After 16+ years of parenting, there are two questions I’ve learned to always ask when purchasing electronic devices for my kids.
1) Does it have a headphone jack?
and if not,
2) Does it have a volume dial?
Even if you don’t have children, I still highly recommend asking these questions before buying any toy, electronic device, or video game system for your nieces, nephews, grandchildren, etc. (Actually, I especially recommend it for non-parent gift givers. As parents, if we get too annoyed, we’ll just snip the speaker wire or “accidentally” give it to the dog. You’re unlikely to destroy your grandbaby’s toys, and this will be the one toy that we will make sure always finds its way back to your house when you are keeping the kids.)
Thankfully, every modern handheld, console, and PC gaming hardware comes equipped with a headphone jack. And if you don’t get why this is so important, imagine being a parent in 1981 and listening to this for hours on end:
Frankly, I’m impressed my mom never “accidentally” drop a vacuum cleaner on our Atari. Although, now that I think about it, I have no idea what ever happened to that thing. (The Atari, not the vacuum. She probably still has the vacuum.)
The point I’m trying to make here is that if you’re buying a gaming system, you should always include the cost of a headset in the budget. While some of them like the PS4 do come with ear buds, they really are junk. For less than $50 you can pick up something much nicer…like, say, a pair of HyperX Cloud Stingers.
The Actual Review Part
Pulling the Stingers out of the box, my first impression was how light they were, quickly followed by the thought, “Well, these are going to last about a week.” In my experience, plastic headsets don’t last long, especially with teenagers who like to place them precariously close to the edge of the desk when they’re done with them. However, the more I played around with them, the more impressed I was. Yes, they are plastic, but they are sturdy. Specifically, I don’t get a lot of the creaking I’ve found with other plastic headsets. Also, expanding the headset shows that hidden under that plastic are two sturdy steel straps to keep the cups tight against your ears.
The cups themselves are made of the same quality faux leather and memory foam as Kingston’s higher end Cloud II headsets, which are some of the highest rated gaming headsets out there. Combined with the lightweight construction, these Stingers are great to wear for long periods. In fact, I’d rate them slightly above the Cloud II when it comes to comfort.
The quality of the audio coming from the 50mm drivers in the Cloud Stingers is quite good. I used them on the PS4 playing Call of Duty (they also work with the Xbox One, Wii U, mobile phones, and, using the included splitter, PC), and I could hear every footstep. The boom mic worked well, and being able to flip the mic up to mute, and having that audible click to know that it was muted, is helpful, especially for those critical moments when you’re about to start a match and really need some chocolate milk*. The Kingston website calls the audio “gaming-grade sound quality”. I’m not exactly clear what gaming-grade means, but they were certainly good at getting every noise into my ears. When I used them to watch a movie and listen to music, the sound was still good, but nothing to get excited about. They are what they are: very good stereo gaming headphones that are more than serviceable for movies and music, all for under $50.
Overall, the HyperX Cloud Stinger is a quality product for budget conscious gamers. Only time will tell if the mainly plastic construction will hold up. I’ve been burned enough by other, even more expensive, all-plastic headsets that I’m remaining cautious, but based on early reviews, it looks like Kingston has created yet another fantastic gaming headset.
Driver: Dynamic, 50mm with neodymium magnets
Type: Circumaural, Closed back
Frequency response: 18Hz-23,000Hz
Impedance: 30 Ω
Sound pressure level: 102 ± 3dBSPL/mW at 1kHz
T.H.D.: < 2%
Input power: Rated 30mW, Maximum 500mW
Cable length and type: Headset (1.3m) + Extension Y-cable(1.7m)
Connection: Headset – 3.5mm plug (4 pole) + extension cable – 3.5mm stereo and mic plugs
Element: Electret condenser microphone
Polar pattern: Uni-directional, Noise-canceling
Frequency response: 50Hz~18,000Hz
Sensitivity: -40 dBV (0dB=1V/Pa,1kHz)
*Google it if you’re unfamiliar with the reference. The video is rated R due to language and provoking an overwhelming desire to dump a gallon of chocolate milk in the little brat’s Xbox.