HyperX Cloud Stinger gaming headset
HyperX is probably best known for gaming headsets, or through their Kingston brand of computer memory. They also have gaming mouse mats and have recently branched out into keyboards with some success. But with the new HyperX Cloud Stinger headset, they have returned to what they know best.
Straight out of the box, the Stinger looks a little chunkier than past models, with the headset and ear cups integrated into a single plastic device. Past models have had a rounded headrest attached to the ear cups with a metal frame, but the Stinger encapsulates them both together. The second thing you'll notice are the ear cups themselves. They have a swivel function that allows gamers to rotate the ear cups ninety degrees for improved portability compared to previous models. Unfortunately, this ability to swivel the cups gives the headrest a somewhat flimsy feel, with the ear cups moving around quite easily. Although the headrest and ear cups look joined by the plastic housing, the Stinger suit larger heads with the adjustable steel sliders that fit inside the plastic headrest enclosure.
The rubber-coated cable is 1.3 metres long, more than adequate for PC gamers positioned close to their gaming machines. It has a single jack for both the audio and microphone and an extender cable that splits the jack into separate audio and microphone jacks, adding an extra half metre or so to the cable's length to booth.
The built-in microphone activates once the microphone is pulled down in front of the mouth and goes mute once the mic bar is moved back into a vertical position. As a gaming headset, this works fine, allowing for quick access to the microphone without having to attach anything. But as a headset for listening to music or watching a movie on a train or plane, the headset looks a little weird with the microphone poking out the side like an elaborate antenna.
Despite the weird look (well, only when travelling) the Stinger is really comfortable to wear. As a person who wears glasses, finding a headset that doesn't squash too hard on the frames of my glasses, especially over an extended period of time, can be tough. And in this, the Stinger does quite well. The soft leather covered ear cups fit snugly around my ears, even with the frame of my glasses still resting on them. The padding of the ear cups limits outside noise as they form an enclosed barrier around the ear. They certainly blocked out the sound of the washing machine beeping to let me know it had finished. Unfortunately, it couldn't block the sound of my wife screaming at me to get the clothes out of the washing machine from close range - actually, not many headsets can do the latter.
As with the ear cups, the padded headrest is covered with a soft leather, allowing for extended comfort and durability. Even after hours of gameplay, the headset was still reasonably unobtrusive, apart from managing to flatten my hair a little. Those without hair need not worry about this issue. And at just 275 grams, the Stinger is one of the lighter headsets I have tested.
Looks, and to a lesser degree, comfort can take a back seat if the performance of the headset is above par. And I must say that for a cheaper gaming headset, the sound quality for the Stinger is better than what I was expecting. Whilst playing Overwatch, I could easily hear the sounds of enemy footsteps as they got closer whilst still listening to the team chatter. Watching movies, the deep booms of explosions and the tinkling of shards of glass came through clearly. I did need to turn up the volume on the earpiece to maximum settings to match the volume of my current set of headphones.
The attached microphone is a little disappointing though, as I found that it didn't pick up sound as well as my current set of headphones (admittedly, a higher end HyperX headset). It does seem to filter out other noise reasonably well, but in the process also diminishes the quality of the speech output - something that you want for games that require teamwork.
Driver: Dynamic, 50mm with neodymium magnets
Type: Circumaural; closed back
Frequency response: 18Hz-23,000Hz
Impedance: 30 Ω
Sound pressure level: 102 ± 3dBSPL/mW at 1kHz
T.H.D: ≦ 2%
Input power: Rated 30mW, Maximum 500mW
Cable length and type: Headset (1.3m) + Extension Y-cable(1.7m)
Connection: Headset - 3.5mm plug (4 pole) + extension cable - 3.5mm stereo and mic plugs
Element: Electret condenser microphone
Polar pattern: Uni-directional, Noise-canceling
Frequency response: 50Hz~18,000Hz
Sensitivity: -40 dBV (0dB=1V/Pa,1kHz)
As a base model for gamers, the HyperX Cloud Stinger does a more than adequate job. Although the microphone is the weak point in both performance and styling, the rest of the Stinger does a reasonable job. It is light and comfortable to wear over extended periods, whilst still delivering some quality audio to the ears. And although the rotating ear cups did feel a little flimsy out of the box, they managed to pass through the rigors of a couple of weeks worth of commuting without issue. And for someone who is often taking them off and putting them on again, the rotating ear cups do allow the headset to be placed around the neck when not in use, without ear cups filling up your face. If you’re in the market for your first gaming headset, then the HyperX Cloud Stinger could well suit.