HyperX’s Cloud Alpha Wireless Could Make Me Ditch Wired Gaming Headphones for Good

HyperX’s Cloud Alpha Wireless Could Make Me Ditch Wired Gaming Headphones for Good
Photo: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo
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HyperX was acquired by HP from Kingston last year but its new Cloud Alpha Wireless headset proves the company hasn’t skipped a beat. A cordless version of the popular and critically successful Cloud Alpha, the latest model attempts to make wired headphones obsolete by combining outstanding comfort and top-notch sound quality with inconceivably long battery life.

Does it succeed? Before I get into it, an admission: I haven’t used the Hyper X Cloud Wireless for 300 hours yet. Why would that possibly matter? Because the big claim here is that this headset can last for almost two full weeks continuously before you have to recharge. You read that right. What I can tell you is that I’ve gamed with these cans for dozens of hours and they are still at 63 per cent. I’ll update this article once I’ve done more testing, but 300 hours seems possible. Even if it doesn’t hit that mark, these headphones rarely need recharging.

With that out of the way, the Hyper X Cloud Alpha Wireless are similar to the wired version, adopting their best qualities — barely-there comfort, powerful sonics, a clear microphone, and a durable design. The most notable difference is the price: at $159, these wireless newcomers are twice as expensive as the wired version. Cost alone will put these out of reach for many gamers, and there are a few missing features, but those who can stretch their budgets should strongly consider checking these things out.

HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless

WHAT IS IT?

A wireless gaming headset

PRICE

$159

PROS

Great sound quality, Durable design, Clear noise-cancelling mic, Epic battery life

CONS

Bulky design, No Bluetooth (or 3.5mm jack), A bit pricey

At first glance, the Cloud Alpha Wireless look identical to the cheaper corded version, flaunting a familiar black design with pops of red on the aluminium bands, headband stitching, and HyperX logos centred on each ovular cup. It trades gaudy RGB and aggressive styling for a simple, relatively clean aesthetic. At the same time, these are unmistakably made for gaming with a design that is more practical than pretty, and more chunky than sleek.

Photo: Phillip Tracy/GizmodoPhoto: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo

Where the wired models have a built-in control unit on the cable, these new wireless models place the volume wheel on the right earcup and the mute and power buttons on the left next to a USB-C port and an LED indicator. The buttons are small but can be fairly easily identified, particularly the mute button thanks to its convex hump. I wish the power button had been placed on the opposite earcup instead of being distinguished by its concave shape — it’s not the easiest to find or the most pleasing to press. And the gear-shaped scroll wheel offers a tad too much resistance — I prefer the free-scrolling volume wheel on my Steelseries Arctis P7, even if it takes more precision to fine-tune volume levels.

At 335 grams with the microphone attached (322g without the mic), the Alpha Wireless are slightly heftier than the Cloud II Wireless (300 grams) and other wireless rivals like the Razer Blackshark V2 Pro (320 grams). Despite the weight, the Cloud Alpha Wireless are every bit as comfortable as the wired version — if not, more so.

Photo: Phillip Tracy/GizmodoPhoto: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo

When I compared these side-by-side, the wireless model seemed to have less padding under the headphone, which reduced the downward pressure on my head. The same can be said for the memory foam earcups: with less padding, the clamping force feels ever so slightly decreased. Even so, the earpads created a tight seal around my head, effectively blocking ambient noise. Other differences between the sets are minimal. For example, the wireless models have a leather-like texture on the headband compared to the smooth one on the wired pair.

Cloud Alpha Wireless (left); Cloud Alpha (right) (Photo: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo)Cloud Alpha Wireless (left); Cloud Alpha (right) (Photo: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo)

When it comes to connectivity, the Cloud Alpha Wireless use a 2.4Ghz dongle for an approximate wireless range of 18.29 m. I didn’t encounter any issues when using the headset on my desktop PC or PS5. No stuttering or connection loss — the headset started working the moment I plugged the dongle into my system of choice. That dongle, by the way, is USB 2.0 Type-A and has a red LED indicator for connection status. Oh, and just to clarify: the Cloud Alpha Wireless are compatible with PC, PS5, and PS4, but not Xbox consoles, which don’t support USB audio-out.

Photo: Phillip Tracy/GizmodoPhoto: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo

Those hoping to pair these to their smartphone will bemoan the lack of Bluetooth. While 2.4Ghz is more reliable and enables insane runtimes (300 hours, remember?), Bluetooth doesn’t require any hardware. Without Bluetooth or even a 3.5mm headphone input, there is no good way to listen to music from your smartphone or tablet (the Asus pictured below being one rare exception). Also worth noting is that thin-and-light laptops without legacy ports are becoming more capable of gaming. If you want to use the Cloud Alpha Wireless on, say, an Intel Arc-powered portable laptop, then you’ll need a dongle.

Photo: Phillip Tracy/GizmodoPhoto: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo

I have no complaints about the microphone. My buddies on PS5 said my voice sounded crisp and clear, and when I chatted with my wonderful colleagues, Florence Ion and Andrew Liszewski, they both said I sounded sharp. This brief audio clip should give you a taste of the mic quality; I was particularly impressed by the noise cancellation, which eliminated loud banging as my apartment fixed some broken pipes. Another nice touch is the LED indicator above the windscreen, which illuminates red when muted.

Photo: Phillip Tracy/GizmodoPhoto: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo

The HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless use 50mm drivers with neodymium magnets and have a 15 Hz-21 kH frequency range. Looking past the fancy words and numbers, HyperX says the custom-designed dual drivers are slightly thinner and lighter, yet produce the same sound quality as the ones in the wired version. The sound quality of this set is excellent, and I didn’t notice any dropoff when comparing them to the wired version.

The engine sounds of Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari had a crisp, deep whine as I sped around Imola Circuit in F1 2021 on PS5. After repeatedly crashing, I switched to Gran Turismo 7 and enjoyed the deep rumble of the yet-to-be-released Nissan Z (my dream car FWIW).

On PC, I played Halo: Infinite and the Cloud Alpha Wireless captured each of the weapon’s distinct sounds. Most importantly, I could hear enemies creeping up from behind me — an advantage that should have (but didn’t) improve my dismal kill-to-death ratio. During work, I streamed music through YouTube Music and generally enjoyed the sound quality. These won’t replace my Bose 700, but the deep, rumbly bass and crisp treble made these an enjoyable listen.

Photo: Phillip Tracy/GizmodoPhoto: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo

You can adjust the sound via HyperX’s NGENUITY software using EQ controls. Well, theoretically. I tinkered with the preset sound profiles but didn’t notice much of a difference in audio quality when switching between them or turning the equaliser on and off. Enabling DTS:X spacial slightly boosted the sound, but didn’t exactly create a “3D” effect. One feature worth enabling is mic monitoring, which allows you to hear your own voice so you aren’t yelling at friends. I wish there were onboard controls — if those are important to you, the Steelseries Arctis 7 is worth a look.

Now, about that battery life. I teased this in the intro, but the standout feature of the Cloud Alpha Wireless is their 300 hours of estimated battery life with the volume set to 50%. Again, I haven’t fully tested that claim because, well, I’ve barely even had these in my possession for 300 hours. So far, though, HyperX’s absurd runtime rating seems about right, if slightly overstated. I’ve used the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless for the past few weeks, gaming almost every day for a few hours and they are seemingly unkillable.

Photo: Phillip Tracy/GizmodoPhoto: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo

When they finally do run low, the Cloud Alpha Wireless recharge via a USB-C port on the bottom of the left earcup. It takes about 4.5 hours to go from dead to 100 per cent. That’s slowish so you might want to keep these plugged in overnight to avoid going dark in the middle of a gaming session.

The Cloud Alpha Wireless are an excellent option for PC or console gamers looking for a pair of high-end wireless headphones. The highlight, of course, is the bonkers battery life, a perk that could convert wired headphone loyalists. Most importantly, you get this record-setting runtime without many tradeoffs; the Cloud Alpha Wireless, much like its wired counterpart, has excellent comfort, impressive sound quality, and a microphone that’ll make your voice sound great when you squad up with friends.

The Cloud Alpha Wireless joins a competitive field of gaming headsets, including the excellent Steelseries Arctis 7+, Razer Blackshark V2 Pro, and HyperX’s own Cloud II wireless. These are all top-notch options, but if you want a great all-around device that you can forget about charging for weeks — or even months — there is no other choice than the Cloud Alpha Wireless.

Where to buy the Cloud Alpha Wireless headphones

JB-Hi-Fi ($159) | Centre Com ($159) | Amazon AU ($113.49)