For $99, the HyperX Cloud Alpha may be single best value gaming headset out there. In my time with it, I have been impressed in every single way, even when comparing it to headset’s more than twice the price. Simply put, if you want a headset that will not only make games and music sound great, but won’t break the bank, look no further. HyperX has done it again.
- MSRP: $99.99
- Driver: Custom dynamic, 50mm with neodymium magnets
- Type: Circumaural, closed back
- Frequency response: 13Hz–27,000Hz
- Impedance: 65 Ω
- Sound pressure level: 98dBSPL/mW at 1kHz
- T.H.D.: < 1%
- Weight: 298g
- Cable: Detachable, braided 1.3m w/ 2m extension
- Connection: 3.5mm (4 pole) + PC extension cable - 3.5mm stereo and mic plugs
- Element: Electret condenser microphone
- Polar pattern: Noise-cancelling
- Frequency response: 50Hz-18,000Hz
- Sensitivity: -43dBV (0dB=1V/Pa,1kHz)
That HyperX delivered another great headset should come as no surprise. Their previous releases, like the Cloud Stinger, have come to be regarded as some of the best values in gaming headsets. Like anyone who reads peripheral coverage, I had a good idea that I was in for a treat when the Cloud Alpha was being sent over. What I wasn’t sure of is whether a $99 headset, any $99 headset, could compete against some of the others coming in at 50 or even 100% more expensive. I shouldn’t have been concerned.
The Alphas are the best built headphones I’ve reviewed so far this month. They’re made almost entirely of metal. From the red anodized headband to the aluminum driver housings, these headphones are made like a tank. Surprisingly, they still feel light on the head. The headband is very flexible, so the grip isn’t too tight, and the memory foam padding on its upper arch works well to dampen any sounds that might ring out through its body. I have a smaller head and found they fit me well right out of the box, but it’s also adjustable, revealing more of that red metal frame. The headphone cable and microphone are both detachable, too, which is great for long-term durability, and feature in-line volume and mic mute.
The padding on these headphones is top notch. Rather that use the cheaper padding usually found on sub $100 headphones, the ear cushions are a lush memory foam. They do a great job of sealing out outside noise and reducing noise bleed. I game in my living room and usually my wife has to turn the TV up once my games get going. Here, she could barely hear it even when I turned it up fairly loud. The padding along the headband is also memory foam and is thick and comfortable. Some people might find the red and black to be a bit too “gamery,” but it is quintessential “HyperX,” and in my opinion, looks very good.
The Alphas use a new Dual Chamber driver system to enhance their sound over their previous models and other gaming headsets. You can learn more about it here, but in a traditional driver, mid, bass, and treble frequencies are all generated in within a single chamber. When bass gets too loud, it overwhelms the other frequencies causing the sound to get muddy. The Alphas solve this by providing a separate chamber specifically for tuning the bass and keeping the mids and highs from getting overwhelmed. The result is a much cleaner sound, even when things get intense.
This month, we’re reviewing a lot of great headsets. They all sound good in their own right. Today’s HyperX breaks the mold in more ways than one. First, what might sound like marketing with this “dual chamber” design is true and excellent. My go-to game for testing gaming headphones is Battlefield 1. The dynamic range, uncompressed audio, scope, and positionality make for an excellent test. The HyperX Alphas remained crystal clear through explosions and roaring engines, never once making it hard to hear footsteps or callouts from my squad. What’s more, their natural sound signature accentuates mids and highs very well, giving gun blasts a crispness that absolutely added to the realism of the game.
The really surprising part is how good they were for music. For a headset directly targeted at gamers, the Cloud Alphas are amazingly good for enjoying music. They’re not reference headphones, and have a warmness to them that is very pleasant for listening, but the same clarity that allows for clean rifle blasts allows for some sparkling highs that don’t ever tread into harshness. Call it blasphemy, but I almost liked listening to music on them more than playing games!
The Alphas also make a good case for having good onboard audio on your motherboard or connecting to an external device. The headset sounded good plugged into my PCs standard 3.5mm jack, but sounded even better when I switched over to my more powerful Sound BlasterX Katana sound bar (which doubles as an audio interface). The slightly higher 65-ohm impedance won’t stop any PC, console, or smartphone from driving these headphones, but they definitely sound best when they’re loud and that bit of extra juice helps.
The one downside is that, if anything, the bass may be a touch too quiet. After enjoying them with a flat profile, I applied some basic EQing to slightly boost the low and high ends and found myself with a headset that sounded rich and clear and definitely made games and music more fun.
Do note, however, that the Cloud Alphas are stereo only. If you’re looking for virtual surround sound, stop. These get the job done better than most surround sound headsets I’ve heard, including my $250 Siberia 800s. The Alphas suffer nothing for dropping software surround sound, and the positional accuracy isn’t worth losing for some extra reverb. This is a case where less really is more.
The last thing to go over here is the microphone. Since we’re talking about a wired headset, it’s reasonable to expect the microphone will sound better than your average wireless headset. In actual use, though, it is very, very good. The software-based noise isolation does an outstanding job of cutting out most background noise, but even with that off, hiss is downright minimal. The HyperX Alphas would be a great choice for streamers and podcasters. Have a listen:
The Cloud Alphas are my first foray into the world of HyperX products and it really couldn’t have been a better experience. For $99, this is an unlikely bargain, the type of which is becoming a rarity in the world of gaming products. They sound better than they have any right to at this price; superior build quality and a stand-out microphone are just icing on the cake.
- Durable metal build
- Memory foam padding
- Dual chamber drivers are the real deal
- Exceptional sound for more than just gaming
- Great microphone