I used to joke about every tech company making a headset, no matter how slight or arbitrary their involvement was within the gaming community. Take Kingston and their HyperX subdivision, for example. From humble beginnings with hard drives to overclocked memory they’ve since grown into its own legitimate entity with gaming sponsorships and standalone accessories. Knowing this, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Kingston (and co-developer QPAD) is going all in with the HyperX Cloud Pro Gaming Headset.
But are they good enough to elude my tongue-and-cheek witticisms?
The Cloud comes equipped with exposed threaded wiring and a frame made entirely of solid brushed aluminum, while textured matte plastic is featured on the rest of the outer shell and connecting parts. To contrast the heavier bits the headband is made of soft padded leather and accented stitching, with an appropriate color theme of black and red (it’s also available in black/white). Compared to other headphones the Cloud is more subdued than you’d expect, which I like.
Also worth noting is that the Cloud isn’t wireless, not by a long shot. There’s a number of threaded 3.5mm audio cords (extension cable/splitter/aeroplane jack), along with a detachable microphone attachment and wired multifunction receiver. Kingston even throws in an additional pair of velour ear-cups along with a mesh carrying bag to sweeten the package.
The Cloud is accommodating when it comes to connectivity and works on desktops, notebooks, or compatible mobile devices. More appropriately it works for both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles but requires a mess of 3.5mm cables, most of which are breakaway and dangle everywhere. The only complaint I have is that you must literally daisy chain all of the necessary cords just to get any sound from the Cloud without a PC/Mac, obviously not the ideal approach I had in mind. It’s really hard for me to imagine a non-gamer using these for travel, let alone outside of the house casually.
Fortunately, things are much better for the Cloud when used for their intended purpose as these are some of the most comfortable headphones I’ve worn for the money. Thanks to its flexible aluminum construction the overall feeling is airy and never uncomfortable after hours of use, and if it weren’t for the ear-cups the Cloud would feel nonexistent. The only thing I recommend is that you swap the leatherette cups with the included velour types – even though switching them out is a small chore within itself.
As far as sound quality goes the Cloud falls in line with other gaming headsets, and can easily handle low-end depth and linear treble. Typical issues such as harmonic distortion at louder levels are decently controlled and a closed back design insures sound isolation except for the loudest of outside interference, For their purpose the Cloud gets the job done with bass-heavy titles such as Killzone: Shadow Fall and inFAMOUS Second Son for PlayStation 4, and a brief demo of Crysis 3 on the PC. Microphone reception was crystal clear during our tests and should let gamers carry on a conversation (or trash talk), whichever comes first.
Kingston makes no qualms about the HyperX Cloud Pro Gaming Headset; it’s a budget-minded gaming audio device that makes due with few enhancements and no multichannel surround sound. Fortunately, some of the shortcomings are balanced out with surprisingly impressive build quality and levels of comfort that may even – dare I say – compete with considerably more expensive premium gaming headsets. For people who frequent LAN parties or want to keep the experience intimate Kingston’s are among the more promising sub $100 headphones currently available – no kidding.