Kingston

HyperX Cloud II Review









Terms of Service:

Photos and videos may not be reposted or broadcast without the expressed written permission or license from Washington Mnemonic, and must attribute washington-mnemonic.com as the source.


mail
Validate XHTML 1.0 Strict
and Css

 

Kingston HyperX Cloud II Headset Review

27 June 2015 | Written by Maxxum

After having released the successful HyperX Cloud, Kingston has updated the design of their first headset and released the HyperX Cloud II. The HyperX Cloud II presents several refinements to the original design that include a new foam cushions, microphone, a USB interface, 7.1 virtual surround, and new colors.

The headsets ship in familiar packaging with only a change to the color inner box (black to gray) to differentiate the two models:

Our review of the first Kingston Cloud was positive, so we were surprised a new model was released so soon after the first given that the original was so well received. However, the new model provides several improvements that will be welcome, and one update that will cause debate among gamers.

2.0 Audio Impressions

Acoustically, the new headsets sounded identical to the previous although we noticed that a burn-in period wasn't necessary with the new models, meaning one can start using the headsets out of the box and each driver will already be at peak performance. The drivers have an impressive range (15Hz - 25kHz). Humans hear between 20Hz and 20kHz, however the speakers did reproduce audio at 15Hz @ 0dB which we felt as air pressure coming from the drivers, so even if you can't hear the bass, you will feel it. Audio at 25kHz was not detectable because we are not dolphins, however at 18.5-20kHz @ 0dB, the sound was sufficiently ear splitting (0dB is quite high, so we don't recommend trying to reproduce this test for extended periods).

To our ears, audio was clearly noticeable from 20Hz-18kHz @ -10dB, which is more than sufficient for gameplay. In fact, it's a greater range than some games use. For example, the opening sequence of Mass Effect 3 has a low bass hit that is reproduced very well with the Clouds, however the concussion sound from grenades in-game, and explosions in general do not have low bass as a matter of sound design. Not at all games are like this, so your experience on these headsets will change from game-to-game. The bottom line is that for gaming, these headsets will demonstrate good fidelity.

Where these headsets continue to excel (like the previous Cloud model) is music. For a set that retails from $89.99 to $110 (as of June 2015), the Cloud II's are a great value if you spend much time listening to music, especially when compared to specialized music headsets we've used that cost twice as much. The previously mentioned audio range and clarity allows for one to focus on individual instruments in songs like Fiona Apple's "Extraordinary Machine" or Alanis Morisette's "Uninvited"; we noticed in general that studio recordings across most genres are reproduced exceptionally well. Classical music is presented with a more narrow sound-stage due to the insulated closed cups, which is a design implementation to support better gaming audio (we've more to this so continue reading). Overall, for music the Cloud II's will be good performers for the majority of listeners.

Comfort & Microphone Impressions

When donning the headsets it's obvious that the weight has changed - the Cloud II is lighter, with a softer cushion. This will have a positive impact on comfort during sustained gameplay going more than 3hrs. The rest of the headset structure remains unchanged from what is already a good design.

The microphone audio range has been increased from 100Hz-12kHz, to 50Hz-18kHz. Humans use 300Hz to 3.4kHz, so this won't have an impact on whether or not your voice can be heard across the full range, however the new transducer produces slightly less distortion, better balance, and more clarity on the low-end of human speech than the previous model.

7.1 Audio Impressions & Connection Analysis

The Cloud IIs have two ways of connecting with a sound source, USB and 3.5mm jack. The USB connection is also host for the 7.1 surround sound device - which raised a number of discussions regarding USB DAC audio vs. sound card audio. Whether or not one will use the 7.1 audio depends on which side of the debate one falls regarding USB audio, and/or virtual 7.1 being reproduced through a two speaker system.

The USB DAC on the Cloud II processes sound at 16-bits/48kHz, which is below the 24-bit/192kHz our sound card is able to produce; in practice we didn't hear a difference during gaming, though it should be noted the the DAC also amplifies audio, so our volume was lowered to match what we would hear were the sound not amplified during testing. Effectiveness of the implementation of 7.1 audio largely depended on the game, or genre of music. We'd mentioned that by themselves, the Cloud IIs didn't recreate a wide sound stage for Classical music, but with the 7.1 DAC the sound stage is dramatically larger and created a more involving listening experience. Compositions like Verdi's "Requiem - Das irae" are rewarded on the Cloud IIs when using 7.1. We recommend using uncompressed audio when enabling 7.1 as the amplifier will also augment any distortion or hiss within the recording.

For gaming, whether or not one will prefer 7.1 will depend entirely on personal preference.

One other advantage to the USB connectivity is that one can use the microphone with laptops that don't offer mic inputs. Ultimately, whether or not one prefers USB audio, there is still utility to its implementation, and we felt that the inclusion of USB was a benefit to the Cloud II.

In addition, a subtle but noticeable change is the third ring on the 3.5mm audio jack, which supports microphone audio on portable devices like cellphones.

Conclusion

The Kingston HyperX Cloud II is a welcome addition to Kingston's gaming line-up, and builds upon an effective headset design. Using our binary rating system (0 for no, 1 for yes), we rate the Kingston HyperX Cloud II a "1" without reservations. The Cloud II is available directly through Kingston's website, as well as various retailers also listed on Kingston's Cloud II page.

End of line.

Photos by Maxxum / Kingston Technology Corporation