When it comes to gaming accessories, I don’t think there is any product that leads to people asking for recommendations more than headphones. Part of it is selection. HyperX makes a lot of products, but the site lists four mice, four keyboards and 11 or more different headsets/earbuds and this is just one company. And while I can tell you all the reasons why the HyperX Cloud Orbit S and Waves Nx are worth the $330 investment, most have a budget closer to $100. For a while, HyperX’s Cloud II was among the most commonly recommended, which makes the new Cloud Alpha S so interesting. With some improvements, different colors and more, are they worth the extra money or do they fail to achieve the same value?
Before even trying the Cloud Alpha S, I was impressed by the presentation. Even though this has no actual impact on the review, I like to discuss it because it shows how companies want their product to be perceived and part of the premium experience. After removing the slipcover and opening the generic black box, the headset is securely placed in protective plastic. The finer points could be a bit better but it easily beats out a number of other products I’ve had the pleasure of checking out.
In addition to the great presentation, there is actually a lot of things included. You get a mic, braided cable, braided USB controller, bag (only slightly lower quality than the Cloud Orbit S), cloth ear cushions and obviously the headphones themselves, which come equipped with leatherette ear cushions. While they’re nowhere near as easy to replace as other brands, the ability to swap between them is welcome or simply having an option if you destroy the other adds obvious value.
After taking them out of the box, I was surprised by how light they felt. They are among the lightest pair I have laying around and that doesn’t seem to come at the cost of quality. In addition to a durable aluminum frame, they feel very flexible. I can’t quite turn them into a Hot Wheels race track like I can the Astro A10’s, but they still have a good amount of range and don’t feel like I’m going to break them. The cool aluminum gives them a premium feel that is not just cool to touch, feels far more durable than a number of cheaper headsets.
Regardless of how nice the box is, cool bonuses are included or how nice it feels, this is all pointless if they don’t sound good. Thankfully, they perform surprisingly well. I used them while working on Borderlands 3, The Surge 2 and our upcoming The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening reviews and there was a good amount of range. The newly added adjustable bass slider also allowed me to swap from a more cinematic experience to a bit more of a leveled one. But, what really surprised me is how well they performed next to a comparable headset.
Not only did they outperform my LucidSound LS25 headset, but I’d also say they actually beat the more expensive LS41 unit. In terms of gaming, I didn’t notice a substantial difference. Sure, they were louder and the range was better but it wasn’t terribly noticeable like when you try Waves Nx. Where I found the largest difference was actually music.
For this test, I used my FiiO M11, which should be reviewed sometime this or next week, and the cable that came with the Cloud Alpha S headphones. Not only did they continue to outperform both LucidSound headphones in range and power, but there was also better sound separation. Not quite to the point where they could touch something like the Cloud Orbit S but easily beat anything similarly priced I have available to test.
Mic performance wasn’t as impressive but it worked as impressive. It came out clear and didn’t lead to any complaints when I was wandering around Borderlands 3 looking for loot or simply talking to my friends on Discord.
Normally I shy away from giving recommendations on headphones in the lower range, but I can say I feel confident suggesting the HyperX Cloud Alpha S. They feel good, pack a surprisingly high amount of value in the box, outperformed some more expensive products, while still offering good value outside of gaming. The bass slider also makes a surprisingly large difference in performance. When the bass is overpowering or you want something flatter, slide it down and when you want that booming sound to pull them up to truly experience those explosions. So, if you’re looking for a good pair of headphones without getting into the $200+ range, you really can’t go wrong with the Cloud Alpha S.
[Editor’s Note: The HyperX Cloud Alpha S headset was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]