When I first reviewed the Cloud Alpha two years ago, I called it one of the cleanest-sounding headsets I’d ever heard.
I still think that’s true in 2019. Especially if you’re a fan of clean bass reproduction and don’t want to spend a ton of money to get it.
The sub $99 headset market has changed a great deal since the original launch of the Alphas.
The Arctis lineup got a new expensive Pro series, but at the same time the cheaper models got a revision with new thicker ear pads and a tweaked sound signature, and then that revision got streamlined into the budget-friendly Arctis 1.
Corsair stormed into the fray with the HS50 series, a budget-friendly Cloud competitor. They started with wired models, and have a full-on wireless version as well.
Cooler Master launched the MH752. And audiophiles all around the world stumbled over themselves to tell me the Takstar Pro 82, its progenitor, was the greatest headphone of all time and that I was wrong for disliking it…even though I liked it.
And Turtle Beach took the Elite Pro and made it cheaper, creating their finest headset to date.
You’ve never had more choices for a $99 gaming headset.
But I still like the Alpha a lot.
HyperX hasn’t rested during this time. They’ve launched a couple new colors for the Cloud Alpha: Gold and Purple. The ear pads got a stealth revision after folks complained about the depth of the padding. And they recently announced the tweaked Cloud Alpha S is coming soon.
I’d never owned one of the revised models with the new ear pads before considering this article, so I took it as a shameless excuse to buy myself the gold one.
The finish is very nice, with a clean and even look to the paint, and a smoother finish than the slightly shimmery look of the normal red color. It looks great.
The new ear pads are a mixed blessing. They are a bit thicker, and they’re just as comfy as the originals, padding-wise. I never personally had a problem with the depth of the original ear pads, but those that like a big pad should be happy with the openings and the depth here.
My one complaint is that the leatherette isn’t as soft and luxurious as the original material. Instead, it has a rougher, slightly more rubbery texture to it that’s still comfy, just not as nice-feeling as the original pads were.
The crazy soft material of the original ear pads is still featured on the Cloud Mix.
Everything else about the headset remains essentially unchanged since its launch.
It’s one of the best-sounding gaming headsets you can buy, and a great choice for games, movies, and music.
The bass is particularly impressive, with a warmth, punch, and clarity that’s wonderful for the price. The dual chamber marketing isn’t just hype; the bass really does stand out from the rest of the frequency range.
Mids and treble are natural, clean, and detailed, and imaging is nice and accurate.
It’s still a sound profile that I’d be happy with if this were my only headset, even after hearing so many different models. It has just enough bass energy to please fans of low end, and enough detail to please fans of accuracy.
But how does it stack up to some of the other options?
Cloud Alpha VS Arctis 3 Bluetooth 2019
Priced at the same $99, the Arctis 3 Bluetooth is a compelling alternative to the Cloud Alpha. It doesn’t have an included carrying bag, but it has a solid Bluetooth implementation with a ~30 hour battery life, and it can play a wired source and a Bluetooth source simultaneously.
The sound signature of the Arctis 3 is brighter, with more focus on the upper end and less oomph in the bass. Neither one sounds “better” than the other, it just depends on whether your personal tastes skew more towards bass or treble detail. They both also have similar noise-reduction on the microphones.
The Alpha’s has advantages in the build and isolation departments. The all-metal frame of the Alpha inspires confidence when I throw it into my bag, and the thick leatherette pads offer slightly better noise isolation in the loud coffee shops I like to write in.
Cloud Alpha VS HS50
Are the Alpha’s removable cable, extra comfort, and beefier sound signature worth twice the price of the HS50?
Probably. But man, does Corsair’s model come close. The padding is thinner and stiffer on the HS50, and the clamping force is tighter, resulting in a less comfy fit overall. The sound signature is a little more aggressive in the midbass and the highs. And the mic isn’t quite as nice.
But man. The HS50 is such a good budget option.
If Corsair ever decided to add a detachable cable and thicker ear pads to the HS50, they’d be in a great spot. The fact that you can get a good wireless version for the same price as the Alpha is a little nuts, but that wireless model doesn’t offer any major improvements over the core features of the wired version outside the okay virtual surround. And you lose wired operation.
Cloud Alpha VS Logitech G Pro X
I like the Cloud Alpha more than the G Pro X. The new Logitech model is slightly better built, and has a nicer microphone and carrying bag…but it stumbles in weird ways.
The adjustment range on the G Pro X is poor, with zero horizontal swivel and limited height adjustment. The sound signature is a little less exciting than the Cloud Alpha, and feels like it falls on the wrong side of flat. And the surround sound implementation is easily the worst I’ve ever heard.
Yes, the Alpha doesn’t include surround by default, but that’s still better than including a bad version of it. The Alpha sounds great out of the box, and the mic is easier to use since it doesn’t require software tweaking.
Unless you need the most tank-like build, or you’re curious about how the Logitech Pro G drivers sound, the Alpha is the better choice here.
Cloud Alpha VS Cooler Master MH752
Ah, the MH752. The new darling of the ~$99 market. “It’s the greatest headset ever! A true giant killer! The best the best the best!”
Well, no. But that doesn’t mean they’re bad. Not at all.
I enjoyed the MH752 and their predecessor, the Takstar Pro 82. But I don’t think either of them punch above their weight class any more than any other “great” $99 headphones.
The one standout feature of the MH752 is the comfort. They have that on lock. They instantly disappear on the head just like the old Sony MDR-1A.
In the sound department, the 752’s are a little laid back compared to the Alphas, and that will appeal to some folks. They’re just a very nice-sounding and reasonably accurate pair of headphones. They don’t have the bass slam or overall low end accuracy that the Alphas do, and they aren’t quite as robust-feeling in the hands.
Still, they’re a solid alternative if you want a very light and comfy headset with a neutral sound. The HyperX model is a little more rugged and a little more fun to listen to.
Cloud Alpha VS Elite Atlas
I don’t like most of Turtle Beach’s headsets, but the Elite Atlas is one of the few exceptions.
It’s a Big Chunky Boy, with a bulbous design that’s weirdly retro in today’s era of stealthy gaming headsets. Its large ear cups stick out a bit but thankfully the color scheme isn’t covered in neon accents.
The $89 Elite Atlas is obviously squarely pointed at the Alpha. Like some of the other headsets above, I don’t think it sounds “better” so much as “different.” It once again struggles to compete in the bass department, like everyone else, but it has a clean and accurate tonality that’s really cool for this price and leagues above most other Turtle Beach offerings.
I like the Atlas’s easily removable ear pads and glasses-strain-relief feature. I like their easily detachable cable. And the cloth coverings on the ear pads do help with heat build up.
But the lack of adjustment options is disappointing, and the bulky look isn’t really in line with other modern headsets. The lack of a carrying bag is also a small bummer.
“The Cloud Alpha has nicer bass” is starting to turn into a comedy line at this point, isn’t it?
The HyperX Cloud Alpha is still a great “default/standard” for the $99 gaming market. It’s still the one I get the most questions about, because it’s so hard to beat. Its unique Dual Chamber design gives it a punchy quality that’s fun to listen to, and the rest of the sound signature has the detail HyperX is known for.
It’s good enough to deserve its continued popularity, even if I don’t like the new ear pad materials as much. I’m hoping the Cloud Alpha S will be a solid revision, and I think the addition of bass sliders is a great idea.
The only only things I’d personally like to see in future Alpha revisions are Bluetooth support and a non-proprietary non-recessed 3.5mm port.
I know, I know, technically HyperX makes a Cloud Alpha with Bluetooth called the Cloud Mix. But I like the Alpha’s design and comfort a bit more.
I still think the Cloud Mix is good overall, don’t get me wrong, but its smaller form factor and lack of source mixing bum me out a little. And it still features the deeply-recessed 3.5mm connector from the Cloud Alpha. And it’s a bit overpriced.
HyperX changed gaming headsets forever with the original Cloud by taking a solid pair of headphones and tweaking it.
The Cloud Alpha further refined that and as such is still one of the best choices at this price. The sound hits that perfect middle ground between aggressive fun and studio neutrality, and I’m happy to have the new revision in my personal collection.