The HyperX Cloud Alpha isn’t exactly the new kid on the block. You could even say they’re a veteran amongst the best gaming headsets, being released back in 2017.
Retailing for $100 / £80 (roughly), these compelling mid-range cups have become known as the unofficial gold-standard for no-nonsense, quality at a reasonable price point. So, what keeps this, dare-I-say 'classic', headset alive and kicking on the desks of many a gamer? And, perhaps more importantly, can they keep up in a 2020 market that’s so saturated with fantastic choices?
The HyperX Cloud Alpha feature a minimalist aviation-style aesthetic that reminds you more of a studio set of headphones than a gaming headset. It’s classy, especially classy for the price tag in fact, and the pictures don’t quite do justice to the overall design of the headset.
Type: Wired (3.5mm jack)
Sound output: Stereo
Microphone: Detachable boom
Compatibility: PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, mobile
Controls: Volume, mute
Impedance: 65 ohm
Frequency response: 13Hz - 27kHz
Tested on PC.
There’s no RGB on show here, instead, you’re getting a few understated strokes of red on an otherwise matte black finish. The only touches of flash are the HyperX logo printed on the outside of the cups and the rather fetching embroidered logo on the top band, which, also features some lovely stitching - a very classy touch indeed.
Unlike most gaming headsets, which are a fairly plasticky affair at the best of times, the HyperX Cloud Alpha makes heavy use of Aluminium parts on the cups and main band. Overall this lends to a superbly sturdy feel in the hand, which, while maybe psychosomatic, makes you feel like you’re handling something that’ll really go the distance.
Even better still is the level of comfort the Cloud Alpha's plush leatherette memory foam padding affords when worn. You’d think the reliance on metal parts would add weight too, but that’s not the case - these are superbly lightweight headphones designed for long periods of wear.
Inside the cups, you’re getting what HyperX calls 'Dual Chamber Drivers’, which supposedly acts to decrease sound distortion and help give you that crystal clear sound. I have to say, I didn’t particularly notice any difference over traditional designs, but these do sound pretty good - more on that later.
One little highlight that’s often overlooked in headphones but is always welcome is the detachable cable - an often requested feature. It means you should be set for replacements down the line, and, importantly, it shows HyperX is willing to listen to what gamers want. The included boom mic is also completely detachable, should you want to forgo that too.
Aside from that, you’re pretty much just getting… well, a headset, with a good old-fashioned 3.5mm jack for all compatible systems - PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One to name a few. It’s definitely a departure from the USB setup most modern headsets come with that allows for various software and customization but there’s something to be said for the ubiquitousness of 3.5mm. For one, it means all gamers get the same basic package here while many headsets will sometimes lock console gamers out of their coolest features.
One could decry HyperX for not including a bevy of software, dials, and other bells and whistles on the Alpha Cloud, but it’s evident they prioritized build quality here over outright features. Subsequently, you plug the Alpha Cloud’s in and simply get a great sound out of the box. No more, no less.
On to performance then, where, in my books, this headset truly shines for the money it'll set you back. As hinted already, these sound great out of the box with an overall well-balanced profile. There’s a generous helping of low-end thump, but nothing too overbearing. The highs are pleasantly rolled off, so you’ll get no shrillness wearing you down over long sessions. That, coupled with the really comfortable fit, means you’re in the sweet spot for chilled sessions with your favorite RPG or strategy game - Imperator: Rome, in my case.
But, let’s also not forget HyperX is a brand with esports pedigree, however - a fact highlighted by the no-nonsense specs-sheet the Cloud Alpha's afford. As you’d expect this headset really shines here, and, in CS:GO, my competitive shooter of choice, I had zero issues keeping up with the action.
Despite not having any fancy software or spatial sound, all noises were easily placed using good old fashioned stereo inside a closed-back design. What’s more, the cups afford fantastic sound isolation too, so you’ll have no issues picking out those footsteps or equally reveling in the thunder of a particularly well placed-shot.
The detachable boom mic is again, superb quality, rendering a fairly clear and uncompressed signal. The marketing for this headset does make reference to the mic being both teamspeak and discord certified, although my group certainly couldn’t tell any difference over other good quality headset mics.
Verdict - should you buy it?
The HyperX Cloud Alpha gets a resounding thumbs up. Why? They simply offer amazing value for the money. Sure, you’re not getting fancy RGB lighting, spatial sound profiling, or even any software, but, crucially, you’re getting a headset that simply just works and offers one thing you often don’t see on cheaper headsets - quality.
If I had to pick holes? They aren’t foldable, so you won’t be transporting them in a small case. That’s It. Otherwise, this is one no-nonsense mid-range solution for gamers on the hunt for the best PS4 headsets, best Xbox One headsets or even those looking for the best PC headset for gaming.