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Sunday, April 14, 2024

HyperX Cloud III Review

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HyperX is extending the legacy of its Cloud gaming headsets even further with the introduction of the HyperX Cloud III. It’s been an iterative path since the original Cloud’s launch more than 8 years ago, so this latest model is still recognizable. But it’s got some of the upgrades you might expect out of a pair of cans launched in 2023 all while keeping the same MSRP of $100 that the original launched with.

HyperX Cloud III – Photos

HyperX Cloud III – Design and Features

HyperX’s propensity for a two-tone color scheme is still intact on the Cloud III headset, though it’s dramatically toned down here. The Cloud III still features a red and black combo with a red HyperX logo and red, metal yokes holding the closed-back ear cups. But gone is the two-tone stitching along the edges of the headband. Instead, all of the exposed, braided cabling gets the red-and-black treatment. For purists, HyperX offers an all-black model as well.

The design is kept simple and lightweight. It’s flexible and sturdy feeling, not creaking or groaning in use. Large ear cups with plush leatherette cushions sit in thin metal yokes stemming from a monolithic headband. There’s no suspension system, no exaggerated stylings on the earcups, no overly complicated yokes. You won’t find any lighting either beyond a little red light near the end of the mic to indicate when it’s muted – an impressive inclusion on an analog headset. There’s a simple volume dial on the right earcup that has a decent grip to it and offers just enough resistance for precise adjustment. The small mic mute button on the back of the left earcup is a little harder to feel out, and simply clicks without locking into a position that’ll let you know its status, making that mute indicator light all the more important.

The headset’s microphone is detachable, which is another surefire way to guarantee you’re muted. While I haven’t tested the Cloud II, the mic looks like it might be one of the bigger upgrades here. It’s super flexible and feels well-built with an integrated mesh filter in front of the electret condenser.

A single, 3.5mm cable stems from the headset with a modest (roughly) 4-foot length. It’s braided and only creates a little noise inside the cans when it drags or bumps against my clothing. That 3.5mm jack makes the headset incredibly flexible outside, but HyperX has extra connectivity in store. A USB-C DAC is included and works with PC, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and phones while also extending the cable another 4.26 feet. HyperX should have included a clip somewhere on the cable, as it gets unwieldy at its full length when I’m sitting next to my computer. The USB-C DAC comes pre-plugged into an A-to-C adapter that’s so subtle I almost didn’t realize there was an adapter.

HyperX Cloud III – Software

The HyperX Cloud III can tap into the Ngenuity app in Windows and only Windows. That may be bad news for some, as the app is responsible for enabling mic monitoring (though I couldn’t get it to work in my testing) as well as enabling a key feature of the headset: DTS Headphone:X Spatial Audio. The app also offers several EQ settings, though there are plenty of other ways to customize EQ without needing a special app. Those who dig their simulated virtual surround may miss out on other platforms that don’t include their own spatial audio.

HyperX Cloud III – Gaming and Performance

HyperX hasn’t messed with a good thing. The Cloud III headset has pleasing audio in games, movies, and music alike. It’s not earth-shatteringly, jaw-droppingly good. But for $100, it’s more than satisfactory. It offers a well-rounded presentation with enough bass to feel what’s going on, and strong presentation of mids and treble to actually hear and interpret everything as well. Volume is not an issue – the cans can pump it out louder than I’d ever want to listen.

Plugged into my Nintendo Switch, the audio is a considerable upgrade over the built-in speakers for exploring the heights and depths of Hyrule, especially when the game uses stereo audio cues to guide me. On PC, the audio presentation was equally as clear, helping keep me on my toes in Overwatch 2.

My experience with the DTS Headphone:X Spatial Audio feature of the headset was mixed. On the one hand, it gave the headset a slightly larger-feeling soundstage. Watching some videos on YouTube, the clear audio of a presenter instead felt like it was picked up with a room mic – lifelike, but a downgrade in production quality. In games, it lends the same feeling, but doesn’t create useful spatial sound. I had a Zenyatta making noises in front of me and slightly to one side in an Overwatch 2 match, and it fully sounded like the audio was coming from my side completely out of sight. The processing for the spatial sound also handled some audio poorly, introducing strange and disruptive artifacts to the audio. It may be no big loss for folks who want to use the Cloud III headset on platforms other than PC, but it’s a shame to pay for the surround sound (as it’s certainly built into the price) only to not get it on most platforms and not get much out of it even on PC. In fairness, I have rarely found benefit from this sort of spatial audio feature, but it’s even rarer that it downgrades the audio like this.

On the brighter side, the microphone is exceptional for the price. A decent microphone on a wired headset goes a long way, often vastly outperforming the bandwidth-constrained microphones on wireless headsets – even top-tier models. That’s the case for the HyperX Cloud III. The mic does a solid job cutting down background noise from my mouse, keyboard, and a fan running the room. It captures my voice clearly with a natural feel to it. Comparing it to recordings I took on recent wireless headset from SteelSeries and Sony, like the Arctis Nova 7 and Inzone H9, it’s no competition.

Verdict

The HyperX Cloud III isn’t made to be the gaming headset to end all gaming headsets, but it’s a great value option at $100. It’s built to last, can support a wide range of platforms, and will deliver solid audio out of the drivers and in through the mic. If you’re not after bells and whistles, you can’t go wrong here.

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