Provided free of charge for review by Kingston.
It’s the graphics that tend to get all of the attention as people lavish praise upon the art style, the level of pure technical prowess on display, the lighting and the colors. We tend to put the emphasis on what we can see, which is a shame because well-done audio is just as important when it comes to creating a gaming masterpiece or a fantastic movie. And what makes wonderful audio design even better? A good set of speakers or headphones, of course.
If you had told me years ago that Kingston were going to wind up producing great PC peripherals I would have been somewhat flummoxed. And yet here we are. Thus far I have tested their Alloy FPS keyboard and found it to be a fine offering. In fact, I’m typing this review on it right now. So with the keyboard side of things covered, now it’s time to check out how well Kingston can do audio with their HyperX Cloud Revolver.
On the box itself Kingston proudly claim that the Revolver has a “studio-grade soundstage.” Now, the wording is slightly tricky because it isn’t technically saying that the headset has studio-grade sound, which is a different thing from sound-stage. The former would refer to a set of cans that deliver the source audio as accurately as possible, while the latter could be described as being the idea of creating a sense of space. The term “studio grade soundstage” is a bit of a difficult thing to pin down. Still. it’s a rather big claim to make, and so I thought it might be interesting to get the opinion of someone who actually works in a studio and practically lives with a set of cans stuck to his head. I therefore handed the Revolver over to my friend Geoff Sharp, a fully qualified sound engineer, musician with several albums to his name and owner of Rawr Audio, a recording company. This man knows his stuff when it comes to audio. What I’ll do is intersperse this review with Geoff’s comments while offering my own views, too. Take it away, Mr. Sharp
“So, I’ve taken a few days over this and have come to some very firm conclusions. I should say at this point that for my part, I only tested the headphones, not the mic, and all comparison was drawn against my BeyerDynamic DT770 Pro set which I normally use during production and editing.
First things first, the box, it’s lovely, looks and feels like the kind of thing you’d want to own, and I draw attention to this as it’s a theme carried right through. The headset itself has the same aesthetically pleasing quality, the same well-produced feel, it’s solid, feels well constructed, not cheap or flimsy. ”
Geoff certainly isn’t wrong about the box which immediately makes it feel as though Kingston care about every aspect of the experience. It’s thick, has a nice weight and a pleasing lift-off lid that reveals the revolver nestled in plentiful foam. Sliding that top off makes it feel as though you’re revealing some grand treasure, gifted to humanity by a higher power. It could only get sexier if it was wearing teasing lingerie. Ahem.
“I wore them for a number of hours over several sessions and found them to be comfortable, although they did make my head and ears sweat. They’re a good weight, and seem to be a good solid set of cans.”
Me and Geoff seem to both be on much the same page so far. The sense of quality that the box elicits continues with the comfort and build quality. The Revolver uses a floating headband system that automatically adjusts to the size of your head so that you don’t have to fiddle around to get a good fit, while the earcups are made of a soft padded material covered in faux leather that doesn’t tend to overheat the old ears too much. There’s plenty of padding along the headband, too. This translates to a comfy headset to wear for extended periods of time. I did note some small pressure aches after a few hours, but I also wear glasses so it is to be expected. And even so, the Revolver still ranks as one of the comfier set of cans I’ve ever worn. Keep in mind that I don’t have a very big head, however. A big ego, yes, but not a big head.
The metal band that circles the top of the headset like a halo gives it extra structural integrity without bumping up the weight too much, but it does come with a drawback; tap the metal with a finger while you’re scratching an itch or something and the noise rings through the cans like an alarm clock ruining your morning bliss. It’s not a huge problem, yet I’ve never seen it quite as bad on other headsets with similar designs. It’s akin to having a tuning fork strapped to your head.
It seems Geoff noted the problem with the metal band, too, stating, “The steel over-head band looks awesome, feels awesome, and unfortunately is awesome at transferring its own noise quite loudly directly into the cans. This aspect is made worse by the 2 second ringing sound you get if you bump anything against it, ”
Interestingly he also talked about a similar problem with the braided cable.
“I also noticed a lot of noise transferred from whatever the braid was rubbing against, directly into the left headphone casing, which could be annoying if you’re the kind to get quite animated during gaming/music production.”
I can’t say this bothered me as much, but then while gaming I don’t tend to shift around often, preferring the traditional method of slumping into an inhuman shape and remaining there for hours on end until my pathetic human body reminds me that things like food, water and toilets are important to my well-being.
It’s not subtle about being branded a gaming headset, either, especially in comparison to its HyperX Cloud brethren. The bright red design on the earcups look like air intakes or maybe the opening to a giant laser cannon assembly, and while they don’t light up in a display of RGB light like so many other “gaming” peripherals these days they do still catch the eye. At the same time the Revolver doesn’t cross the line into being overdesigned or garish, in my opinion, and actually looks pretty damn nice.
Here we get to the real meat of the review, though. Sound quality. Over to the master sound engineer himself.
“They’re loud, certainly louder than the Beyer’s (The Beyer’s are 250 Ohms and as such, harder to drive than the HyperX pair, which are 30 Ohms), and to my mind, would be a good set of live room cans, in that they give good isolation from outside sounds thanks to the padding around the ear cups
The sound quality is good, offering a nice clarity across all frequencies without seeming overly harsh and without notable distortion. The low frequencies feel solid and thick, while the mids and tops are light and have a nice presence about them, and having looked at the response curve, it’s easy to understand why, having everything sub 200Hz sitting about 3dB higher than the rest of the response chart, with a vast chasm of a dip in the 5kHz region. This again reinforces the notion that these would make good ‘live room’ headphones, and would be great for monitor mixes for louder instruments (drums etc), but would not be ideal for mix/master work.” Geoff articulated, presumably while waving a stick at a chalkboard on which many incomprehensible symbols were drawn.
Right. KHz. DB. Hz. Uh, responsive curve. All those thing. I agree…….what?
I honestly barely know what the hell he’s talking about. As a drummer I tend not to worry about the technical side of things over the simple style of, “drummer smash.” What I can say is that during testing I found the Revolver to be a terrific headset, using its 50mm drivers to deliver incredible clarity at times along with a reasonably wide sounding soundstage that is good for gaming, since it helps the illusion that you’re occupying a real space. The bass wasn’t massively exaggerated like it so often is with anything claiming to be a “gaming” headset and thus retained better definition while still having a pleasing enough thud to emphasis explosions and gunfire, although if you happen to be a fan of very bass heavy audio then you might want to skip these. The rest of the spectrum is great too, with every sound being reproduced with pleasing sharpness, giving a game’s soundscape a greater sense of detail. It still amazes me this day when I swap between cheap cans and a much better pair because it’s akin to turning the graphical options up for your eyes. Suddenly even a game you know well can be filled with hundreds of little sounds that you never knew were there I was also pleasantly surprised by how good the positional audio was, as I touched upon earlier. Naturally it doesn’t compete with virtual 7.1 surround sound, but then the tradeoff is the better clarity as 7.1 sets tend to be murkier. I was still more than capable of pinpointing the sound of foosteps, gunfire or a reloading clip with the Revolver.
It’s worth noting that Razer offer free software for converting stereo to 7.1 audio that does a surprisingly good job, so you can still get that little bit of extra positional data for your ears if you really want it, at a loss to the clarity in the mids. Or you could wait for the Revolver 7.1 that Kingston have planned.
But not all is perfect in Kingston’s world as the Revolver’s detachable mic is nothing to write home about. That’s not to say it’s terrible; the mic is perfectly servicable and will do for chatting to your friends, but given that the rest of the headset delivers on pretty much every aspect it’s a shame that this one thing lets it down. Your voice will be transmitted with a noticable lack of clarity, and the mic seems to pick up a fair bit of background noise. If you’re perhaps seeking a set of cans with a good mic for streaming, Youtube or anything else of the sort then you’re either going to have to get a separate mic to go with the Revolver or simply not purchase them at all. If you just want to game with your mates it’ll be just fine.
Also sitting in the “not great but not bad” category is the inline control box where you can find a mute switch and a volume control wheel. The sliding mute switch just feels really cheap and tacky, although the volume control is fine. There’s a clip to attach it to your t-shirt as well. Personally, I prefer controls on the headset itself, but that’s my own preference.
You don’t actually need to have the inline controls connected, which is rather interesting. There’s a permanently attached cable coming directly from the headset to a standard 3.5mm audio jack which comes in at 1m in length, and this can then be plugged into the control box, adding another 2m to the overall length plus an extra connection for the mic alongside the 3.5mm jack. This is really handy if you want to use the headset for something like listening to music via phone where that total 3m length just becomes a hassle.
There’s no way of disconnecting the cable entirely, sadly. It’s firmly attached to the headset itself, so if for somewhere the existing braided cable gets damaged there’s no way to replace it.
Testing out the Revolver has made me eager to get my hands on Kingston’s HyperX Cloud, because generally speaking people seem to have an even higher opinion of it, which could just be down to the fact that the Revolver is more expensive. But if it is better, then how? The Revolver is already pretty darn good across the board with only a few areas where I can see room for substantial improvement, versus the audio where improvement is possible but will be less significant.
I’d hardly disguising the fact that I’m pretty enamored with the Revolver. Does it live up to its own claims of offering a studio-grade soundstage? I cornered Geoff Sharp and demanded a straight-forward answer, to which he said, “Yeah, that would be a fair comment” It’s was clear that Geoff thought they were a solid set of cans, and in my world his word on sound is practically law. My own considerably less informed opinion meshes nicely with his. I can’t say these are my favorite cans since that remains my beloved Steelseries H Wireless since they’re perfect for my console and blu-ray setup, but they also happen to be vastly more costly than the Revolver and don’t offer quite the same level of clarity. So no, not my favorite headset of all time thus far, but they are the best pure stereo set of cans I’ve tested and have therefore taken the place of my PC headset of choice. I have no problem recommending them.Follow @wolfsgamingblog