Two years ago, I reviewed HyperX’s Cloud Revolver, a newly-designed headset that branched out from the company’s famous Cloud. In that review, I mentioned that I’d briefly tried out the Cloud II, the refreshed edition of HyperX’s original. Unfortunately for me, the Cloud II was shipped off as part of a giveaway to some lucky soul, but even in its short time with me, it became the standard of a high-quality gaming headset in my mind.
Since then, a number of Cloud headsets have succeeded the Cloud II, each with slight improvements or added features. The Cloud II left such a lasting impression on me that I’ve paid close attention to those changes over the years, so when the Cloud Alpha was announced, I was curious to see how it differed from previous Clouds. Thanks to HyperX, I was able to actually get my hands on the Alpha for myself in order to see how well the Cloud has aged and advanced.
The Cloud Alpha barely looks like it has aged a day. Some of the softer edges on the outside of the driver housing have given way to more angular looks, but you probably wouldn’t notice without comparing it to a picture of the Cloud in its younger years. HyperX’s classic red-and-black look hasn’t faded from the Alpha. Some previous Clouds were available in more muted colors, but that isn’t the case for the new top dog. Besides the red accents, there isn’t anything particularly flashy about the Alpha. You won’t catch it trying on any of the LEDs or stealth fighter-esque angles that seem to be all the rage these days. The design is clean and simple. It actually looks like a pair of headphones instead of some sort of sci-fi headgear.
The Alpha’s only noticeable visual change is the presence of a number of cut-outs in the metal connecting arms from the headband to the earcups. The Alpha has actually lost some weight, and the cutouts are at least partially responsible for that. The Alpha weighs in at 0.7 lbs, or 336 g, with the microphone and cable attached. That’s 14 grams lighter than the Cloud II and 40 grams lighter than its younger, bulkier sibling, the Cloud Revolver.
As far as I can tell, the weight savings come without any compromises to the structural integrity of the Alpha. HyperX’s latest remains one sturdy headset, thanks to its aluminum frame and external driver housing plates. Even some of the more high end headsets I’ve reviewed are primarily composed of plastic and feel a little chintzy as a result. The Alpha is most definitely not chintzy in any regard. Its metal frame is flexible enough to comfortably accommodate gamers’ differing heads sizes and not snap if it’s accidentally bent. Instead, it straightens itself back out without any sign that it was ever in a different shape. The metal frame can also extend out of the headband to further match different head sizes. There are eleven different lengthening notches in the frame, and each has an accompanying mark so that gamers can easily reset their favorite position if needed. The sections of the headset that are made of plastic are made of a sturdy composite with a nice matte finish that’s smooth and somewhat soft to the touch.
Fortunately, what comes in contact with the user’s head is not metal or plastic, but rather thick leatherette. HyperX has, without a doubt, some of the highest-quality padding on the market. The lightweight design and quality padding are the namesake of the Cloud brand, and the Alpha certainly does them proud. My awareness of the presence of the Alpha on my head quickly faded as I engaged with the task or game in front of me. There have only been a few times after wearing the Alpha for multiple hours on end that I’ve felt the need to readjust it on my head. Unlike the Revolver, it also feels comfortable and stays securely in place on my head, instead of sliding off when looking around or bending down.
HyperX is courteous enough to provide a two-in-one extender cable and y-splitter with this headset in addition to the primary cable, which can be unplugged from the headset itself. This setup makes the Alpha compatible with both the PC and any device equipped with a standard four-pole 3.5-mm port without any additional cables or adapters. The removable cable also means gamers with chew-happy pets or errant chair wheels won’t have to toss the entire unit if their cable is ruined somehow.
Both included cables are round and braided. The primary cable is 4.25 ft long, while the extender is 6.5 ft long. The primary cable has a built-in dongle with a volume wheel and a mic mute switch. Unfortunately, the audio port is not flush with the bottom of the headset, and the cutout that surrounds it is form-fitted to the provided cable. Those who might want to plug in their own cable may find the hole too small to fit the connector.
I praised the 50-mm drivers in the Revolver for being some of the best drivers I’ve heard in a headset, but HyperX has somehow equipped the Alpha with an even better set of drivers. The 50-mm drivers in the Alpha have two chambers surrounding them: one that purports to enhance mids and highs and the other for bass. HyperX says this configuration “provides more distinction between sounds and minimizes distortion.” The Revolver claimed to offer more accurate audio positioning and did produce crisp and clearly distinguishable sounds, but the Alpha sounds just a little bit cleaner and punchier to my ears.
One thing is for certain: the Alpha doesn’t sacrifice music quality by using an audio profile tuned specifically for gaming. The profile isn’t cut or boosted in the highs, mids, or lows—it’s quite neutral to start with. I have very broad tastes in music, but the Alpha doesn’t seem to favor any genres over others. The same goes for games. The Alpha simply sounds fantastic all around. I wear the Alpha almost anytime I’m on my PC, and it has been great for video and audio editing, listening to music, watching videos, voice and video calls, and playing games. Speaking of gaming, I test how headsets impact situational awareness by hopping into an intense FPS. The Alpha performed phenomenally. I could clearly pick out footsteps, gunshots, and other little sounds critical to locating fast-moving enemies in Titanfall 2.
Gaming headsets are typically not known for their good microphones, so when I plugged in the microphone, opened up Audacity, and recorded some samples, I was shocked. The microphone has been the major weak point of pretty much every Cloud headset up to this point. HyperX has been slowly improving them, but not by much. After such slow progress for so long, it’s shocking how much of a jump there is from the Revolver mic to the Alpha mic. It doesn’t have the impeccable crispness of my Rode Podcaster, and it’s a bit lacking in bass, but it has a nice, clean sound, unlike most headset microphones. The untrained ear without the Podcaster sample for comparison probably wouldn’t know what it was missing. The first time I jumped onto Discord with the Alpha, a buddy of mine sung the praises of the mic, and I’ve gotten no complaints about it at all. The Alpha’s mic is no doubt the best headset mic I’ve heard to date.
The HyperX Cloud Alpha shows what a company can do when it sticks with a design and continues to improve on it, rather than trying to create the next best thing from the ground up. Admittedly, HyperX started out with a great design with its Cloud in the first place, so it didn’t take much to perfect it. I honestly can’t come up with anything negative to say about the Alpha. It’d be nice if it was offered in colors other than red and black like previous Cloud headsets and if the connector hole was slightly bigger to accommodate custom cables, but I’m grasping at straws here.
The Alpha looks pretty classy and is made of high quality materials. It’s well built and is relatively light in weight. It feels comfortable for extended periods of time, but stays on your head without issue. It has a detachable microphone and cable and includes an extender cable with a y-adapter. Most impressively, the Cloud Alpha has the best-sounding pair of cans I’ve heard on a gaming headset and has the best-sounding microphone I’ve heard, as well.
All those virtues make the Cloud Alpha one of the best gaming headsets on the market right now to my ears. Perhaps the best thing about this headset is its price: it’ll set you back $100 to pick one up for yourself, no more than the original Cloud is going for at many retailers right now. I think you can spend a lot more than that on a gaming headset and not get something nearly as good as the Alpha, especially in the microphone department. Unless you’re looking for a wireless headset, you simply can’t go wrong with the Alpha. It’s an easy TR Editor’s Choice.