HyperX Cloud II Wireless Gaming Headset Review
A fantastic successor to a legendary headset
NOTE: HyperX graciously sent me an early production unit of this headset to review at my discretion alongside marketing assets and technical information. To my knowledge it is essentially identical to the final retail version. They also hosted a video conference call and took the time to walk me through the headset and answer some of my questions.
I don’t receive a kickback if you decide to buy one, and none of the links in this article are affiliate links. I wasn’t sponsored to write this, and I had full editorial control over this article.
When HyperX first told me that they were making the new Cloud II Wireless gaming headset, my head filled with both questions and excitement. This is a headset I’ve personally wanted for a long time. I speculated that they would launch a headset like this back in 2017…but that teased product turned out to be the excellent Cloud Alpha. Since then, HyperX has launched several solid wireless options, including the Cloud Flight family, the Cloud Stinger Wireless, and the Cloud Mix.
Against that robust lineup, what place could a wireless version of the older Cloud II possibly have? Could it stand up to the rest of the company’s lineup in 2020, not to mention the rest of the market?
Well, within seconds of busting the headset out of the packaging, something became shockingly and delightfully clear: the Cloud II Wireless isn’t just a classic Cloud II with wireless hardware inside. In fact, almost every part of it is newly designed or re-engineered. It’s a true sequel to the older headset, and my personal favorite wireless headset in the HyperX lineup.
It’s a shoe-in for my end of the year audio awards, and my new default starting recommendation if you’re looking at HyperX products.
The HyperX Cloud II Wireless retails for $149.99 (official site), and ships on November 10th. It comes in the classic HyperX red and black color scheme. Outside of those colors, similar pads, and a driver size of 53mm, it’s an entirely new headset compared to its Cloud II namesake.
It connects through a USB dongle to PC, PS4, or a docked Nintendo Switch. The battery is rated for 30 hours at 50 percent volume, and the headset charges via USB-C. The mic is detachable and comes with a small foam pop filter. All of the controls are integrated into the headset, and you can optionally download HyperX’s Ngenuity software on your PC if you’d like to control the headset that way or easily install updates.
Like many of HyperX’s recent “S” series products, the Cloud II Wireless also includes HyperX’s proprietary virtual surround sound. On PC, this supports full 7.1 channel input for maximum effect, and on consoles it provides a more basic stereo expansion. You can activate the surround sound and the built-in real-time mic monitoring with the buttons on the back of the headset.
I’ve had a week and a half to listen to the Cloud II Wireless, and in that time I’ve thrown numerous games and many of my favorite music tracks at it. In all that listening time, I’ve struggled to come up with any complaints about the sound.
HyperX told me that their engineers were aiming for a “gentle grin” sound signature with the Cloud II Wireless, as opposed to the more aggressive emphasis featured on some of their other headsets like the Cloud Alpha S.
They nailed it. And then some. The Cloud II is a wonderful-sounding headset, with detailed and impactful bass, a clean and natural midrange, and treble that’s more controlled and nuanced than on the original Cloud II. It’s my favorite-sounding HyperX headset other than the twice-as-expensive Cloud Orbit S, which is a whole different level of product.
The Cloud II Wireless has a pristine, exceptional, all-day-listening sound that accurately presents your source audio with only a hint of coloration. The bass has a little more power, and the treble just a little more bite, than what I’d consider a flat, neutral response. In music, vocals and instruments both sound just the way they should, and some fun bass rumble comes in when listening to pop or hip-hop. And for gaming, every detail and explosion comes through as well as I could possibly hope for, with a decent sense of soundstage even without the surround mode turned on.
I’ve been a fan of the original Cloud II for a long time, but it had some small inconsistencies in its bass and treble response that show their age a little now compared to newer products. The Cloud II Wireless re-takes the gaming audio crown that HyperX first earned five years ago. I’d happily stack this level of sound quality up against any gaming or non-gaming headphone in this price range. If you don’t like it, it’ll be down to your personal tastes, not any major flaw in the headset’s audio presentation.
If you find yourself missing the powerful oomph of other gaming products that’s been left behind here in favor of accurate performance, you can turn on the 7.1 surround sound mode by tapping the power button. Like on other HyperX headsets featuring this new surround system, a small bit of EQ is applied in the surround mode, amplifying both the bass and the treble.
However, on other models like the Cloud Flight S, I found that this EQ could be overly aggressive on certain material, sounding harsh or unnatural. On the Cloud II Wireless, this has been fixed. The surround mode has a “large speaker” quality, with plenty of sub-bass rumble and a convincing surround effect in PC games. I played through Torchlight III on PC and PS4 with the headset as part of my review tests, and particularly loved the way it sounded in full surround mode on the PC. During that test, I compared it to the standard Cloud II on the Xbox version of the game. The Cloud II Wireless has better bass, imaging, and a more-detailed presentation overall.
With surround mode on, virtual channel placement is realistic, and as convincing and natural as I’ve heard from any of these virtual surround systems. I hope that HyperX continues to refine their custom tuning in the future, because it has come a long way in a short time.
Thanks to its sleek new design, the Cloud II Wireless miraculously weighs less than its wired predecessor. That’s amazing! It comes in at just 300g, or 309g with the mic attached, compared to 350g for the original headset. In fact, this new model is roughly the same weight as the streamlined Cloud Core + 7.1 I reviewed recently.
It’s rare to see a wireless headset weigh less than its wired version, because wireless headsets contain batteries and extra audio processing hardware. The Cloud II Wireless is almost as remarkably light-feeling as the svelte Cloud Mix, and that does wonders for its comfort. It’s one of the lightest wireless headsets you can buy right now.
This is an exceptionally comfy headset that felt great on my head from moment one, even around my thin-armed glasses. I can wear the headset extended to just five of its eight clicks of adjustment on my large head, so there should be plenty of room for everyone. The leatherette ear pads are similar to the classic Cloud II pads, but just a hair taller. They’re full of soft memory foam that seals easily against my head and only causes minimal heat build-up. Although the inside walls are flat instead of angled, there’s a soft foam layer in there as well in case your ears touch inside.
The headband pad is rather similar to the one found on the Cloud Alpha S, and caused no hotspots on my head even during multi-hour sessions. It’s not quite as thick as the older Cloud II headband pad, but still features premium foam and plenty of surface contact to spread out the weight of the headset.
As far as clamp goes, the Cloud II Wireless is a bit tighter than the original Cloud II, but that’s probably a design choice to keep its lighter weight firmly attached to your head. It didn’t cause me any comfort issues.
Like other HyperX headsets, once you’ve adjusted the Cloud II Wireless properly for your head size it more or less disappears.
DESIGN AND BUILD
On first glance, you might think that this uses the same design as the Cloud II, but every component is either overhauled or totally new, and in many cases the parts here are inspired by other models in the HyperX lineup.
As mentioned above, the headband is similar to the one on the Cloud Alpha S, though the point where the exposed cables enter the adjustment area has been slightly moved. The cups are larger than those on the Cloud II and made out of a solid-feeling matte plastic with aluminum logo plates. They’re seated at an angle instead of pointing straight up and down, for a better and more ergonomic fit. The aluminum support forks are brand new, with a sleeker design, thinner profile, and a cool scoop pattern cut into them that’s both visually attractive and functionally wider to allow room for cup adjustment.
If you take a closer look at the cups, you’ll notice that they’re slightly thicker, no doubt to allow room for wireless audio hardware and a battery. They also have a new bass port cut prominently into the top of them that helped HyperX achieve the brand new excellent sound signature here. Impressively, these ports don’t dramatically worsen the isolation or leakage performance compared to the original model.
The mic capsule and dongle both look similar to the ones used on the Cloud Flight. However, the mic also includes a removable foam pop filter, and the overall audio profile of the microphone has been tweaked to a be a little more resonant and creamy (more on that below).
The build is solid and wonderful. The adjustment sliders click firmly into each spot, and in a week and a half of constant use I’ve heard zero creaks or squeaks. The Cloud Flight and Cloud Stinger both use more plastic in their construction, and I personally prefer the design of the Cloud II Wireless, although I do think those other models are still built okay.
Like the original Cloud II, the cups don’t fold flat, so if you plan to wear this around your neck you may not have the best time of it. On the plus side, the overhauled design still doesn’t stick out far from the head even though the cups are a little thicker. This has none of the awkwardness of that Mpow clone I reviewed earlier this year.
The control buttons and volume wheel on the Cloud II Wireless are subtly integrated, and easy to find. A long press of the power button turns the headset on or off, and a short press toggles surround mode. Similarly, a short press on the mic button toggles mute and a long press toggles mic sidetone. The mic monitoring works really well and accurately portrays the way the mic sounds.
I like that users have the choice of controlling all the headset’s functions with either the buttons or the Ngenuity software on a Windows PC. I also like that inside of Ngenuity, HyperX has included a handy shortcut button to the Sound Control Panel where you can check to make sure that the headset is in 7.1 channel mode. Microsoft started burying this panel a number of updates ago, and it’s nice to have quick access to it.
Battery life is excellent, with about 30 hours of listening at half volume. I found that to be loud enough for most things, and I never found a personal need to crank them much past 60 percent.
The microphone is visually similar to the one used on the Cloud Flight models. It has a little red LED ring that turns on when it’s muted, a great touch. Unlike the Flight models, a small foam pop filter is included in the box. The mic sound profile has also been tweaked a little bit, to my ears. The mic has a nice accurate sound to it and makes my voice sound warm and pleasant. Like other HyperX mics, it uses an acoustically noise-canceling capsule, meaning your voice comes through well over noise in the background. It’s a great choice for voice chat in games or in a work-from-home setting.
As with other wireless gaming headset microphones, there is a little bit of digital noise and compression evident in the mic signal, but it’s not too bad all things considered. Wireless headsets have limited audio bandwidth to work with, and the mic audio usually takes second place to clean audio playback. In spite of this, my voice still comes through cleanly on this microphone.
Wireless range and performance is excellent. HyperX guarantees a range of 20 meters. There’s a bedroom in my apartment about that far away from my home office, with multiple walls in the way, and the headset still maintained signal in that spot with only a few split-second dropouts. So you should have no trouble with range or wireless signal.
I have only a couple of small complaints about this headset, but they’re minor and highly influenced by my unique personal tastes so these may not be issues for you.
Firstly, I wish that the headset had a wired 3.5mm backup connection. This would make the headset usable if the battery dies, and would allow compatibility with Xbox consoles. Fortunately, the headset is usable while plugged in and charging, and the USB-C port is in a smart location unlike the awkward positioning on the Corsair Virtuoso.
I realize that in 2020, as the market continues to move towards exclusively using wireless audio, not having a wired connection option isn’t a deal-breaker for most people, and that’s fair.
My second complaint: I wish that this headset included a cloth HyperX carrying bag, like many of their other models. I know that price points are tough to hit, and that this headset is specifically designed to sit in the dead-center of HyperX’s price lineup, but it’s nice to have a carrying bag with a wireless product.
Finally, it would be so awesome if these were called “Cloud III.” They’re enough of an improvement in sound quality, design, and function that they are more than deserving of that long-avoided name. I know that the Cloud II branding carries a lot of weight in the market, and I even waxed poetic about the line’s history recently, so I get why one could argue that carrying on that legacy is just as significant as changing the number.
But this design really stands out in a way that, to me, makes it a proper follow-up to that classic pair, and it’s important that people know this isn’t just a Cloud II with wireless parts but a fully new and exciting thing.
The Cloud II Wireless is an exhilarating follow-up to a legendary headset, with an all-new design that’s tweaked and improved in numerous ways. It’s a worthy successor to one of gaming’s most popular peripherals, and my new default recommendation for wireless gaming headsets.
I’ll have detailed comparison articles going up in the coming weeks, but for now here are some quick comparisons to other HyperX models. It sounds better than the Cloud II and Cloud Alpha to my ears. The Cloud Flight S offers Qi wireless charging and game/chat balance functions for 10 dollars more, but I think the surround implementation and build of the Cloud II Wireless are both slightly superior. It’s a bit heavier than the cheaper Stinger Wireless or more expensive Cloud Mix, but still offers plenty of comfort.
HyperX could have just taken the classic Cloud II design, shoved in wireless functions, and called it a day. That would have been more impressive in 2017 than in 2020, but I still probably would have liked it. Instead, they engineered a whole-new product built around the idea of carrying on the Cloud II legacy, and the result is one of the best wireless headsets you can buy right now.
This is my new personal daily listening pair for gaming, voice chat, and general listening. I haven’t stopped using it during the review process except to make comparisons to its predecessor, and I plan to keep right on using it in the weeks to come.