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Appeared on: Friday, March 18, 2016
Kingston HyperX Cloud II Headset review


1. Meet the HyperX Cloud II headset

Kingston is a leader in the memory and storage market, but the company has recently expanded its product portfolio to more completely cover the gamer's needs.

As part of its HyperX line of products, Kingston has included headsets geared towards gamers.

We had the chance to use the new HyperX Cloud II headset for some time for playing, online chatting and listening to music. Announced during this year's CES, the new headset is the successor of the original HyperX Cloud model and has entered into a crowded very competitive and demanding market, already filled with great companies such as SteelSeries, Turtle Beach, Razer and others.

Compared to the HyperX Cloud I, the HyperX Cloud II is armed with a hardware-driven 7.1 surround sound environment, a USB audio control unit with an integrated sound card, and memory foam padding on both the earcups and the headband. The HyperX Cloud II maintains the same 53mm drivers as the original unit with a frequency response of 15 - 25,000Hz.

The included USB sound card audio control box amplifies audio and voice. Its independent audio and microphone volume control lets you adjust not only sound volume but also mic volume and toggle virtual Surround Sound 7.1 or the mic sound on and off. The headset can be connected to PC & Mac through its USB interface, while it is also stereo compatible with PS4, Xbox One and mobiles.

Three color options for the Cloud II will include the Gunmetal (KHX-HSCP-GM), Red (KHX-HSCP-RD), and a limited edition Pink (KHX-HSCP-PK).

Kingston hopes that these features, combined with the affordable $100 price tag and a 2 year warranty, worth your money.

Here are the specs:

Headset

Microphone


2. A closer look

Kingston's boxing is fancy and gives you the overall impression that you have to do with a serious set of headset here. As you see below, the front of the headset box highlights the main device as well as the 7.1 Surround Sound DSP controller and additional information about the basic features and what to expect from the device.

Kingston goes into more details at the back of the box - you can read about the 7.1 Surround Sound DSP Controller unit, the physical features of the headset and more.

The outer slipcover covers a shoebox style box you see below. Inside you find the components of the Cloud II headset. Everything is arranged and secured in place, and basically you could keep this box around in case you want store the headset or even take it with you in your next trip.

Besides the Cloud II headset, the box includes the 7.1 Surround Sound controller, microphone, 3.5mm combo plug adapter, velour earcups, and a padded carry pouch - very handy in order to take the headset in your LAN sessions and keep it dust-free when it's not in use.

 


The HyperX Cloud II headset has been obviously designed with simplicity in mind.
Kingston has emphasized on the brushed aluminum hinges and earcups, stitched headband, and two-color design - gunmetal, pink, and red colors. Hopefully, there are not any fancy LEDs and RGB-lighting on the headset, as they do not exactly add anything to the overall experience during gaming, at least in our opinion.

Kingston includes leatherette earpads on the HyperX Cloud II headphone, but these can be removed easily and replaced with the included soft velour earpads.

The earcups can be extended by simply pulling the sides down (aluminum arm) until they fit comfortably on your head and ears. However, they
do not rotate 90 degrees to make them flat if you like to rest the headset on your shoulders (Dj style) when not in use.

The HyperX logo can be found on the top of the headset:

As we previously mentioned, the Cloud II are has circumaural earcups with a 53mm neodynium speaker in each earcup.

The HyperX logo is on both earcups, which are brushed aluminum. The rest of the outside of the earcup is plastic with a soft coating.

Overall, the Cloud II looks sturdy and its colors and round design provide a professional look.

The HyperX Cloud II comes with a detachable microphone complete with a windscreen. The microphone should be attached to the microphone port which Kingston has hidden behind a rubber cover of the left earcup. Right next to the microphone port there is the hardwired audio cable with the 3.5mm plug.

The included microphone is long enough at 150mm.

Below you see the USB audio control box, which includes a DSP (Digital Sound Processing) card to create virtual 7.1 surround sound.The sound card has built in volume and gain controls for the mic so there’s no need to fiddle with the settings on the computer. Although this is handy while gaming sessions, it could be also considered as a weak point of the headset, as hardcore gamers may want full control and customization options of the headset though their PC.

In addition, there is a switch on the side that mutes and unmutes the microphone. The HyperX logo glows red during operation, while the 7.1 button will glow red when the 7.1 feature is activated.

Last but not least, the length of the USB cable in enough to let you easily move around your desk. On the other hand, the non-detachable cable is 1 meter in length, if you are using it on your PC and are not going to use the included USB control box, you may have to get an extension cable.


3. Audio experience

The HyperX Cloud may be used in both USB and 3.5mm configurations, and is compatible with PCs, Macs, the PlayStation 4, mobile devices, and the Xbox One with a dedicated adapter.

For optimal use with PlayStation 4, unplug the headset jack from the USB control box and connect audio jack on the headset directly to the PS4 game controller. Navigate to the Settings Menu, highlight the ‘Devices’ menu option, scroll down to 'Audio Devices' , choose 'Output to Headphones' and select 'All Audio.'

To use the HyperX Cloud II headset with Xbox One, you will need the Xbox One adapter (sold separately) that plugs into the Xbox One controller Because this adapter has built-in volume controls, you will remove the USB control box and connect directly to the Xbox One controller.

In order to connect the headset to your PC, connect the headset’s 3.5mm audio jack to the input jack on the USB control box. The USB
control box then connects to a computer using the USB connector on the end of the control box.

As you see below, no extra drivers were required for installation under Windows 7:

The next step is to ensure that HyperX Cloud II is the default audio device. For Windows users, open up Control Panel and select Hardware
and Sound and then select Sound.. If the “HyperX 7.1 Audio” is not currently the default audio device, right-click on the option and select "Set as Default Device." Repeat the same steps for the microphone portion of the headset, located under the "Recording" tab (also found in the Sound program in Control Panel.)

MAC users should also ensure that HyperX Cloud II is the default audio device. All you need to do is to click the Apple menu and select
"System Preferences" from the drop-down menu. There, click on the 'Sound' icon, and then click on the Input tab and select "HyperX 7.1 Audio" for default sound input. The final step is to click on the Output tab and select "HyperX 7.1 Audio" for default sound output.

Before using the device, make sure it has the latest firmware installed:

Using the headset

The obvious impression after using the HyperX Cloud II headset for a long period is that it is probably one of the most comfortable headsets out there. Although the set is not the lightest you can find, the memory foam over the ear cups and headband make it extremely comfortable. They also provide a great noise isolation. The extra pair of velour ear cushions will offer you the same experience although they have a tendency to get slightly warm during longer play sessions.

Evaluating the audio performance of the headset is subjective since no measurable factors were taken into consideration. We used the HyperX Cloud II headset, for listening to music, watching videos and movies, playing video games, and conducting Skype calls.

During PC gaming, the 7.1 sound could help you pinpoint the direction of your enemies, and the Kingston Cloud II seems to do a good job here. The headset was able to accurately produce the in-game sounds and the balance between the game's sound effects and any background music was very good.

The same applied to movies, and the audio directionality provided by the 7.1 audio made the sounds more powerful and realistic.The 7.1 virtual surround sound toned down the treble and filled in the mid-tones and bass more.

The Kingston Cloud II allows you to listen to the audio in stereo or 7.1 with the press of a button. You will notice the difference when listening to a wide variety of music, and generally music playback was clear at any volume level. However, the bass level was not as powerful as some other as headphones, mainly due to the 53mm drivers.

Distortion and resonance were both absent when using the HyperX Cloud II headset to listen to audio tracks, and this should be attributed to the external sound card on the USB control module.

When used without the USB sound card, the audio output is weighted towards the midrange frequencies and the highs. Again the bass was a bit softer than we expected.

The performance of the microphone performance should be adequate for gamers, as it will deliver good voice reproduction and noise canceling capabilities. The mic has been changed to expand the frequency response from 50-18,000Hz, the original's range was 100-12000Hz. Even during Skype calls the microphone proved to work well, so generally the microphone stands above what you would usually get with today's gaming headsets.

Summing up, it seems that Kingston is offering a headset that sounds as good as other headsets that cost much more. Although the device is not intended to replace your Hi-fi headphones, it offers a balanced headset solution for gaming and also for your everyday entertainment. The dedicated USB control module and 7.1 virtual surround sound make the HyperX Cloud II even more attractive, and we believe that it’s worth the $100 you should spend to get your hands on it.



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