Over the last few years, we’ve seen an explosion in affordable gaming headsets like the $99 (£109, AU$169) Logitech G433, $79 (£54, AU$99 Astro A10 and the $99 (£84, AU$159) SteelSeries Arctis 5. Although HyperX already introduced the Cloud Stinger ahead of this new pack, it’s now introducing a slightly more mid-range HyperX Cloud Alpha that bumps up the quality level without a stark increase in price.
In fact, at $99 (£99, AU$169), the HyperX Cloud Alpha is the best sounding gaming headset in its price bracket, even if it isn’t as versatile as some of the competition. Plus, prices are only going to drop once the Black Friday 2018 deals start rolling in.
If you’ve seen the previous two iterations of HyperX’s Cloud and Cloud II gaming headsets, the Alpha will look fairly familiar – though there have been improvements.
The new slotted metal frame gives the headset a more industrial look than the crescents of solid metal used in previous HyperX Cloud products. At the same time, we appreciate the fact that the peripheral maker has finally given the headset one cohesive, anodized look, matching the plastic bits to the aluminum frame.
HyperX has also padded out the cushions on the both the ear cups and headband with thicker and spongier foam. The pliable cushions help make wearing the headset for long play sessions more bearable.
However, even with these small improvements, this still really isn’t a headset we would be caught outside with. Its blaring style sticks out in the streets more than the Logitech G433’s subdued sports-mesh wrapped exterior or the SteelSeries Arctis 5’s massive cans.
Moreover, the Cloud Alpha’s sound profile lends it to being one of the best gaming headsets, but not much more than that.
With this gaming headset, HyperX introduced new dual chamber drivers for better audio and less distortion. Essentially, this added level of complexity allows the bass to reverberate in its own space while mid-tones bounce off the closed backend of the headphones. Sure enough, during our testing, the Cloud Alpha produced fuller mid-tones and booming bass.
Unfortunately, the lows don’t get nearly as much attention and become a bit muddled. Luckily, this will only factor with certain songs and the subtle dialogue of a Scorsese flick. If you’re looking for a gaming headset that works just as well for listening to music regularly, you’re better off with the Logitech G433.
Although the Cloud Alpha only offers stereo sound compared to the DTS 7.1 surround sound on the Logitech G433 and SteelSeries Arctis 5, HyperX’s meager 2.1 channels sound fully baked and less artificial than its competitors’ simulated surround audio.
The HyperX Cloud Alpha isn’t the one-all-be-all headset its competitors are trying to sell. Instead, it’s a well-conceived gaming headset that makes subtle, but significant improvements over its predecessor. For $99 (£99, AU$169), you won’t find a better sounding stereo gaming headset, but you’ll have to look elsewhere for something more versatile.