In October, we got our hands on Kingston's HyperX Cloud Pro Gaming Headset. At the time it was marked down from $149.99 to $79.99. Even without the price drop as incentive, the audio quality was excellent, and the 3.5mm connections made it easy to plug and play on any smartphone, PC, laptop or game console.
Now, HyperX has come out with its successor, the Cloud II. It won't be available until Feb. 9, but I got the chance to play with it before its release. If the original Cloud was any indication of success, the Cloud II seems to deliver the same great audio performance alongside a few new features.
The headset in general looks identical to the original Cloud headset. The aluminum frame, leather headband, plastic cover for the drivers and leather ear cups are all black. Even the additional velour ear cups are still included in the box, along with the small bag to house your headset and wires. The microphone jack is still located under the left ear, and it's still sealed with a small cap that could easily be lost (an earlier criticism we had). The 6-inch microphone also returns, and thankfully it can still be bent to keep it out of the way if it's not needed.
The big difference between the two headsets is wiring. Whereas the original Cloud had two 3.5mm jacks for the audio and mic on the main wire, the Cloud II combined both jacks into one 43-inch cable, removing the need for the "Y" connector. The in-line controller returns, connected to a cable 80.5 inches in length. HyperX didn't add another extension cable to the Cloud II, but both wires should still give you more than 10 feet of cable for living room play.
Instead of a 3.5mm jack on the in-line controller's cable, the cable features a USB connector. Not only does the controller increase or decrease volume, it also controls the microphone voice output. Because there's no visual indicator on the controller, quick audio blips can be heard in the headset to indicate a change in volume.
There is also a switch on the side of the controller to mute or unmute the microphone. The latest addition to the controller is the central button, which activates 7.1 surround sound. The controller also glows a faint LED backlight (mine glowed red), which can be helpful if you're playing in the dark.
In keeping with the same quality as the original, the Cloud II delivers a great audio experience. I plugged it into my iPhone and played République, a stealth-based game. I could clearly hear the main character's footsteps alongside the ambient sounds of a generator, as well as automatic doors opening and closing. I also used it on Dragon Age: Inquisition on the PlayStation 4, which delivered heart-pounding magical explosions and terrifying shrieks from monsters.
It worked well with music, too, by offering a great mix of treble and bass without either one overpowering the other. Even without the controller, you can still use the headset and mic to chat, as I did on EVE Online through the Mumble chat client. I could clearly hear other players talking, and my voice came through loud and clear.
Having the 3.5mm jack really opens up the headset's capabilities, allowing you to use it on smartphones, PC, laptops and consoles. I also experimented with the USB connector by plugging it into the PS4 to see if it would work. It does, but you won't be able to use the headset's controller at all and will have to change the volume of both the audio and mic through the PS4's system settings.
The core feature of the Cloud II over the original Cloud is the addition of 7.1 surround sound, which greatly amplifies any gaming experience. I tried it out on Team Fortress 2, and the quality was amazing. I can easily discern footsteps and weapon changes, and the sound of explosions and machine gun fire are greatly amplified, resulting in intense gameplay. I also used it to watch a few trailers of Avengers: Age of Ultron, and the results were spectacular. There were no distortions on the higher volume levels, and the mix of music and explosions made the trailer even more exciting to watch.
The Cloud II comes in three colors: gun metal, pink and red, and it has a $99.99 MSRP. Considering the features, the headset is a great peripheral for its price. The Cloud II builds on its predecessor by providing the same audio quality and adding another layer to the experience with 7.1 surround sound. Providing users with both a 3.5mm jack and the USB connector is ideal not only because it helps to extend the reach of the headset, but also because it opens up a variety of devices that you can use with the Cloud II.