Page 2 - Physical Look - Hardware
In the past, I have always complimented Kingston's headset design and the relative non-flashiness. With the Stinger, this is yet again, a very conservative and straightforward design. It does not scream gamer by any sense. It probably will not pass for a daily pair of headphones, as there is a microphone fixed to the left earcup, but it still looks clean and inconspicuous. Kingston has always liked their black and red theme, as seen from a lot of their headsets, including the most recent one, the HyperX Cloud Revolver. However, the amount of red has varied, and with the Stinger, it is quite little. Almost all of the headset is black, with the exception of the red HyperX logos located on the outer cups of each ears. The plastic is a matte like finish, which should result in less fingerprints found. There are some glossy areas, but these areas are not easily accessed by fingers. In terms of material choices, this headset has plastic for a frame, steel in the extenders, and leatherette for the padded areas. Even though it might have been nice to see some more metal, it does feel really solid for plastic, with no creaking when moving the headset around. In fact, for a fully plastic headset, the entire thing feels quite sturdy. It also has some extra benefits, as you will see soon enough.
At the bottom, we have a single four-pole 3.5mm silver audio plug. As such, users can take the HyperX Cloud Stinger out of the box, and plug it into most portable electronic devices like tablets or phones without needing any additional adapters. This also allows the headset to be plugged into gaming controllers found on the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. The plug is wrapped in a smooth black rubber end and is easy to grip, making unplugging the audio jacks very easy. A HyperX logo can be found on the plug. The rubber cable holding it in place is 1.3m in length. It feels pretty durable, but only time will tell if it can stand up after daily usage. The cable is permanently attached to the left ear cup of the Cloud Stinger, just like all of the other HyperX Clouds. As for the extension cable, this is a 1.7m long Y-splitter, which will split the single audio plug into two plugs; one for the headphones, and one for the microphone. Again, this cable is rubber wrapped. However, unlike past Kingston headsets, there is no remote on this lower part.
Moving up the cord, the next thing we come to are the two earcups on the Kingston HyperX Cloud Stinger. Much like we have seen from the other Kingston headsets, we have a very plushy earmuff, with leatherette covering and memory foam underneath. The end result is a very comfortable over-the-ear design. The leatherette makes contact with only the side of your head and not your ear. Even as a glasses wearer, the Kingston HyperX Cloud Stinger always felt comfortable resting on the side of my head. The oval shape also conforms naturally to a person's ear. Inside the earcups, you can find a thin mesh lining to ensure if your ear does not touch any plastic. Underneath this area are the 50mm neodymium drivers. They feature a frequency response of 18Hz to 23kHz. While humans can generally only hear from 20Hz to 20kHz or less, we can often still feel the effects of the inaudible frequencies on both ends of the spectrum. We will see how this actually affects the sound quality in our audio analysis. Rated impedance of this unit is 30 ohms.
The ears themselves are very flexible as they tilt easily, adjusting to the side of your head. In addition, the earcups freely rotate all the way back to sitting flat with the earcups facing the user. I like this feature, as it means I can rest the headset on my neck while the earcups are resting easy and not protruding out as much. However, there is an unfortunate side effect to this, as I will explain shortly.
At the top of the headset, we have the first sight of the leather and the real excellent thing about all of Kingston's headsets. The outer band is plastic in nature, with a HyperX logo emblazoned above. Underneath, we have the leatherette band with memory foam underneath. Down the side is where you will see the extending arms, with a steel band inside to provide a sturdy frame. This frame is notched with plastic tabs to provide feedback and resistance so the arms on the headphones do not fly out whenever. As for how far the headset extends, the Kingston HyperX Cloud Stinger should fit most size of heads. While I have often needed to extend the ears all the way to fit most headsets on my head, I do not actually have to do so with the Stinger. In fact, there may be some cases where this headset may not fit as well on smaller heads. As I mentioned previously, the earcups on the HyperX Cloud Stinger are capable of rotating. Thus, on some smaller heads, the ears may actually flop about, leading to a non-optimal seal. This is not an issue for me, but as with everything you wear, your mileage may vary.
As for overall comfort, I think Kingston has stuck to their guns in producing a very easy and comfortable to wear headset. Even on their budget HyperX Cloud Stinger, Kingston's dedication to comfort is seen with the memory foam, as it truly is a very comfortable headset to wear. In addition to the foam, we have the nice leatherette which is still able to allow air through to keep your ears cool. Finally, the plastic build does mean the headset is much lighter than the metal counterpart. At a weight of 275g, this is 45 grams lighter than the original Cloud and Cloud II, and 85 grams lighter than the newest Cloud Revolver.
At the end of each ear of the Kingston HyperX Cloud Stinger is something interesting, so I will cover both sides. Starting with the right ear, we have a small slider underneath, and this is a volume control slider. Sliding it towards the back increases the volume, and sliding towards the front decreases it to the point where it is muted. It slides quite smoothly, although you can feel a bit of notched feedback. Sizing of the slider is good here, as it can easily be found without needing to look at the headset. On the other ear is a fixed microphone, and it swings down to your optimal position. The microphone head is a single directional microphone, as with most of Kingston's headsets, with a frequency response of 50Hz to 18kHz. You might be wondering where the mute switch is, and it is integrated into the swinging arm. If you swing the microphone up far enough, you will hear a switch, where it will be muted. This should also provide enough visual aid to tell when the microphone is muted, as the arm is not in position. Finally, the arm itself is very flexible with rubber wrapping around it. It would have been nice to see a removable microphone on the Stinger, but I am not complaining too much.
To be honest, considering the price point for the Kingston HyperX Cloud Stinger, I am quite impressed with the physical quality and aspects included. I think Kingston has made the right moves in terms of build quality and comfort without sacrificing much, resulting in a very good end product. However, the real money maker is still the audio quality, and this is exactly what we will be finding out as we put the HyperX Cloud Stinger through the challenge of our audio tests.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis