My first pair of wireless headphones was Noontec’s Zoro II Wireless. I ended up using them a whole lot, even after I had finished reviewing them. While the Zoro II is a good pair of portable, on-ear headphones, I want a quality set of over-ear cans with a decent microphone for gaming with friends when I’m sitting at my desk. As a result, I’ve continued to use wired headsets with my PC.
My headset of choice since I reviewed it has been HyperX’s Cloud Alpha. Wireless gaming headsets have been popping up more and more frequently of late, but I like the Cloud Alpha so much that I didn’t think I would switch over to something wireless for some time yet. Little did I know that the Alpha was soon to be challenged by a new, wireless sibling: the Cloud Flight.
The Cloud Flight takes more after the Cloud Stinger than the rest of the Cloud family in its outward construction. There is no bare metal on display for all to see. The steel band is hidden underneath black plastic, while other parts of the frame have been entirely replaced by polymer. However, as the Stinger proved, Clouds with frames made primarily of plastic can still maintain HyperX’s reputation for high build quality and flexibility.
Both the Stinger and Flight are actually more flexible than the other Clouds in one respect. The earcups of both headsets swivel a little over ninety degrees inward, allowing the headsets to more comfortably rest around users’ necks with the earcups flat against their clavicles. I found this swivel feature to be incredibly useful on the Flight due to the headset’s wireless nature.
The Flight’s cord-free design means it can be seamlessly used away from the desk and even in other rooms. Simply being able to stand up and step away from my desk without having to take off the headset has been revolutionary. Sometimes I would be off in another room and need to take off the Flight for a period of time, and I could just slip it right off my head and onto my neck without any discomfort.
HyperX’s signature memory foam padding also helps to ensure a discomfort-free experience. The top of the band seems a bit light on padding to the touch, but I couldn’t tell you that from just wearing the headset. The Flight is actually the most comfortable gaming headset I’ve worn to date, and that’s saying something given how comfortable the Cloud Alpha is. I’ll begin to feel some light pressure on my head after long gaming sessions wearing the Alpha, and I occasionally feel the need to readjust it. I haven’t experienced that pressure a single time with the Flight. Sometimes I’ll need to readjust the Flight soon after putting it on my head, but once it’s in a good spot, I often forget that it’s even there.
While the Flight shares a number of design elements with the Stinger, it has a more mature and premium look and feel. The harsh angles of the Stinger are replaced by flowing transitions, while the plastic is smooth rather than grainy. Simply holding the Flight in your hands gives you the distinct impression that it is a premium product, which should be expected given that it is HyperX’s most expensive headset yet.
My only gripe with the construction of the Flight is that the adjustment bands are a bit too loose. When I drop the headset down onto my neck or pick it up a little forcefully, the bands will occasionally slide further out from the point I have them set.
In order to help distinguish the Flight from the rest of its lineup, HyperX has embedded red LEDs under the logo on the sides of both earcups. I can’t say I’m a fan of sticking blinkenlights on headsets, especially since they sit on your head most of the time. At least glowing keyboards and mice are sitting in front of you, where you might see them from time to time. Putting LEDs on the Flight is a particularly odd choice because it runs on battery power.
HyperX’s own battery life estimations make clear the severe disadvantage of equipping a wireless headset with LEDs. The estimated battery life with the LEDs off is thirty hours, while turning the LEDs on takes it down to only thirteen hours. Setting the lights to “breath” mode bumps the estimated battery life up to eighteen hours, but having the lights on at all is still a compromise. At least there’s an off switch. The Flight forgets what lighting mode you last had it in upon powering it off, though, so you’ll have to switch off the LEDs every time you power it on.
My own experience with the Cloud Flight matches up pretty well with HyperX’s battery life numbers. The 13-hour battery life with the LEDs on solid will still get you through a day of heavy use without a problem, so if you get into the habit of charging the headset overnight, you’ll never run out of battery. What I’d really like to see HyperX make is something akin to the Astro A50’s charging cradle. That dock makes it much more convenient to charge the headset while not using it.
I was pleased to find a volume roller on the back of the right earcup. I’m a fan of volume rollers directly on the earcups of headsets, and HyperX implemented this feature pretty well on the Cloud Flight. The roller is a good size, and it’s in an easy-to-reach location that your thumb can find quite naturally. My sole criticism of the Flight’s volume knob is that its detents are a bit too light. Each notch isn’t distinct enough to quickly adjust the volume with precision when going by tactile feel alone. Regardless, having a built-in volume roller is invaluable when listening to music while up and about. Media controls would likewise be invaluable, but I’m sad to say there aren’t any present on the Flight.
The back of the left earcup is home to the power button, two 3.5-mm jacks, and a micro-USB port. Like the volume roller, the power button is well positioned. Once the Flight is powered on with a press and hold of the power button, simply pressing that button will switch between lighting modes. The Micro-USB port is for charging the headset, while the first 3.5-mm port is for the detachable microphone. A micro USB cable and a two-pole 3.5-mm cable are provided in the box.
The second 3.5-mm port can actually be used to directly plug the Flight into a device. However, the volume wheel, microphone, and LED lights do not function when the headset is connected by wire. In fact, just plugging a 3.5-mm jack into the secondary port completely shuts off the headset. It’s clear this port is meant to be a measure of last resort if you still need to get your game on after the Cloud Flight’s battery gives up.
The side of the left earcup functions as a massive mute button for the microphone. I like having such a big, easily accessible mute button, but it would be nice if it required a bit more force to activate. I accidentally press it every now and again when adjusting or picking up the headset.
The Flight is equipped with 50-mm drivers, though it doesn’t boast the dual-chamber system featured in the Alpha that I praised so highly. The drivers are similar to those in the company’s own Cloud Revolver. I also praised those drivers, but not quite as highly as those in the Alpha. The dual-chamber system gives the Alpha a slight edge over the Flight in audio clarity and punch.
That said, the Flight is still one of the best-sounding gaming headsets I’ve tried. It certainly isn’t a great set of studio cans, but it doesn’t sacrifice overall audio quality for an aggressively tuned gaming audio profile. It has a good neutral audio profile, and you can boost the volume up within the range of usability without it beginning to sound hollow and tinny.
Of course, tastes in audio hardware vary, and TR editor-in-chief Jeff Kampman thinks the Flight has a bass-forward sound signature typical of headphones designed for popular music reproduction today. He thinks these cans could do with brighter, clearer treble and a bit less low end. To each their own, I suppose.
I’ve used the Flight as a general multimedia device for the past couple weeks, and I’ve been pleased with its performance. It definitely earns its title as a gaming headset. I’ve recently been running through the 2016 edition of Doom, and the Flight has helped make it an absolute blast by providing excellent positional and immediate audio.
I haven’t had a single issue with delay over the wireless connection. Audio syncs up perfectly with movement on screen. The range is also fantastic. I’ve been able to listen to music from multiple rooms over without any hitches or delay. The Flight connects to your device with an RF dongle, but I would love for it to have Bluetooth compatibility, as well. It would be great if it could switch from the connection to your PC to a Bluetooth connection to your phone.
Unfortunately, the microphone is a larger step back from the Alpha than the drivers. HyperX really nailed the microphone on the Alpha. It was actually good enough that I opted to use it versus attaching Antlion Audio’s ModMic 5. However, if I keep using the Flight, I’ll most likely end up pulling the ModMic back out. The Flight’s mic is definitely serviceable for voice chat, but I wouldn’t want to stream with it. My friends had no problems hearing and understanding me over Discord while playing Crusader Kings II, but I like for my voice to come across much cleaner and more accurately than what the Flight’s mic is capable of producing.
HyperX has also banked on a software-free experience with the Cloud Flight—getting the headset running is as simple as plugging in a dongle and turning on the Flight itself. While this is probably a good thing for the longevity and usability of the headset, it also means that users will have to look to third-party EQ software if they’re not satisfied with the default character of the Flight’s sound.
HyperX makes some of my favorite gaming headsets, so I’m glad to see a wireless Cloud reach the market. The Cloud heritage is a solid base upon which to build a wireless headset. However, some of the key Alpha goodness didn’t fully carry over to the Flight, and that’s a bit hard to swallow given the Flight’s $60 premium over HyperX’s best wired gaming headset.
That $60 difference is supposed to be the premium for wireless capability, and I will admit that the convenience of cutting the cord is a revelatory experience for gaming and general listening alike. That said, the Flight comes with significant tradeoffs. Both the drivers and microphone of the Alpha are superior to those featured on the Flight. The difference in quality between the Alpha and Flight’s microphones, in particular, is immediately obvious.
The Flight still has great drivers and a decent microphone for a gaming headset, but I feel customers shouldn’t lose out on the higher-quality drivers and microphone of the Alpha when opting to move up HyperX’s price ladder. That said, such a fully-featured headset would likely prove even more expensive than the Flight is today.
I’d like to see a revised Flight equipped with the drivers and microphone of the Alpha. While we’re at it, built-in media controls, a more notchy volume wheel, a slightly stronger adjustment band, and a charging cradle would be fantastic, even if they do add considerably to the price of the resulting headset.
All that said, the Cloud Flight is a great wireless gaming headset in its current form. It’s unbelievably comfortable, flexible, and sturdy. It has good range, sound, and looks. The volume roller and the mute button are super handy, and being able to detach the microphone is a huge plus. If you’re looking to cut cords out of your gaming experience, you can rest easy knowing the Cloud Flight comes TR Recommended.