HyperX Cloud III Lightning Review: Back To Wired Basics

HyperX Cloud III

The HyperX brand has gone through quite a journey behind the consumer-facing scenes. Besides changing owners, the company looks to have remained largely independent and allowed to do its own thing. And that’s probably a good thing when it comes to the company’s gaming headsets.

Which is probably why, despite the many years since its first iteration, the HyperX Cloud III, which appeared during COMPUTEX 2023, looks pretty much the same as the first-generation model. Naturally, there are some changes under the surface, which will be what we’ll be uncovering today.

What Am I Looking At?

As per its namesake, the HyperX Cloud III is the third iteration of this line of gaming headsets. It’s no exaggeration to say that this family of headsets has been around the block for a while, with plenty of variants despite the mainline entries only numbering three. Being the first of the new generation, the brand has not included fancy wireless tech with this headset, opting only for the good old wired connectivity.

Used on its own, you’ll need a device with a 3.5mm audio jack, which is becoming more and more of a rarity for phones. Regardless, if the audio jack is unavailable, then your remaining options will be USB-A or USB-C, the former coming in the form of an adapter. Using either of these two options with a PC also grants it virtual 7.1 capabilities and spatial audio in the form of DTS Headphone: X. The cables are braided to prevent tangles, though this looks to be the standard nowadays anyway, which is great.

The headset features a familiar pair of 53mm drivers, but they are now angled to not only better drive sound into its wearer’s ears, but also for a better fit in general. You also get the almost industry standard memory foam padding wrapped in faux leather for both the earcups and the band. While we’re here, the adjustable band provides a satisfying snap and pop when moving from one notch to the next. The cable comes out of the left cup, and just above it is its small mute switch for the microphone. And on the right cup, you’ll find the volume wheel.

Finally, we get to the detachable microphone. For the HyperX Cloud III, the company has given it a slight size reduction. While it doesn’t have the old foam cover over it anymore, the company says that there is still a mesh pop filter. The microphone itself has also gotten a bump from 6mm to 10mm.

Wrapping it all up is its price tag of RM399. Taking inflation into account, it’s basically within the same range as what its predecessors asked for during their time, or just slightly more than a modest asking price.

What’s Good About It?

The best thing about the HyperX Cloud III really lies in its simplicity. Beyond the USB adapter which also serves as its spatial audio adapter, you just plug it in and it works immediately. Of course, if you need some form of adjustments to be made, there’s the HyperX Ngenuity software on PC. You can see this as the HyperX equivalent to things like the Razer Synapse or ASUS ROG Armoury Crate, among other examples. And in the same vein, these are really more for other peripherals like mice and keyboards, especially those with RGB lighting.

As you’d expect from a gaming headset, the HyperX Cloud III has fairly decent sound staging. Even when plugged in with just the 3.5mm jack, you can tell easily enough in-game, sounds coming from your back or sides. But as is also common with gaming headsets, there is a noticeable bass bias and a fair amount of echo. This is nice for tracking footsteps of other players trying to sneak up on you, but not so much when you’re unwinding with your Spotify playlist.

HyperX Cloud III USB

With the USB connection, the DTS Headphone: X kicks in, increasing clarity across the board. This makes it much easier to identify sound sources in game, but it doesn’t really help much in balancing the music listening experience. Though this is really a taste thing, so if you like your bass really booming, then this may not necessarily be a bad thing.

HyperX says that the microphone of the Cloud III is a 10mm unit, as mentioned above. I’m personally unsure if this makes it a marked improvement over the ones that came before, but for what it’s worth, voices are sent over Discord very clearly, which is really all one can ask for.

What’s The Catch?

While the USB and spatial audio adapter for the HyperX Cloud III does its thing well, it’s not without drawbacks, and it has pretty weird ones at that. To start, for in-game sounds, while having the headset plugged through the USB port, clarity is increased as mentioned, but this comes at a slight cost of volume. Nothing you can’t fix by dialling up said volume by a smidgen.

Strangely enough, it has the opposite effect on the microphone. While plugged in via USB, voice volume is higher at the receiving end of a call, but at a slight cost of clarity. It’s not a dramatic enough degradation that it spoils the experience, but it’s still noticeable.

Getting to the general music experience, on tracks with a lot going on at the same time, the frequencies start vying for dominance over each other. Because of the bass bias mentioned earlier, this is the frequency that often drowns out everything else, with vocals occasionally pushing through.

Should I Get It?

As gaming headsets go, the HyperX Cloud III is as no-frills as it gets. It is strictly wire-operated, with the additional spatial audio coming as an option if you have the USB port for it. The sound signature is the kind that you’d expect for gaming headsets, and the detachable microphone is good at what it does. If a gaming headset is all you’re looking for, there’s nothing much to complain about.

The issue, if you could call it that, is that said sound signature is probably not for you if you prefer a flat or balanced sound signature for your music-listening experience. This is a common gripe with gaming headsets, so it’s not a unique issue with the Cloud III, but it’s still something to be aware of if you intend to use the headset for more than just gaming.

For what it offers, it also has a relatively fair asking price of RM399 which again, is in the ballpark of what headsets of this range are priced at anyway. So, if you’re not already sold on it, then consider the HyperX Cloud III as another option on your list.

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