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E-sports-focused gaming headsets must satisfy two needs: They must be cozy enough to wear during a long day of competing, and rich-sounding enough to help gamers spot their enemies from a mile away. The HyperX Cloud Revolver succeeds on both fronts, offering immersive directional audio, comfortable memory-foam ear cups and a steel suspension frame that's built to last. But while the $120 Revolver performs exceptionally in the heat of battle, you potentially could find something better for less.
The Cloud Revolver can best be described as "loud" — and I'm not just talking about sound quality. This eye-catching, black headset packs a sturdy steel suspension frame, which covers a sporty-looking foam headband that automatically conforms to your dome.
I was immediately drawn to the big, red, exhaust-like circles on the outside of each ear cup; they don't light up like those on the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma or the SteelSeries Siberia v3 Prism, but they're enough to give your stream viewers something cool to look at.
While the HyperX Cloud II headset is unassuming enough to be used as your everyday headphones, the Revolver is unashamed about being a gaming peripheral. It's far more aggressive-looking than its elegant predecessor, but it's also potentially more durable, thanks to its steel frame.
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The Cloud II is my go-to headset because it's ridiculously cozy, so I expected a lot from the Cloud Revolver. Fortunately, the Revolver retains the memory foam, leatherette-covered ear cups and headband that made its predecessor such a joy to wear. Even better, the steel suspension-frame design automatically adjusts to your head size.
I rarely wanted to take off the Revolver after using it for hours on end over the course of a few days, but I did find myself fiddling with it a bit. Although the headset's generously sized ear cups provide lots of breathing room, they also occasionally slipped around while over my ear.
The Revolver's extra sturdiness also comes at the cost of extra weight: 12.7 ounces versus the Cloud II's 11.3 ounces. It's a small difference, but one that made me yearn for the latter headset's lighter, snugger design.
The Revolver promises "studio-grade" sound, with 50-millimeter drivers that are built to offer a wider soundstage than previous Cloud headsets. HyperX certainly delivered on this front, as the Revolver did an excellent job of highlighting everything from subtle movements to thunderous explosions, whether I used it on PS4, Xbox One or PC.
The Revolver got me thoroughly immersed in Star Wars Battlefront. The franchise's iconic blaster noises sounded crisp and clean (as I got killed by them over a dozen times), and the sounds of thermal detonators blowing to bits packed some serious low-end oomph. When I switched to the more competitive action of Halo 5, I was able to easily pinpoint where enemy footsteps and gunfire were coming from.
Few games test a headset's ability to reproduce horrifyingly brutal noises as Mortal Kombat X does, and I'm pleased to say the Revolver got high marks. Every punch and kick resonated with impact, and I heard a disturbingly rich level of detail every time my character broke his opponents' bones and telepathically ripped out their guts.
The difference between the Revolver and the Cloud II is subtle but noticeable. Every time I switched from the old headset to the new one, things sounded just a bit richer and louder.
Microphone and Cables
The Revolver packs a rubber, highly flexible boom microphone that you can detach when you just want to use the device as a pair of headphones. I used the headset to talk on Skype to a colleague, who had no issues hearing me. She did mention being able to hear the construction happening outside my apartment, but only faintly.
The headset's roughly 3-foot-long, 3.5-mm cable gives you plenty of slack for connecting to your controller, mobile device or PC, and you can make it even longer by connecting it to the included 6.5-foot audio box extension. This extra cord sports a dongle that lets you mute your mic, adjust the volume and clip the cable to your shirt, and provides separate microphone and headphone jacks for your PC.
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The Revolver's superb sound is just as impressive once you put your controller down and start jamming out to some music. The headset preserved the incendiary energy of rock tracks like Yellowcard's "Awakening," giving the song's bright guitars, driving bass and soaring vocals a chance to shine individually. When I switched to Kendrick Lamar's "King Kunta," I was treated to thumping bass that instantly got my head bobbing.
I wrapped things up with a few tracks from the Star Wars: The Force Awakens soundtrack. Once again, the Revolver allowed me to hear each instrument in its crisp, clean glory, from the frantic horns of the film's battle songs to the smoky strings of more somber moments.
As a headset built for competitive gamers, the $120 HyperX Cloud Revolver absolutely hits the mark. Its rich, directionally accurate audio makes it easy to pinpoint enemies, and its cozy ear cups and suspension-frame design make it comfy enough to wear during long tournament days. And it certainly doesn't hurt that music sounds great on it.
However, the Revolver is $20 more than the Cloud II, and all you're really getting for the extra money is a steel frame and slightly better sound. I still find the Cloud II more comfortable, and it's the only headset of the two to offer virtual 7.1 surround sound. There's also the even cheaper SteelSeries Siberia v3 Prism ($79), which offers a similar suspension design, tweakable audio and customizable lighting. The Revolver's durability and overall sound quality still make it a winner, but there are some strong alternatives for less money.
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Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.