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HyperX Cloud Stinger Core
March 21, 2018
18.1 x 8.2 x 17.7 cm
HyperX’s Cloud Stinger line of budget gaming headsets seeks to cover everyone’s gaming essentials, and the HyperX Cloud Stinger Core does just that. It’s a headset for the utilitarian gamer who doesn’t care for bells and whistles, extra software, or surround sound. Is this plug-and-play headset the one for you?
We spent a week with the HyperX Cloud Stinger Core to see how well it performs for its price.
Editor’s note: this review was updated on January 13, 2023, to update formatting, and add the Razer Barracuda X (2022) and Logitech G335 as alternatives.
What’s the HyperX Cloud Stinger Core like?
The HyperX Cloud Stinger Core is an over-ear gaming headset with a built-in microphone. While the body of the headphones is plastic, it feels sturdy and doesn’t creak or squeak anywhere. The microphone and cables are not removable, but you can flip the microphone into an upright position when you’re not using it. Unlike other headsets, flipping up the mic does not mute it.
The ear pads are made of foam covered in fabric, which is comfortable but doesn’t accommodate glasses very well—bespectacled gamers can expect worse isolation overall. However, the headset is still lightweight enough to wear for hours, and the headband has a foam cushion to keep it comfortable on your head. The ear cups don’t swivel, moving just enough to adjust to your ears.
This headset is designed with PlayStation consoles in mind, but it also works on other consoles like Nintendo Switch and Xbox One. The headset connects through a 3.5mm TRRS cable, which means you’ll need your own splitter if your PC separates the mic and headphone jacks. There are no on-ear controls, but there is an in-line volume slider and a mic mute switch on the headphone cord, making it really easy to mute yourself during in-game chat.
Is the HyperX Cloud Stinger Core good for gaming?
This headset is great for gaming. Because there’s no extra software or setup needed, this is about as simple as plug-and-play headsets get. Playing CS:GO on my PC, sounds that can be really overwhelming in other, more bass-boosted gaming headsets come through at a reasonable volume. The under-emphasis in the sub-bass range actually makes the sound of bomb blasts a lot more tolerable, and all other sounds like gunshots and footsteps are clearly audible.
The headset also works great with Nintendo Switch. Sounds in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild are great, with Link’s footsteps, his weapons moving as he runs, and environmental details never being masked by lower sounds in the background music. Lower pitched noises in the game like rumbles and blasts are present, which adds a nice element to the sound of the game, and doesn’t detract from it at all.
How well does the HyperX Cloud Stinger Core block out noise?
Isolation on this headset isn’t great, and external noise can definitely leak in during a gaming session. Sounds like a loud truck outside or the dishwasher running are noticeable, and I’m able to have a full conversation with a person beside me with this headset on. It’s not bad enough that I need to turn up the volume louder than usual to hear my game or music, but if you’re easily bothered by outside noise, the isolation here might not satisfy you.
How does the HyperX Cloud Stinger Core sound?
The frequency response chart for the HyperX Cloud Stinger Core varies wildly from our target curve in a few areas. The under-emphasis in the sub-bass range (below 50Hz) will make explosions underwhelming compared to other gaming headsets. The upper mids are under-emphasized between 1-4kHz, which will affect sounds like higher female vocals, and the higher end of most instruments, like violin or guitars. This frequency response shouldn’t be a big issue for gaming, but your music might not always sound like you want it to.
Lows, mids, highs
Faceshopping by SOPHIE has prominent bass sounds throughout, and this headset does that justice. The part that’s missing however are the sub-bass frequencies that you can usually feel as well as hear in the song. Some of the higher-end sounds like the twinkling synth around 2:18 sound a bit quieter than I’m used to, compared to other sounds like SOPHIE’s voice and the lower droning synth, but it’s hardly noticeable at all.
In Graceland Too by Phoebe Bridgers, the track overall sounds good, but the violin in the intro sounds a bit quieter than expected, especially compared to the lower bass and banjo parts. Phoebe Bridgers’ voice also sounds a bit subdued in comparison to the lower instruments in the track. At 1:50, the lower harmonizing vocals come in and Phoebe’s voice is less prominent than the harmony.
How is the microphone on the Cloud Stinger Core?
The microphone on the HyperX Cloud Stinger Core is perfectly good for in-game chat, Discord, and video calls. While not the most sensitive mic we’ve tested, voice quality is clear, and ambient noise is handled well. In our standardized microphone testing, simulated office noise barely makes its way in. Listen for yourself:
HyperX Cloud Stinger Core microphone demo (Ideal):
HyperX Cloud Stinger Core microphone demo (Office):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Should you buy the HyperX Cloud Stinger Core?
In the market for a really simple and affordable plug-and-play headset? This could be a good option for you. The HyperX Cloud Stinger Core is comfortable, lightweight, has perfectly good sound for gaming, and has a solid microphone for chatting with your friends. For only $40 USD, you’re getting all the gaming essentials you need, and that’s a great deal made even better by the fact that it often goes on sale for around $20 USD.
However, if you’re the kind of person who wants something that feels more premium with features like RGB lighting, comfy ear pads that accommodate glasses, and surround sound, you’re not going to find that here—not even close. For those who are on the fence about these features, there are a plethora of other headsets that do more but they will cost you.
What should you get instead of the HyperX Cloud Stinger Core?
Gamers who wish to stay within the HyperX family will get a lot of use out of the HyperX Cloud Alpha. This wired gaming headset connects via 3.5mm as well, has great sound quality and isolation, and is really durable. It’s a classic choice for gamers, and while it’s normally $100 USD, it’s frequently on sale for much less than that with the advent of the pricier HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless. It’s available now for $79 at Amazon.
Another good option in that same price range as the wired Cloud Alpha is the SteelSeries Arctis Prime, which also connects through a 3.5mm jack. It sounds good, it’s sturdy, and doesn’t have additional software, so it works on any platform with a headphone jack. You can pick it up for $39.99 at Amazon.
A third wired option you could consider is the Logitech G335, which is super lightweight and comfortable. It doesn’t have much in the way of features and it’s lacking in the bass range, but if you want a very comfortable headset with a good mic, this is a contender. You can find it for $39.99 at Amazon.
There are also good sub-$100 USD wireless options if that’s more your speed. A good option is the Razer Barracuda X (2022), which can go on sale for less than its $99 USD price. The Barracuda X (2022) connects through a USB-C 2.4gHz dongle for low latency wireless, Bluetooth, or through 3.5mm if you prefer that. It sounds great, it’s super lightweight, and it’s another plug-and-play headset that doesn’t rely on any software. It also has a very good microphone and an almost 60 hour battery life. You can find it for $99.99 at Amazon.