It’s Wednesday, and it’s time for the headphone showdown!
This time, it’s the last of the HyperX comparisons for a while…their newest reboot, the Cloud Alpha, takes on the budget-minded Cloud Stinger!
HyperX Cloud Alpha
Released last month, the $99 Cloud Alpha replaces/reimagines the iconic HyperX Cloud headset line. Since its introduction in 2014, the Cloud has arguably been the one gaming headset to beat.
The Alpha has new ear cups, new drivers, better materials, a new carrying bag, and a detachable cable. It trims the extra pads and the USB sound card of the Cloud II…but that doesn’t bug me at all because the sound quality is incredible.
HyperX Cloud Stinger
In late 2016 HyperX entered the budget market with the $49 Cloud Stinger…and its been selling at a smooth clip ever since, if my local store shelves are any indication.
It took the memory foam padding from the Cloud II, and 50mm drivers…and paired them with the perfect blend of form, function, and value.
But its sound signature is not for everyone, and you can’t detach anything from it, and it doesn’t have any real extras.
This is not really even a contest.
The Cloud Alpha has a profoundly clean and accurate sound with a wide soundstage that’s probably the best sound I’ve ever heard in a $99 product, and one of my favorite headphone sounds ever.
By comparison, the Stinger has a fun v-shaped sound with a decently wide soundstage that’s nothing spectacular. The bass is satisfyingly thumpy, but it overpowers the midrange a bit. The upper mids and highs are a little tizzy and pronounced, and might fatigue or irritate some users.
I think the bump in the higher range is designed to bring out footsteps for players that really want that emphasis, and it’ll do that job well. But it made some sounds and music borderline fatiguing for me.
Still, it’s not the worst v-shaped sound signature…but it’s nowhere near the clean impressiveness of the Alpha.
WINNER: CLOUD ALPHA
With their closed-back designs and leatherette pads, both headsets isolate very well. The Alpha has flatter fronts to its pads, which means they might seal better on your head. They seal better on mine…but I don’t get a bad seal with the Stinger.
This one is a tie, believe it or not.
Now, the one knock against the Stinger is that the leatherette material on its pads feels a touch cheap. However, its drivers are nicely angled, and the padding under the leatherette is very soft and pleasant. It isn’t too clampy, and it very nearly disappears on the head while you’re wearing it.
If you don’t like stuff touching your ears, you’ll probably like wearing the Stinger…and you might not love the Cloud Alpha. It has less room inside its cups, though I still find it super comfy.
The leatherette material on the Alpha is probably the softest I’ve felt. I’m going to be talking about it for years. It’s the new gold standard for soft leatherette.
HyperX loves their proprietary memory foam and it’s great on both headsets. The Cloud Stinger has a wider range of headband adjustment, so it’ll fit even bigger heads than the Alpha…which should still be fine for most people.
They’re both light and pleasant on the head, and the Stinger only outright wins if your ears must be untouched.
I think the Cloud Alpha is better-built, which makes sense for the price disparity.
It uses a mix of aluminum and high grade plastics, some of which are rubberized. It has a premium, safe feel and I feel confident putting it in my bag.
The design is a new take on the iconic Cloud II design, which was itself based on the Takstar Pro 80, which was itself based on the Beyedynamic DT770. It’s a classic studio headphone design. They’ve cut out some bits of aluminum to stylize the look and lower the weight.
The mic and cable are both detachable.
The Cloud Stinger looks pretty basic, with a mostly plastic build and a metal-reinforced headband. That’s actually a really nice touch for such a cheap headset. The mic and cable are permanently attached though…so it’ll always look like a gaming headset whether you want it to or not.
With the Stinger, HyperX was trying to give you everything you needed for decent gaming audio at a cheap price, so they cut back on design and build a bit. With the Alpha, you get a premium audio product you can use for many different things, and a design that matches that concept.
WINNER: CLOUD ALPHA
The mics are very similar. Which is honestly a knock against the Cloud Alpha.
On the plus side for the Alpha, the mic is quite flexible and detachable. It has decent background audio cancellation.
The mic on the Cloud Stinger is a big plastic boom that you can’t detach but can minimally adjust. It mutes when you flip it up.
Both mics sound kind of tinny/nasally and aren’t the best for non-gaming tasks.
WINNER: CLOUD ALPHA, solely because you can detach the mic.
The Stinger has a cord, and a nice on-ear volume control, and that flip-up-to-mute mic. It comes with a PC splitter/extension cable.
With the Alpha, you get a detachable cable (with a slightly- proprietary recessed plug), detachable mic, a carrying bag, and a PC splitter/extension cable.
Neither of these are the most extras-laden headsets on the market. But the Alpha comes with more stuff.
WINNER: CLOUD ALPHA
OVERALL WINNER: CLOUD ALPHA
So. Of course the $99 model from HyperX’s lineup beat their $49 model.
But the Stinger is not bad at all. If you don’t mind the v-shaped sound, you get great comfort, solid build, a solid mic, and the basic features you need to play video games and chat.
The Alpha is a big step up. The sound is phenomenal with just a hint of fun and no fatigue whatsoever. And it has an okay microphone.
I’d recommend the Alpha if you can swing the extra cash…but if you can’t, you’ll probably be happier than you expect with the Stinger.
Thanks for reading!