Genuinely good 3D audio? It's hard to find in a gaming headset. And as impressive as the Mobius Audeze headset was, it was also $600. So it's good that HyperX have debuted a headset that not only uses almost all of the same tech, while being at least $100 cheaper.
The HyperX Cloud Orbit S, which was on display at CES this year but not usable, is HyperX's play towards audiophiles. Like the Mobius headphones from Audeze, the Cloud Orbit S uses 100mm planar magnetic drivers. Along with all of the benefits of planar drivers over dynamic drivers (which you can find more about below), the Cloud Orbit S has the same head tracking technology, allowing sound to be positionally accurate depending on where you're looking or facing at any given moment.
The best part is that all of this should come in at a cheaper price point. While nothing has been officially confirmed, Kotaku Australia were told that a possible Australian price would be the Cloud Orbit S — which retails for $US329 in America — priced at around $499, around $100 less than the Mobius Audeze.
Obviously, there are some tradeoffs. The Cloud Orbit S doesn't have the same premium look or feel as the Mobius Audeze. That said, it was a little lighter and more comfortable on the head than the Mobius Audeze. But it's the same closed back design, and while I didn't have an hour or two of gameplay to test, it's likely that your ears will still get fairly hot over a long session.
There's no Bluetooth support with HyperX's version, either. It's designed purely for gaming on the PC — you can use it via the 3.5mm cord with consoles, but you'll only have 2.1 channel and Hi-Res sound, as opposed to the 7.1 available on PC. But given the lack of comfort and no active noise cancelling, mobile usage was the weakest point of the Mobius headphones — so the $100 (or potentially more!) saving would be something gamers would probably take.
An added bonus of HyperX's headphones was some neat gesture controls. If you're in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, HyperX set up the headset so you could change your weapon by tilting your head left and right. It took a couple of goes to get accustomed to it, and it still wasn't faster than the mousewheel or number keys — nor was it more comfortable — but it's an interesting feature. There's surely some MMOs or other games where being able to bind that kind of gesture would be handy, but it'll depend on how easy the software is to use.
The Audeze software itself, which I got a brief look at it, is largely the same. There's a few changes in the theme and version numbers from when I tried the Mobius Audeze, but largely you're looking at the same functionality: customisable head tracking, a range of EQ profiles (the HyperX version did include the 'Warm' profile out of the box, whereas the Mobius's firmware had to be flashed first) and other basic info.
Beyond that, the Waves NX 3D technology worked just as well as it did in the Mobius Audeze. The depth and clarity is fantastic, but that's to be expected when gaming headsets start playing around with high-end audio components like planar drivers.
The Cloud Orbit S is due out in the third quarter of this year for $US329, which equates to just under $480 locally. No Australian pricing or availability has been announced, although it's understood that the headset will be sold in Australia eventually.
The author travelled to Computex as a guest of ASUS and Intel.