HyperX Cloud Alpha S Review: Does it worth unnecessary surcharge?

The HyperX Cloud Alpha S is an upgraded version of the popular Cloud Alpha, but are the additional features worth the extra price? We’ll get to the bottom of this question in our big HyperX Cloud Alpha S review.

The HyperX Cloud Alpha S is a good gaming headset and convinces with high comfort, a very sturdy design, and extensive features. The only drawbacks were the missing software and the somewhat high weight. The sound of the Alpha S can only be criticized for minor weaknesses in the trebles. The rest is solidly covered and makes the sound above average (unfortunately, the 7.1 and music performance disappoint).

8.2Expert Score
HyperX Cloud Alpha S Rating

Everything sounds good, overall performance, comfortless, but a bit pricey.

Design & comfort
9
Features & Performance
9
Headphone sound
7.5
Microphone sound
8.5
Price performance
7

The microphone is also okay. The recording quality just lacks a bit of clarity and bass emphasis. Unfortunately, we have to deduct a few points in terms of price performance, especially since the surround sound and sliders do not convince us and are not worth the surcharge to the normal Cloud Alpha.

Good Points
  • Good sound
  • Noble design
  • Very convenient
  • Solid microphone
  • Excellent performance
Bad Points
  • High surcharge
  • USB mixer fiddly
  • Slider rather gimmick
  • 7.1 Sound is not convincing
  • Soundproofing not that good

Note: This article is part of our big gaming headset review. There you can find more top gaming headsets as alternatives.

Features & Performance

The Cloud Alpha S’s predecessor (the Cloud Alpha) was already a trendy gaming headset, but HyperX wanted to kick it up a notch with the Alpha S. Both in price and features.

The little letter “S” at the end brings you new sliders for bass adjustment, a USB mixer (which lets you change the balance between game and chat audio), and virtual 7.1 surround sound (which you can turn on and off).

Aside from the new features, the Cloud Alpha S is essentially identical to the Cloud Alpha, except the red accents are replaced with blue ones. On top of that, there are interchangeable ear cushions as a bit of extra.

HyperX Cloud Alpha S Review: Important Features at a glance

  • Type:  Wired, Closed, Over-Ear
  • Speaker driver: 50 mm
  • Frequency range headphones:  13 Hz – 27 kHz
  • Impedance:  65 ohms
  • Microphone polar pattern: bi-directional, noise canceling
  • Total weight: 321g
  • Media control: volume, game / voice balance, 7.1 switching, bass control
  • Connections: 3.5mm
  • Compatible:  PC, Xbox, PS4
  • Cable length: 1m headphones, 2m control unit
HyperX Cloud Alpha S features

The bass slider – useful feature?

The first noticeable extra is the bass sliders, which sit on the back of each ear cup. The three settings (open, half-open, and closed) correspond to opening and closing holes on the headset.

You give the drivers in the ear cups more or less room for reverberation: The fully open setting produces the most bass. The whole thing doesn’t require any software, by the way (which is handy), but the entire thing didn’t have much of an impact on our test.

The bass slider

Considering that the Cloud Alpha already had good bass anyway, we don’t quite understand this addition (especially since it drives up the price). But how does the feature work?

Moving the sliders adds a bit more bass, but it’s barely noticeable and doesn’t blow you away. Also, we didn’t see any real reason to turn down the bass, which makes the slider feel like a gimmick.

The USB mixer – an excellent remote control?

The next big addition is the USB remote control unit, which controls the volume and can mute the detachable microphone. The headset connects to this via a 3.5mm jack, and the unit itself connects to your PC via USB. All the buttons are big enough so that it’s almost impossible to press the wrong button accidentally, so no complaints here.

A more important feature is to adjust the balance between game and voice chat sounds. There are two buttons for this, with both making each other louder and softer. It’s an excellent idea, and it actually works, but we’re less convinced of its usefulness.

The USB mixer

First, the headset doesn’t tell you what your current setting is. So if you want to reset it to neutral, you have to sort of remember how many times you pressed each button. A simple indicator light would have solved the problem – or an audio announcement.

And secondly, pressing these buttons is far less accurate than manually setting the audio levels via the Windows volume mixer.

The biggest problem with the thing, though, is how it just “sags.” If you’re sitting at your desk with the headset cable fully dangling, the thing almost drags on the floor. Less practical and also annoying when you want to change the volume quickly. In return, it comes with a clip that is probably meant to be attached to clothing, but the cable remains looped around your body.

For this reason, we recommend you wind up part of the cable and tie it together.

How good is the build quality?

We can’t complain here, though – the Cloud Alpha S‘s build quality is outstanding. Very sturdily built and durable headphones with high-quality materials.

build quality

They have a sturdy yet flexible aluminum frame and pretty sturdy ear cups that won’t break if you drop the headphones once or twice. The aluminum frame feels sturdy in your hand and also when you put them on. Unlike the HyperX Cloud II, the Alpha S don’t have shiny back-plates on the ear cups that regular wear and tear could get scratched.

Overall, the build quality is very high, with the hinges being firm and able to withstand bending. The earpads are also high quality (either leatherette or fabric) and do not wear out too quickly. You should have fun with this for a long time.

Design and Comfort

The Cloud Alpha S builds on the previous models of HyperX gaming headsets. While the Cloud Alpha S doesn’t look much different than the original Cloud Alpha, it still has a beautiful design. There’s a padded leatherette headband, a sturdy plastic housing, and a blue aluminum frame that holds everything together.

HyperX Cloud Alpha S comfort

It has blue accents all over with a HyperX logo on each ear cup, and there’s a port for a detachable microphone and a port for a detachable 3.5mm audio cable on the left ear cup.

Add to that soft leatherette ear pads and a swappable fabric pair that offers more airflow (in case your ears get warm quickly) and are included. Unfortunately, changing the ear pads is a bit fiddly.

Enjoying this HyperX Cloud Alpha S Review article? You might interested also: Astro A50 Review.

Overall, the HyperX Cloud Alpha S is super comfortable and not just because of its well-padded headphones. We’d say the Alpha S is a bit more comfortable than the Cloud Flight and Cloud II, especially since the clamping force on the head isn’t as strong. This means you won’t have uncomfortable pressure on and around your ears, even during long sessions.

The fit is perfect with large, roomy ear cups and the amply padded headband adds comfort. The latter distributes the 321g well on your head, which adds to the comfort. For people with smaller heads, however, the 321g might feel a bit heavier. The headband has a thick foam layer, as seen below, which is very comfortable.

HyperX Cloud design and comfort

HyperX Cloud Alpha S Microphone review

The HyperX Cloud Alpha S has a great boom microphone. In quiet environments, speech recorded or transmitted with this microphone sounds relatively full, clear and detailed, but may lack a bit of brilliance in the highs. In loud situations, the microphone does an excellent job separating speech from background noise; even in noisy places, this was not a problem.

If you want to hear how the Cloud Alpha S‘s microphone actually sounds, check out our video above (we test the microphone starting at minute 4:35).

As you can hear from our test, the microphone’s recording quality is good. The bass response is extended and flat but somewhat underemphasized. This means that the speech recorded/transmitted with this microphone sounds relatively complete. The high-frequency extension is around 10 kHz, indicating clear and detailed speech, but it will lack a bit of “airiness.”

HyperX Cloud Alpha microphone

All in all, however, a top microphone for a gaming headset, there is little to complain about here.

Sound Performance: Gaming & Music

Let’s move on to the most important aspect: the sound. We remember that a 7.1 surround sound feature is advertised. Therefore, we’ll take a closer look and give you an assessment of how the Cloud Alpha S performs in games and when listening to music.

Gaming performance

When it comes to gaming, the Cloud Alpha S does almost everything right. We tested the excellent device in games like Witcher 3, CS, Starcraft 2, and Anno to see how well it performs in the different genres.

The results were satisfactory: dialogs sounded clean and clear, and we could pinpoint our opponents’ position in shooters thanks to the directional audio. Sound effects, voices, and musical interludes came through clearly in every game.

As long as we left the headset set to stereo, every game came across great. However, when we switched to the 7.1 surround sound, we were far less impressed.

HyperX Cloud Alpha gaming performance

The virtual 7.1 surround sound

The biggest selling point with the Alpha S is the virtual 7.1 surround sound. Virtual means that this is still a stereo headset with two speaker drivers, but it uses a unique technique to simulate the sound so that it sounds like it’s coming from seven different directions (this is also possible with older headsets using software).

So what’s unique about the Alpha S is not the presence of surround sound but that HyperX has optimized and tested the technology specifically for this headset.

To turn it on, you simply press the large 7.1 buttons in the center of the USB dongle. You’ll notice a big difference right away.

On a positive note, individual sounds – especially quieter background noise – were easier to pick up, which added to the atmosphere. In shooters like Fortnite, you could recognize steps more easily.

Isolating individual sounds created a more layered feel for each game world. This made it easier to tell which sounds were closer and which were further away. The only unfortunate thing is that it didn’t help much with positioning; ergo, we didn’t notice any difference between stereo or surround sound for shooters.

HyperX Cloud Alpha music performance

Unfortunately, the technology also distorts almost every sound. Many mid-range sounds, like the rush of wind through grass, sounded thin. There was also a sort of metallic reverb to many sounds: It sometimes sounded like you were standing in the middle of a cave.

Dialogues and voices also didn’t sound as good with it. The echo disfigures the whole thing, unfortunately. In the end, we switched back to the brilliant stereo mode and turned the feature off. Too bad.

Music

Since the Cloud Alpha S has a 3.5 mm jack and a sleek design, it’s perfectly possible to take this headset with you on your way to work to listen to music on the go. However, the headset is less capable of handling music, which limits this option. While the high-frequency sound is pleasing for most games, you’ll have trouble with some tracks due to the lack of bass.

However, the Cloud Alpha is well-suited for less bass-heavy tracks; the mids, in particular, come across well in song-heavy titles, and the highs are fine except for the high brilliance range.

Conclusion to the HyperX Cloud Alpha S Review

The bottom line is that the Cloud Alpha S is a comical “evolution” of the tried and true Cloud Alpha. No question, the Cloud Alpha S is a high-quality, well-made headset with solid sound and a good microphone. However, you also get all that in the approximately $30-40 cheaper standard model.

The surround sound is the Alpha S’s big selling point, and the result is only mediocre here. Therefore, we cannot recommend it as much in direct comparison to the standard Cloud Alpha. After all, $30 to $40 (depending on how the price stands) is a lot of money, and you’re paying a third more for the weak 7.1 sound as well as the fiddly bass adjustment and a pair of earpads.

If we were in your shoes, we would go for the base model and instead invest the money in better hardware for your gaming PC.

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