The Cloud Revolver: HyperX’s Forgotten Gaming Headset
Is this soundstage-focused gaming headset still worth buying in 2020?
When the Cloud Revolver first launched in 2016, it looked nothing like the rest of HyperX’s lineup, and four years later it’s even further out of place. It uses a giant steel headband with a large padded suspension strap, in contrast to the classic studio-inspired look of nearly every other model in their lineup.
Out of the gate, numerous reviews complained about the fact that the metal headband would make a “ping” noise inside the ear cups if you touched it while you were wearing the headset, and I’ve been laughing about this for four years. While it’s true that you can hear a ping through the first version of the Revolver if you touch the metal atop your cranium, I still don’t know why you’d ever need to touch the headband while playing a game or listening to music, let alone enough times for the metal noise to bother you.
Even so, HyperX responded to the “outcry,” and added little rubber stoppers to each side of the headband that dampen this noise. In 2017, they released the Revolver S, a small upgrade with a wider headband pad and a Dolby Headphone USB dongle. They also eventually rolled the wider pad into the standard Revolver, so the core headset is the same in both models.
The standard model goes for around $120 (official product page here) and the “S” upgrade adds about 30 bucks to the price…though it seems like it’s being slowly phased out as I’ve seen constant discounts on it from third parties and the official web site no longer lists a buy button. I snagged a new Revolver S for my collection for just $110 from Amazon recently because I’m worried it might be going away forever based on nothing but a gut feeling. It hasn’t had a new marketing push in years, nor any new colors, and no one has asked me a question about it since 2018.
That’s too bad, because the Revolver deserved more time in the spotlight. In contrast to the warm-but-detailed sound signature you’ll find across the rest of the Cloud lineup, the Revolver has a laser-focus on soundstage and detail. The upper midrange is a little bit more aggressive than on any other HyperX model, giving them a little of the air and sparkle that Audio-Technica’s studio headphones are famous for. And their large angled drivers inside of massive ear cups help them to have perhaps the most open and airy sound you can get on a closed-back gaming product.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised the S model is fading away. Hardware-based surround sound is on a slight decline in the market now that Windows 10 has Windows Sonic built in for free, and both new consoles are promising hardware-level 3D audio integration regardless of your choice of headphones. Indeed, since the release of the Revolver S, HyperX developed their own proprietary surround system that ties into there Ngenuity software, available on many of their newer models. That’s better for their bottom line than paying a licensing fee to Dolby on each pair.
Still, the Revolver deserved an upgrade, and some new colors, instead of a slow fade into obscurity. It has the most spacious headband and ear cups of any HyperX pair, making it awesome for folks with larger heads like me. It sits gently down onto your head and instantly adjusts itself, with minimal fiddling needed for a perfect seal. Its ear pads are filled with plush memory foam, and although they get a little warm over time, they provide perfect comfort for all-day listening.
A Cloud Revolver 2 with a detachable cable, or a wireless option, and some refreshed styling could have been HyperX’s “Esports” headset, taking on the aviation-style headsets so popular in that space. The Revolver did have one single marketing tie-in release with Gears of War 4, and although that model didn’t have the rubber stoppers to mute the dreaded ping noise, I think it showed how versatile the design could have been on the visual front.
In 2020, the Revolver seems like a false start, but in 2016 it was the first major successor to the Cloud II. The Stinger, Orbit, Flight, Alpha, and MIX have all since proudly carried the HyperX flag, but none of them have any of the unique design ideas tried in the Revolver. Its large steel frame, suspension headband, and prominent soundstage are still features that I think should hold some appeal today. The Cloud Alpha S has all but replaced it for just ten dollars more, and offers a removable cable, surround dongle, and more-breathable pads.
Honestly, in spite of its overall quality in the comfort, build, and sound departments, the Revolver doesn’t have much left going for it in 2020 unless you’re an enthusiast who wants to branch out past other newer designs that can be had for a comparable price. If you’re still considering it, it’s best for those of you with the largest heads, those who want a spacious soundstage, or those collectors who want to own an example of a now-forgotten chain of products.