The Best Gaming Headset

Kingston HyperX Cloud II

PROS – This headset is extremely comfortable.

CONS – It’s not the best-looking headset out there.

VERDICT – The HyperX Cloud II isn’t the flashiest or best-looking headset out there, but it is supremely pragmatic. It offers a great price but compromises very little in terms of sound quality and offers the best of durability and comfort. It’s hard to go wrong with the Cloud II.

Gold Award – Awarded for excellence in design, usability and feature set  – Excellence Award – Awarded for excellence in design, usability and feature set
Kingston’s HyperX Cloud II is the best headset for the vast majority of gamers out there. It sounds great, it’s among the most comfortable headsets we’ve ever tested and it’s durable. On top of all that, it’s also one of the most affordable options that we tested.

Sure, there are plenty of options out there that have superior audio specifications, greater customization and flashier features than the Cloud II – but you’ll often pay twice as much for those models without much to show for it. If you’re a hardcore gamer or an e-sports competitor, you might be more satisfied with a Turtle Beach, Astro or Sennheiser headset with a dedicated amplifier and audio controller. For the rest of us, the Cloud II will do just fine.

Audio Performance

With such a competitive price point, you’d be tempted to think that the Cloud II simply can’t compete with the best PC headsets. You’d be wrong. We were completely satisfied with the sound. There were no problems with the bass or treble and sounds were easy to pinpoint in game.

For an even more immersive sound, you can enable 7.1 surround sound via its included USB dongle. This only works on a PC, however, so be sure to keep that in mind. Surround sound on headsets, as you may have guessed, isn’t really surround sound at all and probably would be more accurately termed virtual surround sound. It works by using algorithms to simulate an in-game space. There’s a lot of debate on whether this is actually worth anything, but for us, it seemed to create a more spacious sound that allowed us to better estimate distances based on sound alone.

We were impressed with the HyperX’s ability to reproduce low tones. The headphones are rated for as low as 15Hz. The lowest tone most human ears can pick up is 20Hz, so the benefit of headphones producing anything lower than that is you can still feel the bass, even when you can’t hear it. This is especially important for gaming, because it helps you feel like you’re in the game’s world. Explosions can trigger those really low tones, and you feel them. These headphones can also handle frequencies up to 25khz.

The HyperX Cloud II has a better microphone than the previous model. The headphones remain about the same quality – which is good – but the microphone in the Cloud II has a much larger response range. You can expect the mic to pick up sounds as low as 50Hz and as high as 18kHz. That’s the largest response range of any headset on our lineup. This means the microphone can more faithfully capture and transmit your voice than the previous HyperX Cloud.

Design

One of the things we appreciate most about the Cloud II is its comfort. It is one of the most comfortable headsets, if not the most comfortable headset we tested. During testing, we wore this headset for hours at a time and never had a single complaint. This is largely attributable to its low weight, which makes it easy on your head and means that it doesn’t require much pressure to stay in place. Its ear cups are also large and soft, and the typical soreness your ears tend to feel after wearing headphones for a long time just wasn’t there.

Durability for this model was also top notch. The headband it made from one solid piece of aluminum and does not at all look prone to breaking. The same goes for the microphone. While some mics are made from plastic and might look fancy, they’re much more prone to snapping off. The HyperX’s microphone sure doesn’t look fancy, but it’s flexible and durable and sounds great on the other end.

The larger the driver, the more air it can push around and the greater the variance in sounds it can produce. The HyperX has 53 mm drivers, the largest in our gaming headset lineup. This is partly what allows the HyperX’s headphones to reproduce extreme highs and lows with excellent fidelity.

Features

This headset is made of plastic and aluminum, with leather for the headband and the ear cups. The package includes another set of velvet ear cups in case you don’t like the leather. Overall, the construction quality is top notch, and you can expect this gaming headset to last for a long time.

kingstone2

As far as comfort is concerned, this is one of the lightest products in our gaming headset reviews. While weight isn’t the sole contributing factor in comfort, it can play a major part in it. The headband is soft and well padded, as are the ear cups. You won’t feel much pressure around your ears when these are on, and they should remain comfortable for hours. However, you can’t fold the headphones to be more compact.

In-line volume control is becoming an industry standard now, and the HyperX doesn’t disappoint here. You can lock the controls with a switch to prevent accidental volume shifts, mute and unmute the microphone, and adjust the volume with a scroll wheel. The in-line volume control is small and lightweight, which prevents it from pulling down on one side of the headset.

The HyperX comes with a protective carrying case. We were impressed with the case – both its size and quality were much better than you might expect. It’s easy to store the headset and all of its attendant cables in the bag. This makes the HyperX very portable.

While these headphones don’t do active noise canceling, they are circumaural, which means they completely enclose your ears. This amounts to passive noise canceling. Active noise canceling is certainly better, but the HyperX does a fair job of blocking out unwanted noise.

Help & Support

Kingston has some of the best customer support out there. If you need help or information, there are FAQs and online manuals to help you out. You can also contact the support team through email, phone or a live chat service. Most importantly, the HyperX comes with a two-year limited warranty. That gives you two years to notice any factory defects, while the industry standard is one year.

Summary

The Cloud II certainly doesn’t offer the utmost in audio performance. There are other options, often in excess of $200, that easily outperform it. While they definitely don’t sound bad, gamers who are after the best in audio quality may be better off looking elsewhere.

What we love about the Cloud II is that it sounds really good, while also being comfortable, durable and affordable. It’s a combination that nothing else can top. For the average gamer, the Cloud II is a great choice.

 

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