One of the most efficient ways to increase a game’s quality is to fully appreciate its audio. Most TV speakers don’t come equipped for the job, and using a surround sound speaker system for all your Call of Duty frag sessions is a sure-fire way to piss off your roommate/spouse/neighbor. This is where higher-end gaming headsets come in; providing chat capability while increasing sound fidelity. Kingston typically makes PC components, hardware like RAM and hard drives, but Kingston’s new HyperX Cloud Gaming Headset competes against the likes of Tiger Beach and Skullcandy with a mid-range, $100 headset that works for more than just the computer. As Kingston’s first pro gaming headset, the HyperX Cloud stands up to competitors twice its price in terms of portability, adaptability, comfort, and sound quality.
Even from the outside packaging, Kingston tries to show gamers that they’re serious about making a well-crafted gaming headset. They actually take this marketing a little TOO far: I’m really not sure what “Designed in Sweden” is supposed to tell me compared to actual technical specs of the headset, but they certainly do try their best to remind users on the front AND back of the box. As for the specifications that you might actually care about, this wired headset uses 53mm drivers (slightly larger than most headsets), a soft, padded leather headband, and comes with two sets of interchangeable ear cups: one leather set, and one felt/suede set. For what its worth, I stick with the leather ones; they feel better against my head for long periods of time. The Cloud extends just barely far enough to fit my over-sized head comfortably, but most users should be fine.
When it comes to sound quality, the HyperX Cloud stands up to competitors twice its price. The bass range isn’t as heavy as sets like the Skullcandy PLYR1s, but the treble balances evenly to make sounds across the board pop. This means explosions don’t sound as earthshaking, but hearing partners yelling to you for assistance. Also, unlike the PLYR1s, the leather cups isolate the sound well, keeping more of it in the headset and less of it bothering people nearby. The detachable microphone works in practically any situation; I tested playing multiple games in various states of noise and other gamers said my sound always came across fine on both PS4 and PC. The versatility of the HyperX Cloud is one of its most outstanding features if you’re a current-gen gamer; not only is it good for gaming, but it’s great for music and even cell phone calls as well.
The HyperX Cloud uses a conventional 3.5mm headphone jack, making it compatible out-of-the-box with PS4, PC, and even mobile devices (it works on the XBox One with a headset adapter as well). The headphones and microphone run to two different plugs, but an included adapter brings the two lines together for those using a device with a combo jack (like most laptops). If you’re on a PS3 or 360 you’ll need to bark up a different tree: this headset doesn’t work through USB at all. Still, it comes with a number of adapters for various situations, an extension cable for longer-distance gaming, and even a mesh carrying pouch for when you take it on-the-go. I didn’t think I’d take the headset with me anywhere at first, but since it’s so light and doesn’t need to be charged, I find myself throwing it in my bag before heading to a coffee shop or when I expect to take a long phone call.
There are only two ways I could think of making the HyperX Cloud headset better:
1. Add a bass boost. Though I love that the ranges on music and games feel more even with the Cloud, I still sometimes miss the punchiness and power that come from other headsets on occasion. A switch on the remote to give the bass an extra jump would have been fantastic.
2. Wireless. Even as I write this I’m not sure I completely buy in to the idea. I love being able to wander around with a wireless headset and not be detached from the music, but the added convenience of use without worrying about Bluetooth pairing or charging really makes the trade-off even out for me.
Kingston’s HyperX Cloud headset is one of the better ones out there for its price, and is great for beginning to moderate headset enthusiasts. The Cloud is a straight-forward, ready for use out-of-the-box headset that features virtually none of the customization options that high-end headsets have, so you’ll be stuck with the sound balancing generated from your software. But still, even without the bells and whistles, bass boost or wireless capabilities, the HyperX Cloud quickly became my new favorite headset. It’s comfortable, it sounds great, I can use it across multiple situations, and it never needs a charge. If Kingston can keep up its quality with future headset models, Turtle Beach may have a serious competitor on their hands.