Kingston HyperX Cloud Review (Page 3 of 4)

Page 3 - Subjective Audio Analysis

As with all the audio products we review here at APH Networks, it takes quite a bit of experience and training of the ears before we can begin making a fair judgment. Even for the best of audiophiles, it can be hard to produce an exact and accurate evaluation of a product, without a thoroughly familiar product to use as simultaneous reference. While I will not claim to be the reviewer of all reviewers for headphones, I can say quite a few other computer review sites have editors lacking in training for reviewing anything audio related. Give them anything and all you will get is some vague description of “awesome bass, amazing midrange, nice treble, no muffles, 10/10”. Do not get me wrong though; there are knowledgeable audio reviewers out there on respected online media outlets, but they are far and few. There are no true objective measurements for headphone sound quality. As the reviewer, however, I will put the Kingston HyperX Cloud through a series of subjective tests to try to come up with the most objective rating as possible. The tests were conducted primarily with the Kingston HyperX Cloud plugged directly into the recently reviewed Silverstone EB01-E and EB03, a high performance digital-to-analog converter and headphone amplifier setup, which was then directly plugged into the USB port of the test computer.

After over 50 hours of break-in time (Well above the typical required period), we put the Kingston HyperX Cloud to the tests. All tracks are uncompressed CDs, FLAC, or LAME encoded MP3s at 192kbps or higher. For gaming, I played Crysis 2 Maximum Edition, Metro 2033, Sid Meier’s Civilization V, and Grid 2. Two of these games are first-person shooters, and I find them to provide an accurate representation of a day to day game environment. Civilization V is just one of my favorite games to play. Grid 2 is an awesome racing game I recently purchased, so I decided to throw it into the mix as well.

When I first put on the Kingston HyperX Cloud, I could only imagine such a plushy headset would have an equally plushy bass. Like the marshmallow of bass, this would be the gooiest, roundest and most satisfying bass I could get. The Kingston HyperX Cloud does have a gooey and rounded bass, but with one caveat: The marshmallow is mini. That is right, the bass is defined and follows the characteristics we like about the bass sound, except it is missing in action. For all its smoothness, it is completely lost by the fact it is recessed and lacks the oomph we have come to love. While gaming, this was not as huge as a factor, because deep sounds like the roar of a car engine coming up your rear end, or the footsteps of the incoming enemies are still clearly heard. In music listening, the bass guitar lines are once again present, but just lacking the volume it deserves. However, the lack of bass in comparison to the midrange and the treble is really quite unfortunate.

Onto the midrange, and we get some decent sound out of the headset. Vocals and guitars are crisp and warm, but tend to be dry. Pianos produce the natural wood sound. The midrange also seems to be the most emphasized out of the three frequency ranges, and this is really good for songs that are more vocal. Low midrange frequencies suffer from the same problem as the bass, as it is not as pronounced as I would prefer, but the higher mid-range is very clean and natural sounded, even with the slight dryness.

Moving to the top, we have a bright sounding treble, which suffers from the slight dryness found in the midrange. Sounds from games like glass breaking are easily heard and sound natural. High hats of drums sound somewhat clashy, but still offer the same clarity found in all of the ranges. In fact, I would say clarity is one of the best features found in the headset. At the near extremes of the high range, the treble produced is slightly attenuated, but this is not too much of a surprise. In terms of an overall musical balance, where the bass should be the largest as the support, while the treble is the least, the HyperX Cloud are a bit of an anomaly. This is not the perfected pyramid of music, as the bass really does not hold up the rest of the ranges, and it is rather unfortunate, especially since the midrange and the treble are actually quite formidable. Overall, the characteristics can be defined as mostly flat, with a chunk missing at the beginning of the spectrum.

When it comes to soundstaging, the Kingston HyperX Cloud produces a good depth, but lacks in comparison to what we have seen in headsets like the SteelSeries H Wireless. But considering the SteelSeries H Wireless costs more than triple the price of the Kingston HyperX Cloud, this is actually pretty good. There is a lot of direction in this headset, but the full depth we have heard before is just not as good in the Kingston HyperX Cloud. While I called the Cooler Master Storm Ceres 500 a two-and-a-half dimensional headset, this would be closer to a 2.7D. The virtual environment produced is still realistic, especially with producing a wide-like sound. However, the lack of the complete depth means these headsets produce as full of an image as it could.

Putting all three layers together, each frequency range once again is quite detailed, and each range is also separated and defined. You could say it is almost too separated, as there are small chunks of frequencies between the bass and midrange, as well as between the midrange and treble that are more recessed than the rest. This results in a transition that is like driving on a road with two potholes in it, or like driving in Edmonton, Alberta, haha. However, I will say this still does sound like a single unit, rather than like listening to three different headsets. The overall sound of the Kingston HyperX Cloud is also still very clean with the exception of the high-end’s slight thinness.

Sound isolation on the Kingston HyperX Cloud is superb, and seal off the ears, as this is intended for closed-back headsets. This passive noise cancelling ability means they remove quite a bit of exterior noise, much to the chagrin of other people trying to get my attention. As for sound leaking, this is not too much of an issue, and once again seal the music in quite well. Microphone performance was also a plus, as this singular direction microphone picked up my voice quite clearly, while reducing the external noises. You should make sure the microphone is pointed in the correct direction, or else it will not pick up your voice. While this was not an issue for me, it should be noted.

In conclusion, the Kingston HyperX Cloud is actually quite a competitor. Bass, midrange, and treble are well rounded. Clarity is heard from the Cloud, and this headset is able to provide a very natural output. The overall sound is quite pleasant and despite the lacking bass, Kingston, QPad and Takstar should be pleased with their accomplishments. Soundstaging and imaging are good, but can be slightly improved by increasing their overall depth. While testing, Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Kwan even said, “I do not normally recommend gaming headsets for music. But I would recommend these.” This is a pretty high compliment, especially coming from the chc himself.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis
4. Conclusion