The Most Advanced Gaming Headset – HyperX Cloud ORBIT S
Hello good people, I’m currently wearing the Cloud ORBIT S which is the new headset from HyperX that is coming in at just the right moment. The current gaming headset scene has become like a little bit stagnant compared to the quickly evolving gaming keyboard and gaming mice scene. What’s the next cool thing with gaming headsets? Well I feel like HyperX might have figured it out, and they are finally bringing a little bit of innovation into the sector.
A Worthwhile Rebrand
The HyperX Cloud ORBIT S is a rebrand of the Audeze Mobius headset, but this thing is like the cheaper because it does not have the wireless functionality. This is a wired headset only and it’s got many cool things working for it.
One of the reasons why I think this headset is important is because of the brand. HyperX is known for their gaming audio. If you’ve ever bought anything gaming in the audio-related sphere, you most likely have come across the HyperX Cloud series one way or another. And the fact that they teamed up with Audeze to release a planar magnetic gaming headset is awesome because how many people know about Audeze? Probably not many in the mainstream gaming arena. However, HyperX is widely popular and it’s a really good way to get those awesome planar magnetic drivers into the hands of mainstream consumers, even though it’s a very expensive pair. The Orbit is $299 USD and the Orbit S is $329 USD, and the main distinction between the two is that the Orbit S gets you the Waves Nx 3D sound technology, which is basically 3D tracking that’s built into the headset. I’ll talk about that later. While the Audeze Mobius sells for $399 USD, the reason for that premium is because the Audeze Mobius has wireless functionality with Bluetooth while the Orbit does not, and that price point will immediately turn off many consumers from even considering or looking at it.
The most important part of this headset is the introduction of 100mm planar magnetic drivers into the gaming market. And let me tell you guys these sound incredible. The deepest and richest bass of any gaming headset that I’ve ever heard. The best bass in my experience before these were the GSP 600 from Sennheiser, they had a nice richness and a deepness to those lower end frequencies. However, in the Orbit S the planar magnetic driver is just so good at delivering those lower end frequencies that it’s really nice for both music and gaming environments. It’s awesome because it doesn’t distort and doesn’t overshadow any other frequency, therefore you feel the bass. It’s fully controlled and that is awesome. These drivers need a lot of power, which is why you see up to 10 hours of battery life listed on the box. That only applies when you use them in analog mode via the 3.5mm connection at the bottom. In my testing, at full power we dropped 20% in 2.5 hours, so the 10 hours of runtime claim is valid.
Now for the price point build quality is okay. There is no creaking when you try to flex them and the size extensions work well. The padding on top of the headband on the ear cups is memory foam, so they do conform well to the shape of your head. The clamping force here is a bit strong in the beginning, it has loosened over time a little bit, but still there’s a little bit too much clamping force at the bottom of the headset. Just be mindful of the clamping force, they’re not HD 58X comfortable, but they’re pretty good for what they are. They’re also pretty light at 368 grams. My only complaint with the build is the surface texture and the coating. It is slightly rubberized and matte, which is pretty nice to the touch, but it reveals all scratch marks, reveals all handling marks in terms of oil stains and therefore over time this thing is not going to look pretty. Now the accessories are pretty basic, with a carrying pouch, a Type-A to Type-C cable, a Type-C to Type-C cable, a 3.5mm analog cable, and a removable microphone with a pop filter.
When the noise canceling microphone is set to maximum gain it does a good job of cancelling out and muting all the background stuff (like my typing on an MX Brown keyboard). It does this without too much compression, as a result there’s still nice body to the sound. However, it behaves almost like a condenser microphone, so you have to be really close to it for it to pick up enough volume. And if I move it a little bit further back, then it becomes almost an audible, even at maximum gain. By comparison, the GSP 500 from Sennheiser – one of my favorite gaming headsets microphones – sounds really natural and has great bass pickup. The only thing is it’s not noise canceling and it does pick up more ambient room noise, such as typing on a keyboard, but as an overall package I feel like the GSP 500 is slightly better than the Orbit and the Orbit S.
All of the controls are located on the left your cup, therefore your right hand can stay on the mouse while gaming, even while your changing any of the headset’s parameters. There is a microphone button, a power on/off switch that also acts as the play/pause functional. At the bottom we have two wheels, one for volume adjustment and one for the microphone volume. If you hold and cycle the mic volume you will cycle between different EQ presets, and if you hold it for three seconds you are changing the audio modes between 7.1 channel, stereo channel, and high resolution audio. Then we have our analog 3.5mm input, our Type-C port, a microphone input, and that 3D button. This 3D mode is only relevant for the Orbit S because that features the Waves Nx technology, while the orbit does not. When it is enabled it essentially creates a stereo speaker set in front of you that is centered, and if you rotate your head that stereo separation remains locked to the center, but it changes dynamically in the actual headset. This is pretty cool because you could look away from the source and one speaker will be louder than the other and it gives you a realistic scenario of listening to speakers instead of audio being static regardless of your head movement.
At first it was really cool to experience something like it because it locks off this audio source in front of you, or where you set the center channel, and so it does shift based on like where you look. In neither of the situations like movie watching, games, or music has that benefited my listening experience. In gaming for example it makes no sense because if you move your head slightly it does change the stereo positioning of the audio, which does not give you any benefit in trying to locate audio cues. In movies again like if you were to look away to talk to somebody, you would still hear the slightly louder stereo separation, but why? And the only reason I would see this head tracking to be beneficial is maybe in VR where an audio source can be locked off, so you could be looking back and still hearing something in a properly positioned 3D space around you. But when you’re sitting physically at your desk, how does moving around give you any benefit? I don’t get it.
But outside of head tracking 3D audio for gaming immersion is absolutely on point. It’s one of the only virtual surround sound experiences that I’ve enjoyed outside of like the GSX 1000 from Sennheiser. Here the environment does get slightly wider without losing detail, you still get a lot of that nice bass definition, good clarity throughout the entire range, and I really appreciate the closeness of the vocals. I really like watching YouTube videos with 3D audio on, and I was not expecting that. I almost never enable any virtual surround sound in gaming where audio cues are important, but with this thing I have been able to detect footsteps above me, below me, on wood or glass, in the forest, whatever. And I didn’t even realize that 3D audio was on where I could easily tell where some enemies were. Even in CS:GO where the audio cues are so well defined already in stereo channels, 3D mode in CS:GO did not suffer.
Now in terms of the software, you get a good visual indication of where and in which direction the headset is looking at, and you can center it easily so that when you’re facing the scree that is your center channel. In terms of sound presets, all of it is done on the headset itself, which is quite nice. Even when you’re running in analog mode you can change between them via mic switch whenever it works. I do prefer the default preset and warm preset, to just warm up those bass tones which are fantastic already. And here you can also see the battery percentage and the microphone volume.
Excellent Sound Quality
And so in the end, the sound quality from the planar magnetic drivers is absolutely incredible. While $300 is expensive, you do get the best bass that I’ve ever heard in a gaming headset, with beautiful clarity, nice expansion, and really good handling of the DSPs in terms of when 3D audio is enabled. This is the only 3D virtual surround sound that I enjoy outside of the Sennheiser GSX 1000. The microphone quality is a bit disappointing, and I’m not a huge fan of the rubberized soft coating that just gets covered in the finger marks and oils and just scratches way too easily, for $300 it doesn’t feel right. The takeaway here is that I hope more companies start using planar magnetic drivers in their gaming headsets. I know that is going to increase the price point, but I mean the gaming headsets are so expensive already that it doesn’t hurt to venture out into more premium territory to get better sound.
I know this thing is going to be not super popular among mainstream because of the price point, but for those looking for a really good audio solution that is like a gaming headset in disguise, the Orbit S or the Orbit would be my pick. The Waves Nx technology is kind just a gimmick that gives you head tracking, but it had no real use in any of the scenarios where I tested this thing.