It has been less than a year since Kingston released their first gaming-centric headset onto the market, and it impressed us greatly. It had some of the best sound quality we’ve ever heard from a sub-$100 headset and came with a bevy of adapters and extensions that allowed us to use it on virtually everything imaginable. This included PlayStation 4, smartphones, PCs and so forth. Unfortunately, despite beating its competition in almost every way possible, it contained fewer bullet points due to its lack of accessibility and virtual surround sound options. That changes with the second iteration as Kingston has released the HyperX Cloud II Gaming Headset that now comes user friendly and with more ways to use.
While the first release was aimed towards a more hardcore audience, the second iteration is focused on a broader crowd. For one, no longer is the headset split into two mini plugs for the headphones and microphone (pink and green) as the standard of a 3.5mm jack has been applied. The first HyperX headset originally came with a 3.5mm jack adapter, causing a little bit of stiffness if attaching it to a smartphone or other mobile devices, and while that still remains, it’s a little easier to travel with and requires far less clutter.
The first HyperX Cloud Gaming contained fantastic stereo sound, but now its successor includes virtual surround sound. This is a strong bullet point, even though the simulation of 7.1 speakers is far from the real thing and can be incredibly ineffective in a number of situations. Granted, you can only do so much with two speakers, and the higher specs do allow for slightly more impressive sound overall, at least in comparison to other headsets, but it definitely won’t blow your mind. We tested this on games such as DmC Devil May Cry, Resident Evil HD Remaster, and Wolfenstein: The New Order, along with bass heavy music tracks, and found that the overall audio quality is top notch. While my personal preference is still with the stereo sound, the simulation of 7.1 surround holds up, even though it’s more of a selling point than a full fledged, meaningful feature.
As for technological features, the Hyper X Cloud II Gaming has it a lot to offer with the biggest advantage being the 60 Ω nominal impedance, requiring nearly double the power compared to most of its gaming competition. Unfortunately, as you can tell from the specs below, not a lot has changed over the last iteration (in fact it’s virtually the same):
- Transducer type: dynamic Ø 53mm
- Operating principle: closed
- Frequency response: 15Hz–25,000 Hz
- Nominal impedance: 60 Ω per system
- Nominal SPL: 98±3dB
- H.D.: < 2%
- Power handling capacity: 150mW
- Sound coupling to the ear: circumaural
- Ambient noise attenuation: approx. 20 dBa
- Headband pressure: 5N
- Weight with microphone and cable: 350g
- Cable length and type: 1m + 2m extension
The microphone performs as a microphone should. It’s nothing particular special, but it does the job and is convenient being detachable and incredibly flexible. It has a very basic foam windshield attached to the end and is still unfortunately a little lengthy. Like the headphones’ specifications, not a lot has changed from the previous iterations, although there’s a wider frequency response range:
- Transducer type: condenser (back electret)
- Operating principle: pressure gradient
- Polar pattern: cardioid
- Power supply: AB powering
- Supply voltage: 2V
- Current consumption: max 0.5 mA
- Nominal impedance: ≤2.2 kΩ
- Open circuit voltage: at f = 1 kHz: 20 mV / Pa
- Frequency response: 50–18,000 Hz
- THD: 2% at f = 1 kHz
- SPL: 105dB SPL (THD≤1.0% at 1 KHz)
- Microphone output: -39±3dB
- Length mic boom: 150mm (include gooseneck)
- Capsule diameter: Ø6*5 mm
- Connection: mini stereo jack plug (3.5mm)
Unfortunately, because of the focus on a more accessible interface, Kingston has somewhat neglected their hardcore PC audience. For one, those with sound cards will not be able to plug this in to take advantage of the headset’s pinnacle audio quality. Mind you, the digital USB connection isn’t bad, but it definitely doesn’t hold a candle to analog. This is purely recommended for those who want a simple USB plug-in, or a good headset for your PlayStation 4 (and Xbox One if you have the adapter). In addition, unless you consider the 3.55mm jack to USB adapter an extension, there isn’t much length to the cable. Before, there was a nice extension add-on that spanned a meter or two, although it included a somewhat large clip-on media controller. Now, though, there’s an even bulkier 7.1 USB media controller that, while has more options, is even more cumbersome than ever before. Kingston also claims that the headset is now noise cancelling, but while it does reduce environmental sounds, it’s only an incremental improvement over the first headset.
Looking outside of the core sound quality and features, the HyperX Cloud II Gaming Headset comes in a beautiful design. It has a soft memory foam headband and ear cups, and a solid metal frame. The hinges are still hard plastic, which might cause a problem if dropped a few times, but otherwise it’s a sturdy and well-constructed frame. The stitching on the headband is also a nice touch, having the logo and edges sewed together with red and black threading. I still wish the cables going from the headband into the headphones were a bit less noticeable as they can easily snag on something. With that said, they shouldn’t cause users too much trouble. Overall, there’s virtually nothing that has been changed in the HyperX Cloud II Gaming Headset outside of a new finish and the microphone holster with “QPAD” no longer engraved on it.
The Kingston HyperX Cloud II Gaming Headset is for a distinct group of players. If you’re a hardcore PC gamer with even an entry level ASUS XONAR sound card, the first HyperX headset will be a far better buy. For those looking for an easy to use headset that will simulate a 7.1 surround sound experience, not to mention work with your console without any adapters, then this might tickle your fancy. Overall, while the virtual surround sound feature is more of a gimmick than anything else and there’s only incremental upgrades, this is still a top of the line headset for the price.