and cable: 320g
  • Cable length and type: 1m + 2m extension
  • Connection: single mini stereo jack plug (3.5 mm)

 

Microphone:

  • Transducer Type: condenser (back electret)
  • Polar Pattern: cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50-18,000 Hz
  • Operating principle: pressure gradient
  • Power supply: AB powering
  • Supply voltage: 2V
  • Current consumption: max 0.5 mA
  • Nominal impedance: =2.2 kO
  • Open circuit voltage: at f = 1 kHz: 20 mV / Pa
  • THD: 2% at f = 1 kHz
  • Max. SPL: 105dB SPL (THD=1.0% at 1 KHz)
  • Microphone output: -39±3dB
  • Length mic boom: 150mm (include gooseneck)
  • Capsule diameter: Ø6*5 mm
  • Connection: single mini stereo jack plug (3.5mm)

Kingston’s HyperX gaming division  has been designing innovative and well-priced PC peripherals for gamers including their Cloud and Cloud II Headsets. The Cloud is actually a reworked and rebranded QPad QH-90, which has a great reputation and an already great design that Kingston’s HyperX audio engineers tweaked for a more bass-heavy sound.  If you are an online gamer they will probably sit right next to your PC and you may even have a stand or hook for them for instant access – if you ever take them off – they are that comfortable!

We have used this headset as headphones – thanks to its easily detachable mic boom – for many months.  This included traveling with them, and especially for long waits at the dentist and doctors offices.  And we have to say that the Cloud headset has saved our sanity when benching 290X CrossFire with the reference fans running at 100% for many hours.

One thing that is important to realize is that the HyperX Cloud is a gaming headset and not an audiophile headphone.  They serve a different more all-around purpose than headphones as they are designed for online gaming with a detachable microphone boom so you can coordinate with your team or just chat.  The Cloud is designed to be extraordinarily comfortable for long hours of LAN or online gaming.  They are designed for primarily for gaming and secondarily for music.

The HyperX Cloud looks great and the choice of colors sets them far above most generic plastic-looking headsets in their price-range. However, it is important that a headset sound decent – one does not expect audiophile quality for $70, nor should one expect thundering bass and shimmering transient highs. We have used this headset for about a year and listened to music and played games on our PC, as well as listened to music from our notebook and from our SHIELD portable. During this evaluation period, we have also watched movies.

We used the HyperX Cloud together with our notebook’s integrated sound, and on our desktop PC with the ASUS Z97 motherboard’s integrated sound, as well as with a Diamond Xtreme Sound 7.1 USB Sound card on both of our PCs. We also traveled with our Cloud, mostly using it with our SHIELD portable which has very good audio.

Although the next standard for BluRay is 11.1 audio, the very best audio systems in the world – genuine audiophile systems – are stereo. This editor was privileged to evaluate and to own many high-end audiophile systems in the 1970s. A favorite personal stereo system included two pairs of stacked, mirrored and imaged Dahlquist DQ-10 speakers, a Mark Levinson modified Harmon-Kardon Citation tube pre-amp, Great American Sound amplifiers bridged to 1000W per channel, a Thorens turntable and a Grado Signature cartridge. Many years ago, this kind of system was far more affordable. Today a similar system might cost $100,000 or more.

Diamond Xtreme USB External Sound Card

Working as a consultant in high-end audio, this editor soon found that most specifications for audio are ridiculous over-exaggerations as most speakers and other audio components never come close to their advertised specifications.

A genuine audiophile system has no tone controls – the preamp is a straight wire with gain and neither are there balance controls which would add distortion to the pure sound. CD audio is still quite deficient sonically when compared to analog vinyl records according to audiophiles. Only DVD audio has finally caught up with the analog recordings of decades past.

Headsets are a great way to experience quality music and gaming.  Well-built headsets tend to last a long time and one should buy one that is not only pleasing to the ears, but to the eyes. Comfort is also critical for anyone who listens to music or who plays games for more than a few minutes. The closed design Cloud excels in comfort as its headband and earcups are well-padded and do not pressure the head or ears.  My old pair of open design Grado SR-60s were also very comfortable and they lasted me for well over a decade – until one of the drivers finally stopped working during this comparison.

And getting the look right is something HyperX has excelled at with the Cloud headset.  They are quite conservative-looking – unless you pick pink – compared with some gaming headsets, and they look like a regular pair of closed audio cans with the mic boom removed.  What about their sound? Head to the next page as we unbox them and check their specifications before we audition them.

  • Pierre

    I’m wondering if the USB card is good enough to handle the headset. What is better? Cloud I + Xonar D1 or Cloud II with USB card is good enough? I’ve heard that Cloud II has better mic and i like that it’s possible to change its volume with controls on the cable.

    • [email protected]

      I’d pick Cloud II if the price is similar. Otherwise, Cloud I is good enough.