One of our all-time favorite gaming headsets, the Kingston HyperX Cloud II does an outstanding job of perfectly balancing performance and price. This headset is incredibly comfortable to wear — even for exceptionally extended gaming sessions — and delivers and transmits very clear sound. It's not too much of a hassle to use and would be a great fit for most gamers — especially those that are a bit on the more budget-conscious side and willing to take a slight hit in audio quality to save some cash.
Kingston HyperX Cloud II Review
Pros: Incredibly comfortable, great value, solid sound quality
Cons: Harder to mute, no mic sidetone
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Our Analysis and Test Results
This headset scored near the top of the overall group, finishing right behind the Razer Kraken and ahead of the HyperX Cloud Stinger. The Kraken and the Cloud II are both equally comfortable, but the Kraken has slightly better sound quality. However, the Cloud II transmits sound a bit better than the Kraken, with voices sounding a bit more realistic and closer to how the person actually sounds. It scored a bit better than the Cloud Stinger, mainly due to the fact that it is quite a bit more comfortable.
To see which headsets are truly the best you can get, we looked at dozens and dozens of different models, then selected the 11 most promising candidates to buy and test side-by-side. We compared how comfortable it is to wear each one, how music and voice sounded through each one, and how convenient each gaming headset it to use. We weighted each of these rating metrics proportional to their overall importance, using the performance of the Cloud II in each group of tests to assign it an overall score ranging from 0-100.
Accounting for 40% of the total score for each of these headsets, our set of Comfort tests are by far the most important when it comes to ranking each of these products. The Cloud II is one of the most comfortable headsets that we have tested, earning it an 8 out of 10 for its superb performance across the board in our comfort tests.
Almost every single one of our comfort testers was more than happy to wear this pair of headsets for extended periods of time — usually 10+ hours. Only a single tester didn't find them comfortable enough to wear for the whole day, but still was fine wearing them for 3-4 hours.
The padding on the headband is covered with the leatherette and securely holds the headset in place, without any unnecessary pressure. The ear cups use a semi-soft padding material that adds to the overall comfort of the Cloud II. There is a decent amount of space for larger ears, with the ear cups measuring about 1.5" wide and a little over 2.5" tall. Best of all, this headset includes two sets of ear cups — one covered in leatherette and one covered in velour, allowing you to match the Cloud II to your personal preferences and make them even more comfortable.
We also particularly liked that there was a small foam pad covering the speaker plate of each ear cup, making them even more comfortable. The Cloud II is about average in terms of weight, just shy of 11 ounces and none of our testers found it to be noticeably heavy.
The Cloud II delivered another strong showing in our audio quality tests, earning a 7 out of 10 for its solid performance, putting it in the upper portion of the overall group. This set of tests account for 30% of the total score for each headset.
This headset is decently well balanced when listening to music, with a slight emphasis on the bass and treble tones. This provides a very immersive experience when gaming, but vocals and voices can occasionally get a little lost with the slightly subdued mid-range.
Our testers found it about average to identify the location of in-game sounds when using the Cloud II, misidentifying the location of a shooter or someone walking a handful of times. However, this headset did do very well with position when given a dedicated binaural recording in our benchmarking tests.
For our other benchmarking tests, the Cloud II delivered a split performance, doing very well in the driver matching test but only mediocre in the bass quality test. The frequency stayed centered all the way through the spectrum, but there was some parasitic buzz when the bass was played at the max. This headset also does a fantastic job with voice quality, making voices sound true to life and exceptionally clear and easy to understand. The Cloud II also does a decent job of blocking out external noise, roughly halving the volume of background music or white noise.
Next, we moved on to evaluating the quality of the microphone on each headset, which constitutes 20% of the total score for each product. The Cloud II continued the trend, delivering another excellent performance and again finishing in the upper part of the group.
This model of gaming headset does a great job of capturing voice and making it sound as realistic as possible. The conversation comes across crystal-clear with no buzz at all. The only slight issue we found is that the voice sounds a little echoey — almost as if you were speaking in a large room, like a garage. It isn't overly sibilant on repeated "S" sounds and doesn't overemphasize "T" or "P" sounds.
The Cloud II's microphone does a decent job of filtering out external noises, with gamers on the other end of the line failing to notice if we were running a fan or playing background music on low, but could definitely hear if we were eating or tv or music was playing at moderate to high volumes.
Ease of Use
For the final 10% of the total score, we looked at how easy it is to actually use and set up the Cloud II. It finished out our tests with a decent showing, earning it a 6 out of 10.
This headset does have inline controls and we did appreciate that you can adjust both the microphone volume and the headset volume, as well as mute the microphone.
However, you need to slide a rather small switch to mute the mic — making it quite hard to quickly mute the mic. The Cloud II has a decently long cord at 10.6 ft, giving you ample room to move about while you are playing and still hear what is going on.
It has a detachable cable and mic, although it doesn't have the capability to enable a microphone sidetone.
Earning the Best Buy Award, the Kingston HyperX Cloud II is an excellent gaming headset to consider when shopping on a budget and unwilling to make too many concessions when it comes to performance.
While the Cloud II couldn't claim the overall top score, it is still one of our absolute favorites when it comes to these products. It did well across the board, delivering a great performance at an even better price. While some other products have slightly better sound quality, these are accompanied by a significant increase in price, making the Cloud II a perfect choice if you want the most bang for the buck.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer