The HyperX Cloud Flight S ($160) is another solid entry in HyperX's ever-expanding lineup of audio peripherals. This model comes equipped with Qi wireless charging — a first for gaming headsets — as well as excellent wireless performance, good sound quality and clever ear-cup controls.
The Cloud Flight S offers a few frustrations, too. Wireless charging is not nearly as seamless as it should be, the microphone leaves a lot to be desired, and the headset isn't compatible with all that many systems. Still, the headset is mostly a joy to use, and well worth the admittedly high asking price.
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HyperX Cloud Flight S design
The Cloud Flight S is somewhat similar to the original Cloud Flight, although not as much as the names might suggest. Whereas the earlier model featured striated ear cups, red highlights and loose wires in the headband, the Cloud Flight S is a much more low-key, elegant device. It's almost all black plastic, with an adjustable, notched headband and a white "HX" logo on either ear cup.
The left ear cup is where most of the special features live, including a detachable, flexible mic, a power button, a 7.1 surround sound button and a micro-USB charging port. But what's more interesting are the four circular indentations that dot the left ear cup like directions on a compass rose. You can program these buttons to do almost anything, but by default, they control game/chat balance, as well as mic muting and sidetone. These are one of my favorite parts of the Cloud Flight S, as they give you lots of options without being obtrusive in the slightest.
On the right ear cup, there's a volume dial, and that's it. It's well-placed, and easy to find without looking.
HyperX Cloud Flight S comfort
Thanks to its plush ear cups and padded headbands, I found the Cloud Flight S extremely comfortable to wear for hours at a time. While rigid, unnumbered notches aren't my favorite way to adjust a headset, I quickly found a good fit, and didn't have to mess around with the sizing again until I handed the device to a co-worker.
After using it herself, my co-worker agreed with my assessment, explaining that the headset was comfortable to wear and easy to adjust. She liked the placement of the volume controls in particular.
HyperX Cloud Flight S game performance
I ran the Cloud Flight S through a variety of games on the PC and PS4, including Overwatch, Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and World of Warcraft. In every case, the soundscape was robust and nuanced, from the impassioned pleas of Lara Croft's friends, to the shots fired from Ashe's shotgun, to the clanks of armor at a medieval blacksmith.
HyperX has also optimized surround sound for a number of games. Most games are developed with stereo sound, and 7.1 surround sound doesn't do them any particular favors. As such, HyperX has developed algorithms for improved surround sound with games such as Apex Legends, Fortnite and Overwatch. I didn't think these options provided much better experiences than traditional stereo sound, but it's a good option to have, at least.
HyperX Cloud Flight S features
Like a lot of other HyperX gear, the Cloud Flight S runs on the HyperX NGenuity software. This software is profoundly OK, combining a bare-bones interface with a number of useful features. As mentioned above, you can reprogram the left earcup buttons with a variety of multimedia functions (pause, play, fast-forward, rewind and so forth), adjust the mic volume, toggle sidetone and change a few surround sound options.
One disappointing thing about the software, however, is that there are no equalization options — even though the instruction sheet claims that Ngenuity lets you "customize EQ profiles." This would have been a huge feather in the Cloud Flight S's cap, particularly since it's perfectly good for everyday music and media, too.
Then there's the wireless charging, which does work, although less smoothly than I would have liked. HyperX claims that the Cloud Flight S works with any Qi charger, but in practice, it was quite difficult to activate. Wireless chargers from Nimble, Google and Mophie did not work at all — a charging pad from Cooler Master finally worked, only after extensive finagling. Naturally, HyperX's own ChargePlay Base ($60) worked just fine, but that's the price of a brand-new game. I contacted HyperX about these issues, but the company was not exactly sure why some chargers would work, whereas others wouldn't.
The wireless charging itself didn't take too long; I got about 20% power in an hour, although the ear cup was quite hot afterward. It's a useful feature, since you can charge the headset whenever it's not in use without creating a mess of wires. But it's a touchy process. Once it's all charged, the battery can last for up to 30 hours.
The mic is also not what I'd expect from such an expensive headset. While it did a fantastic job of blocking out background noise, the mic also overemphasized consonants, and gave my voice an unpleasant buzz.
HyperX Cloud Flight S music performance
I listened to tracks from Flogging Molly, The Rolling Stones, Old Crow Medicine Show and G.F. Handel with the Cloud Flight S, and I was reasonably pleased with the music performance. There's not as much bass as there could be, which was particularly noticeable with choral and bluegrass pieces. But otherwise, the soundscape is close and intimate, with a smart balance between instruments and vocals. I made the Cloud Flight S my regular workday headphones during my review, and I was in no hurry to switch back to my regular Logitech G533s.
The Cloud Flight S is a great headset that could be even better. While the wireless charging, mic and software leave something to be desired, the design, comfort and sound quality are just what you'd expect from a HyperX gadget.
In the same price range, my absolute favorite headset is the SteelSeries Arctis 7 ($150), especially since that headset also features a 3.5 mm headphone jack. But if your primary systems are PC and PS4, the Cloud Flight S is a handy accessory, particularly if you've got a reliable wireless charging base.