The HyperX Cloud II (KHX-HSCP-RD) is a comfortable, functional, excellent-sounding gaming headset that comes with an optional sound card. It doesn’t cost much but offers the versatility of a gaming headset and audiophile headset, all under one roof.
PROS: Appealing design. Sturdy build quality. Works with PCs, mobile devices and most modern gaming systems.
CONS: Claimed virtual 7.1-channel isn't notable.
When buying a gaming headset, most of us never intend to use it exclusively for gaming. Provided it’s a good set, with a 3.5mm connection and lux sound, then it’s equally good as a regular stereo headphone. And, provided the boom mic doesn’t get in the way and the color highlight isn’t exaggerated with sharp lines and glowing LEDs. In designing the HyperX Cloud II (KHX-HSCP-RD) Kingston had exactly that in mind. A versatile aesthetic that is gamer-centered but also acceptable for regular entertainment.
The HyperX Cloud II sounds goods, with dedicated highs-and-lows for the perfect gaming experience and some 7.1-channel virtual surround sound in the works too. While its not easy to identify the 7.1-channel sound as claimed by Kingston, we can just let it pass (since, few, if any headphones can deliver really strong surround sound).
If you don’t want to use it for gaming just pop off the boom mic, and it transforms into a cool set of over-ear headphones. Its sound output and design make it an appealing stereo gaming headset, a very good pair of headphones, earning our Editors Choice award for wired gaming headsets.
If you’re used to a gaming headset with a long cable and a function node along the way, the HyperX Cloud II is different. The headset comes in two parts: the upper section that holds the headset itself and the other part holding the USB sound card module. On the part with the headset, you also have a unpluggable 3.5mm boom mic, alongside a fairly short cable that’s just over three feet that terminates at a 3.5mm plug. The USB sound card has a cable that is almost double the length and ends in a USB plug. For durability, both cables are covered in woven cloth that also protects from tangles.
The HyperX Cloud II comes in a choice of two colors: black and red (our review model), both look and feel good for a headset in its price range. You will be surprised by how well-built and attractive it looks out of the box. The detachable boom mic is on the left ear cup, with a small rubber plug to conceal the hole once you detach the boom mic.
For the headband and pre-installed earpad, Kingston used a leather-like material and memory foam, that allow the headset to sit comfortably on the head without feeling too heavy or tight. The earcups are held in place by sturdy metal joints that click into specific points as you move them in and out of the headband, although they don’t fold or swivel like most spendy headsets. The headset includes a two-plug airplane adapter.
The cable, too, attaches to the left earcup and is permanently attached, while the boom mic has a flexible metal arm and a black foam windscreen. Bundled into the package is a second pair of earpads made of breathable velor unlike the leather-like memory foam earpads and a nylon carry bag that is big enough to hold the headset and all its accessories. A second pair of earpads is a rare treat since most gaming headsets never bother with customizable earpads. The bag has a separate Velcro enclosure to hold the extra earpads and the boom mic.
Kingston claims that the HyperX Cloud II delivers virtual 7.1-channel sound, and we choose to leave it at that: it is virtual, indeed. Only few, if ever they exist, headsets produce surround sound and we don’t expect it at this price range. All it does is use audio processing to produce a sense of surround sound once connected to a PC and you press the 7.1-channel button on the USB cable. It is not practical for two drivers to deliver real surround, and the effect is more of an expanded dynamic range rather than any actual audio positioning.
When playing a game like Fortress 2, the 7.1-channel button only makes the action sound ‘bigger’, but it doesn’t get close to any virtual surround, rather, a louder and wider field effect. No matter the tricks you use, you are not getting virtual surround from a budget gaming headset. You’re only getting finely tuned stereo action.
That doesn’t mean that the headset’s audio quality is poor. Surprisingly, it produces well sculptured sound with precis high and lows, putting you right into the action during gameplay. On the other hand, used as a pair of over-ear headphones after removing the boom mic and then plugging it into a smartphone or tablet, it produces solid bass without any distortions. The headset’s trebles are on point, with an enjoyable mix of beats, better than most mainstream headsets.
The Bottom Line
The HyperX Cloud II (KHX-HSCP-RD) $79.99 at Amazon is a comfortable, functional, excellent-sounding gaming headset that comes with an optional sound card. It packs a host of other accessories including a pair of earpads and a nylon carry bag, and will work with all computers, mobile devices and game systems out of the box (via a 3.5m jack). Kingston claims that it offers virtual 7.1-channel surround, which remains illusional, just with most headphones; you can simply have real surround blasting that close into your ears, backed by two drivers.
If you only need a sweet audio experience alone, you don’t really need a mic at all, and this headset gives you an optional to pop it off. Plus, it has plastic cover to cover the 3.5mm input while you’re at it. For anyone in the market for an inexpensive headset that can be used for gaming and pretty anything else, the HyperX Cloud II is an excellent choice. It is our Editors’ Choice for wired gaming headsets.