The HyperX Cloud line is almost uncontested as “the” go to headset line for PC gaming and Esports. There’s this stigma amongst audio enthusiasts about gaming branded headsets being inferior. In fact, anything that isn’t directly marketed at the audiophile community is usually frowned upon. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, quality of audiophile grade headphones are still on the rise, even if diminishing returns are too.
HyperX surprised me with their Alloy FPS keyboard (read the review here) and now with their budget oriented Cloud Stinger, they’ve hit me with a double whammy. The idea of throwing whatever the competition is doing out the window, and dancing to their own tune, is exactly how I feel HyperX is approaching every product they’ve been releasing into the Esports market. Budget maybe the keyword here, but they’ve nailed the build quality. When you think sub $90 headsets you expect creaky plastic bits fitted loosely together to make a functional yet cheap, head cupping audio device. Not so with Stinger. You get something that feels solid with joints that have little flex or give. Everything feels calculatedly precise with the rotating cups and adjustable headband just feeling about $100 more expensive than this headset asks for. I haven’t tried the rest of the Cloud line, but from the build quality they’ve managed to pull out of the bag at this price range, I am incredibly curious to try the rest.
So build quality is great but how does the sound quality fare? To be honest it is much better than I expected. Having such great build quality meant they probably had to skimp out on audio performance… or so I thought. Listening to my favourite tracks I could hear that they paid just as much attention to the sound engineering as they did with its construction. While I never expected it to match my go to headphones that were at least 10x more expensive, they packed a big balanced punch throughout most of the audio spectrum. Bass was nice and tight not boomy and overpowering, while the mid-range was smooth and focused. The highs were a little sibilant and slightly skewed, becoming a little overbearing on some of the more treble heavy tracks. The biggest drawback to this headset audio quality wise though, was the sound-stage and depth.
It’s definitely not a fair comparison, my modified Denon D5000’s are much more expensive, but the soundstage just felt very narrow on the Stinger. Separation of different instruments were not as evident and this translates to distances not being as obvious in say a First Person Shooter scenario. That may actually be a good thing for training in these types of games. Hearing the direction an enemy is coming from is usually more important than their distance in something like CS. Being able to flick to the correct direction quickly can be the difference in flanked situations. Hearing the direction more prominently than the distance can help get your crosshairs set up despite them not being as close as it sounds. Having said that, situations with multiple enemies coming from different directions at once benefit from distance separation allowing prioritization of those closer and that may be the sacrifice you make with the Stinger. That’s not saying distance isn’t audible, it’s just not as evident as something with a bigger soundstage.
The tight bass helps focus as well. Keeping to a quicker decay lets the rest of the sound spectrum come through clearer. Bullet fire and ricochet’s are much higher frequencies and the Stinger is skewed slightly to the treble, again giving the more important aspects focus. The microphone was clear and my voice was always understandable, it has some noise cancelling functionality built in too which is amazing value once again. It handily mutes when you push it to its upright position which is something all Esports headsets need to get on board with. On the bottom of the right earcup there’s also a volume slider which is great. Let’s not forget that this budget entry by HyperX is compatible with almost every gaming device available (with an included adapter) and you’ve got arguably the best value competitive headset available.
With my expensive headphone, amp and microphone setup at home, it’s not always easy getting them around to LANs. I don’t want to lug such expensive, fragile equipment around anyway. The HyperX Cloud Stinger has an Esports focused sound signature, and best of all, is cheap enough to throw around in a bag without worry of damage. It uses a 3.5mm audio jack so it’s compatible with most headphone amps but is efficient enough to run without one. With the price of entry this low, I have to urge everyone looking to buy a gaming headset to jump on this headset wholeheartedly.
Price: $69AUD RRP
Where to buy: MWAVE
Disclaimer: A review sample was provided by HyperX | Respawn Ninja is owned by Mwave Australia, however we retain editorial control over reviews.