DISCLOSURE: This was provided for free as a review unit from HyperX, this does not affect my opinion in any way.
Last year I wrote up a review on the HyperX Cloud II, which I had almost nothing but praise for due to its comfort, sound quality, build quality, and functionality. HyperX has recently provided us with their new Cloud Stinger: a gaming headset for those on a budget. At $50 USD, it’s definitely one of the cheaper headsets on the market, so you’d have to wonder if it’s worth it, or if you should go for a more expensive one. I will be comparing this primarily to the Cloud II, as it is the only other headset I’ve written a review on.
When I talked with HyperX at PAX West, they told me the two things that they wanted to focus on with this headset were comfort and sound quality. I can easily say they’ve succeeded in making it extremely comfortable, as there have been several occasions that I’ve worn it for hours and completely forgot I was wearing a headset. The memory foam on the ears feels just as good if not better than the foam on the Cloud II, and the cushion on the top isn’t bad either. As with any good headset, it’s adjustable in size, so you can lengthen the ear cuffs if needed, not that I ever really had to do that since I don’t exactly have a huge head.
The plastic it’s made out of was pretty clearly a way to cut costs in manufacturing and for the end price, but it doesn’t feel low quality in any way. The Cloud II had a strong frame to it with metal lining and very high quality plastic, while the Stinger is entirely plastic with a flexible rubberized microphone. Unlike the Cloud II, the microphone isn’t removable, so to turn it on you simply have to bring it down from the vertical position and put it in front of your mouth.
The one complaint I have about the feel of it is that the cable is rubber instead of braided threads. The Cloud II had a very nice braided cable that never got stuck on anything, whereas the rubber cable will potentially get caught on clothes or a keyboard depending on how you route the cable to your PC (or controller).
While it lacks the 7.1 virtual surround sound that the Cloud II has, it doesn’t sound any worse at all. The sound in this headset is phenomenal for a budget pair, and will fulfill or surpass any expectations of it. When they said this was one of the things they wanted to focus on, they weren’t exaggerating, it’s great. There’s not a lot that can really be said otherwise, as I can’t put the headphone on you and have you hear for yourself, but believe me when I say they’re worth the price for the sound alone.
While the Cloud II was better for portability, the Stinger isn’t far below it. Unlike the Cloud II, you are able to turn the ear cuffs to rest them on your shoulders, or fit it into a bag in order to carry it around. I would have preferred some other kind of case for it than the box it came with, like the bag that the Cloud II has, but if you’re not going to be carrying it around much it doesn’t really matter.
If there’s one thing that really bugs me about this headset, it’s that it’s line-in audio rather than USB. As you can see in the picture above, it has two ends, one for the mic and one for the headphones. It doesn’t make the sound quality any lower, but it can cause some functionality issues depending on your audio setup. For example, my speakers are line-in and plug in on the back of my PC, but there are still the headphone and microphone ports on the front. If you try to have both plugged in at the same time though, they both may not work without messing around with some settings in the audio driver interface for your motherboard. Luckily that is a breakaway cable, and the one that’s directly connected to the headset has the audio and mic in one thing, so that makes it easier to plug into a controller for a console, or into a laptop that only has the one port. But more importantly, I’m able to plug it into the USB adapter that came with the Cloud II.
There are absolutely things that hold the Stinger back from being as good as the Cloud II, but at half the price, it’s beyond worth it. It’s a fantastic headset for $50, and if you’re on a budget, or you just don’t want to spend that much on a headset, I can’t recommend this enough. It’s become the headset I primarily use whenever I’m on my computer, while the Cloud II has become dedicated to VR audio. So if you’re in the market for a new headset, definitely look into this one.