HyperX's Cloud Revolver gaming headset reviewed

A not-so-fluffy Cloud
— 2:58 PM on May 12, 2016

For many gamers, a good headset is sturdy, comfortable, and not too flashy, and the popularity of HyperX's Cloud and Cloud II headsets attests to how well the company has hit that mark. I've spent a bit of time with the Cloud II in the past, and I can attest to its quality. Given that experience, I'm excited to have a look at HyperX's latest gaming headset: the Cloud Revolver.

The Revolver's design strays from the no-nonsense look of the previous Clouds. It isn't as aggressive-looking as some of the RGB LED headsets on the market, but it's edgier than the smooth, glossy-looking design of its older brothers. It sticks with those headsets' black-and-red color scheme, but the extra angles and protrusions around the Revolver's earcups draw more attention to the wearer than those older cans did. Another noticeable departure from older Clouds is the large steel frame that extends above the headband. This frame makes the Revolver feel extra-sturdy, but it does add some weight to the headset. The Revolver weighs in at 0.8 lbs, or 376 g, with its mic attached.

The protrusions that connect the earcups to the rest of the Cloud Revolver make it quite large, so much so that I would occasionally see the sides of the headset out of the corners of my eyes while I was wearing it. The purpose of these connectors seems to be to allow leeway for the earcups to move independently of the rest of the headset. That flexibility might make the Revolver more comfortable for some wearers' heads.

A large portion of my time with the Revolver was spent in Damage Labs using the HTC Vive VR headset. In games that require lots of hand motion around the head, the size of the Revolver was a bit of an issue. When I nocked arrows in Holopoint, I would frequently whack the side of the Revolver with a Vive controller, causing the steel frame to vibrate loudly and disturbing my immersion. Regular gamers shouldn't run into that problem often, though.

The Revolver has a single four-pole jack for use with mobile devices and consoles. There is also a control box which splits the four-pole jack into two separate 3.5-mm mic and audio-in jacks. The control box contains a mute switch, volume slider, and shirt clip, but it doesn't include the software-free 7.1 surround sound button of the Cloud II. To be fair, the Revolver doesn't need a USB port to do its thing, and third-party surround-sound solutions are readily available for those who want them. The three-foot-long cable and six-foot-long extended cable are braided and well sized. The main cable is short enough that it doesn't entangle a user with the headset plugged into a mobile device, while the extended cable provides plenty of reach and maneuverability at the desk.

Put the Cloud Revolver on, and it lives up to its name. It's incredibly comfortable. Even though HyperX didn't line the Revolver's leatherette headband with memory foam like it did with its older Clouds, that change only resulted in a bit of extra pressure on my head during long gaming sessions. The earcups are still padded with that great memory foam, though, and the padding on the headband is adequate. Overall, the Revolver felt light as a cloud when I put it on my head.

The sound of a Cloud
HyperX claims that the Revolver has a wider soundstage than previous Clouds. It's also purported to offer more accurate audio positioning than its predecessors. Unfortunately, I no longer have a Cloud II on hand to test those claims directly, but I can speak to the Revolver's excellent sound quality on its own. HyperX outfits the Revolver with a pair of 50-mm neodymium drivers, and it uses a closed earcup design to reduce environmental noise.

I spent a lot of time in VR with the Revolver, and the audio positioning did sound great in virtual environments. I also listened to a large variety of music on the headset, including a capella, acoustic, EDM, instrumental, metal, and rock. While I don't consider myself an audiophile, I can say that the Revolver has one of the better-sounding pairs of cans I've heard on a gaming headset. Songs with complex instrumentation, particularly instrumental and acoustic, have a sense of fullness to them that other headphones I have on hand don't reproduce as well. I could distinctly make out each individual instrument and sound source. The headset's soundstage lives up to HyperX's billing, too.

While the Revolver doesn't have any natural bias towards treble or bass, using a third-party equalizer with it produced good results. When the bass is boosted, the bass actually becomes deeper and richer, rather than simply growing louder. The noise isolation is also quite good. The closed earcups don't completely block out the outside world, but they will reduce annoying background noise. From a listening standpoint, I came away quite pleased with HyperX's latest.

The other half of any headset is its microphone. In my experience with other HyperX headset mics, they've only turned in average performances. Unfortunately, the Revolver doesn't deliver a revolution with its microphone audio quality. Like those other Clouds, the Revolver mic has a slightly tinny sound. It also picks up background noise and puffs of air a bit more than its brothers. It isn't bad, to be sure, but I wouldn't call it great for extended video calls, live streams, or videos where audio quality is paramount. Even so, this mic will serve just fine for in-game voice chat, which is how I imagine it'll be used by the majority of owners.

When a company tries to improve on an already-successful product, it runs the risk of unbalancing the formula that led to that product's success in the first place. The HyperX Cloud Revolver's design departs from the already-popular Cloud II in a variety of ways, so we were curious to see whether those changes were winning ones.

Some of the changes HyperX made are neutral or slight steps back, going by our past experiences with Cloud headsets. The steel band that joins the headset's earcups can produce a distracting ringing sound when it's touched or bumped. It also adds a few grams of weight. The audio quality of the Revolver's mic falls a little short of what we'd expect from a high-end headset, too. Finally, the Revolver's design is a bit too flashy for my tastes. The Cloud II is something I might wear in public with its microphone removed, but the Revolver's harder angles and edges might draw more attention than I'm comfortable with.

Those nitpicks aside, the Cloud Revolver is still a great headset. The steel frame is sturdy, the memory foam earcups are incredibly comfortable, and the drivers produce high-quality sound. Some buyers might prefer the Revolver's edgier design over older Cloud headsets, too. The Revolver sells for $120 on Newegg right now, a slight premium over the $100 Cloud II. Frankly, we don't think you can go wrong with either of these headsets—the Revolver's style and the Cloud II's USB surround-sound card will likely be the biggest reasons to choose one headset over the other. Both offer great sound quality and a comfortable gaming experience. Either way, you can be confident you're picking a winner.

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Tags: Multimedia