Ah, now that is a good question!
How bad is the audio on your laptop? Do you have audible hissing or a tinny quality? If it’s a laptop from the last year or two, the audio is probably better than the internet has lead you to believe…but if you really need a USB sound card, you’ve got some options.
I think the Cloud II is actually still a great pair of headphones, but the dongle is its weakest link. I’ve never loved it, as far as USB audio goes.
Here’s some other options I would at least consider:
1)Buy a SoundBlaster E1 and a cheaper, good headset. The E1 can be had for about $49, and often goes on sale for less. It’s an excellent little USB sound card, and has a really amazing mic built into it…meaning it can headset-i-fy any headphones you plug into it.
It’s much more robust USB dongle than the Cloud II one, and has a great software package. It’ll drive most headphones on the market today, up to the really expensive ones, so you’ll be able to keep it for years.
You could pair it with a Cloud Stinger or an Astro A10 and be good to go for the same price as the Cloud II bundle.
2)Buy the Logitech G433. For $99 you get a bundle comparable in quality/extras to the Cloud II…with a much better USB sound card that includes DTS Headphone X support. I love this headset. It’s a quality thing.
I think the Cloud II is a touch comfier and about even on sound quality. But when it comes to USB sound cards, the G433 wins no contest!
3)Wait to save money and buy E1 plus a better headset, or the Cloud Revolver S. If you save up just 50 extra bucks, you could buy the E1 plus the Cloud Alpha, or step up to the Cloud Revolver S, which I think has a much better USB dongle than the Cloud II.
If you go through all of that thinking and still decide to go with the Cloud II, you’ll still get a totally competent package.
I just wanted to throw some alternatives out there since I don’t totally love its dongle. The virtual surround that’s built into it isn’t that great, and I think it has a bland sound quality to it that’s also a bit overdriven. But that’s just my personal opinion. I used the Cloud II dongle for one afternoon and then never touched it again.
Thanks for reading and for the really good question!