Reviews

Review: HyperX Cloud Stinger

Gaming with headphones has been the norm for me, so I’ve been through my fair share of gaming headsets — ranging from cheap and nasty items bought from The Reject Shop to the high-end surround units only available via overseas import. With the many different headphones I’ve used over the years — both for personal use and review purposes — one property has always been more important than all others: value for money. I’ve used pairs sold for $20 that I wouldn’t spit on if they were on fire, and others north of $300 that may have been able to impress me, but still weren’t good enough to justify the price tag. Thinking back, I don’t think I’ve ever had a good set of headphones that have left me feeling I’ve gotten my moneys worth.

Enter the HyperX Cloud Stinger.

Finished in matte black plastic with red HyperX logos on each ear cup, its simplistic design keeps it from standing out amongst the crowd of competing headsets. From a visual perspective the unit’s conservative aesthetic is akin to that of an ‘84 Pontiac Trans Am, better known as Kit from Knight Rider. It’s an excellent balance of solid, defined lines and subtle curves without any unnecessary flair. Enough of the fancy buzzwords borrowed from a design magazine I found at the bus stop, though; the point is these headphones don’t make you look as though you’re wearing some native American cyberpunk headdress. They’re perfectly sensible looking.

Weighing in at 280g, the Cloud Stinger is ever so slightly heavier than competing headsets at this price range but still well within the realm of being considered light. At this weight they’re easy to wear for long periods. I was able to rock these for three consecutive hours without the slightest hint of discomfort. Surprisingly, and despite its light weight, the Cloud Stinger doesn’t feel flimsy or cheaply made when you pick it up. While physical abuse of any tech is a pet peeve of mine, I suspect these headphones would withstand a solid beating from accidental drops onto hard surfaces without issue.

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The bottom of the right ear cup holds a conveniently placed volume slider which has a tactile feel to it allowing volume changes in set intervals. After years of volume adjusting via the mix amp on my regular set of headphones, changing over to this model required a little adjustment to my muscle memory before I was able to naturally find the volume dial below my right ear.

A unidirectional and flexible boom microphone extends from the side of the left ear cup. Ingeniously, the microphone is only active when its in the downward position in front of your mouth. Moving it up, until it makes a gentle click sound causes the mic to mute, thus protecting you from having your mates hearing your Mum scream at you to take the bins out. Across both consoles and PC the mic reproduced voice chat with excellent clarity and it was able to ignore most standard household background noise such as 3rd parties talking in the background. Receiving incoming chat was also clear however the Cloud Stinger doesn’t include a separate volume control for chat audio which means you’ll need to adjust your in game audio manually to compensate. A minor annoyance for those who might frequently switch between headphones and external speakers.

Wrapped in what feels like super soft Italian leather — but is probably just pleather — the memory foam padding provides a great deal of comfort both around your ears and on top of your head. This memory foam also blocks out a great deal of outside noise however it somehow does a terrible job of reducing sound leakage from within the headphones. This was tested with various games at various volumes. At around 50% volume, gunfire and explosions could be heard easily by external parties in another room whilst playing Doom, Uncharted 4, and Titanfall. In Forza Horizon 3 engine sounds didn’t leak at all but the high range audio produced by the game’s electronic soundtrack was distinguishable at the louder end of the volume slider.

But for the user these headphones produce great audio for their price. Some inconsistency between games was noted though. For example at high volume the low range bass produced by shotgun blasts and explosions in Doom were quite distorted, but literally every sound produced by Resogun was crystal clear. To add to this, in some instances the low range felt a little weak for my tastes. But this is coming from someone who demands wall shaking bass at all times.

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The high and mid ranges produced are near perfect with treble that allows you to hear little nuances in titles with complicated or intricate audio such as the aforementioned Resogun.

There was also a hint of white noise experienced when using the Cloud Stinger on an Xbox One (via the official Microsoft Chat Adaptor) which was not present with PS4; that’s more likely a problem at the console’s end than the Stinger’s, so take that with a grain of salt. It should also be stated that this white noise was only noticed when there was no audio- E.G. during loading screens.

In most cases, buying headphones should follow the ethos that you get what you pay for. Instead, you often get a little less than what you pay for. On this occasion the 50mm drivers installed in this ridiculously named set of cans may not match a pair worth $120, but they come pretty close. And at $79 AUD they’re damn good value. They may not satisfy an obsessive audiophile but if you’re in the market for a new set of cans below the $100 mark I can’t recommend these enough. You’ll be hard pressed to find this kind of quality at this price point.

The HyperX Cloud Stinger headset was reviewed using a promotional product, as provided by its producer.

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About the author

Jay Ball

I'm a big fan of older consoles and can flawlessly complete the first 2 levels of Donkey Kong Country with my eyes closed. These days I still play platformers but also love shooters, arcade racers and action adventure titles. I may or may not be in denial about the death of rhythm games.

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