My father got me into audio equipment. There wasn’t a time as a youngster where I wasn’t tangled in speaker wire, or being asked to twist a freshly cut end. Before the time of banana plugs, and CD’s, my dad got me into Advent speakers and Onkyo receivers. It was about the time of 5.1 Dolby Pro Logic that we spent all day wiring his apartment so we could watch Saving Private Ryan on DVD. The experience on a 4:3 TV was unreal at that time. I’ve since spent a lot of my time doing the same thing in my house, a la wiring. The quest for good sound never leaves you once you know what it sounds like.
The folks over at Kingston were kind enough to send me a review unit of the HyperX Cloud II. As with my Plantronics review a few months back, I’m pretty picky when it comes to what headphones sound and feel like. When I get home from my day job, I usually spend the evening sitting at my desk, writing, or playing video games on my PS4 or PC. Something comfortable is always welcome, especially since I like to wear my glasses to give my eyes a rest from the contacts. Let’s have a look at some of the specs on the HyperX Cloud II headset.
Transducer type: dynamic Ø 53mm with neodynium magnets
Operating principle: closed
Frequency response: 15Hz–25,000 Hz
Nominal impedance: 60 Ω per system
Nominal SPL: 98±3dB
T.H.D.: < 2%
Power handling capacity: 150mW
Sound coupling to the ear: circumaural
Ambient noise attenuation: approx. 20 dBa
Headband pressure: 5N
Weight with microphone and cable: 350g
Cable length and type: 1m + 2m extension
Connection: single mini stereo jack plug (3.5 mm)
Transducer type: condenser (back electret)
Operating principle: pressure gradient
Polar pattern: cardioid
Power supply: AB powering
Supply voltage: 2V
Current consumption: max 0.5 mA
Nominal impedance: ≤2.2 kΩ
Open circuit voltage: at f = 1 kHz: 20 mV / Pa
Frequency response: 50–18,000 Hz
THD: 2% at f = 1 kHz
Max. SPL: 105dB SPL (THD≤1.0% at 1 KHz)
Microphone output: -39±3dB
Length mic boom: 150mm (include gooseneck)
Capsule diameter: Ø6
Connection: single mini stereo jack plug (3.5mm)
Cloud II Headset Features
- Advanced USB audio control box with built-in DSP sound card
- Hi-Fi capable with 53mm drivers for supreme audio quality
- Hardware-driven virtual 7.1 surround sound
- Comfortable, 100% memory foam on headband and leatherette cushions
- Pro-Gaming optimized with closed cup design for passive noise cancellation
- Compatible – USB connectivity for PC & Mac. Stereo compatible with PS4, Xbox One and mobile
The Cloud II Experience
Opening this box was a treat. There is the standard retail packaging with all the information you could ever want, which opens to a box with the HyperX logo carefully crafted onto it. Pulling the two sections apart reveals the glorious machinery. The headset comes in the package with the leather surrounds on the ear cups. This is a great start, and I’ll tell you why in a minute. Immediately, I noticed the cord to the 3.5mm jack was short, but there’s good reason for that, too. On the bottom of the package is a section with the HyperX logo on it. Pulling this out reveals a carrying bag, and the USB cable, with the hardware to enable 7.1 surround on your PC games.
The reason for the short 3.5mm jack cord is two-fold. PS4 and XBox One both have ports on the controller to plug in your headset (albeit XBox One needs an adapter). And since you need to have your controller near you to play video games, the short cord doesn’t matter, unless you are a giant of course. The cord is also covered with a resilient mesh type material, which has resisted damage from many a cat bite.
The second reason is, the USB hardware controller for the 7.1 surround, has a massively long cord, so if you need to plug it in around the back of your machine, you don’t have to rearrange your setup to do so. The hardware controller also has a belt clip on it so you can fasten it to something while you are playing, as it has independent volume controls for the mic and headphones.
As I was stating before, looking for true audio quality requires a lot of things, and your perception of what that is, can be different from others. With the leather ear cups on, out of the box, plugging the Cloud II into my PS4 controller, took me far away from my seat in front of my monitor. I have been playing Destiny since launch day, and I hadn’t heard some of these sounds, ever before. I was hyper-sensitive about enemy movement, and it increased enjoyment of gameplay 10 fold. If you want to play a zombie game, and hear all the atrocious things going on around you I suggest you try the Cloud II with Dying Light, or H1Z1 even.
It is all about being immersed in the game world. When I bought the newest Tomb Raider, it was the first game in a long time that was an immersive story for me. You felt like you were working for something. I’m not even sure I got half the story now that I have this headset. It may require another play through.
If you need to be a bit more aware of your surroundings, the felt cups are nice as well, but immersion suffers here. These are good for LAN party play, or if you need to listen for things in your home (wife, kids, pets, etc). The leather ones require removal to hear almost anything.
The mic is great too. Mostly because you can move it. Take note headset competitors, the removable boom mic, with articulation should be a requirement. The idea that a piece of hard plastic hanging off your ear, 3 inches from your mouth is picking up your voice well is a joke. Not only does it pick up more background noise, you have to half yell sometimes for it to pick you up correctly. The articulation on the Cloud II mic is refreshing. It has pretty accurate voice reproduction as evidenced in my live streams, as well as low background noise pickup. And, the fact you can just disconnect it when you want to use the headset as plain headphones, is a nice touch.
But, the comfort though. When I initially put the Cloud II headset on, I had to do a little adjusting. From then on, it was game on. I’ve had a few headsets now and many many more headphones, and this is the most comfortable pair I’ve ever worn at the time of this article’s writing. Kingston took gamers seriously, just like we take games seriously. Seven hours with a couple bathroom breaks isn’t outside of my vocabulary. Not once did I have an issue with the Cloud II causing any discomfort or pain, both with glasses and without. The head strap is well padded and comfortable, and the felt or leather ear cups are incredible. They named it Cloud II for a reason, and I know why.
Let me wrap this up, by first thanking Kingston for the opportunity to try the Cloud II headset out, and giving you my TL;DR. The Cloud II lives up to its name by being both the most comfortable headset I’ve worn to date, as well as having some high quality sound to back that up. The articulating boom mic fares well in voice reproduction, and is removable for listening only sessions. These headphones work with PC via USB, and PS4, XBox One and mobile devices with the 3.5mm jack. For a cool $100 you won’t be disappointed. That’s very inexpensive for a sweet sounding puffy cloud; which is exactly why I’m buying another pair for my wife.