Having seen new headsets come out at a fairly brisk pace over the years, it'd be fair to wonder what the fuss is about from iteration to iteration when looking at a new option like the HyperX Cloud III. It's usually a handful of minor improvements between each model, and sometimes that's enough for companies to justify a refresh of tried-and-true products (as was the case when I reviewed the Logitech G Pro X 2 wireless gaming headset recently). Although it's been about eight years since its predecessor came out, that's sort of where the HyperX Cloud III lands, the just-released follow-up to the long-revered Cloud II. It's a testament to how well-designed the older headset was, but the refinements make this revision a worthy successor and effectively one of the best wired headsets available.
Changes such as the slightly plushier cushions, angular earcups, and better balanced audio are welcome. However, I found the most notable upgrade to be in the impressive microphone quality, which is top-notch, especially for a headset. And the combination of flexibility, durability, and minimal clamp force remain key features to make the Cloud III impressively designed from a comfort and ergonomic standpoint. It's not flashy, and it's not going to blow you away with an array of features or customizability, but at a standard retail price of $100 USD, you get a superb headset--nothing more, nothing less.
Packaging and Features
The HyperX Cloud III comes with the headset (of course), the detachable microphone, a 3.5mm auxiliary input to USB-C cable, and a USB-C to USB type-A adapter. The headset itself has the 3.5mm audio cable attached to it and measures about 4 feet, which isn't that long. If you're using this in a PC gaming situation, though, the aux-to-USB cable also acts as an extension cord. The Cloud III still uses 53mm drivers but are now set at an angle which is said to give a more accurate audio experience, and as we'll get into later, they're enough to pack a punch.
One design change from the Cloud II is that volume control and the mic mute toggle are on the headset itself instead of a control card attached to the USB connection cable. The thing to note here is that the volume control wheel on the Cloud III adjusts the headset volume independently of the platform you're using it on. For example, my Windows PC system volume does not change when using the volume wheel and it instead acts as an analog threshold, which I prefer since it's more responsive and circumvents any hang-ups Windows may present.
If you wish to customize equalization settings, adjust microphone gain, or use the newly implemented DTS Headphone:X virtual surround sound, you'll need to download HyperX's Ngenuity software and driver. It's a fairly bare-bones suite and isn't entirely necessary unless you need to tweak EQ for other use-cases.
Last, and certainly not least, the build quality of the HyperX Cloud III makes it stand out among the sea of gaming headsets. The steel band and aluminum forks give it a premium feel, and it provides a ton of flexibility--you can twist and turn the headset all you want, bend it as much as you need to put it on your big ol' dome, and drop it onto your desk in frustration after being called a scrub round after round, but this headset will not fall apart. It's not just about structural integrity either; the flexibility also ensures it doesn't put too much pressure on your head, which is paramount for comfort, so let's talk about that.
Comfort is the key area where HyperX exceeds most other headset makers, and the Cloud III improves on an already-great design. The earpads are a bit thicker this time around and are still made with a soft foam wrapped in a leather-like material, which provides more than enough cushion for long sessions. As with any headset that uses leatherette upholstery, however, things can get sweaty around your ears--while the material does create a better seal to block out noise and let the audio quality sing, I tend to prefer a velour-style material for the breathability.
But the thing that makes the Cloud III one of the most comfortable headsets available is that minimal clamp force mentioned earlier. My go-to headphones, the Sennheiser HD 599, are very light on pressure around my ears, but other headsets like the Sony Pulse 3D I use on PS5 clamp just a little too hard for longer sessions. The Logitech G Pro X 2 I just reviewed definitely improved on this aspect from its previous model, but the HyperX Cloud III is the real winner in this specific category. The balance between flexibility and sturdiness is impressive, and the result is a headset that feels light around the ears while staying firm in place on your head.
The improved headband also helps alleviate pressure on the top of your head--the Cloud II was already fine in this regard, but the added padding on the headband is certainly welcome. One feature I wish the Cloud III had would be swiveling earcups--although there's enough wiggle room for the earcups to form a solid seal around my ears, the added ease-of-use when resting them around my neck could've been a nice-to-have. However, the sleek unibody design philosophy takes precedent here, and I'm not mad at it.
Comfort is only half the equation when it comes to a great headset, and the Cloud III is no slouch when it comes to audio quality. Even at the price of $100, you can still get a headset that gives the impression of high-end gear when you're playing games with bold, booming bass or subtle sound cues. As I do with other recent audio gear, I put the Cloud III through its paces with matches in Valorant and raids in Final Fantasy XIV to get an idea of how the headset performs in competitive environments and in games with busy audio experiences.
FFXIV can be an overwhelming game audio-wise, so the angle here isn't about gaining an advantage via positional audio for example--rather, it's about the clarity in which the music and various sound effects come through. While I can tell how seemingly discordant sounds are smoother and more distinct with fancier, more expensive headphones, the Cloud III still offered a pleasant listening experience. Mids and highs can be just a tad harsh at super high volumes compared to top-end audio setups, but for a mid-range headset, you'll get full and detailed sound with decently balanced bass to round it out. Between sound cues to telegraph boss mechanics, the battle cries and sound effects of your party's characters going HAM, and the detailed soundtrack blasting, it can be intense, yet the Cloud III handles all that wonderfully.
You should also expect decent positional audio from any $100 headset for all those subtle but critical sound effects in a game like Valorant. Enemy footsteps, Agent abilities going off, and specific guns firing are all crucial audio cues that inform moment-to-moment tactics and being able to decipher where they're coming from was easy with the Cloud III headset. This is one of those situations where audio alone isn't going to up your game since you still need to aim and make the right decisions in-game, you just don't want to be left on an audio setup that isn't capable of feeding you that information. And trust me, you'll be covered with the Cloud III.
The Ngenuity software allows access to DTS Headphone:X spatial audio, which is a type of virtual surround sound that tries to emulate that full, immersive audio experience. It's a feature that comes down to preference, but it isn't something I'm particularly fond of since it feels a little too artificial for gaming or music.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, the microphone might be the most impressive thing about the Cloud III. It's often an afterthought when it comes to headsets; as long as you can be heard clearly, that tends to be good enough. However, with its 10mm mic with a built-in mesh pop filter, the Cloud III is the closest I've heard a headset mic come to a standalone USB mic. I recorded myself through Audacity and I was taken aback when I played it back--I would never recommend recording a podcast with a headset mic, but this is one case where you could probably get away with it.
We've reached a point where it's tough to think about where headsets and new audio gear can go from here, especially with something like the HyperX Cloud III. It's hard to pick out any flaws considering it sits in the mid-range, so determining if it's the right headset for you really comes down to preference with its feature set. Because with solid all-around audio quality for gaming and music along with best-in-class comfort, the HyperX Cloud III is an easy choice.
For those looking at new wired headsets to either upgrade from budget-level gear or to replace mid-range setups that may be worn out, the Cloud III should be on your radar. At a standard retail price of $100, I'd say that's more than fair considering you get a headset that punches above its weight.
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