I’ve never been one to worry about the quality of signals being broadcast into my head. I resisted HD television until 3D televisions replaced it as the ‘new’ thing, and I’ve never paid good money for earphones. Whatever came free with my phone or PSP were perfectly good enough for me. Well, I was wrong about HD television (but still feel justified in never wanting a 3D TV), and it turns out I should have been more of an audio snob, thanks to the Cloud II.
As this is the first gaming headset I’ve had, I was surprised by the weight of it. I’ve had headsets and my last one was a general purpose wireless headset, which weighed hardly anything. The Cloud II is a sturdy aluminium build which, though unexpectedly heavy in my hands, wasn’t too heavy on my head. In fact it was very comfortable even worn over a period of several hours, and I’ve never been much of a fan of the over-the-ear style, finding they usually heat up my ears or head too much - not so with the Cloud II.
The headset comes with two sets of covers, one is a felt material and the other is standard vinyl-covered sponge. It comes in two parts, the headset ends in a standard 3.5mm jack - suitable for plugging into a phone or MP3 player, and the controller has a USB which installs without external software. The microphone is detachable and there is a cloth bag to store everything in, as well as a double 3.5mm jack plug.
I found myself using the vinyl covers most, as they had the added effect of being pretty good at noise cancellation. When I was wearing them, anything below ¾ volume was completely silent for anyone else, and when there was no sound I had a hard time hearing someone speaking right next to me - though it wasn’t impossible. With the other ones, anything above ⅓ volume was clearly audible to people nearby.
The control box has separate volume controls for the headphones and the microphone, a microphone mute switch on the side and in the middle is a button to activate 7.1 mode. There’s a sound card inside the control box, which is what lets it do 7.1 surround sound - and the difference is very obvious to someone who’s biggest audio purchase to date was an unbelievably expensive £12.99 pair of earbuds. Not so much for use on Teamspeak or Skype, but definitely for listening to music and games. There are songs I’ve heard tens of times using a variety of speakers and earbuds - now I know I’ve been singing along the incorrect words in at least three of them, and there’s backing vocals I never noticed in five others!
The microphone is nice and clear when recorded or over Skype and Teamspeak. With how flexible the stalk is, you can move it as close to your mouth as you want, and the microphone volume control is definitely noticeable on the other end, as people commented on my varying volume while I was messing around with it.
The only negative thing I can think to say about the Cloud II is about the microphone’s plug-in location. The bung is completely separate, meaning if you remove it and drop it you had best see where it fell. Otherwise you’re left with the open hole whenever you unplug the microphone. It’s on the left, which is different from my last three headsets, and when not in use it doesn’t slide out of the way so you have little choice but to unplug it. It’s very bendy, so can be positioned wherever you want it - but it does feel very much in the way if you have no intention of talking to anyone.
Apart from the odd microphone placement, I’m really happy with this headset. It’s solid and well built, the sound card gives a great surround sound and they’re even nice to use with my phone to listen to music. Again, I’m no expert on the price of good audio hardware, but I feel these are well worth the price.