HyperX Cloud Stinger Core review: Quality that doesn’t sting the wallet

Adam Mathew 16 July 2018 NEWS
Quick Verdict
Don't let the low price and low weight fool you. The HyperX Cloud Stinger Core deliver impressive speaker and mic fidelity, plus it'll take an especially epic ragequit to harm them. These are exceptional entry-level cans that are well worth considering.

Strengths

  • Quite decent speaker audio.
  • Microphone output is rather crisp.
  • Does extreme yoga to fit all head types.
  • Can take a beating /angry twisting /rage-biting.

Could be better

  • Microphone not detachable.
  • Two-thread cabling to both ear cups.
  • Console-neutral colouring would have been better.


One of the best options at its price point.

Comfort, durability and convenience, all at a low, low price: that's the mission statement of this console gaming headset by HyperX. For reasons I can't explain its attempts to do so have been named: Cloud Stinger Core, though I'd put my money on a word generator somewhere set to “edgy gamer nouns”. The Stinger may be nonsensical in some ways but it's hard to deny that the performance and features it offers for a mere 70 bucks makes perfect sense.

Can-Do Design

In a first for the HyperX brand of headsets, what we have here isn't of an angry black and red styling. This is mostly because the Cloud Stinger Core has been boxed and designed to attract a specific breed of player – the Blue Man Group of console gaming: the Sony PlayStation crowd.

Don't be fooled by the navy accents on this unit, as this headset is very much platform agnostic. In terms of connectivity, you've just got a four-pole 3.5mm cable that's 1.3m in length and universally compatible with a wide range of devices. It played perfectly well with all of the test systems I hooked up to it (PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and my workhorse Sony Xperia). In fact, it sounded much richer on the Nintendo Switch compared to a PS4. I honestly couldn't tell you why.

You certainly won't be given cauliflower ears with these, thanks to the comfort of textured fabric ear cups. Mind you, those of you paying close attention at home will have noted that this is a downgrade from the pleather encased memory foam of the previous model (the Cloud Stinger). You're getting passive noise isolation with these, too, which means they don't do a bad job of blocking out the world around you, purely because they seal in around your ears. If you have an especially loud, anti-gaming significant other, I'm sorry to say these won't silence the worst of their moaning.

Features and Comfort

When it comes to wrapping these around your bonce, the Core's adjustability is pretty fantastic. If your mug is long – of a Homer Simpson “fishbulb” design – you can rely on extendable steel sliders to make these more vertical. Wide loads aren't a problem either. You'd have to have some serious cranial gigantism to thwart the horizontal stretch and bend of these bad boys.

Beyond that, you have a bendable microphone on your left ear cup that pivots upwards and away when not in use for online abuse. Unfortunately said mic doesn't mute when you do this (a feature stripped from the previous model). The volume control has also changed from an ear cup slider on the old Stinger to an in-line dial along the wire (a simple mute slider has been added there, too). It's also important to note that the cabling on the Stinger Core splits above this in-line and goes into both cups. Some people prefer a less tangly one cup solution. I wasn't too fussed with this route.

All in all, the Stinger Core isn't bulky for a gaming headset and is quite low weight at 215g. I appreciated its understated plastic design, subtle logos and just the overall fact that it doesn't look like some of the obnoxious and aggressive gamer earmuffs out there. It feels nice and robust in your hands, too, thanks to a steel band threading its way from cup to cup. You can twist it to your heart's content – possibly after coming second in a thirty-minute round of Fortnite – and it'll return to form with impressive resilience (as if to say “here's one more thing you can't do well”).

Audio Performance

Bottomline first: you usually get what you pay for when you choose to go with a budget model over, say, a $300 Turtle Beach alternative. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of the 40mm drivers in this Stinger Core (and, once again that's 10 fewer than the last version). You'll be getting a decent amount of punchy bass for your buck. Sounds in the high range are crisp and the mid-level stuff doesn't sound muddy or tinny.

The microphone is up to snuff as well. The prerecorded tests I did sounded great in subsequent playbacks and my usual online crew offered positive feedback, too. Apparently, they had zero issues hearing me “cursing like a sook over team losses which were wholly attributable to my own lack of skill”. Thanks, guys.

Verdict

By and large, the performance and comfort you're getting here are well worth your hard-earned money. The Cloud Stinger Core is perfect for two types of buyers: for a casual gamer looking to get the job done well on the cheap, or a parent looking to buy a reasonably-priced, fairly indestructible set of cans for their offspring. Basically, if you have hyper children, think HyperX because at this low-tier price point you're not going to find anything that does the job better than these things.

Cloud Stinger Core (HX-HSCSC-BK)

Hardware specs

Driver
Dynamic, 40mm with neodymium magnets
Type
Circumaural, closed back
Frequency response
20Hz-20,000Hz
Impedance
16 Ω
Sound pressure level
99dBSPL/mW at 1kHz
Microphone element
Electret condenser microphone
Polar pattern
Noise-cancelling
Sensitivity
-41.5dBV (0dB=1V/Pa,1kHz)

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