A few months ago I reviewed HyperX’s Cloud Stinger wireless headset and found it to be a good value for those who don’t need any extra features. The Cloud Flight S is the company’s foray into more high-end audio, and I’m sorry to say that it disappoints in terms of both value and features.
Where the cheaper headset shines in its simplicity, this more complex setup is trying to sell itself on virtual audio, sound quality, and wireless charging. While a few of the changes (particularly the comfy pads) are appreciated, a price increase to $160 puts the Cloud Flight S among some very exalted company. It just can’t measure up.
Big and Comfy
At a glance, the Cloud Flight S looks like a wireless headset, because that’s what it is. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense for it to look like, I dunno, a Staten Island ferry. I digress. It’s a black plastic headset with some logos on the side.
Aside from the quite prominent HyperX logos (there’s a third one embossed in the plastic of the band), there isn’t a lot going on in terms of style. The headset uses physical buttons for power and the “Z1” button, which activates and deactivates virtual surround sound. I appreciate the lack of RGB lighting here, but there’s no accounting for taste.
There are four cardinal buttons on the side of the left cup that are recessed into the plastic. You press them like the integrated mouse button on a laptop touchpad. These could be better—standard buttons, for example—but they’re not as bad as the touch-sensitive junk I’ve seen on other designs. Lookin’ at you, Sony.
This headset isn’t quite as light as the Cloud Stinger, but it makes up for the extra ounce or two with softer and more comfortable ear pads. The padding on the top band is particularly appreciated.
One detail I always like to see: a detachable microphone. It’s very handy for those of us who only use in-game chat infrequently. This one has a neat extra feature, a little LED ring that shines red when the headset’s audio input is set to mute. It’s functional and aesthetically pleasing, a good combo.
The signature feature of the Cloud Flight S is that it can recharge wirelessly, like most high-end cell phones. I just don’t understand … why.
Don’t get me wrong, it works. And, I guess it’s nice. But headsets aren’t like phones, being constantly picked up and put down—you’re either using it for a decent session at your desk, or you’re not. In that situation, it doesn’t really matter if you need to spend an extra couple of seconds to attach the battery. I feel like this is a synergy thing, trying to sell mice, headsets, and chargers at the same time.
Especially as the headset uses MicroUSB for wired charging. You know my policy: that’s a point off. I’d trade the integrated Qi charger for a USB-C port in a heartbeat.
Sound Quality and Chat
The sound quality of the Cloud Flight S matches that of the Cloud Stinger, with perhaps a bit better isolation thanks to the bigger softer cushions. As far as I can tell, it’s using nearly identical 50mm drivers. The sound is serviceable, with a tuning made for clarity of speech over booming bass or trill treble.
But to be honest, at this price point merely “okay” audio isn’t okay. With excellent competition from other vendors in the $150-200 range, the Cloud Flight S can’t hold up in terms of audio quality. It’s going to be a deal breaker for a lot of shoppers.
At least the recording is pretty good. During several web meetings and a few games of Overwatch, my teammates (in both the professional and gaming sense) told me they could hear me quite well. Just don’t forget to keep the removable mic boom handy.
The Cloud Flight S includes support for virtual 7.1 surround sound. (That’s “virtual” in that it’s being simulated with just two headphone drivers.) While it’s nice—not all headsets include the option in their connection and software—I found it to be considerably poorer than other virtual surround systems I’ve tested.
My much older Logitech headset had much better isolation of the virtual channels, making it much faster to triangulate the position of enemies in multiplayer games. In more subtle applications, like streaming movies with a 5.1 surround sound option on Netflix, I found it hard to distinguish between surround and stereo at all. In HyperX’s defense, that may be due to notoriously inconsistent standardization in streaming audio.
Software Strikes a Sour Note
The last HyperX gadget I got my hands on was the Pulsefire Raid, and the Windows software for that mouse was a notable low point. It hasn’t improved—it’s still quite barebones and less than stable.
You’ll need to go to the software to adjust the four cardinal side buttons, but after that you can ignore it, using the Z1 button to turn surround on and off. There’s no tuning of the surround sound settings, though a few games like Call of Duty do have baked-in automatic adjustments.
The last software feature is much-ballyhooed by HyperX marketing: the ability to adjust the sound balance to favor in-game audio or chat audio on the fly. You can adjust this in the software or by assigning buttons on the headset itself. But in practice, this exchange just raises or lowers their respective volume, and in a way that muddies the quality for both.
It’s better and more practical to manually adjust game and chat volume in the game’s own settings panel. The feature isn’t useless, just superfluous.
Value Proposition Just Isn’t There
With a price shooting for the upper part of the market, and features and performance firmly in the lower half, the Cloud Flight S just isn’t a good deal. There’s no nice way to put this: you should buy something else.
While comfy and long-lasting in terms of battery, its few high notes can’t outshine its average performance and poor software. If you absolutely must have wireless Qi charging on your headset—and I can’t imagine who must—then this headset is for you. Everyone else has far better options.
Here’s What We Like
- Comfy cushions
- Removable mic boom
- Subtle LED mute light
And What We Don't
- Poor sound quality
- High price
- MicroUSB charging
- Wireless charging is questionable