Kingston’s HyperX division isn’t goofing around. It wants to win over a mainstream audience, and its latest product should do just that.

The HyperX Cloud and HyperX Cloud II headsets are already among the best gaming-specific earphones on the market under $100, but now the company is attacking the sub-$50 space with the Cloud Stinger. The goal with this device is clear: provide high-end sound, comfort, and more without sacrifices.

Now, that doesn’t mean the Stinger keeps up with its $150 or $200 competitors. HyperX definitely had to cut costs somewhere. But the headset is so impressive because it nails everything that really matters and outshines many devices that cost twice as much.

Headset: HyperX Cloud Stinger
Price: $50
Availability:
Out now
Compatibility: 3.5mm works with PC, consoles, smartphones, and more

What you’ll like

Great sound with gorgeous bass

Kingston must have wizards working in its laboratory. Somehow this “budget” headset sounds significantly better than its $50 price. The key is its strong bass, which is something most other companies ignore or cut back on. It’s difficult to bring an accurate rumbling and thunderous quality into a headset. Low tones depend nearly as much on the materials used in the body of the earphones as the audio drivers, but HyperX takes a holistic approach to design that enables it to deliver satisfying, thumping bass in the Stinger.

At extreme volumes, the headset does lose some clarity in more complex audio environments, but up until that point, the Stinger feels like it is providing distinct channels for music, ambient noises, voices, and gunshots.

Again, for the price, this level of audio quality is stupefying, and HyperX deserves praise.

Comfortable, light, and smart

Great audio is one half of the Stinger’s greatness. HyperX also continues to deliver on making an excellent accessory that you have to wear on your body. The headset is really lightweight to the point that I had no issues with hours of continuous use. I went from a three-hour Overwatch session on the PC to testing out the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare beta on PlayStation 4 while using the Stinger the entire time.

I stopped noticing the headset, which is exactly what you want. The low mass is only one part of that equation. HyperX achieves comfort through a secure fit that never chafes or digs into your head. No matter how I held my relatively large melon, the headset never felt like it was going to fall off. The fit is so ideal that it doesn’t even jiggle, which is so important to comfort. HyperX nails it

The only time you really notice the headset is when you need to mute or unmute the microphone. Stinger makes it simple to do so. Pulling down the mic activates it and pushing it up turns it off. A clicking noise provides satisfying feedback on whether it is on or off, and it means you don’t have to think too much about whether people online can hear you or not. It just works.

What you won’t like

Microphone doesn’t sound great and adds bulk

While I appreciate that the microphone is simple to use, it doesn’t sound great. This is, of course, the obvious way to cut back on the cost of the Stinger from its Cloud I and Cloud II counterparts. But you end up with a severely compressed voice line that isn’t that much better than a microphone built into a laptop or webcam.

Now, that doesn’t mean you’re going to get a lot of noise or interference from the mic. It gets the job done without scratching or static sounds. Your voice will simply sound low quality.

Additionally, I don’t like how the microphone sticks out like a huge antenna when not in use. It means that you’re going to look kinda like a dork if you decide to use this device as your primary audio device with a smartphone in public for example. Being able to easily lift up or pull down the mic to deactivate and activate is wonderful, but I think I’d still prefer a retractable solution that creates an overall sleeker profile.

Conclusion

If you have the money, you may still prefer the HyperX Cloud I for all-around quality, and it’s only about $20 to $30 more expensive. But if you’re not willing to spend more than $50, the Stinger is absolutely the best you can do. Its combination of audio quality and comfort is unmatched at that range.

HyperX provided GamesBeat with a sample of the Cloud Stinger for the purposes of this review. The headset is available now.