The HyperX Cloud Alpha S is like taking one of the best gaming headsets, the HyperX Cloud Alpha, and makes it even more versatile. Today, HyperX has expanded that versatility even further with the all-black Cloud Alpha S Blackout Edition SKU, along with the beta software with game-specific sound profiles. The Cloud Alpha S delivers the same lightweight and comfortable design that keeps gamers comfortable and stylish for hours on end. Today, we are here with our HyperX Cloud Alpha S Review.
For around $45 more than the HyperX Cloud Alpha, the Hyper X Cloud Alpha S adds virtual 7.1 surround sound, a controller for chat/audio volume balance and several audio options, and bass sliders on both earpieces. However, the bass sliders add quite less amount of audible thump, while virtual surround sound often comes with limitations, making the extra cost difficult to sell.
HyperX Cloud Alpha S Review: Design
HyperX recently introduced the Blackout Edition of the Cloud Alpha S, along with the black and blue version released in September. The blue-accented version has just the right amount of color. But for the HyperX Alpha S Blackout Edition brings sharp styling by getting rid of stitching, ear forks, and logos on the cups. Perhaps the best part is the coloring of the two bass adjustment sliders compared to the black and blue models.
Still, the blue-on-black design of the HyperX Cloud Alpha S looks good. The blue ear forks pop in their aluminum shape, just like the HyperX logo on the two earcups. The matching blue stitching over the headband adds a classic styling that’s almost handbag-like, especially with the textured look of the fake leather of the headband. The bass adjustment sliders match this blue and bring some color to the back, making them easy to identify. The raised notches of the sliders make them easy to feel for blind people.
I appreciate that HyperX has taken some freedom with its design without going over the top, while also keeping the volume under control. The look-at-me ear forks on the black-blue model may mean you don’t take them out on the street; however, they also keep things fun (after all, this is a gaming periphery). The forks may look thin; still, their aluminum construction feels very strong, sturdy, and unyieldingly bendable.
The first thing I noticed when gliding over the Cloud Alpha S was how light it felt. At 0.71 pounds, the headset isn’t significantly lighter than others. However, it is the design here, which fights pressure and weight on the skull and ears, which makes it feel light. The headset has not flattened my ears or made them feel trapped or tired, even after hours of use.
The memory foam ear cushions feel cool around my ears, useful for those who warm up during intense or extended gaming sessions, thanks to the breathable material of the leather. The memory foam of the headband is not the thickest we have ever seen, but, more importantly, it prevents any sensation of pressure points.
The headband adjustments have visible (and audible) notches for the per-ear adjustments, but I found it challenging to do it with the headset on. As with the Cloud Alpha and many other gaming headsets, the ear cups are held in place by forks that you can tilt inwards. But you can’t twist them around, so they feel pretty tight when I’m on my neck, especially with my thick hair.
Like the Cloud Alpha, the ear cups are connected to the headband with a visible cable, which makes the headset look like it’s broken or broken. However, others may not think this is a reasonably ordinary design decision, even on premium headphones such as Sennheiser’s new $400 Momentum Bluetooth headset. Still, I’m afraid exposed wires offer additional opportunities to break the headset if they’re clasped in a pocket or just while you’re walking around. They have exposed cables braided for extra durability, however.
On the positive side, the aluminum frame of the ear cups and leather headband, unlike so many other pieces of today’s technology, fight fingerprints.
The headset comes with an inline control box for when using the headset via USB-A, except for the alternative 3.5mm audio connection. USB connectivity is necessary for the use of virtual surround sound, chat/game audio balance, and mic monitoring. The mixer also includes volume controls. Apart from the bass sliders, there are no other controls on the headset itself, which makes these controls easy to find and the chance of adjusting something if the microphone is reduced if you want to change the volume.
Surprisingly, HyperX sells a similar AMP USB sound card for $29.99, but it switches chat/game balance controls with mic volume controls.
Unfortunately, the control box is not well designed, like the rest of the headset. It’s plastic, a bit coarse, and comes with a clip reminiscent of the beeper era. Because you probably use this headset at home and not on the road, it feels unnecessary, and the setup looks outdated and crumbly. But given the size, I would also like a mute audio button on the controller next to the mute microphone button.
HyperX Cloud Alpha S Review: Performance
The Hyper X Cloud Alpha S uses the same 50mm neodynamic drivers as the Cloud Alpha, so if you already own that headset, you know what the Cloud Alpha S will give you – at least when using it with the 3.5mm connector. However, the Alpha S adds two important audio features about the Cloud Alpha: virtual surround sound and game/chat balance.
The 50mm format is quite standard for a gaming headset; you would need an expensive headset to surpass this. They are dynamic drivers, which tend to have good bass, and HyperX claims to have tuned them differently for better audio. Dynamic drivers are also known to suffer from audio distortion at high volumes. But like the Alpha, the new HyperX Cloud Alpha S has a two-chamber design – one for bass and another for midrange and treble – to combat distortion.
The design worked well, even when listening to The Strokes’ “Someday” at maximum volume. There was zero distortion in the vocals or the instruments. And at low volume, all elements were audible. The bass sliders, which offer max/min bass, or a medium option for each cup, were much less impactful. I hardly noticed any difference when switching on and off different songs, including Ratatatat’s “Seventeen Years” and Eminem’s “Chloraseptic.”
Turning on the 7.1 surround sound immediately changed the experience. When playing, the music immediately sounded as if it was a little higher, but also louder and fuller. In Battlefield V, the wind was layered on a snowy mountain top in Normandy, with a baseline ringing and a sharper, swirling sound of more aggressive gusts of wind on top. With surround sound on, the music became louder and fuller, and with its higher tone, the wind sounded like angry ocean waves instead of ambient sounds.
In the same way, at the level of Battlefield V in North Africa, the rain sounded like an accidental storm hitting the rocks when the surround sound was off. With surround sound on, it sounded like a whole sheet of rain falling. A positive experience came during a cut scene, where I couldn’t even notice the rain in the background of a conversation without turning on surround sound.
Besides the virtual 7.1 surround and bass sliders, the audio control mixer offers game balance and chat balance. The total sound volume is not changed; by pressing the game balance button, the sound is entirely focused on the game, while the other button brings the sound to 100% chat. So if you often use Discord or another game chat, the taunts of your accursed opponent will no longer drown out the audio of the game, or vice versa.
The Cloud Alpha S was initially delivered without software but is now compatible with the HyperX NGenuity beta app. It will not notice the headset unless it is connected to the PC via USB, so make sure you have an available port. Once opened, you’ll get the typical controls and the prized addition of game-chat balance. Others offer this control on the headset itself, but we appreciate that we get this option at all.
The inclusion of software also brings new “auto-optimized” virtual 7.1 surround sound profiles for APEX Legends, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, PUBG, CS: GO, Overwatch, and Rainbow Six Siege. You can set it to activate the profiles automatically when your PC runs one of those games, and you have to surround sound enabled. Unfortunately, you can’t edit any of these audio profiles, so you’ll have to rely on HyperX.
HyperX Cloud Alpha S Review: Conclusion
The HyperX Cloud Alpha S doesn’t have the chicest drivers or features. Still, that luxury is made with quality audio, impactful surround sound, and successful design that’s as comfortable as it is chic.
Compared to Cloud Alpha, the Cloud Alpha S has virtual 7.1 surround sound and bass sliders. However, the surround sound is not perfect, with a high pitch lean but a boost in volume. It’s better in games like first-person shooters and pretty decent in surround sound movies, but not as good when it comes to music. Meanwhile, the bass sliders are almost forgetful, with a barely noticeable impact.
Is this worth buying about the Cloud Alpha? It’s worth noting that there is a version of the Cloud Alpha available for $125 at the time of writing that contains a similar sound card that offers 7.1 virtual surround sound, but no chat/game balance or mic monitoring. But you might as well opt for the complete package in the Alpha S. For more options, check our list of Best Gaming Headsets Under $100
The HyperX Cloud Alpha S offers a lot for its price, including a lightweight fit and convenient inline controls. But it's bass adjustment sliders are pretty much forgettable.
- Comfortable, interesting design
- Game/chat balance button
- Resistant to fingerprints
- Virtual surround sound amplifies audio in gaming, movies
- Bass sliders don’t add much thump
- Virtual surround sound isn’t great for music