Kingston has enjoyed great success ever since they released the first HyperX Cloud gaming headset four years ago and being their first gaming peripheral under the HyperX flag, it was a gamble for the company that paid off greatly for the company and now years later, the HyperX brand has expanded to gaming keyboards, mice and mouse mats. Focusing on branding, HyperX has a respectable name in the industry and amongst customers stemming from their significant time in the memory space and the expansion into the peripheral scene with great products like the HyperX Cloud has only bolstered their reputation further. The HyperX Cloud is one of the most favored gaming headsets in recent years, earning numerous awards and if the Amazon feedback alone is any proof, users also share the sentiments of many tech critics. The HyperX Cloud was succeeded by numerous releases, including the Cloud Revolver and budget-friendly Cloud Stinger. Both will have their place in consumers’ hearts but the original Cloud and its many variations (Cloud X, Cloud II, Cloud Core, Cloud MAV) are still the king of HyperX’s peripheral stack.
After many years, it was time to develop a formal successor to the Cloud. Kingston wanted something that addresses the concerns and rooms for improvement on the original cloud and improve what it can on what made it great. Kingston claims to have redesigned the Cloud Alpha from the ground-up including its new 50mm drivers which are housed in a multi-chamber cup which is aimed at separating the bass from the mids and highs. Has HyperX succeeded in accomplishing this feat?
|Driver:||Custom dynamic, 50mm with neodymium magnets|
|Type:||Circumaural, closed back|
|Sound pressure level:||98dBSPL/mW at 1kHz|
|Weight with mic & cable:||336g|
|Cable length and type:||Detachable headset cable (1.3m) + PC extension cable (2m)|
|Connection:||Detachable headset cable – 3.5mm plug (4 pole) + PC extension cable – 3.5mm stereo and mic plugs|
|Element:||Electret condenser microphone|
The HyperX Cloud Alpha packaging continues the legacy of HyperX branding with a colored slip cover with full color prints on it with a shot of the product at the front highlighting the feature of the products. At the back we get a detailed highlight of the features of the headset. Removing the slip cover reveals a thickly padded black box with the headset inside.
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Inside the packaging we have a slew of accessories alongside the headset itself. Similar to the original Cloud package we get the Cloud Alpha itself with a detachable mic boom. We get a pair of cables: a headset-to-TRRS 3.5mm jack cable with inline controller which is compatible with mobile phones and consoles along with a Y-splitter for PC use. Also included are documentations and a soft carry sleeve.
Here’s a closer look at the cables. The main cable with the inline controller is 1.3m long and the splitter cable is 2m long. A lengthy 3.3m should you need it on your desk configuration. Both are sleeved and have gold-plated connectors.
A front silhouette shot of the Cloud Alpha will immediately evoke images of the original Cloud: almost aviator-style earcups, contrast stitching on the headband and large metallic braces on the earcups are its most notable physical characteristics. But differing from its predecessor, the Cloud Alpha has relatively smaller earcups and its slotted earcup holders make for a lighter frame than the original design.
We see the HyperX logo printed on both earcups with a bright red color. There is a limited edition Gold version of the Alpha but that is only available in the US and will be released in very limited quantities. As of this writing the only color available is the black/red version.
To further reduce weight, HyperX has re-engineered their headband but still retain structural integrity so its just as strong as all previous models but has an entirely lighter feel.
The earcups feature signature HyperX memory foam lined with faux leather. The cups can swing horizontally but cannot rotate.
The Cloud Alpha features detachable cables and microphone. Both ports are highlighted in grey to correspond to the cable end. Unlike the original Cloud, the Cloud Alpha does not include a tab to cover its mic port. We always felt the tab cover was easily lost so its nothing to miss in this variation.
User Experience & Conclusion
The main goal of the Cloud Alpha to dethrone is its predecessor is its audio design. That being said, its hard to describe in words how different the sounds are. HyperX has designed the Cloud Alpha with a dual-chamber setup wherein the bass is given focus on and is rendered on the other chamber. Mids and highs are on another chamber. The sound waves then coalesce to your ears. This technique is said to give more body to the lower frequencies and reduce distortion on the mid and higher ranges. In terms of gaming, this means there’s a sense of body and depth to the audio. The bass is warm and feels alive coupled with the relatively wide soundstage of the Alpha. This, coupled with the nice, crisp mids and highs give it a good character for gaming in general so regardless if you’re into FPS, MOBAs or Battle Royale games, you’ll have a lively audio experience with the HyperX Cloud Alpha.
Music was tested on both PC with a Sound Blaster Audigy 5/Rx and an LG G6. Before any test was done, we did a 100 hour burn-in test to see if there was any notable difference. I do feel there’s no significant difference from out-of-box and post-burn-in and its not a requirement but I do keep it a habit of burning in all our headphones more for durability testing rather than audio quality. Moving on to actual listening experience, I do listen mainly to acoustic, hiphop and rock and I’m admittedly a basshead. Diving into the experience, there is still that full-body flavor that’s certainly the signature of the Cloud Alpha but in terms of punchiness to the bass, I do feel the original Cloud has more oomph to it. That’s not a bad thing but those looking for a bit of gut rumble may want to turn it up in the EQ for a more rumbling experience. Overall the listening experience was pleasant and delivered well in terms of music performance. Great mids and crisp highs with no distortion even on max volume. Speaking of volume, the Cloud Alpha has a 65 Ω impedance rating but any modern audio chip would be able to drive it, even smartphones so there shouldn’t be any issue on volume levels should you be on a lower end system.
Microphone performance was quite decent and is definitely a step-up over the original Cloud but nothing vastly different and nothing that would definitely replace a dedicated condenser when streaming. It is however, enough for team comms or Discord voice chat when playing games. The flexible boom is quite helpful in properly positioning the mic and being able to detach it means you can easily get it out of the way when you just want to listen to audio or have a dedicated microphone.
With the original HyperX Cloud aging gracefully, it was time for HyperX to name a new flagship and the HyperX Cloud Alpha is an excellent successor to the throne. As the headset that put HyperX in the map of gaming peripherals, its a huge responsibility and many will be very critical of any drastic changes. Fortunately, HyperX has went in and tweaked an already effective formula and introduced changes which are mostly for the better. The sound quality of the HyperX Cloud Alpha is nothing short of remarkable for its price range, something which has been working in favor of HyperX for a long time. Add to that the great build quality which we’ve come to love from the Cloud series and you have a well-rounded, neutral headset that doesn’t scream gamer but doesn’t hold back features.
There is still room for improvement though as we feel that controls would still be best on the earcups. While this might break the design, we trust Kingston and HyperX to be able to innovate in this department in the future. The new slotted earcup braces do break the rather professional look of the HyperX Cloud Alpha and this may not be to taste for some people. The bright red HyperX branding also may be too bold for some but ultimately these are slight nitpicks in an otherwise incredible product.
At 99$, its primary competition is the original Cloud, the Sennheiser GSP300, the SteelSeries Arctis 5 and Logitech G433. The latter two both offered in 7.1 digital surround. While sound quality will vary on each, the decision will ultimately fall on looks and function you require. The Senny GSP300 is a bit more gamer-ish like the G433 but is still on the stereo end, bringing with it the Sennheiser name would immediately flash “audio quality” to anyone familiar with audio gear. The Arctis and Logitech are functionally stereo but offer digital surround so if you’re looking for that, the Cloud Alpha is strictly stereo by default. Ultimately, if you just want pure audio quality it boils down the the GSP 300 and Cloud Alpha.
All in all, HyperX has went with a tweak rather than a remake and has given us one of the most impressive headset releases in recent times. One that is functionally sound and well-priced.
Kingston backs the HyperX Cloud Alpha with a 1-year warranty. We give it our B2G Silver Award and B2G Editor’s Choice Award!