How much treble do you want with your cheap headphones?
It?s Wednesday, and it?s time for the headphone showdown!
Today it?s two budget wonders from China that your weird internet audiophile friends won?t stop talking about: The Takstar Pro 82, and the Takstar Pro 80 (represented here by the Cloud II).
Takstar Pro 82
Launched in the summer of 2017, the Takstar Pro 82 sells online for around $90, give or take. It doesn?t have any widespread distribution outside Asian territories. It comes in Black or Silver, and includes a hard case, a soft pouch, a detachable cable?and the pads are glued on.
It has adjustable bass ports with three positions.
Takstar Pro 80 / HyperX Cloud II
Like the Pro 82, the Pro 80 doesn?t have widespread worldwide availability?especially these days.
You can easily get this headphone in a variety of gaming headset guises thanks to HyperX. The Cloud II, Cloud X, Cloud I, and Cloud Core are all secretly the Takstar Pro 80 dressed up with HyperX logos and a microphone.
It?s available in a variety of colors for prices between $70-$100. The Cloud II variant comes with a permanently attached braided cable, two sets of ear pads, a USB sound card, a detachable mic, and a carrying bag.
For the sake of clarity, I?m just going to use the ?Cloud II? name for this model from now on.
?A close-up of a part of a music mixer with dials and blurry lights at the back? by Abigail Keenan on Unsplash
I prefer the sound of the Cloud II to the Pro 82. But that won?t be the case for everyone!
The Cloud II has a sound signature that?s nigh-identical to the classic Beyerdynamic DT770. The bass is well-extended, punchy, and impressive?without overwhelming the mids. The mids sit a little back in the mix, but they?re clean and natural. They?ll sound a touch hollow for the first day you use them, but your brain will adjust. The highs are a bit strident and a little grainy, but detailed enough that they help enhance the soundstage.
The first thing that sticks out about the Pro 82’s is that they?re cleaner and more detailed, without the slight hint of grain the Cloud II has. The bass is a touch gentler, regardless of bass port position. It?s warm and smooth and not quite as thumpy.
The only major sonic flaw of the Pro 82?s is that they have too much upper-end energy. If you?re into critical listening it?s not going to be a big deal, and you can mask it a little by opening up the ports?.but then you lose some of the clarity that energy provides. The clarity difference is like going from a DT770 to a DT990. The good things about the Cloud II?s mids and highs are amped up in the Pro 82’s, and that brings its own set of plusses and minuses.
If you?re after a smooth, easy listening experience, well?neither of these is 100 percent ideal. But the Cloud II is closer to that for most listeners.
If you?re a basshead and you?re thinking you?ll get the Pro 82 and crank those ports open, well, I hope you enjoy your bass with some muddy mids
Both of these headphones easily exceed my personal bar for acceptable playback quality, and your preference is going to come down to your personal quirks.
Let?s say you?re a ridiculous person and you wanted me to grade my personal opinion of the sound quality on a 10 point scale. I?d give the Cloud II?s a 9 and the Pro 82?s an 8. So there you go, weird number person.
Winner: Cloud II
Both of these are phenomenally comfy. The Pro 82 is a little more comfy, thanks to larger openings in its ear pads, angled drivers, and soft pad material that successfully mimics the legendary pads of the Sony MDR-1A.
But the Cloud II is no slouch, thanks to also-soft leatherette and supple memory foam padding in the headband and ear pads. The Cloud II will let down folks who insist that nothing touch their ears at all, whereas the Pro 82 has a better chance of pleasing that particular demographic.
If you have a really big head, the Pro 82 is much more likely to fit well on it. I wear the Cloud II one notch from fully extended, and the Pro 82 six notches from fully extended.
Winner: Pro 82
Takstar might cynically be criticized for their lack of originality in the design department. The Cloud II?s look very much like the DT770’s, and the Pro 82?s look so much like the Sony MDR-1A?s that I wonder if the same mold might have been used.
Because if not?Sony might have a case here.
The Cloud II has a slightly more compact design, and more exposed metal. I like the red accents.
Both headphones do a good job of hugging your head, but the Pro 82?s are a bit more sleek. They also have a detachable cable with a non-proprietary 2.5mm plug.
If I gave out points for originality, I?d have to delete this category from this showdown?but I think the Sony-inspired design of the Pro 82 is probably a touch more iconic and modern.
Winner: Pro 82
Photo by Rob Bye on Unsplash
It?s plainly obvious from even a 20-second in-your-hands interaction that the Cloud II?s are better built.
The only knock I have against the Cloud II?s build is the attached cable, something which HyperX fixed themselves in the Cloud Alpha. The cable braiding feels a little rough against the skin. Fortunately, everything else about the headphones is robust. The adjustment sliders are more clicky and tight than the sliders on my DT770?s. The rubberized plastic and aluminum cups feel great in the hands. And the aluminum forks feel just as solid as any other metal part on a more premium headphone.
Everything about the Pro 82 feels like a Sony headphone, but cheaper. The headband adjustments are metal-reinforced, but not that clicky and sort of loose. The forks holding the ear cups are very thin. The backs of the ear cups feel nice, but the perimeters feel very thin and cheap. And mine had a scratch on it out of the box. The headband doesn?t have a smooth springy action to it and just feels sort of light.
On the HyperX Cloud II?s, you?ll be impressed at what they managed for the cost. On the Pro 82?s, you?ll see where they trimmed things in favor of comfort and sound.
Winner: Cloud II
Some of the glue failed on my Pro 82?s some time before I got them. Gluing these pads down was a stupid move.
The Pro 82 has a very nice, high-grade cable with an aluminum plug for your source, a screw-on unimatch 6.3mm adapter, and comes with both cloth bag and Takstar?s trademark overbuilt hard case.
The only other extra is the bass ports. The first two settings are enjoyable, and the third setting bloats and diminishes the sound, in my opinion.
Oh and if you want to change the ear pads on the Pro 82, too bad, they?re GLUED DOWN to plastic mounting rings. You could remove the rings and peel all glue off but that?s?that?s ridiculous.
Especially when their predecessor has no such problem.
HyperX includes a vault of extras with the Cloud II?s. You get two sets of ear pads that are easily changeable because they aren?t glued to anything. You get an airline adapter for some reason. You get a totally okay USB sound card. And you get a mesh carrying bag.
Oh, and being a gaming headset, you get a decent noise-cancelling microphone.
The only truly bad thing in this whole category is that pad glue. If I were a more snarky individual, this entire section would just have been ?PRO 82 HAS GLUED DOWN PADS CLOUD II WINS.?
Winner: Cloud II
Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash
I like both of these headphones. I?ve owned several pairs of the Cloud II/Pro 80 over the years just to have different colors, or different pads on each one. I probably would have bought both colors of the Pro 82 if the pads weren?t glued down.
If you?re a critical listener and you can live with the glue that seems to have destroyed my will to talk about anything else, you?ll probably be better off with the Pro 82’s. Otherwise, unless you think it?ll be too small for your head, the Cloud II?s are the better buy. They offer more features, a more solid-feeling build, a company with support departments in more countries, and a sound that?s easier to listen to for long periods of time.
But neither of these are bad. Please just buy the one you?re interested in. Oh how I wish that last sentence could be the entirety of every one of these articles.
Please clap for this, read my other things, follow me on twitter, and click on every article on my personal web site so I feel more like posting things there.
And if you made it all this way and still need more for some reason, here is my Pro 82 review and here is one of my five articles about the Cloud II.