Had enough of the pitiful sound your laptop's speaker makes that you can barely hear? Do you need some gear that lets you immerse in your favourite games' world? There is no need to spend hundreds of dollars on expensive audio equipment that costs a lot only because of its brand, or to fill up your room with a home theater system. Often times, high quality headphones lets you enjoy your games much more. And HyperX has an interesting product for you, at an affordable price. Read this review to learn about their Cloud Stinger gaming headset:
Packaging and design
You might already be familiar with the name HyperX, especially if you have built your computer for gaming. HyperX is a brand of Kingston Technology, known mostly for their high-performance and very reliable RAM modules. They also have quite a lot of products designed to meet the high performance requirements of current and next-generation games, and they are a preferred manufacturer of many gamers around the world.
We were already familiar with (and fans of) their memory modules, but this was the first time we had the chance to get our hands on something different, thanks to Kingston, who have sent a HyperX Cloud Stinger gaming headset for testing.
The product comes in neat cardboard packaging, that is dominated by the brand's colors: black and red. It looks really badass and futuristic, you can immediately see that this is made with gamers in mind. The front of the box features an image of the headset and a list of some of its main features, while on its back you can see additional key features and support information.
From this cardboard wrap you can slide out a pitch black cardboard box that holds the headset, along with an extension jack cable, a quick start guide and a promotional leaflet welcoming you to the HyperX Team. This last detail is a very small, but nice addition, it makes you feel that you own something special.
The black headset is made of high quality plastic, with the exception of the extension slider, which is made of steel. It has some notable features, like the engraved HyperX logo on its top, or the leatherette-covered memory foam that protects the earcups and the top band. This is a much better choice than a plastic covering, as that tends to tear and deteriorate much more quickly.
On the left earcup there is a physical volume slider - we do not really prefer these as every application has a volume control and, more importantly, moving parts break much more easily. We suggest using software volume control, whenever possible. Attached to the right earcup you will find the flexible microphone: when turned in the upright position, it is muted, so you won't need to mute it separately when you don't want to be heard.
As for its specifications, the HyperX Cloud Stinger is a circumaural headset with a closed back, meaning that it covers your ear and it isolates noise around you and keeps others from hearing what you hear. It is lightweight (9.7 ounces or 275 grams), has a 4.27 feet (or 1.3 m) cable and comes with a 5.58 feet (or 1.7 m) long extension Y-cable. The attached cable has a 4-pole jack, which plugs into modern jack ports that combine headphone output and microphone input.
The extension cord is Y-shaped, meaning that it has separate jacks for the headphone and the microphone. This setup could be problematic in one case: if you have a sound card with a single jack for the headset and the microphone, but the built-in cable is not long enough. In this situation you might need to get a different extension cord, if you can't move any closer to the jack port.
Using the HyperX Cloud Stinger headset
Once you got the headset out of its box, you will surely be eager to try it - and you can do that instantly. All you need to do is to plug it into your computer, game console, music player, smartphone or any other device's audio jack port and you're ready to go.
At first, the headset might seem a bit tight - first of all, be sure to adjust the headband to have it properly fit your head, then keep using it for a half an hour or so. When taken straight out of the package, it might be too tight, but it should be OK quite fast. Otherwise the earcups are rather comfortable, the memory foam and leatherette combination is great, you can wear the headset for hours and it won't be very tiring.
In terms of comfort, the microphone is also very well made: it is flexible and sleek, it will never get into your way and you don't need to pull it on your mouth to make it work.
Of course, one of the most important aspects of a headset is sound quality, and the HyperX Cloud Stinger has nothing to be ashamed of: it can be compared to a mid-range headphone from a prestigious brand, like Sennheiser or AKG. It doesn't offer an out-of-this-world audiophile experience, but it has great sound quality, and it does a decent job with your music as well.
Still, it is obvious that it was made for gaming: the headset lacks a powerful bass, but higher notes are really clear. Sound quality is not optimized for music, but it is great for immersive gaming, it even provides a surround-like sound experience. Fortunately HyperX doesn't want to sell the headset with features made purely for marketing like making the Cloud Stinger a 5.1 or 7.1 headset - which really doesn't make much sense in the case of a headset, but it still makes its price go up quite a lot.
The Stinger's microphone is of average quality: don't expect to record high-fidelity podcasts or anything meaningful with it, although it is good for chatting during games, but you can also use it to make VoIP calls via Skype or any other program. Overall, it is good for basic usage, calls and chatting, but don't expect anything out of the ordinary.
The Cloud Stinger is a mid-range gaming headset, according to the HyperX headset portfolio, and it is priced accordingly: you can pick it up for about 50 dollars in most stores. This is an absolutely reasonable price, we might even say that it gets you more value for your money that you'd expect.
Pros and cons
The HyperX Cloud Stinger has quite a lot of positive features:
- Modern, stylish design
- Lightweight, made of high quality materials
- Great sound quality for gaming
- Adequate for music
- Can be worn for a long time without strain
The headset has some weak points as well:
- Average quality microphone
- Extension cord does not support single-jack soundcards
Nowadays gaming is all about graphics and the overall experience, but many forget that sound is also an elementary part of games, and without great and immersive sound effects, voice and music, you wouldn't get the same out of your games. Having a proper sound is a must, and if you really want to be inside your games' world, then you should use a headset.
The HyperX Cloud Stinger is a great choice in this case: it not only brings you good sound quality, but it also has a built-in, flexible microphone, which comes in handy during multiplayer sessions. Also, it is rather comfortable and it won't become cumbersome if you're planning a long gaming session. Also, you won't disturb anyone, thanks to the closed earcups. All this comes at a reasonable price, making the HyperX Cloud Stinger a really good choice if you're looking for a great mid-range headset to complete your gaming rig.
What's the most important quality you're looking for in a gaming headset? Tell us in the comments below.