HyperX Cloud III Gaming Headset Review
I feel like I’ve been waiting for a headset named “HyperX Cloud III” for almost a decade — because it’s been almost that long. The market-crushing HyperX Cloud II launched in 2015, itself a quick turnaround update of the Cloud I, which was itself based on the Qpad QH90, which was itself really just an OEM Beyerdynamic-clone Takstar Pro 80 studio headphone with a microphone slapped on to it.
On top of that Frankenstein’s Monster headset, HyperX built an entire gaming audio brand. The Cloud II changed expectations for gaming audio quality, moving away from bass bass bass all the time and towards something approaching solid studio monitor quality. The Cloud II was still ultimately a v-shaped headset, but one made with taste, and its workhorse noise cancelling microphone meant that your friends could hear you clearly over chat channels even if you still kind of sounded like you were using an old telephone.
In the intervening eight years, HyperX has released a few different products I thought were good enough to deserve a “III/3” in their name. 2017’s Cloud Alpha (see my original review) launched at the same price with a totally overhauled design and better performance. I thought that it would replace the Cloud II, but instead HyperX bafflingly decided to continue selling them both concurrently, giving consumers a little puzzle to solve if they wanted to spend $99 with the company.
In 2019, HyperX added a USB surround dongle to the Alpha alongside new pads and an acoustic bass tuning system. I’ve been told by the company in the past that a USB dongle is part of what differentiates the Alpha and the standard Cloud lines, but sometimes that’s not the case. This somewhat-forgotten headset apparently deserved an “S” in its name instead of any sort of new number, and further jumbled up the market. My local Best Buy still has a Cloud Alpha S in their HyperX demo unit rack even though I haven’t seen one stocked there in years.
2020’s Cloud II Wireless kept the core speaker drivers but added a sleek new industrial design with fancier-looking aluminum forks, new pads, a true 7.1 DAC/amp inside with good performance, and the microphone from the Cloud Flight. I thought that this was enough of a step up that it…