Review: HyperX Cloud Stinger – A Budget-Friendly Entry Level Headset

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Pros:
+Outstanding sound quality for a $50 headset
+Boom mic clears out a lot of feedback thanks to the boom mics setup
+Superb audio quality, easily on par with brands such as Bose and Kicker

Cons:
-Lacks voice feedback, making a bit harder to monitor your own voice
-Extremely long cords, averaging between 6-10 feet.
-Bass and Treble highs-and-lows can get muddled during intense moments of sound


For years, HyperX as a brand, has been elusive to me, a brand that I’ve avoided due to the lack of knowledge about their products. Over the course of the past few months, I’ve spent a lot of time using their entry-brand headset at $50 bucks known as the Cloud Stinger. A headset that easily sits upon the throne of excellent entry-level headsets, offering a superb form of craftsmanship ranging from its basic design, to its quality sound.

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Since QuakeCon 2017, I’ve become well acquainted with the brand and have been drawing heavy comparisons between them and my favored every-day-brand Kicker in recent days. But this comes out to say, these headphones aren’t your every-day-headset that you will be wearing out and about. Instead, HyperX has decided to deliver a bang for the buck with audio, but has cut a few corners as far as the build they’ve used.

Do not get me wrong, these suckers are sturdy. Even if made from their cheap-feeling plastic, with a single strip of metal running through the headband, I can’t say that they aren’t durable. They are. They’ve survived countless hours of abuse ranging from sessions of Destiny 2DOOM (2016), and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. I’ve gone as far as tossing these bad boys into a backpack and even managed to drop them a time-or-two. Lucky for me? There’s no signs of the headset having been dropped, nor does it seem they will be showing such unless I intentionally went out of my way to actually damage them.

Luckily, HyperX has done a good job at ensuring that these headphones live up to the quality of the reputation of both them and Kingston Technologies. In their jet black and trademarked red logo on each ear cup design, the headphones are anything but cheap looking. They have the look and feel of a high-end device. Their build is strong looking and it could easily stand out at eSports tournaments. They quite easily stand out against their more higher-end competitors.

Even with the cheap-feeling plastic, HyperX doesn’t even sacrifice their reputation for comfort and design. Unlike my time with Turtle Beach headsets or even my time with my PlayStation Gold Headsets, the Cloud Stingers are graceful in their comfort and feel. I didn’t feel as if I had my head holding up an anvil or perhaps my neighbors cat. Rather, the headset came straight with comfort, even with their initial snug fit when straight out of the box. After a few weeks of use, I notice the headset had loosened up and became more comfortable, leaving me forgetting that I even had them on during my long sessions with PUBG.

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The best part of this headset is the fact that both the headband and earcups are both rather generously padded with faux-leather, allowing my ears to breathe as they needed. During my 8-10 hour sessions with review titles such as Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash, I didn’t notice a drop of sweat on my ears, unlike what I’ve come to encounter with Turtle Beach’s Star Wars Battlefront Sandtrooper headphones. Instead I was given a comfort I’d not come across outside of my Kicker Tabors.

For those wondering how sound adjustment working, the volume slider is a unique touch, one that will require users to place their hands upon the bottom of the right earcup in order to slide the volume up and down. Unfortunately, this is one of my biggest complaints about this budget headset. I was unable to find a easy way to slide my volume up and down in order to favor voice chat over game audio or vice versa. As someone whom is more accustomed to the offerings for brands such as Corsair with their Void Pro RGB series I was introduced to during QuakeCon 2017, or Razer’s Kraken V2 with buttons and wheels.

I’m not a fan of the headsets slider, but retroactively, this unique design is something of HyperX’s and something they re confident in, so I give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their designs. Unlike others, there’s a single touch that I’ve taken quite an appreciation for, which just happens to be the fact they’ve ditched the traditional in-line controls for a mute button. The company has opted for something a bit more unique and something I hope catches on with other headset manufacturers. The headset mutes by flipping up the mic. Want to flip it down? You’re ready to talk to your gaming pals or Stream viewers once more.

Fans of the Astro A50’s or the SA902’s by Sades may be rather familiar with this little trick, but it’s something I highly appreciate as someone that streams/games on a regular basis. While this headset does get a thumbs up for this unique approach, we do need to discuss audio quality for both input and output for a budget headset.

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If you are expecting Cloud Stingers’ to compare to say the A50’s, the Void Pro RGB’s by Cosair, or the PlayStation Platinum headsets: Don’t. These can’t compare to higher-end headsets at all. I did notice that the headsets biggest delivery is its midrange, which is extremely important when playing movies, videos, or even cinematic themed games. During my time with PUBG, I did notice that sound got muddled when detecting which direction shots were coming from. There were times when I would have to hide behind a piece of rock or even a run-down vehicle while trying to get my baring on my assailant.

While I appreciated the depth of bass coming from the firing of my own weapon of choice, I did notice that the clarity wasn’t always there. Only approximately about 80% of what I heard through games (movies and music included) came through clearly. But trust me, this isn’t limited to just HyperX’s Cloud Stingers. This was also something I’ve encountered with budget variants from companies like Corsair, Turtle Beach, and even Triton. It’s just something that happens when you go for budget friendly accessories.

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The bit that should be discerning for audiophiles is that 20% that’s missing. HyperX doesn’t mess around when trying to cover up the lack of clarity from time to time. Instead the mixes on music tracks, movies, or games falls flat. Explosions during sessions of Destiny 2 weren’t what I had hoped. They didn’t have that extreme depth of “boom” that I would have hoped for unlike my PlayStation Gold headphones. This small-bit of neutering is mildly irritating when I’m immersed in the game I’m playing.

The same, however, goes for the extreme treble range this headset bolsters. The top 10% of that 20% I mentioned falls to coincide with the issues I had with bass. I felt that during my cinematic exploration through The Order: 1886 that instruments such as cymbals, hi hat drum clashes, and violins seemed muddled, drowned out at times. The same went with sharp cracks from a Kar98 on PUBG felt muddled, blurred out from what it should have been. I felt the Cloud Stingers would have been a bit better optimized had the lack of bass and treble been adjusted during the creation of the headset.

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Regardless, even with my audiophile complaints, HyperX delivers a strong budget-friendly experience for $50 USD. Luckily, these headphones are one of the strongest out there for ones of a similar price, and delivers a favorable experience for those looking to get quality over quantity from a company delivering quality gaming headsets.

The last thing we need to discuss, however, is the mic. When using them, I’ve come to notice during post-stream or post-recording, that the mic seems to deliver a nasal-sounding quality to voices. Even those I know using this set of headphones. They even have a slightly annoying tendency to pick up background noises. Things such as a subtle box fan on low are quite easily picked up and cause a bit of static-like background noise.

The Cloud Stinger headset also uses a 3.5mm jack instead of a USB. It uses a single adapter that provides both audio and microphone input, if you do prefer this, just note that this adapter serves as both an extender as well as an adapter, so your cable length could quite possibly get a bit lengthy. While this is an accessory that most companies do require consumers to shell out another 20-30 to obtain (here’s looking at you Turtle Beach). Unfortunately, I did come across an additional hum or noise in the background when using a laptop over a desktop PC. Luckily, this isn’t common and shouldn’t be a problem for anyone unless you are using a low-quality motherboard.

It’s Time to Wrap it Up

Throughout my review, you may notice that I’ve constantly stated the fact that this headset is great for a budget-friendly consumer. It’s true. These headphones won’t stand up to their higher-end competitors ranging from costs of $80-$200+, in build, quality, or sound. Even with that said, the Cloud Stinger headset is a remarkable breakthrough for budget-friendly consumers. It’s a headset that delivers solid sound, serious comfort, and a sleek design for those concerned about appearances.

It’s also a great place to start for those looking to get a fresh-start in gaming headsets, or anyone who just wants a “good enough” pair while gaming. Luckily for HyperX and Kingston, their budget-friendly headphones are well worth the $50 bucks and can be used across any platform of your choice whether it’s taking a Skype call, a Discord chat, or even a friendly session of streaming on Twitch.


Our review is based upon a retail version headset we obtained by our own budget.  For information about our ethics policy please click here.


 Final Score: 7 out of 10


About the Writer:

dustin_batgr_prof

Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.

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One thought on “Review: HyperX Cloud Stinger – A Budget-Friendly Entry Level Headset

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