Damn, these cans are so comfortable.
What Is It?
HyperX’s Cloud Alpha pro gaming headset is the latest addition to Kingston’s branded gaming peripherals and retails for $169.95. The tag line the company is running with is “You Spoke, We Listened” and for all intents and purposes, they have, because this latest effort is their best yet. Featuring dual chamber 50mm drivers, a scarlet aluminium finish, detachable microphone and detachable audio cable with inline controls, this is a gaming headset with very few faults.
Moreover, it comes with a two year warranty and is certified for use in TeamSpeak and Discord. You also get an audio extension cable and fabric carry pouch straight out of the box.
What’s Good About It?
Comfort is the most obvious thing for me, someone who wears headphones for almost as many hours as they are awake. And I have a good base to compare to when it comes to quality and prolonged use – I use a pair of Sony MDR-10RNCs on my daily commute, for music, and Razer Kraken 7.1’s on my home desktop setup.
One of my major gripes with the latter is how they fit over my (admittedly large) ears. They sit snug, but after prolonged sessions my temples throb. It doesn’t help that I wear glasses, which the Kraken’s harder foam pushes into the side of my skull. I’ve always had trouble finding a great fit, but the leatherette earcups of the Cloud Alpha are reminiscent of their namesake – a cloud – and allow for continuous use without any soreness.
The overall design is of superb quality, with the signature red-and-black finish that has become HyperX’s staple colourising the headset with a subtle, professional finish. Yeah, it does look very similar to previous HyperX headsets, but that’s not a negative and the improvements to the build are readily noticeable.
A lightweight aluminium frame, with a non-reflective crimson finish, connects the cups together via a leatherette headstrap dotted with cardinal stitching. It's about as appealing as a gaming headset can get.
HyperX also rate the Cloud Alpha's dual chamber drivers which aim to separate bass tones from mid and high tones to create a more distinct, less distorted sound. This allows the headset to deliver more immersive tones and shines in audio-rich games, such as Cuphead, where you can hear the depth of the instrumentation as well as in any of HyperX’s previous offerings, but also offers a distinct advantage in bass-heavy situations, such as during rounds of theStar Wars Battlefront II beta, where you get the benefit of clear chat audio over the pounding explosions and gunfire.
Where I really began to notice the difference in quality was when I compared them to my Sony’s and Razer’s for routinely listening to music – perhaps not their intended purpose – but the headset performed exceptionally well on guitar-led tracks like Coheed and Cambria’s ‘No World For Tomorrow’ – there was no muddying of mids and bass and, expectedly, they handled the synth-and-bass driven ‘Scream Hard As You Can’ by Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas far better than my 2013 MDR-10RNCs.
What’s Not Good About it?
The Cloud Alpha isn’t the perfect audio device though – there are some issues with the lows that became more apparent when streaming Netflix through the headset. Of course, this is a gaming headset, so you can argue that this isn’t its optimal purpose anyway, but it was a noticeable dip in output. It also lacks 7.1 surround sound, which you will find in similar premium gaming headsets, so if directional precision is your thing, you could be found wanting.
For my specific purposes, the inline audio controls are awkwardly placed and a little oversized. The chunky control is just slightly too big – whenever I’m sitting at my desk, it constantly gets caught on the desk's underside because of the lip on the plastic. It actually makes me laugh how often it smacks into the desk and jerks my head forward. It did it about 14 times while putting together this piece. However, this is not an issue I run into when using the Cloud Alpha with my PS4 or Switch, but it’s something minor to keep in mind if you’re sitting at a desk.
Should You Buy It?
There's a lot of reasons why you should and very few why you shouldn't. At $50 more expensive than its predecessor, the $119 Cloud II, the Alpha provides exceptional build quality and a great improvement to overall sound quality thanks to its dual chamber driver technology. It's hard to see HyperX not including the technology in future builds, but there's little reason not to jump in now - the Cloud Alpha is an uber-comfortable set of cans that will go the distance. As a pure gaming headset, it rivals the current offerings from SteelSeries, Logitech and co. without offering all the same bells-and-whistles.
The bottom line? Another superb headset from HyperX.