“If you are in the market for a cheap and effective gaming headset then this may be ideal.”
HyperX, a brand produced by Kingston Technology, has made a solid mark on the gaming market, largely thanks to its outstanding mid-range gaming headsets. The Cloud II has become a favourite of gamers, offering fantastic value for money against its competitors. The company will be hoping to achieve the same success with its newer, cheaper model too, the Cloud Stinger, which they have kindly sent me to try out.
Coming in at a slightly lower asking price than its popular predecessor, the headset already seems attractive. The asking price for the Cloud Stinger is £49.99 (at the time of writing), which is a solid threshold to go for to attract a good range of gamers. For your money, you get a headset which is compatible with PC, PS4, Xbox One, Mac and mobile devices. Not only is this an extensive range to support, but it also rare to find a device which will work across the board. Undeniably then, the Cloud Stinger finds itself with a pretty substantial potential audience.
The Cloud Stinger comes attractively packaged; coming well presented in its padded box. Also included is a welcome note from Kingston and the HyperX team, a quick start guide and a splitter to convert the standard jack to separate ones for headphones and mic. Good presentation is a big selling point for customers browsing the shelves for a good value for money product. In this case however, the box comes across better than the headset itself when you first get to hold it…
The plastic of the Stinger feels lightweight and cheap, which initially was off-putting. Compared to the Roccat Kave XTD headset which I was using before, the design is significantly less attractive when you have the headset sat in front of you. There are also attractive features which it is noticeably lacking, such as in-line controls which always make life easier. Instead a volume control on the headset itself can be used to control the volume, and the mic is muted by moving it up to its upright position. The latter of these features is pretty nifty and makes it easy to quick get up and go for a drink without fiddling for a switch. The volume control however is awkward to find quickly and adjust when you cannot see it. Whilst the options exist then, at least one of them is not presented in the strongest of ways.
On the up-side of things, the microphone build quality is much better than my previous headset, and in fact it outshines the rest of the Cloud Stinger as a whole. The rubberised feel and thickness of the mic arm give an air of quality. This inspires confidence that the mic isn’t likely to break easily, unlike my previous headset on which this part eventually broke and crumbled away. For someone coming from a device which literally fell to pieces, this build quality is hugely important and cannot be overstated. The microphone is also of a reasonable quality, with recipient finding me easily understandable and clear, but perhaps a little tinny at times. For the price point however, the quality seems perfectly acceptable, including when the input is recorded.
Putting the headset on, the head band is comfortable as are the faux leather ear cups. These come with the disadvantage of causing some sweat and discomfort after long periods of use however, so it is advisable to bear this in mind. The memory foam makes for a comfortable fit for a variety of head shapes and sizes however, making this a great choice for gamers across the board in terms of physicality. They also have some of the best noise cancelling qualities that I have ever experienced. Even my own voice sounded heavily muted, causing me to almost shout at my friends at times. The lightweight nature of the headset which was initially off-putting makes up for its lack of attractiveness in comfort too, allowing it to sit gently on your head with little to no strain at all. If the ear cups were a softer, more breathable material, the ergonomics of the headset’s design might even be perfect.
When it came to sound quality, I tested the HyperX Cloud Stinger in the same way as I test all of my new sound equipment. Firstly I played a song that I know well to test how it coped with music. In this case, that song was Soul Machine by Black Stone Cherry. The hard rock carried well with the Stinger, with meaty bass undertones carrying each and every instrument across nicely to my ears. It was perhaps not the best quality I have ever heard the song played in, but for a headset where music is not the primary purpose it held up just fine.
Test number two was surround sound, firstly outside of a game, to see how well the Stinger handled directional input. For this I used a Dolby demo which can easily be found online. Once again I was impressed. The headset does not give out cinema-quality surround sound by any means, but for the cost of the device it does a very tidy job. The demo felt accurate and immersive, and even if the directional elements were not pinpoint they were reliably close enough for me to be satisfied. Test number three, which was testing the headset with my most played PC game, confirmed this finding. Rainbow Six Siege is a game that relies heavily on directional sound to detect your enemies, and the Cloud Stinger genuinely had me noticing sounds that I had never noticed before in the game. The game itself has some issues with the accuracy of its directional sounds, but the Singer notably improved my experience of the title.
Finally, I tested the Cloud Stinger whilst simultaneously in-game and using Discord with four of my friends. The headset is Discord certified, so I expected great things here. I found that my friends sounded a little tinnier than usual, and as I previously mentioned they said that whilst my audio was clearer to them now, it was also a little tinnier that it had been previously for them too. The Stinger is not spot on for voice then, but acceptable to the point where these slight irks were not enough to be frustrating or annoying to either me or my squad.
The HyperX Cloud Stinger does exactly what you would expect for its price point. It is neither the nicest looking headset on the market, nor is it the best quality, but in every category you could rate it in it does still manage to impress for the price. If you are in the market for a cheap and effective gaming headset then this may be ideal for you. In truth though, a better bet for most gamers would be to go for its older brother in the Cloud II if you can afford to spend a few extra pennies on top.