HyperX Cloud Stinger S Gaming Headset Review
A new color and a new dongle
The Cloud Stinger family is HyperX’s budget lineup of headsets, and if you click through to their official product page and scroll to the bottom, you’ll see it contains a frightening number of different models. I tried to take a screenshot of the whole table of options but it wouldn’t fit completely in view even on my 4K display.
Here are the important details to remember when trying to sort through this mess. The Stinger family’s price ranges from about $40 on up to $99. The “Core” models use smaller 40mm drivers, less luxurious ear pads, and cheaper frame materials. The standard non-Core models use full memory foam padding, feature 50mm drivers with more powerful sound reproduction, and have a beefier build. All of them have attached cables and microphones, and the wireless models offer zero backup analog connection.
The Cloud Stinger S (official page) launched earlier this week for $60, and it’s an update of the very first Stinger model that I reviewed all the way back in 2017. I bought one from Amazon to check it out. It’s a closed-back, wired gaming headset with a long 2.5m cable, a swivel-to-mute mic, and a USB surround sound adapter designed for exclusive use with Windows 10 and HyperX’s Ngenuity software package.
For a ten dollar premium over the standard model, the main differences here are the USB adapter and the black color scheme. If you’re gaming on Windows and would like an external sound card solution with its own decent surround sound, then the ten dollar upgrade is worth it, but console gamers should look at a non-S model. I had a brief issue the first time I plugged in the dongle where the volume control was only turning the right channel up and down, but re-seating the adapter fixed it and it provided nice clean audio with good virtual surround…though it lacks the custom-tuned profiles for popular games featured on other HyperX surround headsets.
The sound signature is the same fun punchy v-shaped experience found on many other headsets in this lineup. The bass is well-extended, rich, and boomy in an exciting way. Both the mid-range and treble are a little sharp and cold, sometimes providing an extra edge of detail but other times sounding a bit harsh compared to other options.
This is a great sound signature for gaming, and it’s functional for other listening too, in spite of favoring fun over accuracy. I played several hours of The Division and had no trouble locating enemies, and the rumble of the low-end was very enjoyable. It also made pop music sound engaging and energetic, and the highs never got too sibilant for me even at moderately high volumes.
In short, it’s a little bit like the sound signature on the E900 headset I reviewed last month, only without the mud in the mid range that did it no favors.
Comfort, like on other HyperX models, is stellar. The headband has ample adjustment range, and I only have to open it halfway on my large head. The ear pads use a slow- rebounding memory foam, and the angled drivers inside don’t touch my ears at all. The headband pad is thick and soft, and has no trouble holding the light weight of the headset.
The build is the only area where this headset shows its cheapness a bit, but it’s still more than fine for the price. All of the plastic is about as basic as it gets, though the matte finish should be easy to keep clean and free of smudges. There’s one small strip of glossy plastic along the top of each ear cup for some reason, and it ships with protective plastic attached that you’ll have to peel off upon opening the headset. These glossy pieces are so tucked away that I’m not sure why they’re included, as you’ll barely see them whether the headset is on or off your head, and glossy plastic attracts scratches and dust the instant it touches the air.
The rubberized cable is basic but functional, and the boom arm for the mic has plenty of rotation and a nice firm click when it mutes. There’s an analog volume slider on the bottom of the right ear cup. On my old Stinger from 2017, this had a smooth and wonderful movement to it, but on this new model they’ve decided to add clicky notches along its path. These notches feel gunky and terrible, and they limit your volume selection to five or six distinct steps instead of allowing fine-tuned control. I wish they had kept the smooth action from the original pair.
Both of my Cloud Flight models that feature a similar design have developed very slight creaking sounds near the hinges, but so far this pair is quiet. I’ll update this article if that changes down the road.
Mic quality is adequate, with a slightly tinny sound due to the heavy acoustic noise-rejection performed by the capsule. It wasn’t phased by the fan in my office nor by my mechanical keyboard. The dongle doesn’t offer any kind of mic monitoring or game chat balance, but it also offers a clean and loud microphone input that’s free of any issues. No wonky noise-gate here!
(And yes, I’m going to keep bringing up the Quantum 300’s mic processing issues in the desperate hope that JBL fixes it through an update some day).
If you’re looking for a solid no-frills headset, the Cloud Stinger S is a great choice. It now even comes with the one frill in its new USB surround adapter. It offers a more powerful sound, superior foam padding, and a much better surround implementation than the similarly-priced H510 I enjoyed and recommended recently. But it doesn’t offer that model’s sturdier build or detachable cable options.
I like the Cloud Stinger S enough that I consider it the new “default” option to consider among this whole gargantuan HyperX family, especially for PC gamers. It also competes well with every other headset in this price range.