With the latest round of consoles providing a more robust online experience than we’ve had before, the days of dodgy online comms are comfortably behind us, bringing with it a need for better quality kit to keep in touch with others during a game. Luckily there’s no need to be spending hundreds on a professional quality headset to let you experience the best sound that a game has to offer; you just need to know where to look.
And believe me, you should be looking in the direction of HyperX, and their Cloud Alpha headset.
How It Feels
It’s not difficult to see how good the build quality is on the Cloud Alpha. They’re not designed to pack away into a tiny neat package, and as such it feels solid and robust when handled without that worrying level of flex that leaves you wondering if you’ve just broken something. It’s got a bit of weight to it which helps it feel like it could handle heavy usage, but at the same time it doesn’t feel excessively heavy once it’s on your head for long periods of time. Having the choice of whether or not to attach the microphone helps too, so if you’re just planning on using the headset to listen to your gaming session and not talk, that’ll let you save a little bit of weight and keep the headset feeling suitably balanced. The microphone itself is easy to position, letting you easily avoid pops and gusts of wind as a result of having it involuntarily stuffed half up your nose as some headsets like to do.
In terms of how it feels on your ears, there’s a really nice amount of memory foam padding on the ear cups, bucking the trend that a few other manufacturers are picking up of trimming down the padding to save weight and cost. Not only that the material covering the padding is really nice and soft as well, and while my ears got pretty toasty during longer gaming sessions the actual comfort itself was very impressive and didn’t require any adjustment or breaks part-way through, something quite unusual in other headsets I’ve used in recent years. As far as overall quality goes, this feels like a really solid, well built and comfortable headset.
How It Sounds
Immense. That’s the word that lingered in my mind after my first few games with the Cloud Alpha. I’ve tried this out with quite a few games now across several genres, including Battlefront 2, Gran Turismo Sport, Skyrim and The Evil Within 2, and each game I tried brought out details in the sound that I’d be unaware of before. Whether it’s the bassy rumble of an Aston Martin engine, the subtle distant animal sounds in a Skyrim forest or the quietest of sounds giving me the early warnings signs of some nightmarish creature sneaking up on me, it was all there. The sound was crystal clear too, with no background hiss or popping between scenes, and the balance between bass and treble sounds was excellent. Playing Battlefront was incredible – the sound design in the game is well respected at any level, but through this headset it felt like I was engrossed in the middle of a Star Wars film, totally bringing a new life to the action. If you’re after the best of the best then you might need to aim your sights slightly higher up the HyperX range, solely for the fact that this won’t give you that full surround sound functionality that you might be looking for to be as competitive as possible, but for this price you’re still getting a huge amount of quality for your money. The snug fit round the ears means you won’t be put off by other things that are less important (arguing neighbours, dog barking, kids wanting their dinner…) and equally, those in the room won’t get annoyed by the underlying thumps and pings of your game, which is always a bonus when your gaming setup is in a more social area of the house.
Voices are clear as well on those games that had chat options available, and while this is always going to be reliant on other people using decent equipment the balance was good, giving accurate representations of those voices that I already knew from the real world. The microphone on the Cloud Alpha does a great job during games, and while (if you really listened) you can probably tell it’s not a “proper” microphone that some people would use for voiceovers on YouTube, for a headset microphone it serves its purpose well and means you’ll be able to bark instructions to your teammates without fear of sounding muffled or distorted.
How It Is
This is my first HyperX headset, and it sure as hell won’t be my last. The sound quality of this headset is nothing short of incredible, and with the excellent levels of comfort you’ll be able to enjoy this for long periods of time without feeling any adverse effects. With this being available for a good chunk below the £100 mark it’s fantastic value, and assuming you’re not looking for a surround sound headset then you should be looking at this very seriously when you’re next looking to give your ears a bit of a treat.