Hands-on: the HyperX Cloud III Wireless makes a great headset even better

Hands-on: the HyperX Cloud III Wireless makes a great headset even better

My colleague Cameron Faulkner called the HyperX Cloud II Wireless “among the most comfortable headsets I’ve worn.” Today, HP is announcing its successor — the Cloud III Wireless — and I’m happy to say it’s better in most every way.

When I heard the new Cloud III Wireless would offer quadruple the battery life at 120 hours versus 30 hours, I figured there had to be a catch.

It’s rare that a product just… gets better

But after hours comparing the Cloud II and Cloud III side by side and back to back, I haven’t heard, seen, or felt one yet! The new PC, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch headset does cost $20 more, weighs an extra ounce, and not everyone will appreciate the additional padding — but it’s got the same balanced, punchy sound that Cameron praised, with an array of improvements.

For example, it now not only charges via USB-C but also has a USB-C wireless dongle, and I was surprised to find it’s got more, not less, wireless range plugged into the very same port on my gaming PC, its 2.4GHz signal easily punching through an additional wall in my house.

Different amounts of cushion on the two headsets.

Different amounts of cushion on the two headsets.

Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

The company says you no longer need a foam pop filter for the detachable microphone because it’s got its own mesh — sure enough, the Cloud III picked up far less noise when I pointed a fan at each, and I’d even rate my speech clarity very slightly higher. (Both mics still sound good for a consumer-grade headset, though both have pretty low recording volume.)

The power button is now bigger and oblong so it’s easier to find by feel — and tapping it tells you the estimated remaining battery life. “Ninety percent battery,” a female voice just told me. (And yes, you can still activate mic monitoring by long-pressing the mute button.)

And for my large head, at least, the slightly shallower metal arms put slightly more even pressure on my skull instead of concentrating their grip near my jaw.

Still, there are tradeoffs. There’s no denying my Cloud III review unit has thicker ear cups that create a little more pressure, more isolation, and a slightly smaller soundstage, which I don’t prefer. Perhaps that’s why the Cloud III feels like it’s got the slightest bit more bass, too. The Cloud II is slightly airier, cooler on the ears, and it felt slightly easier to pick out instruments in my music test suite in back-to-back tests.

The new volume dial’s a bit grippier but feels the same to rotate with a dull smooth roll. It’s still digital, not analog.

The new volume dial’s a bit grippier but feels the same to rotate with a dull smooth roll. It’s still digital, not analog.

Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if both these headsets have the exact same 53mm drivers tuned exactly the same way — they sound so similar otherwise. Both are equally loud at 50 percent volume, and both distort the same way if you crank them too high.

The Cloud III Wireless isn’t quite the ultimate in comfort, or sound quality, or features. We’re still waiting for it to offer game / chat balance, preferably with two distinct audio devices on PC, and I’d love to have ear cups that swivel so I can wear it all day. But HyperX has a fantastic balance of comfort, style, and audio that just got even better. If I didn’t need game / chat balance, I’d probably buy one when my Arctis Pro Wireless eventually expires.

You can still get the Cloud III in red if you’d like; it’s not just in black.

You can still get the Cloud III in red if you’d like; it’s not just in black.

Image: HyperX

The Cloud III Wireless should be on sale today for $170. The Cloud II Wireless was still available as of last night for $113 on sale (normally $150).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *