It is rare for a particular PC peripheral device to play such a role as the Kingston HyperX Cloud. Yes, the Razer Boomslang had sewn the games mouse market in the early 2000s, and the GTX 970 has made a LeBron-like career with evergreen performance. But these are the outliers. Dynasties like the Clouds do not just happen.
The fundamentals of what makes the cloud a great gaming headset have been unflinching since the very first cloud released in early 2014: an attractive aviation style design, lots of memory foam padding, punchy but balanced sound and a surprisingly low price. The cabling, inline controls and even the chamber design for each driver have been refined. However, you can always rely on a cloud headset to deliver the basics better than just others.
Let’s look at the sound quality first, because frankly, the entire memory foam is not worth much if the sound is turned off. We test each headset in comparison to our reference studio monitors, the BeyerDynamic DT770s. The frequency response is completely neutral. It’s designed to let you hear what an audio signal really sounds like without it feeling. If you’re listening to the same audio source first on the DT770s and then on the Cloud Alpha, you’ll hear a lot more low-end first. Much more low end.
That is to be expected. Just about every gaming headset on the market offers inflated bass to sell the bombast of multiplayer conflicts. But it is also noticeable that you can still hear all the highs and mids that you could have in the DT770 in line with this deep end. This bass reproduction is not to the detriment of details in the EQ area – this “sparkle”, the hi-fi seller will always tell.
Simply put, it is the best of both worlds. It’s bad enough that throwing a grenade in your game results in a truly traumatic audio response, but it’s so well-balanced that you can hear the broken glass fall to the floor after it drops.
And you get this sound directly from the box. HyperX’s continued recognition requires no bundled software to take full advantage of this Cloud Alpha or earlier models. No “gaming mode” to activate, no RGB profiles to work with, no EQs sought by finding a natural-sounding sound – just great sound when connected.
The biggest difference between this Alpha model and earlier cloud designs is a dual-chamber specification that reverberates bass and mid-frequencies in its own compartments of the 50mm driver. The idea is to minimize distortion and maximize articulation. As we drive around the frequencies inside the driver and want to check if the frequency is actually so precisely isolated, we have to come to our ears instead. Distortion: almost none at unpleasantly loud volumes. Articulation: fantastic.
Now that we’ve determined that the sound quality is there, we come back to memory foam. The padded ear cups and headband have not evolved significantly in the Cloud 1, 2 and the latest Alpha. HyperX has saved a bit of weight with a new aluminum frame forging view and increased the width of the headband, but in reality the comfort stays roughly where it was – first and foremost. It’s also an incredibly durable headset that still retains the look and feel of the upholstery after months of use. However, the faux leather contact points on your ear mean they are warmer than the breathable designs of the Steelseries Arctis and Logitech G Pro headsets.