Review: HyperX Cloud II Wireless Gaming headphones make WFH more pleasant and more badass
HyperX Cloud II Wireless
The $149 Cloud II Wireless headset offers a comfortable ride and great sound for gamers and those working from home. A smaller dongle would better complement the modern style and USB-C charging for these mid-range headphones that punch out audio above their grade.
The gaming classic HyperX Cloud II wired headphones wrap games in a deep auditory envelope. As work from home (WFH) locked everyone into a video conferencing stare, people sought headphones that could deliver the voice of colleagues with the same veracity as Lara Croft or John Marston. HyperX delivered the Cloud II Wireless to not only relay screams and squeals but to facilitate conversations and comfort overtaxed ears with pleasant auditory emanations when relaxing.
What we like
These cans look badass. It doesn’t matter if you are a gamer or customer service rep. These well-honed headphones sport an edge.
Crisp, clear sound. These aren’t high-end Bose headphones, but that won’t matter to your ears. The 53mm drivers scream and whisper across the 15Hz-20,000kHz range, ripping into simulated surround 7.1 surround sound at the push of a button. If you aren’t a gamer, flip on the simulated 7.1 surround sound, stream a little Star Wars, Jurassic Park, or The Matrix–then close your eyes, and just listen. The sound grabs you and pulls you in. You might even flashback to the heady days of seeing a movie in a theater.
Extra-large ear cups cradle your ears. Some cups are too small, even when they claim over the ear design. Not the Cloud IIs. Every bit of my ear fits within the comfortable cups without bending or stuffing, subjugation, or manipulation. And the well-cushioned head arch deftly relieves any pressure across the top of my skull. The WFH crowd benefits from comfort derived from design choices driven by hours anticipated in gameplay.
Unlike many gaming headphones that synchronize lighting effects, the Cloud II user experience leans toward sparse. A single LED on the removable microphone indicates mute, and a green LED displays power. The removable microphone proves a gaming feature that receives high marks in a WFH world. Remove the microphone when listening to music, taking the headset from interactive to passive mode. No microphone says just relax.
The USB-C port charges a battery capable of 30-hours of use. I have yet to run out of juice over multiple days.
While not designed for work form home, the Cloud IIs perform more than admirably in that role.
What could be improved
The wireless dongle says early 2000, not literally, but figuratively. It connects to the headset effortlessly, and delivers a consistent audio stream , but its huge compared to the common and diminutive dongles like those supplied for mice by Microsoft and Logitech, and the tiny USB-sticks from SanDisk.
A bigger question:? Why a dongle at all?
With Bluetooth 5.0’s improved compression, reliability, and distance, it displaces most 2.4Ghz connections, along with its earlier incarnation, Bluetooth 4.2. I see few complaints about Bluetooth 5.0 for gaming or conferencing, save audiophiles seeking nuanced playback. Perhaps a future version will go dongleless.
I would like to see better onboard software. For instance, I would like to know when surround sound is on or off. Many headphones include audio cues, like a voice saying, “surround sound on.” The Cloud IIs would benefit from some cue as to their feature status, or when a change in feature occurs.
The dongle is USB-A only. I know its a cost item, but a USB-C adapter wouldn’t be a bad include in the box as devices transition. Many USB-C only computers, however, do prompt a USB hub or dock investment, making the USB-A an acceptable choice.
I expect this class of headphone to include active noise cancelation (ANC). I’m seeing sub $100 devices that offer ANC. With WFH pressures, and low cost chipsets, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Cloud III sport ANC in the future. As it is, sound isolation is OK, but in a noisy environment, outside noise does filter into the audio experience, which can be an issue in WFH situations with others learning or working side-by-side.
HyperX Cloud II Wireless: The Bottom Line
These comfortable, long-battery life over-the-ear headphones will satisfy gamers and those working from home. The large dongle is really the only negative, as it makes what is a sleek modern headphone setup look like it was borrowed from the bottom drawer of Uncle Joe’s Desk—until you install them, put them over your ears, and forget about the dongle amid the rapture of sound (or just your colleagues yakking at you over Zoom). WFH users would benefit from active noise cancelation, and Bluetooth would eliminate the dongle altogether, and extend use from PCs to mobile devices.
HyperX (Kensington) provided the HyperX Cloud II Wireless headphones for review. Serious Insights is not compensated for clicks to the HyperX website.
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Images courtesy of HyperX.
Daniel W. Rasmus
Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.