HyperX Cloud Alpha Gaming Headset Review
The most iconic gaming headset gets an amazing reboot
I thought HyperX’s new headset would be a wireless version of the classic Cloud II.
Instead, The Cloud Alpha takes the peerless Cloud design and improves on it with a detachable cable, better sound, better comfort, and a number of other little tweaks.
It’s almost completely successful, and it’s the best headset HyperX has ever released.
Retailing at $99, the Cloud Alpha essentially replaces the old Cloud/Cloud II.
That venerable headset was a loving retouch of the budget Takstar Pro 80 headphones. HyperX licensed Takstar’s drivers and design and added memory foam, a solid mic, and some nice little luxury features like softer leatherette and cloth stitching.
The new Alpha is more or less its own thing. It shares some design elements with the older Cloud II. But it has its own new 50mm drivers, its own larger headband, its own new ear pads, and its own new ear cup designs with dual chambers inside. And a detachable cable.
And a mic that’s…not all that much different from the old one.
Pretty much everything here is a step up from the older models, and the softer ear cup materials, portability, and value price make this a better pick for my tastes than the more expensive Cloud Revolver. So unless you really need the suspension headband or the surround dongle of the Revolver S, the Alpha is the new HyperX headset to beat.
I love the way the old Cloud II sounded. I’ve written at length about this. It was basically a direct copy of the classic Beyerdynamic DT770 sound. It had luxurious bass, slightly withdrawn mids, and a crisp, detailed, sparkly upper range.
I was really worried when I heard that HyperX was going to incorporate a new driver design into the Alpha. I know that the slightly v-shaped signature of the older models wasn’t to everyone’s taste…but it was so good compared to many other headsets and even many dedicated headphones.
Fortunately, the Alpha actually sounds much better than its predecessor. Which is RIDICULOUS in the best way.
The best word I can come up with while I’m sitting here being blown away by my usual test audio is clean.
The Cloud Alpha has an amazingly clean and dynamic response. The bass is accurate, with just a gentle boost. The midrange is impressively forward, with plenty of vocal detail. Highs are sparkly and clear without the slight grain of the older models. And there’s neither a hint of fatigue nor unpleasant peaks.
The soundstage and imaging are truly wonderful. I’m not sure if this is helped by the “dual chamber” design that HyperX touts in the marketing for the Alpha about every 3 seconds, but it’s great. Sound projects impressively far out of my head, and the imaging is perfect for pinpoint gaming accuracy even without any virtual surround tech turned on.
I guess we could talk about the dual chambers here.
Most headphones have a driver isolated in a chamber inside the ear cup. Here, the driver is in one chamber, and there’s a second chamber underneath it that sound can escape into. HyperX claims that this allowed them to tune the drivers to have very low distortion…and I believe them.
The Cloud Alpha has a shockingly clean, fast, and detailed sound. You’d have to be the most cynical person or the most ardent chaser of the “neutral” dream to dislike the sound here. It’s just really clean, balanced, and exciting to listen to. It’s not fatiguing. It’s not muddy at all. The bass is not overpowering but it’s present enough to be fun for gaming and music. And it’s natural enough that I could totally mix audio on these too.
I’ve listened to a stupid number of headphones at this $99 price point, and at others too. I know exactly what I’m looking for out in my many music test tracks, and the games I like to try. This headset aced the tests better than any other at this price. And it honestly hits a bar sound-wise I would have been willing to pay more for.
It’s really, really good. And a more than worthy successor to its own legacy.
Farewell Takstar Pro 80. I missed you for 8 seconds until I realized how awesome the Alpha sounded.
I was worried that these new ports on the tops of the ear cups would hurt isolation, but fortunately that’s not the case.
These are still in the top tier of isolation for gaming headsets. The leatherette-covered pads seal well against my head, and that’s helped by their new flat design.
I used these in a moderately loud coffee shop, and with music playing at a moderate volume… I might as well have been by myself. Leakage is also minimal.
It’s clear that these were designed with loud tournament settings in mind, so they should be suitable for just about any normal use case, isolation-wise.
HyperX has long stood as one of the few companies that seems to actually care about comfort across their whole product range, and the Cloud Alpha continues this tradition.
The headband is nigh-identical to older models in terms of comfort. It has a thick memory foam pad inside of it.
The ear pads got a big upgrade, which is hilarious and amazing because the old pads were already great. They’re now flat on the front, a tweak which makes it easier for the material to seal against your face and around glasses.
Also, the leatherette material is perhaps the smoothest and the softest that I’ve ever felt. It’s tremendously supple, to the point where I’ve enjoyed just touching it.
Clamping force is tight enough to withstand some moderate head-shaking, but I probably wouldn’t go for a run in them. Still, you shouldn’t feel any pinching during a long gaming session.
The headband is larger on this model, with a wider design and more clicks of adjustment than the earlier Cloud models. I used to have to wear those basically fully extended, and here I have some extra breathing room. They still collapse down to a nice small size, so this is the best of both worlds. This should fit far more heads than the older models with no issue.
Now, if you’re the sort of person who hates it when things touch your ears…I have some bad news for you. There’s a little bit of ear-touching inside the cups here. The holes are nice and large, and the chambers are reasonably deep…but the drivers aren’t really angled. So your ears will probably be gently touched by the cups.
I’ve had no comfort issues from this touching, and the headset still floats gently on my head like a Cloud, just like the older models. But it happens. The Stinger and the Revolver both have a bit more room inside the cups…but neither has the profoundly cushy feel of the Alpha’s leatherette material.
At first glance, these look just like the old headsets, but with holes cut into the forks that hold the ear cups.
There are quite a few other differences.
The cable is now detachable. Although the connector is not proprietary, it is recessed very deeply into the headset. The jack has little grippy bits which hold the cable securely in place, making it kind of tough to pull out. Not a deal breaker at all, but something you should be aware of. If you ever lose the cable, you’ll probably have to buy an official replacement.
The outsides of the ear cups have a slightly flat angle to them. They’re not as curvy as the old Cloud models. They have vents in the top for improved response, as mentioned above. The external cords that run into each cup are still present, so that they could keep the aluminum headband forks. I like this decision, but those little cords bug a lot of people, so be aware they still exist.
On the top of the headband, the HyperX logo is just embossed into the material instead of stitched. I miss the stitching! It was a nice little detail touch. The embossed logo still looks fine and subtle, but the stitching was cooler.
The red and black color scheme is a classic HyperX look, and I imagine that more colors are coming soon. They don’t look stupid on the head at all, and they don’t stick out in any weird way.
Like the earlier Cloud models, the Alpha is solidly built. It uses aluminum extensively in the headband and lots of thick plastic.
The backs of the ear cups are aluminum, which is good for rigidity and something I always like to see.
The braiding on the cables is of a higher grade now, too.
I don’t do drop/bend tests, but everything about the Cloud Alpha is solid and premium-feeling.
The detachable cable includes an in-line volume wheel and mic mute. The volume wheel is very smooth, and doesn’t have any of the channel imbalance issues of the volume wheel on the Cloud X.
HyperX includes a long PC extension/splitter cable in the box, which is a nice touch. More and more companies have stopped doing that.
The microphone is…probably the most unexciting thing in the package. It is by no means bad. It has a good amount of background noise cancellation. Its tone is a bit nasally and artificial though, meaning that it’s much better for things like chat and streaming than for podcasting or higher-end recording.
Click HERE to listen to a sample over at my other site, since Medium doesn’t let me post audio.
HyperX includes a simple cloth bag in the box. It’s nice…but not as nice as the hard case they included with the Cloud X. Still, it’ll keep dust off your headset and give it some basic protection…and they’re durable enough to do just fine in a bag.
So here’s the thing.
We’re living in an era where wireless headsets, which are all the rage, are getting cheaper. There are some good ones at the $149 price point, like the RIG 800. And I’m also curious about the upcoming Astro A20.
And the wired market is tricky too.
Other companies have had a lot of time to study HyperX’s earlier offerings, leading to better products. The $99 Logitech G433 offers a better mic than the Alpha, an extra cable, and extra ear pads…in a slightly less-solid build.
The Astro A10 offers a much better mic (which isn’t detachable) and sound and comfort that will be good enough for most people…for $60.
The market is simply a lot more competitive than it used to be. And the choice isn’t quite as easy as just “Buy the Alpha” even though I love most of the things about it.
HyperX has once again nailed sound and comfort, raising the bar for both.
The detachable cable is nice, even though it’s tough to pull out.
The isolation is perfect for louder environments…but not everyone needs that.
It’s the mic that lets it down a bit. If the mic sounded on-par with the A10 mic…this would be a no-brainer hands down recommendation for everyone. It would be a world-leading headset even though it’s wired.
Instead, it’s only right at the top if you value the same things I do: comfort and sound quality. I know that sounds like an obvious list of things to look for in a headset…but mic quality and overall value are very important for a lot of gamers and listeners.
In a vacuum, the Cloud Alpha offers truly mind-blowing audio quality and comfort for the price. No one else can touch them on these. But they kind of blew it on the mic, relatively speaking. And that means they’re one tiny notch below perfect.
That’s still a great place to be…and I’ll be using mine constantly for all types of listening.
The Cloud Alpha is $99. HyperX has an agreement with Gamestop, and they are the main retailer for these…but you can also now find them at Best Buy and Amazon. Still, seems like Gamestop stores are getting regular shipments. So if there’s one near you that may be the fastest route, if you must have them now.