This HyperX Cloud Alpha S review has been a joy to put together, as this gaming headset has impressed me in most aspects. From the moment I took it out of the box, to the time I put it down after two weeks of use, the Cloud Alpha S’s versatility is what stood out to me most of all, with the headset able to satisfy in all applications that I use headphones for, whether that’s gaming, movies, music, and even for listening outdoors. However, there are a couple of niggling negatives that I should also warn potential buyers about. Here’s our full HyperX Cloud Alpha S headset review.
HyperX Cloud Alpha S Review | What makes for an “S” upgrade?
If you’re confused about what makes the “S” version different from the older Hyper Cloud Alpha, there are three main features that you need to know about: virtual 7.1 surround sound, bass adjustment sliders, and the new in-line remote. Overall comfort has also been improved, and the headset now comes in the more subtle (and less “gamery”) metallic blue color. These new features come at a $30 premium over the standard Cloud Alpha, which I think is a pretty fair deal.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never really been fond of virtual surround sound, and have always stuck with stereo sound. Hitting the easy-to-reach 7.1 switch on the in-line remote immediately introduces a noticeably wider soundstage, which is just as easily disabled. I wouldn’t say it enhances the experience for me, nor provides any competitive benefit, but if you’re into your virtual surround, then I think that the Cloud Alpha S will tick that box for you. In standard stereo mode, I found this headset to be very accurate when tracking enemy footsteps and gunfire in shooters like Apex Legends, experiencing no frustration whatsoever when it came to directional audio.
The sound is as fantastic as ever, without being overbearing at any frequencies to my ears. It’s exciting, but not fatiguing, which is exactly what you want from a headset primarily targeted at gamers. HyperX has found the special sauce when it comes to tuning for game audio, which explains why the company has seen so much success amongst the gaming community.
HyperX Cloud Alpha S Review | Flick for bass
While I quickly abandoned the virtual surround sound in favor of standard stereo (sorry, HyperX!), the bass adjustment sliders were a different story. While I first thought they were a little gimmicky, the ability to quickly adjust bass through hardware switches became surprisingly useful. For competitive games, I’d close the headphones completely, reducing the bass to allow for clearer footstep noise, and then for music, movies, or casual gaming I’d open them up, to let that tight bass punch. While bassheads might be left wanting more, I’m personally a big fan of where HyperX has tuned the low end in the Cloud Alpha S.
The new in-line remote is great. I’ve already mentioned the 7.1 surround sound toggle, but there is also now a mute switch, a volume up and down, and game and chat balance adjustments. The latter is especially helpful when playing with friends, as you can quickly turn down Discord while making your game easier to hear during critical moments, like at the end of a match of PUBG or Fortnite.
Overall, I’m a big fan of how the HyperX Cloud Alpha S uses hardware toggles, rather than depending upon a software solution. I didn’t have to install any applications with this product, as it all just worked out of the box. This is a major plus for a reviewer like me, as I quickly become aware of software clogging up my system.
HyperX Cloud Alpha S Review | Built to game
When it comes to comfort, the HyperX Cloud Alpha S is another success. I say “another” because the Cloud line is well-known for its cloud-like lightness as it sits upon one’s noggin. It’s incredibly comfortable, even after long periods of gaming and listening to music. The improved ear cushions are apparently “eight times more breathable” than the standard Cloud Alpha’s, though I settled on using the additional fabric ear cushions that are provided in the box. Getting extra ear pads is a nice win here, though they are a bit of a pain to swap out.
Build quality is god-tier for a gaming headset, with an aluminum frame that feels solid. This does unfortunately mean that pivot movement is limited, and it’s not possible to lay the earcups flat on a table. This headset is clearly built to survive, which I can appreciate. The headband is exceptionally bendy and the sizing allows for very large and/or wide heads. Dots above each earcup show sizing, enabling the user to make quick measured adjustments.
HyperX Cloud Alpha S Review | Strength in versatility
The metallic blue makes for a nice change, as I think that the red and black aesthetic is a little too “gamery” for some. This, and the ability to remove the microphone, means that the HyperX Cloud Alpha S could genuinely be worn outside without attracting unwanted attention. The low-enough impedance makes them compatible with many phones, which really adds to the versatility. It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a headset that can also be used as headphones without drawing funny looks. Bravo, HyperX!
Though the in-line remote is useful when gaming, it’s not always needed. Thankfully, the Cloud Alpha S has detachable cables, so ditching the in-line remote and just going fully 3.5 mm with a straight wire is an option. The cable is also detachable from the headset itself, allowing you to replace it when needed. The wires are covered with a braided material, which should mean better longevity over time. They certainly feel more rugged. One downside here is that, though the headphone accepts a 3.5 mm wire, it’s recessed a little, making it “semi-proprietary.” My other third-party 3.5 mm headphone cables fall out of the socket, while HyperX’s wires remain attached. It’s a small thing, but worth knowing.
The microphone is also removable, which is fantastic, as those with a dedicated desk microphone, or users who aren’t needing a mic when listening to music or watching a movie, can now detach it and make the headset look more like a headphone. The mic quality is fine for chatting with friends on Discord or in-game, but I wouldn’t depend on it for Twitch streaming.
HyperX Cloud Alpha S Review | Priced accordingly
The HyperX Cloud Alpha S is a wonderful upgrade to the standard Cloud Alpha. The S version grants a handful of enhancements that seem worth the additional $30 investment, making the total cost $130. If you’ll use the surround sound, the bass adjustment sliders, the improved in-line remote, and enjoy the blue color and improved comfort, then the Cloud Alpha S is certainly worth considering for your next gaming headset investment. Otherwise, there’s the standard Cloud Alpha, which is still a fantastic choice, and a number of other HyperX headsets for every budget.
HyperX Cloud Alpha S review unit was provided by HyperX.
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