The Kingston HyperX Cloud II is Kingston's latest PC headset designed for high-end gaming. With a detachable microphone, separate cup materials for comfort and a built-in 7.1 sound card you get plenty for your money, but what is this headset like?
The aluminium headband has plenty of padding and is large enough to fit on my noggin without feeling tight. The ear cushions at the end of the headband are large and comfortable and can be swapped out from the standard leather effect to the foam effect ones also included in the box. The headphones themselves do not twist inwards, so you cannot pack them away as easily as some headsets.
A detachable microphone is included so you can either use these as a headset or just as headphones. The input is covered by a small piece of black rubber - unfortunately this isn't kept attached to the headphones whilst the microphone is plugged in, so you could easily lose this small part. The cable is relatively short and only has one end which plugs into the included 7.1 USB soundcard. Whilst this is great for your average user, this headset is aimed at gamers who most likely will have a discrete sound card of their own. Whilst there is a splitter included, it has fixed 3.5mm outputs which can be too wide or two narrow for sound cards of front panel headers, so you'd need some extension cables for it to work this way.
So there are some issues with the design, but overall it's large and comfortable. How does it perform?
Thankfully this is where the Kingston HyperX Cloud II really begins to shine. Music is clear and crisp, with plenty of bass but not too overpowering that you can't hear the mid-range or detail of high notes.
Where it really shines is by using the built in 7.1 effect. When gaming in Battlefield 4 this actually helped me to determine the direction shots were coming from, not something I'd actually found from some other fake-surround effects. It even brought a new dimension to music, creating an enveloping sound to some tracks that made them sound more like a live performance than a studio one.
I did begin to encounter some discomfort after about three hours or so - I'm used to open-cups, which whilst allowing you to hear more outside the headphones have the beneficial effect of allowing air flow to the ears, keeping them nice and cool. With the Cloud II, my ears began to get hot after about two and a half hours and were hurting after three, requiring me to take them off for a while. To be honest, this is true with the majority of closed-cup headsets so I can't really knock much off for this.
The Kingston HyperX Cloud II is a good quality headset, with a good build quality and excellent sound. It's comfortable in short periods, has a useful detachable microphone and the included 7.1 sound card is great for the sound although I'm not sure it's really needed for its intended target audience.
Overall I've found the Kingston HyperX Cloud II to be an excellent set and a good step up from the original Cloud headset. If I was looking for improvements I'd like to see a microphone cover that stays attached, an open cup version and the option of normal cabling _before_ entering the sound card, but for now I'm very happy to recommend these for anyone looking for a high quality headset.