The HyperX Cloud Alpha is fittingly named, as it's quite possibly the best gaming headset in HyperX's already extensive lineup. This $99 set of cans takes everything that was great about the Cloud II and makes it better, sporting a sturdy and attractive aluminum design, a supremely cozy set of memory-foam ear cups, and a handful of subtle touches that make the headset more suitable for travel. While it has some minor quirks, the Cloud Alpha is easily one of the best sub-$100 headsets you can buy right now.
The Cloud Alpha is HyperX's most premium-looking headset yet, taking the core design of the Cloud II and adding lots of attractive flourishes to it. I was immediately struck by the red, perforated aluminum forks that keep each ear cup in place, as well as by the brushed-metal material on the outer ear cups. This might be a sub-$100 headset, but it sure doesn't look like one.
You can remove the Alpha's microphone when you're rocking out to music or playing single-player games, as well as pull out the 3.5mm cable for when you're packing away the headset for travel. I only wish that the ear cups could be laid flat for easier storage as they can on the SteelSeries Arctis 5 and the Turtle Beach XO Three. Fortunately, the Alpha comes with a soft protective pouch, and after weeks of traveling with it, I haven't noticed any wear and tear.
I've come to expect world-class comfort from HyperX headsets, and I was not disappointed by the Alpha. The company's signature faux-leather, memory-foam ear pads feel extremely soft and cushy, and the headset's 10.5-ounce frame is pleasantly lightweight. For well over a week, I've been working and playing with the Alpha on, and I rarely get the urge to take it off.
I do have some minor complaints, however. Although the Alpha's headband is cozy and easy to adjust manually, I've grown spoiled by suspension headbands that automatically conform to my dome, such as those on the SteelSeries Arctis and HyperX's own Cloud Revolver. And while the Alpha's ear cups are incredibly soft, they also feel just a bit snugger than those on previous models, and this tighter fit occasionally made my ears warm.
The Cloud Alpha uses HyperX's new Dual Chamber Driver technology, which is built to separate the bass from the mids and highs, and deliver clearer, less-distorted sound. The result is great overall game audio that allowed me to easily spot enemies while also enjoying big, bassy explosions and crisp background sounds.
HyperX's headset made an excellent companion for the visceral sounds of Injustice 2, highlighting the lows of every guttural punch and explosion as well as the highs of every crackling gunshot and piercing sword slice. I could even pick out tiny background noises, such as the subtle rustling of tree branches outside a windy Arkham Asylum.
The headset was equally apt for shooters, in which directionality means everything. The Alpha made it easy to hear enemies coming in Overwatch, and did an excellent job of balancing Destiny 2's satisfyingly punchy gun sounds with the game's rumbling explosions and sweeping orchestral soundtrack.
When I switched over to the more atmospheric action of Resident Evil Revelations, I had no problem pointing out where each creepy, undead growl was coming from. Once I switched gears to the open-world racing of Forza Horizon 3, I found the hum of my car's engine crisp and satisfying, and I could make out the subtle changes in tire noises when switching between roads, dirt and sand.
Microphone and Cables
The Cloud Alpha's roughly 4-foot 3.5mm cable provides plenty of slack for your console controller or Nintendo Switch, and features a handy inline remote for adjusting volume and muting your mic on the fly. And unlike on previous HyperX headsets, it's removable, making the headset better for travel.
There's also an included PC extension cable that adds about 3 feet of slack and gives you dedicated headphone and microphone jacks, making it ideal for just about any gaming desktop setup.
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The Cloud Alpha's microphone sounded decently clear in voice recordings and Twitch streams, though for a mic billed as noise-cancelling, it picked up a fair amount of background fuzz. It'll still get the job done for chatting with your buddies or hosting a quick stream, but don't expect to do any high-quality podcasts on this thing.
The HyperX Cloud Alpha feels remarkably premium for a $99 headset, offering great sound and supremely comfortable ear cups within an attractive, sturdy design. While its microphone could be better, the Alpha's overall great performance makes it one of the best sub-$100 headsets out there — though it has some serious competition.
The SteelSeries Arctis 5 (also $99) is an enticing alternative, offering RGB lighting, a comfy suspension headband, and a more subtle design that's ideal for wearing on the road. If you can live without the RGB lighting, consider the Arctis 3, which includes most of the same features for just $79. But the Cloud Alpha offers bigger, more engrossing sound than SteelSeries' headsets, making it an excellent pick for folks seeking maximum immersion within a slick and cozy design.