The HyperX Cloud Revolver S isn’t a new headset, having been around for almost three years. However, this doesn’t mean it’s out of date. The $269.99 Revolver S is still one of the most beautiful, comfortable and capable gaming headsets available. It’s also one of the only headsets to have an in-line USB sound card that provides Dolby 7.1 surround sound — no extra software needed. And yet, it’s competitors have since moved on to dual 2.4Ghz, Bluetooth wireless setups. Furthermore, the Dolby surround is hit and miss and the headsets seem held back in their performance. So should you really buy the Revolver S in 2020? Lets find out.
HyperX Cloud Revolver S review
The Revolver S is one of two headsets in the Cloud Revolver family. They look and feel exactly the same with a gorgeous design that’s clearly gamer but chic. They both have the same 50mm drivers hidden behind plush memory foam ear cups held by a suspension headband design. It’s combination of light metals and plastics looks very premium.
The headband is self adjusting requiring no extra effort besides just plopping it on your head. The headband also has soft padding that keeps pressure off your head. I did have to shift it slightly backwards and forwards throughout the day but I wouldn’t say it hurt my head. This combination means the Revolver S is supremely comfortable. And although they aren’t specified as glasses-friendly, I had no issues using the Revolver S for the entire work day with no fatigue.
Where the Revolver S differs from the Revolver is the aforementioned USB sound card(lets call it dongle). The dongle sits between the headset and your PC or console. The headset connects via a 3.5mm jack into the top of the dongle which then connects to a device by USB. It works with PC’s, Macs, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch(docked mode). You’ll notice no mention of Xbox but that shouldn’t surprise at this point. Microsoft has a unique framework for USB devices that make it incompatible with PlayStation. So you’ll need to plug the Revolvers into your Xbox controller and forgo the benefits that the dongle offers.
So what does the dongle offer anyway? To put it simply, it’s an amplifier for the headset, giving you louder, clearer and richer audio. It’s also a complete control panel for managing the Revolvers with a touch. There are two large buttons on the face of the dongle to activate Dolby Surround sound emulation and mute the mic. On the left side is an EQ profile switcher which toggles between Bass Boost, Flat and Vocals. On the right are two dials, one for the headphone volume and the other for microphone volume. On the back is a handy clip so you can attach the dongle to your clothing for easy access.
Boom box sound
Once you’ve got the Revolvers on your head, your ears are treated to a delicious audio experience. I used the Revolvers exclusively for work, music, games and movies for close to a month, and they’re great. The Revolvers use 50mm drivers with a frequency range of 12 – 25Hz. It’s not the most dynamic but this isn’t an audiophile headphone. It’s more tuned to mid range with soft trebles and punchy bass. The sub-bass is often by-passed even though the drivers are clearly capable of rumbling your head.
I put this down to the tuning of the drivers — they almost feel held back from their true power. And frustratingly, there’s no software equaliser in the HyperX Ngenuity software to allow you to tweak them. You have to live with the preset profiles the headsets ship with. This honestly sucks and I hope HyperX can release a software update to address this. In the interim, I stuck with the Bass Boost profile which sounded the meatiest and most pleasant.
In games, gunfire, explosions are head pounding while bullet whizzes and character voices are crystal clear. The sound of falling rocks as Lara scales caverns in Shadow of the Tomb Raider is eerily real while the voices of the Hiss in Control are extremely disturbing. Sadly, I wasn’t too impressed with competitive games like Apex Legends or Call of Duty. Despite HyperX claims of wider and more accurate sound staging, I wasn’t able to pick out targets any easier than with other headsets. But then again, maybe I’ve just been using too many really good headsets lately.
Music lovers will definitely enjoy the Revolvers — something rarely associated with gaming headsets. From orchestral scores to choral worship to hip-hop bangers, music sounds great. Hans Zimmer’s ‘Why So Serious’ from The Dark Knight and Mick Gordons ‘Hell Walker’ from the Doom soundtrack have deep sub-bass that most headsets can’t pick up. The Revolver does pretty good job but falls short of the cheaper EKSA E900 Pro or the wireless EPOS | SENNHEISER GSP370. But still, it’s one of the better listening experiences I’ve had.
Dolby Surround sound. Sure?
The shtick with the Revolver S is the 7.1 Dolby Surround sound. Once you turn it on, you get a shift in the sound signature. I wouldn’t call it surround as much as I would call it, distant. Unlike Stereo mode where everything sounds close to your ears, surround sounds further away, like you aren’t using headphones but listening to external speakers. There isn’t very good separation in the different channels so the Front Left or Back Left channel sounds just left. There’s also a slight echo or reverberation to simulate being in a room.
As such, this surround sound is hit and miss in games and movies. Because of the way the dongle processes surround sound, the audio loses much of it’s low end impact. This makes things sound almost anaemic and threatening as they should be. This will get you killed quick in competitive shooters as footsteps don’t sound as near as they actually are. Maybe its just me but for a headset designed for esports, that’s…not great. I would stick with stereo for those kind of games and then surround sound for more story-driven games.
As I wrote this review, I thought to try the Revolver S with the excellent EPOS GSX 300 USB sound card. The newer device from EPOS does a much better job with the virtual surround and also allows you to tweak the EQ. The Revolvers sounded immediately more urgent and powerful and the staging is sharper and immersive. One thing the GSX 300 does well is it keeps the powerful bass when in surround and brightens the mids. So if you have a serious DAC/ AMP, it would greatly improve the audio on the Revolvers. This tells me that HyperX need not change the headsets in future but offer a newer, improved dongle.
The Revolvers also come with a detachable microphone. It’s made of a flexible plastic so positioning it is easy. The mic is thick and sturdy, about half the size of those on the EPOS headsets. It’s pretty good, with clear reproduction of my voice. HyperX says its Discord certified for noise cancelling. It worked great on PC though I often had to increase the mic volume on the dongle because my listeners often complained I sounded faint. Here’s a sample from the mic.
The HyperX Cloud Revolver S is a delightful headset. It’s my favourite design after the luscious LucidSound headsets and it feels great to wear for several hours. I’ve enjoyed listening to music, doing my Zoom calls, watching unhealthy amounts of YouTube and of course, gaming. The surround sound is disappointing but since the base headsets sound so good, its not a deal breaker. The fact that you can plug them into a better amp like the GSX 300 is a win-win. I would love for HyperX to give us some software EQ controls which can be saved to the dongle. Also, I hope the Revolver S II is cable free with 2.4Ghz wireless and Bluetooth connectivity. That would immediately make it my favourite gaming headset.