Kingston HyperX Cloud Stinger Review
Pros: Inexpensive, exceptional microphone quality
Cons: Not the most comfortable, sound quality could be bette
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The HyperX Cloud Stinger finished in the top portion of the group, right behind the HyperX Cloud II and just ahead of the beyerdynamic MMX 300. The Cloud II is just a bit more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time, but is a little less easy to use and didn't pick up voice as well as the Stinger did in our tests. While it is more comfortable, it does cost double the price of the Stinger, so that additional comfort does come at a significant cost. The beyerdynamic has better audio quality than the Stinger, but it isn't as comfortable and retails for a lot more, so be prepared to pay for that superior audio quality.
To decide which gaming headsets are truly award-winning, we did tons and tons of research to pick the most promising candidates, then bought them all to test side-by-side and find out which headset is really the best. We split our testing process into four weighted metrics — Ease of Use, Audio, Microphone, and Comfort — with the results of the Stinger described below.
Responsible for the largest percentage of the overall score at 40%, comfort is the most important trait for a gaming headset. While this is a relatively subjective metric, we had a large panel of different testers try out each headset for an extended period of time, then aggregated the results to determine the scores. The Stinger did decently well, earning a 6 out of 10, comparing somewhat favorably with the rest of the pack.
Our judging panel had a bit of a mixed response to the Stinger, with a few testers being ok wearing the headset for a full day, while others were only happy wearing the Stinger for about four hours or so. This headset definitely fits a little on the snug side, so it doesn't wobble at all, but some of our testers weren't fans of having their heads squeezed that much for long periods of time.
This product does have a padded headband, covered in leatherette. The ear cups are also covered in leatherette and have semi-soft padding. The ear cups have ample room — measuring about 1.625" wide and a little over 2.5" tall — but we did feel the need to adjust them every hour or so, as the pressure could end up being uncomfortable.
This product is also on the lighter side, weighing in at 9.5 ounces and easily fit our testers that had larger heads or ears, albeit snugly, but that is just how this headset fits pretty much everyone.
Next, we moved on to evaluating the audio quality of this gaming headset from Kingston. This headset delivers surprisingly high-quality sound — both voice and music — and scored very high in our set of benchmarking tests. This solid performance earned the Stinger a 7 out of 10 in this metric, worth 30% of its final score, comparing quite favorably to the rest of the group.
Starting off, the Stinger does a great job of replaying your teammates' voices, making them sound quite close to life, with very clear and understandable audio, but it does sound slightly flatter and less realistic than the top headsets.
However, we had some mixed results in our positional sound tests. Our panel of testers could usually identify the location correctly of loud sounds in games, like gunfire or vehicles, but struggled a little with quieter sounds, with plenty of people misidentifying were someone was walking quietly.
This headset also does a solid job at blocking out external background noise, cutting out about 45% of music or tv and reducing ambient white noise as well. The Stinger also is great for listening to music, with the sound coming across extremely well-balanced.
The Stinger also delivered an admirable performance across our suite of benchmarking tests. It did amazingly well in the driver matching test, with the tone staying centered between left and right ears all the way through the test, matching the performance of the top headsets that cost hundred more than the Stinger. It also did very well with a dedicated binaural recording, perfectly giving the illusion that someone was knocking on a wooden door behind you, as well as to your left and right. The Stinger also did well in out bass quality test, but we did notice some parasitic buzzing when the bass was boosted all the way to the top.
Worth one-fifth of the total score, we moved on to judging the mic quality of the Cloud Stinger. The Stinger again did very well, earning an 8 out of 10 for its superior performance — one of the highest scores out of the entire group.
This headset does a solid job at picking up voices, though we did notice there was a slight buzz. Additionally, it can also be a bit punchy on B's and P's — something to consider if you know this particularly bothers other people that you play with. There was only a tiny amount of feedback if you tapped the mic and it doesn't particularly overemphasize T's or S's.
This headset also does a solid job at cutting out external noises, minimizing the sounds of a fan running in the background and failing to even pick up the sounds of a mechanical keyboard while typing. However, it does pick up the sounds if you are eating, though it does mute them slightly so the crunching of crackers or chips isn't quite so annoying to your teammates. It also doesn't pick up side conversations all that well — a great trait if you usually play somewhere with lots going on in the background. People on the other end of the line could usually hear that there was someone else talking, but it was usually unintelligible or they only caught bits and pieces of the conversation.
Ease of Use
For the remaining 10% of the total score, we ranked and scored how much effort it took to actually use each headset. We looked at if there are inline controls, if the cord is detachable and how long it is, as well as if the microphone had a sidetone or is detachable. The Stinger did quite well, meriting a 7 out of 10.
The Cloud Stinger doesn't have inline controls, instead having controls right on the headset that allow you to adjust the volume.
The Stinger's mic is easily muted simply by lifting and the cord is long enough at 10.5 ft. to give you ample room to move around your desk without getting caught. The cable is detachable, but doesn't give you the option to remove the mic or enable a microphone sidetone.
Holding its own with headsets that cost four or five times as much, this headset is a fantastic value.
While the Stinger does have a few flaws, it is an all-around solid gaming headset at a fantastic price. This product should be your first choice when shopping on a tight budget.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer