HyperX Cloud Stinger Review- Great, Comfy V-shaped Gaming Fun for just $50
Boy, this is a fun headset to use!
Last year, HyperX launched their new HyperX Cloud Stinger for just $49.99. “How good could a $49 headset even be?” I asked myself at the end of my HyperX CloudX review.
My incredulous question came from a place of experience. I’ve used cheap headsets before. Turtle Beach makes a whole pile of them that aren’t very good at all. Sorry Turtle Beach, but it’s true. (Only their higher end stuff is good).
Microsoft makes a headset in this price range for the Xbox One. As this broken demo unit at my local Best Buy shows, its build leaves…something to be desired.
So, how did HyperX do with their first entry into the budget headset field?
Pretty darn great, it turns out! If you can live with some tiny sacrifices in the name of value, and don’t mind a v-shaped sound signature, then I can’t see why you’d ever want anything else in this price range.
About three seconds after I started listening to the Cloud Stinger, I said aloud “Ah, this is v-shaped! But good!” V-shaped signatures have boosted bass and treble frequencies, and a recessed midrange. They are often hated by audiophiles, and give sound a heightened, impressive, unrealistic feel. V-shaped signatures used to be common in consumer headphones because they sound immediately impressive to the brain. The artificial boosting makes sound seem more detailed than it really is.
Lately, v-shaped signatures have fallen out of favor in mainstream products in favor of warmer, more relaxed signatures. In most modern consumer gear, the bass is slightly more prominent than the other frequencies and the highs are gently rolled off to prevent listening fatigue.
Now, V-shaped signatures may not appeal to audio fanatics and sound engineers, but that doesn’t mean that they always sound bad. In fact, depending on the tuning used, they can be quite fun! Furthermore, v-shaped sound signatures work well for gaming. The enhancements to the highs help to bring out little details like footsteps, and the bass emphasis brings out the punch of explosions.
The HyperX Cloud Stinger has a very good v-shaped sound signature. The bass is deep, punchy, hilarious, and powerful, and doesn’t bleed at all into the mids (a common problem in v-shaped headphones). The midrange is a touch recessed and relaxed, but vocals are still audible and don’t seem thin or unnatural. Highs are just short of piercing, and in fact, at higher volumes, they would absolutely fatigue all but the least-sensitive listeners. They aren’t too grainy or sibilant, but boy, are they prominent!
The Stinger is really fun to listen to and play games on. It’s not as good and natural-sounding as HyperX’s more expensive products, the Cloud II and the Revolver, but it’s still a valid approach to audio and better than anything else I’ve heard in the category at this price. It’s well-suited to gaming, and it’ll work in a pinch for music, though you may notice the high notes tickling your ear drums a little more than you’d like.
Soundstage is decent for a closed-back headphone, thanks to the use of angled drivers and the sharpness of the treble. You should have no issue locating sound cues in games. I played a bunch of Mass Effect Andromeda on these, and that game’s dynamic sound shined on the Stinger. I also did my usual round of music tests, including Avril Lavigne’s Sk8er Boi. The bass thumps in that song were rendered better than in many other more expensive headphones I’ve tried, to the point where I giggled.
Comfort is top-tier, not just for this price range, but for any price range. The headband is highly adjustable, leaving ample extra room even on my giant head, so it should fit just about any head size well. Each side has 12 clicks of adjustment, and on my decently large noggin I use click 7. The headband is plushly appointed with a big cushy leatherette-covered pad. The ear pads use HyperX’s trademark memory foam, the same foam used on their more expensive models. This is a great call, and means that this is a headset you could wear for hours, no problem.
The ear cups provide plenty of room inside and have decently large openings. It’s also the lightest headset in the HyperX range, and while it’s just clampy enough to never totally disappear, you won’t have any long-term wearing fatigue on the top of your head.
Judged purely on comfort-to-dollar ratio, this is one of the best audio products on the market.
HyperX went with a very typical and almost ordinary design for the Cloud Stinger. Two ear cups, headband, boom microphone. The boom mic is not detachable, so these are not at all ideal for portable use. The mic is big and silly-looking, so unless you’re prepared to look like a science fiction space pilot at your local cafe, these are much better for in-home use.
The backs of the ear cups are slightly angled, and the HyperX logo is printed on them in red. The HyperX logo is also printed on the top of the headband.
The cable is permanently attached, and about 4 feet long. It’s rubberized, instead of the braided cloth used on the more expensive HyperX audio products. HyperX includes a cable extension in the box with a y-splitter at the end for older style 2- jack PC connections. The microphone mutes when you flip it up. There’s a volume slider on the bottom of the right ear cup, and it’s very smoothly implemented. Yay! Sometimes, volume knobs on headphones are low-quality, and the potentiometers used lower the volume unevenly, or make one side louder than the other. This volume slider has no such issues, and seamlessly raises and lowers the volume. It’s great.
Mic quality is good for the price. It’s about 90 percent as good as the mic on the Cloud II’s. It renders my voice clearly, with only a slight thinness in the bass range. It should work without issue for game chat and streaming, but I wouldn’t record production audio with it unless I had to.
The ear cups fold flat if you want to shove this in a bag to go play a game at a friends house, or look silly outside.
You don’t get the same extras here that many of the Cloud/Cloud II models include, like extra ear pads and a carrying bag or case, but then these are cheaper!
Most of the Stinger is built from decently hefty plastic. Fortunately, the headband and the adjustment arms are reinforced with a strip of stainless steel. The headband adjustment clicks are very sturdy feeling, which impressed me.
The ear pads are covered in a leatherette that feels cheaper and rougher than the synthetic leather on other HyperX pads, but as mentioned above the foam inside is great. The cable has decent strain relief on it.
Overall the Stinger feels solid, without the light cheapness of many other budget headsets. I don’t know that I’d expect it to last forever, and you definitely get more solid materials in HyperX’s higher-end models, but nothing about the Stinger feels obviously cheap.
Can you live with a v-shaped sound, a permanently-attached boom mic and cable, and a basic headphone design? Then the HyperX Cloud Stinger will provide you with tremendous comfort and solid performance for just $50. If you’re looking at the whole of HyperX’s lineup and wondering if you’ll get better sound out of the Cloud models or the Revolver…you will! And better build quality. And more extras.
But compared against other headsets in this $50 price range, the Stinger brings it. And I’ve had tremendous fun using it for the last few days in spite of owning more expensive and “better” headsets. The punchy bass and comfy fit have kept me smiling during long sessions of Mass Effect Andromeda. HyperX seems absurdly dedicated to offering the best value they can, regardless of the price bracket, and the Stinger carries on the proud tradition of their other headsets. If you need an extremely comfy, decently-performing headset primarily for gaming at the lowest possible price, then you should choose the Stinger over any competitor.
And no, HyperX didn’t pay me to say that. And yes, I bought these with my own money. And yes, I’ve used many other bad cheap headsets that have given low budget headsets a bad name. The Stinger redeems the category in one quick swoop.