Setup, Design & Observations
Setting up with a PC is very simple, plug in the USB then plug the jack into the control box and await for propriety drivers to install. The control box seems fairly well made, the buttons click firmly when pressed. Once plugged in, the HyperX logo and the 7.1 button light up red, as implied, you can switch directly to the virtual 7.1 mode by pressing the dedicated button. On the side of the control box there is also a microphone mute switch. The downside to having no dedicated software support is that you have to do without any equaliser or any additional effects, as well as being limited to 16 bit/ 48,000 Hz audio resolution, but this will not be an issue for gamers.
The headset itself is identical to the previous Cloud, retaining excellent build quality and touches. You will find soft feel plastic trims, gorgeous lightweight brushed aluminium and braided semi-modular cables, the Cloud II does a lot 'right'. The memory foam earpads are soft and forgiving that can completely circle my ears.
Another difference is in the removable microphone, the microphone barrel at 6mm diameter is smaller when compared to the previous Cloud's microphone at 6.5mm, this results in a visibly more stout microphone head, However, judging from the specifications, the Cloud IIs microphone is likely to be an improvement which may be reflected by the improved frequency pickup range (from 100-12,000 Hz to 50-18000 Hz)
The dedicated USB soundcard does a great job in our music tracks, while I have the benefit of regularly listening to music through high quality equipment and can say that it doesn't quite take full advantage of the headset's performance, the supplied solution still allows the strengths and characteristics of the Cloud to shine through. Crystal highs, clear mids and rich powerful bass. Regardless, the included USB solution would be much more favourable over an integrated solution allowing for exceptional performance out the box. As there are no drivers included, you cannot equalise the sound to taste, however, the balance is good, and it is unlikely for someone to have an issue with it.
Taking advantage of the wide soundstage of the Cloud headset, the 7.1 virtual sound feature will be a gamers best friend. While it introduces a touch of background noise when activating, the open sound of the 7.1 rendering along with the rich and powerful performance can really bring games alive. Spatial awareness in FPSs is eeriely good for a virtual solution, and with little detriment to audio quality, locating those crunchy footsteps becomes a touch easier.
The microphone is fairly sensitive and you may need to position the boom away from your mouth a little, once in the right place, the auto correction does well to adjust to the loudness of your voice. If you don't want people to hear you eating or drinking, you can turn the sensitivity down directly via the control box. Voice is decribed as 'good', clear and very natural.