The noise-cancelling on the microphone has been improved, specifically tuned to block out the sound of HyperX’s very own Alloy keyboard and the famously piercing sound of Cherry MX blue switches. The Cloud Alpha headphones also feature very noticeably improved noise isolation, preventing any chatter around you from ruining the listening experience.
Hi-Res audio isn’t the be all and end all for games at the moment (see our buying guide below for more info), but if you’ve got lots of Hi-Res audio tracks that you listen to at home or subscribe to services like Tidal, this could be a handy solution that meets both your home and game listening needs without having to buy a second pair of headphones.
There are also cues to let you know when the battery is running low. Regular beeps when the battery level is getting low and a flashing light on the earcup next to the charging port to warn you in plenty of time and give you the choice to either start charging early or have a rough idea of how much gaming time is left before you run out. It's certainly nice to have the option to switch between the wired and wireless modes with ease though.
We also tested the HyperX Cloud II, Kingston’s updated version of our top pick, which features a USB sound card, surround-sound processing, a slightly superior microphone, and better padding on the headband. If you’re a laptop gamer without access to good analog audio jacks, it’s a smart buy. For most people, though, none of those enhancements justify the extra price.
Well, it’s not the price, that’s for sure. Its MSRP is $100 / £90, but you can find easily find it for considerably less on a regular basis. Roccat has aimed this straight at the HyperX Cloud Alpha’s price point, and it hits the nail right on the head for price and performance in that bracket, and easily breezes past the competition if you find it for a good deal less.
It’s worth noting, though, that this is only the case with PC and PS4 platforms. For Xbox and mobile devices, you have to use the included 3.5 mm audio cable, and that does disable the headset’s chat functionality. Since we’re only really concerned with PC performance for the purposes of this guide, that wasn’t an issue, but it’s still worth noting.
We also listen to music and watch movies with each headset in order to size up its usefulness for consuming multimedia. For wireless headsets, we keep a log of how long the peripheral lasts before the battery completely drains. We use voice recordings to evaluate each headset's microphone, as well as listen back to any Twitch broadcasts we've conducted with them on.
The design of the Corsair Void Wireless is an acquired taste, to say the least, and we still can’t tell if we like it or not. Inside the Void’s plastic casing, you will find the metallic subframe, and the main reason for the Void's undeniable durability. On the other hand, the external plastic of the Void feels pretty cheap, and, when coupled with the unconventionally-shaped (but extremely comfortable) earcups, there’s a lot of horizontal movement when the Void is on your head.
The HyperX Cloud’s frequency response is as true to life as you could hope for from a headset that sells for less than $100. Pitting this pair against the Sony MDR-7506 (our top pick for the best over-ear headphones under $200 four years running), our testers found that the HyperX Cloud wasn’t quite as neutral as the Sony model. We found its treble response slightly less even, its midrange a tiny bit less smooth, and its bass a touch fuller. But we liked its sound better with games and even with some music and movies. We also found the HyperX Cloud more comfortable over long periods of time, though not by a lot, and it offered better isolation from external noise.
The other drawback of its closed-back design is that the Custom Game isn’t as breathable as the Sennheiser, which means that it gets a bit warmer after hours of wear. Still, the spacious ear cups and ample padding were appreciated by all of our testers. As long as you’re not planning on wearing your headset for more than three or four hours at a time, comfort shouldn’t be an issue. Thankfully, the headset also feels as durable and well-built as its $200-ish retail price would suggest. And if you should happen to wear out or otherwise damage the padded headband, it’s easily replaceable, which is an appreciated feature that we don’t see nearly often enough.
Design wise, the Alpha isn’t testing convention, incorporating the signature red and black colorway we’ve all come to expect from any gamer product released, ever. That said, the headbands high quality contrast stitching and embossed HyperX logo do well to compliment the minimalist design, resulting in something that might not match the Arctis range in terms of style, but could certainly teach the Sennheiser PC 373D (below) how to feel young again. And sound-wise, the Alphas deliver. The closed back design does well at isolating external noise, while the 50mm drivers take care of the rest. On par with the SteelSeries Arctis Pro, above, no other mid-range set creates the same clarity amongst the higher frequencies as the Cloud Alphas. Slight bass and mid boosts coupled with a lack of software again hints at the Alphas bias towards gaming, but music and movies still sounded superb. The detachable mic is a nice touch and pulls its weight in terms of sound quality, avoiding being too gainy, or conversely, too compressed.
Sound quality is an essential consideration for any gaming headset purchase. While headsets often deliver stereo sound with a single speaker for each ear, many models feature additional speakers per ear cup to deliver a true, very impressive surround sound experience. Though it may seem like a no-brainer, comfort is also very important, since you may be wearing your headset for hours at a time. Look for headsets that have padded or foam headbands and ear cups. Many headsets with microphones include noise cancellation which helps the person you're competing with hear you by differentiating between your voice and background noise. And volume control may be important to your game experience, which is why many headsets include a separate control switch that adjusts in-game chat independently of game audio.
Shopping for gaming headphones is typically a very different experience than when looking at normal headphones for a commute or for office use. Gaming headphones tend be flashier and bulkier, with less thought given to portability or critical listening and more emphasis given to the microphone quality and active features. We’ve tested over 225 headphones and 107 wireless models and below are our top 5 recommendations for wireless gaming headsets.
Ordinarily it's hugely important when buying headphones, but not so much for gaming headsets. Most come with digital connections (USB, Optical) which have fairly standardized power outputs. Those that don’t, come with their own in-line or standalone amp/wireless transmitters. The all-in-one convenience of gaming headsets is half their charm (and half their limitation), something which is definitely highlighted in their plug and play functionality. We’re not saying people haven’t plugged their 3.5mm Razer Kraken Pro V2 into a 1/8”converter and blown them on some monster amp - we’re sure they have – but part of the premium price tag you pay when purchasing one of these products goes towards maximizing accessibility while minimizing technical know-how.