You must think we’re kidding, right? A gamer headphone (made by Kingston!) fit for serious studio use? Well, I’m not a huge fan of the flashy looks, but it’s hard to argue that as an overall package the value is off the charts. Heck, they even throw in an extra set of pads and a DAC+headamp dongle. So read on to find out what’s there to love with the HyperX Cloud 2!

Pros
  • Decent sound performance for a closed back headphone
  • Included USB dongle sweetens the deal considerably

Pros list with Sonarworks Reference calibration

  • Calibration gets rid of the smiley curve, so mixing is effortless
Cons
  • Earpads can get sweaty
  • A resonance anomaly at 4.2kHz
  • The looks aren’t for everyone
  • Sub-bass THD is on the high side
  • Smiley curve can steer you off-course
  • Sub-bass will distort at a higher volume
Use cases Best use case:
Mixing should be more than okay
For mastering something with less sub-bass THD will preferred
Also good luck getting any clients if people see that you’re mastering on a gamer headphone!
Tech specs Type
Closed back, Over-ear
Impedance
60 Ohm
Distortion
<2%
Frequency response
15 Hz to 25 kHz
Connector
3.5 mm stereo jack
Adapter
Airplane adapter, USB dongle and mic included
Weight
320 g (without cable)
Require headphone amp
No
Headphone amp

The 60 Ohm impedance puts the HyperX Cloud 2 squarely in the middle of the impedance chart. Most laptop headphone outputs shouldn’t have a problem driving these headphones even with enabled calibration. And even if your laptop tends to struggle, then you’re in luck! The included USB dongle acts as a very decent DAC and headphone amp to make the output issue moot.

Build quality


For the price there are no real nits to pick about the build quality. The earcups are connected to the headband by aluminium yokes similar to those found on the Beyerdynamic DT990. All of the padded contact surfaces are made out of soft pleather. The extra set of earpads are plush and feel like those on Sennheiser open-back circumaural headphones like the HD650. The cable is soldered to the earcup, so swapping it out will require a full disassembly. Luckily the cable has a fabric sleeve which makes it non-microphonic.

Sound


The frequency response doesn’t look too impressive if you compare it to the likes of Sennheiser HD650, but for a closed-back headphone at this price range the HyperX Cloud 2 is doing very well. Generally the frequency response shows a typical U-curve which sounds exciting, but can be misleading if trusted for engineering work. Depending on how you look at it, the mids can either be thought as scooped or the bass and highs can be viewed being boosted. Interestingly enough, the high frequencies are boosted without pronounced spikes, so they’re easier to work with. Only the dip at 4.2kHz strikes us as unusual. It’s not very audible, as often is the case with dips, but it correlates with a THD spike which means that a strong resonant mode is at work there.

Channel balance

It’s high end. Cloud 2 has superb channel matching and sample to sample variation is in line with the best from brands like Sennheiser. The price point makes me think that they’re not throwing out many drivers to get there, which means that their manufacturing is seriously on-point. What’s interesting is that the Cloud 2 doesn’t suffer from channel imbalance due to single-entry cable which often means that inner cavity of the earcups is different. Stellar job, Kingston!

Comfort

The comfort is good, but not stellar. There aren’t any pressure points to annoy you after hours of work, however the pleather earpads can get sweaty. Generally it’s on par with other closed back headphones, however due to a lighter weight the Cloud 2 might be easier on the neck muscles than say the Neumann NDH-20.

Value

You can find the HyperX Cloud 2 for 90$ or even less. Just by sound quality alone this makes them a terrific value. When you take into account that you get an extra set of earpads, a mic and a USB dongle that’s essentially an audio interface the money, the value proposition is out of this world.

Observations on how headphones perform after applying Sonarworks Reference calibration Total Harmonic Distortion


Distortion is on the low side except for sub-bass and the strange peak at 4.2kHz. Sub-bass will be coloured, but the upper mid peak won’t cause trouble unless you’re focusing on this very narrow region.

How accurate and consistent is the correction effect among different listeners?

The ear-pads do offer some wiggle room for your ears, but the overall tonality doesn’t shift too much.

How much do they differ pair to pair in terms of frequency response?

This was a nice surprise from a company which hasn’t made a name for itself in the audio industry. Sample to sample variation is positively small.

Rating

6.6 / 8.1 / 8.8

Sound rating is a weighted average of Frequency Response, Adaptiveness, Harmonic Distortion and Channel Balance scores, with Frequency Response and Adaptiveness having the greatest influence.

5 / 9 / 10

The flatter the frequency response – the higher the score. When evaluating the frequency response score with the Average calibration profile, the pair to pair consistency of the given model is taken into account – if we have measured a considerable frequency response inconsistency among multiple pairs of the given model, the score drops, as the profile loses accuracy. Individual calibration will grant perfectly flat frequency response.

8

Adaptiveness shows how capable these headphones are at delivering the same perceived frequency response to any listener. Headphones with high score will sound nearly identical to everyone.

5

Harmonic distortion – the lower the Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) figure, the higher the score. Headphones with prominent 3rd harmonic distortion above 100 Hz will score lower.

8 / 10

Channel balance – the closer to identical the frequency response of both channels, the higher the score. Individual calibration delivers perfect channel balance.

7

Comfort – shows if headphones can be used for long listening sessions comfortably. Every model is tested by at least a few individuals.

7

Build – evaluates how well the headphones are put together, the materials used and indicates the expected longevity. Easily replaceable (and easily available) parts will boost the score. We don’t do any stress tests and very few models are used for longer than a couple of days, so this is a fairly subjective score.

9

Value – indicates the price-performance ratio of the given headphones and how they stack up against the competition. High score means that you won’t find more neutral sounding alternatives for the price.

Conclusion

An extremely solid entry level closed back headphone from your favorite computer RAM manufacturer. Highly recommended!

Final Rating

8
With Sonarworks Reference 4
Calibration Enabled
6.8
Without Sonarworks
Calibration

Remove coloration from your
headphones with Reference 4

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