HyperX Cloud Revolver S Gaming Headset Review — “HyperX’s Best Headset So Far!”
When the original HyperX Cloud Revolver first launched last year, I loved it.
Then I reviewed this year’s slightly updated model with rubber bits in the headband…and didn’t like it quite as much for some reason.
Now it’s time for the $149 HyperX Cloud Revolver S to have a shot on my review desk. Do the tweaks here make a difference? Does that S really mean something important?
Yes to both questions.
HyperX makes a lot of great headsets for affordable prices. If you want the most headset for the least amount of money, they’re the best choice. The new HyperX Cloud Revolver is $149 and it’s their high-end flagship.
That’s kind of crazy, as most other flagship-level gaming headsets are in the $200-$300 range.
In the box, you get the headset itself, which only comes in matte black with white accents right now. The headset has a permanently-attached 4 foot cable. You get a detachable mic. You get an extension cable with a splitter on the end for older-style separate mic and headphone connections to PCs.
And you get a little Dolby Headphone hardware USB dongle.
That surround dongle is where the S comes from.
When I first heard the Revolver last year, I thought it sounded great. It reminded me of the doubly expensive MDR-1A from Sony.
Earlier this year, I though the Revolver had a weird harshness to its highs…and couldn’t figure out why I felt that way. It was puzzling.
Now…I’m back in the “it sounds great” camp.
The Revolver S has a slightly amped-up and boosted sound signature that’s great for fun listening. The sub-bass and mid-bass are a bit thicker than on neutral headphones, but they don’t bleed up into the mids. The bass is punchy and textured and warm, and although it’s not quite as precise as it could be, it’s really fun to listen to without feeling over-bloated or dominant.
The mids are a touch recessed but very clean overall. Similarly, the highs seem nicely-balanced, extended, and aren’t fatiguing. It seems like there’s a gentle push somewhere in the upper mid region, and that probably accounts for the harshness I heard earlier this year. Having a boost in that region is great for gaming because it helps with positional tracking/listening for footsteps.
Overall, it’s a nice-sounding headset that’s just amped-up enough to not be neutral. It won’t work right for hardcore pro production tasks, but it’s great for any type of general listening. If you’re a bass head, you might think it’s a little lacking in thump, but for most people it’ll sound great.
The soundstage is quite good too…not quite Beyerdynamic DT770 good, but darn close. Which is impressive! The sound field feels more pushed to the front of your head than other competing headsets.
You do not need a special amp for these. They’re really sensitive and will get stupidly loud out of just about any device.
What about that Dongle?
The included Dolby Headphone dongle is quite good. But first, my one complaint:
You’ll probably hear a very light hiss when you plug the Revolver S headset into the dongle.
After doing some tests, I think this results from the output impedance of the dongle being just a bit too high for the incredibly sensitive, incredibly easy-to-drive Revolver S headset. The hiss is very minor, and inaudible once you’ve got audio going. Fixing this problem probably would have made the internal components in the dongle cost more, and it’s totally acceptable and not a deal-breaker in any way.
Everything else about the dongle is shockingly good. I mean seriously. I expected not to like it and came away impressed.
There are three buttons and two volume wheels on the dongle. The main button turns Dolby Surround on or off, and the other button on top mutes your mic. A button on the side activates three different EQ modes that only work in stereo mode.
The dongle is truly plug-and-play. It popped up on my Windows PC as a 7.1 audio device, which is great. The buttons feel nice, and the volume control wheel is truly analog and impressively smoothly attenuated, with no obvious channel mismatch issues.
I hadn’t heard Dolby’s headphone surround tech in a while…and this must be a relatively new algorithm, because it’s great. It still has noticeable reverb (as do most headphone surround systems), but it successfully projects the sound out of your head and into the “room.” It handles stereo and surround material equally well.
One important note: I had to turn my digital volume in Windows down to around 70 while using the surround mode in order to get rid of distortion/peaking. The surround algorithm tweaks the frequency response in such a way that you’ll get some harshness to the audio unless you turn the digital volume down.
In stereo, you can use the three EQ modes: Bass Boost, Flat, and Vocals. They work as advertised. Bass Boost brings in some extra thump bass heads will appreciate. Flat smooths out the already fairly smooth response of the base headset. Vocals seems tuned to boost voice chat/nasal vocal frequencies, and is good if you want to really hear your team over the game audio.
Having been so impressed overall with the performance and execution of the Dongle, I did the only thing I could do…I plugged my 250 Ohm DT770’s into it.
I wasn’t expecting the dongle to be able to power my DT770's…but I was wrong! They sounded great, and the hiss was gone thanks to the much higher impedance of the Beyerdynamic headphones.
I have to commend HyperX for their phenomenal work on this little sound card/dongle thing. It’s probably the best included-in-the-box USB sound card I’ve ever heard, and every feature is nicely-implemented.
If you have a use for it, it totally justifies the slight price premium of the S model.
The design and build of the Revolver S are refined from the original Revolver. You get the same overall look, with a steel headband, large closed-back ear cups, detachable mic, and non-detachable cable.
It still uses a suspension headband system, but the padded headband piece is wider here than on the original. This is a great change, and you can read more about it in the comfort section below.
The sides of the cups are now matte-textured instead of glossy, and the whole thing hugs your head just enough to not look daft in public. Here’s a picture of how far it sticks out from my head.
Although the look is a little gaming-headset-y, I don’t feel stupid wearing them in this coffee shop right now.
Isolation is good, but not market-leading. Still, you can use them in a louder environment without much issue.
Comfort, like with all HyperX headsets, is exceptional. I have no tolerance for uncomfortable headphones, but thankfully these are lovely. The ear pads are big and cushy and filled with memory foam. They have plenty of room inside for your ears to float unfettered.
Special mention must be made of the wider headband on the S. I didn’t think this would make much of a difference, but it totally does. Pressure is more evenly spread across my head, and the headset fits me a little better as a result than the original Revolver did. I have a pretty big head, so this difference might not be as dramatic for you if you don’t, but I can’t go back to the original revolver now.
The headset padding feels softer too.
In spite of being one of the heavier headsets on the market, the Revolver S is balanced really well. It doesn’t quite disappear on top of your head, but it feels wonderful for long sessions.
Aside from the Dolby Dongle I covered in detail above, you get an extension cord and a detachable mic. The mic is good. It has a pleasant sound to it and it’s nice and flexible.
You don’t get the extra ear pads and carrying bag that HyperX includes with the standard Cloud/Cloud II/Cloud X models, so if you really need your box to be filled with stuff, give those a look.
The HyperX Cloud Revolver S is an affordably-priced flagship headset that includes a surprisingly good little USB surround sound card. It sounds great and just north of balanced, even when listening in plain old stereo without the dongle. The sound is perfect for the fun applications that a gaming headset caters towards. Comfort takes a step up thanks to the wider headband.
If I had to complain about this, I’d point out the non-detachable cable, the slight hiss on the sound card, and the bulky non-folding headband…but those are all nitpicks.
Would I pick this over the original Revolver? YES! The extra comfort and the sound card are totally worth the extra money.
Would I pick this over the DT770 80 Ohm, my favorite standard headphone in this price range? That’s…a much tougher question. I think the DT770’s sound better…but they don’t include a mic or a sound card, and they have a really long 10-foot cable.
It’s not really a fair comparison because they’re such different products. They HyperX Cloud Revolver S still sounds good enough, so if you need the mic and sound card…I’d probably pick it over the DT770’s.