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HyperX's $50 Cloud Stinger 2 is the perfect entry into gaming headsets

The HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 offers spatial audio, a noise-canceling microphone, and wired connectivity for less than $50.
Written by Rebecca Isaacs, Staff Writer
HyperX Cloud Stinger II gaming headset
Rebecca Isaacs/ZDNET

After working hours, I turn to gaming to relax, and having a solid headset is an essential component of the experience. Gaming headsets can be pricey, but the HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 -- the latest release from the company -- is considerably cheaper than the competition while offering specs that don't necessarily scream "compromise".

I tested out the HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 for a few weeks for my gaming -- and music experience. On Spotify, K. Flay and Grandson songs felt very tinny to my ears. However, this headset was designed for gaming purposes, and once I fired up Halo and Far Cry: Primal, the quality difference astounded me. 

In the Far Cry franchise, spatial audio is essential for me to better listen to my surroundings and perform stealthy, tactical takedowns. The 50mm drivers use DTS Headphone:X Spatial Audio, and this software gave me the upper hand as I slunk around the Valley saving Wenja tribe members in Primal. I was generally impressed by how life-like my audio sounded, especially for the $49 price point. It's worth noting here that DTS Headphone:X Spatial Audio is a paid subscription, though HyperX bundles a two-year activation code when you purchase the Cloud Stinger 2.

Recently, I tested another budget-friendly headset -- the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 headset. In comparison to the Nova 1, which retails for $10 more, the HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 goes toe-for-toe, except for one key area: the microphone.

More: Best PC gaming headsets

HyperX Cloud Stinger II gaming headset

There's a noise-canceling microphone built into the $49 headset.

Rebecca Isaacs/ZDNET

While the built-in noise-canceling microphone worked, I asked my partner how my voice sounded and was told that the Cloud Stinger 2 sounded louder but more muffled than the Nova 1. Basically, if you want your team to hear you shouting for help during a Halo alien battle, then the Stinger 2 gets the job done. Just don't expect them to fully comprehend every word that you say. 

One major thing to note: the mic does not retract or detach, so those that want a more discreet headset when not gaming or using voice comms will want to look elsewhere. It's also not wireless compatible, in case you were hoping to pair it via Bluetooth or an adapter.

As far as comfortability goes, the Cloud Stinger 2 comes with HyperX's Signature Comfort, featured in the memory foam that wraps around the headband and ear muffs. I gamed for the better part of a weekend while wearing these and they felt comfortable the entire time.

Ultimately, if you absolutely need a retractable mic and a clear voice, I'd recommend opting for the Nova 1 headset. But if your budget is capped at $50 and/or you want a well-off entry-level headset, the Cloud Stinger 2 is worth the look.

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