Millions of consumers know Kingston for its memory products. Most of you have probably purchased PC RAM or a memory card from the company. Kingston is trying to make a name for itself in the gaming world and one of the company’s latest gaming-focused products is the HyperX Cloud Gaming Headset. I’ve been using a pair for the last few weeks and while it’s not the best gaming headset I’ve used, the HyperX Cloud Gaming Headset offers a lot for a sub-$100 set of cans.
What’s in the Box: A rebranded version of the QPad QH-90, the HyperX Cloud Gaming Headset comes with the unit, two sets of ear pads (one leatherette, one velour), a detachable microphone, an audio control box, and a carrying pouch. The packing and presentation are handled in a classy fashion — much more elaborate than what you see with most competing headsets in this price range.
Construction and Build Quality: The HyperX Cloud Gaming Headset’s body is made primarily from aluminum. The aluminum construction allows the headset to be strong and light. The unit is very well made, with build quality that surpasses many competitors in the sub-$100 price range. Many European gamers I know rave about QPad’s build quality, but the brand is uncommon in America, so I haven’t had any experience with the company’s headsets. After using the HyperX Cloud Gaming Headset, I see what all the fuss is about. It “feels” more expensive than a $99 headset.
The one minor complaint I had with the unit’s construction was with the rubber cover for the microphone port. It comes off completely from the headset and I can see many gamers eventually losing it. It’s not a big deal at all, just a tiny annoyance.
Comfort: The most outstanding feature of the HyperX Cloud Gaming Headset is its comfort. You can wear these babies comfortably for hours and hours. The combination of a light frame and great padding (headband and ear cups) works fabulously. I’ve worn this headset for several three-hour sessions and didn’t feel any stress on my ears. After using it for six hours straight, the strain was minimal. The velour pads are more comfortable, as long as you don’t sweat a lot or use this headset in a hot room. While I generally abhor leatherette (made from the menacing Naugasaurus Rex), it was my preferred choice; it was more comfortable for longer play sessions and the sound it shaped was a little bit better than what the velour cups produced.
Sound Quality: To help break the headphones in, I left the headset on for a little more than two days playing a looped playlist. After the break-in period, I was able to get a better idea of the headset’s sound production. Mid-range tones are the strength of the HyperX Cloud Gaming Headset. The bass is good, but not overly emphasized (see Beats by Dre). The highs could have been better. Generally, I preferred the leatherette ear cups, as they helped produce a more detailed sound than what the velour cups offered.
For sound quality, it really depends on the application. Obviously this set is meant primarily for gamers, so in that respect I was happy with the output. This headset worked quite well with the various PC and console games I played. While it doesn’t give you as much separation as a 5.1 or 7.1 gaming headset, the HyperX Cloud Gaming Headset does a very good job with positional audio. I had no problems in shooters or stealth-action games with this unit. Directional sound was reasonably reproduced.
The headset works well for most movies too, though for action movies you’ll want to turn up the bass on the EQ. For music, I found the headset lacking, though this is a subjective area. I prefer a flat response for listening to music (see Etymotic) and wasn’t pleased by how the HyperX Cloud Gaming Headset performed. The lackluster highs were more obvious with music than other applications. EQ can help compensate, but it can be tricky to get great musical sound out of the HyperX Cloud Gaming Headset. This wasn’t a big deal to me, as it’s a gaming headset first and foremost.
Microphone: The mic quality is good, but shy of great. Most of the people I played online games with said that I sounded clear and the voice reproduction was solid. There were a few instances when my online gaming companions said that my voice had a little bit of echo or some tinniness, but those instances were infrequent and there were other variables that could have caused those problems.
For other reference points, I used the HyperX Cloud Gaming Headset for an hour of Skype calls. In these cases, the people I chatted with said that I sounded good. None of the friends I spoke with reported any echo or tinniness.
The microphone isn’t noise-canceling, so it will pick up some background noise in busy environments. Overall, the voice production of the HyperX Cloud Gaming Headset is very good. I wouldn’t use it to record a podcast or anything, but for the price range and what it’s meant for, this headset delivers.
Conclusion: The Kingston HyperX Cloud Gaming Headset offers a lot for a sub-$100 unit. I was impressed by the build quality and comfort. The sound quality was good for gaming, but not the best for music. The microphone was solid too. In this space, I’d also consider the Razer Kraken 7.1. It’s not as comfortable as the HyperX Cloud Gaming Headset, it’s made primarily from plastic, and the default balance is ridiculously bass heavy, but it offers better sound separation in the same price range. If sound separation isn’t a big priority for you then you’ll probably appreciate the aluminum construction, great comfort, and solid audio quality of the HyperX Cloud Gaming Headset.