Gaming headphones is an incredibly crowded category so to stand out, you have to produce something pretty special. The latest product from HyperX is the Cloud II Wireless gaming headset which is now available in Australia and New Zealand.
There’s a few parameters I judge a wireless headset on, audio quality, design, comport and battery life. While many would prioritise audio quality over everything else, personally I think the first criteria is comfort, because if a headset isn’t comfortable for hours on end, you’re not going to wear it, which in turn negates any engineering of audio quality.
Thankfully the the HyperX Cloud II Wireless is super comfortable, finding a great balance between the combination of anchor points on your ears and the headband. After using the headset for a couple of weeks, this quickly becomes like a watch, in that you barely remember you’re wearing it. This speaks to how light and comfortable the headset is, they’ve really done a nice job on this.
Light and comfy
The HyperX Cloud II Wireless gaming headset is a wireless upgrade to the wired predecessor. Given you can connect the headset via a USB cable, this version basically offers the best of both worlds.
The headset features a bold, very red, aluminium frame with an adjustable headband. These red accents match the red HyperX logo on the side of the earcups and the red stitching on the headband, for a really nice red/black colour combination. HyperX have delivered a very comfortable headset, offering pliable leather cups wrapping plush memory foam, making them great for all-day use.
Inside there lies a custom-tuned virtual 7.1 surround sound setup, powered by 53mm drivers which deliver rich and clear audio, great for everything from meetings, to movies, but especially immersive gaming.
When it comes to extra features, there’s also a detachable microphone that reduces background noise, great if you live in a noisy house, or are enjoying some good old LAN gaming with friends in the same room.
To control the HyperX Cloud II Wireless headset is really easy and intuitive. Just reach up to the right earcup to adjust your volume. Reach up to the left and you’ll have access to a mute mic button (raised) which turns an LED ring red. This is in your peripheral vision, so you’ll know exactly when you can talk smack about your opponents. The only other button is the power button which is flush with the surface of the headset and needs to be pressed and held to avoid accidental power offs.
With my experience you’ll get the most of the 30 hours of battery life in the spec sheet and one attribute I absolutely love is the generous 20 meters of wireless range. This means a quick trip to the fridge can happen without an interruption to your audio experience. Battery life is also assisted by an automatic power off feature, saving battery if you take the headset off and forget to power them down.
In terms of compatibility, the Cloud II offers a wild number of choices. HyperX have built in support for PC, PS4, and Nintendo Switch. The headset is certified by TeamSpeak and Discord for seamless chat compatibility. I’ve tested it extensively with Microsoft Teams and it works flawlessly for meetings (between games).
How does it perform ?
When it comes to evaluating the audio performance of a headset, particularly one that supports 7.1 surround sound, it’s important to get to the right source material. Day-to-day a large majority of the content I consume is very basic stereo audio. This comes from listening to podcasts and videos on YouTube, to streaming IPTV.
While some platforms do support better audio, the truth is much content we watch isn’t enhanced by having the audio surround us, so most headsets get away without support 7.1 or even 5.1. When it comes to games, or dedicated video products (like the one below), your audio experience provides an immersion not possible from simple left, right audio channels.
Having the sound come at you from all different angles is a more accurate representation of what happens in reality, giving your brain an easier time in imagining that you’re actually in the environment you’re seeing on screen. In the case of a game like a FPS, you not only hear gunshots, but it can be a huge advantage to really appreciate which direction your enemies are attacking you from.
When it comes to racing games, it’s advantageous to the experience to hear the engine noise of an approaching vehicle on a particular rear corner of your vehicle, so you have an opportunity to block them into a corner, even if they’re sitting in your blind spot.
Probably the best demo I know of to get an accelerated test of what 7.1 audio and beyond sounds like, is the Dolby Atmos Sound Test embedded below. The great thing about this 10 minutes clip is that it not only lets you hear the audio improvements in surround sound, but also explains it visually at the same time. I encourage you to close your eyes and listen a second time and if you can’t hear the audio moving around your head positionally, you’ve got the wrong headset and may want to consider something like the Cloud II wireless.
Stand out features of this device.
Interchangeable ear cups
I find the earcups on this headset really comfortable, but others may have different personal preferences and it’s great to see HyperX offer the ability to change them out. The Leatherette Cups can be switched out for Velour Cups. This also helps to ensure you can get a long life out of the headset. With a flexible and strong frame, it’s likely over the years the failure point would be the cups, so in theory, you could simply switch them out and keep using them well into the future.
I spend a lot of time each day wearing headphones and having a headset that is light is a real attribute. This means weight isn’t pressing down or into your head for hours on end. Thankfully HyperX has chosen a collection of materials to create this headset that means it tips the scales at just 300 grams and with the microphone, just 309g. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve easily worn this headset for 8-10 hours a day and never once did I have to take it off because it was uncomfortable.
While I do participate in a number of video conference calls most days, there are a number of hours, usually at night, where I’m writing and just want to listen to background music. For this, it makes sense to remove the microphone and it makes me glad the engineers at HyperX understands this may be the case for owners of the product. The 3.5mm microphone simply clips in and out of the headset. While I’d probably prefer this was integrated and rotated away from your mouth, being fully removable is also a fine solution to the problem.
Not everything’s perfect
There’s really very little to complain about with the HyperX Cloud II wireless headset, but one area of improvement would be the included charging cable. It’s a USB-C cable that’s just 0.5m in length. If you do forget to charge overnight, this means you’ll be using the headset as a wired headset during the next day. Depending on your computer and desk configuration, this could mean the included cable won’t reach.
While buying another USB cable isn’t the end of the world, it would help if HyperX included a longer cable in the box to remove this minor issue.
About my only other gripe is the lack of music controls on the headset. With just volume, power and mute buttons, there’s certainly simplicity on offer, but coming from other headsets with media controls, it’s hard to say this is a comprehensive upgrade without them. Even a play/pause would go a long way to addressing this.
PRICE & AVAILABILITY
How much and when can you get one ?
While the wireless version is available only in the Red colour, HyperX also offers the same headset in a wired form that comes in a stylish Gun Metal grey and a Cloud Core version in straight Black for those after a more subtle, more stealthy look to their audio hardware.
Probably the best way I can summarise my time with a review product, is what happens after that review. I previously was using the Razer Nari headset and I’m not sure I’m going back to it. The HyperX does an amazing job with audio quality, it’s light and comfortable and one of the biggest assets, is that when it does need a charge, it has a USB-C port.
The controls are simply to use, the design looks great and you can detach the microphone if you just want a pair of headphones instead of a headset for a while. Sure there’s not crazy RGB lighting on this headset, but I feel there’s a pretty small market than wants that, rather than just a great headset in so many other ways.
If you can get past the fact there’s no hardware playback controls, I think this wireless headset from HyperX is one of the strongest on the market at this price bracket. For what you’re paying, I think the price tag represent great value.