Tom's Guide Verdict
The HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 delivers great sound and a relatively comfortable fit, all for $50. Don't expect much in the way of extra features, though.
Great sound, for the price
Works with many systems
Cumbersome, quiet microphone
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
Compatibility: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch
Drivers: 50 mm
Frequency Response: 10 Hz - 28 kHz
Weight: 9.7 ounces
The HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 is, if nothing else, a big improvement over its predecessor. When I reviewed the original HyperX Cloud Stinger back in 2016, I came away feeling underwhelmed by the whole experience. This time around, I'm pleasantly surprised. The Cloud Stinger 2 sounds good and fits well, which is really all you need in a $50 headset. But apart from that, it's compatible with a wide variety of platforms, and has a slightly more striking design than the original Cloud Stinger.
In other words: The Cloud Stinger 2 may not be one of the best gaming headsets overall, but it's almost definitely one of the best gaming headsets you can get for the price.
To be fair, the Cloud Stinger 2 does suffer from some of the problems you'd expect in a budget peripheral. The build quality feels flimsy, from its plastic chassis to its inconvenient microphone. The device won't work with some newer smartphones, and doesn't offer any customizable features at all. Still, for casual PC gamers, or console fans who don't mind a few wires, the Cloud Stinger 2 should get the job done. Read on for our full HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 review.
HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 review: Design
If you had to picture a $50 gaming headset with no other descriptors, you'd probably come up with something like the HyperX Cloud Stinger 2. With its plain black chassis, oversized earcups, prominent HyperX logos and red volume dial, it's neither garish nor unassuming. It's not the prettiest headset to wear out and about, especially since you can't do much about the cumbersome microphone, but it works well enough at home.
The first thing I noticed about the Cloud Stinger 2 is just how flimsy the whole thing feels. The chassis is entirely plastic, from the headband to the earcup frames, and I have to imagine that will limit the device's durability, especially if you drag it around with you in a crowded backpack every day. The earcups also swivel to an almost comical degree. Just picking the headset up will cause them to twist all over the place.
Neither side of the Cloud Stinger 2 has much of interest. On the right earcup, you'll find a small red volume dial on the back. On the right side, there's a flexible boom mic, with an optional windscreen, as well as a six-foot 3.5 mm audio cable, with an optional splitter for gaming desktops. Since the mic isn't removable, it can really get in the way when you're not using it, and it looks incredibly silly if you wear the headset while commuting, or traveling.
In short, the Cloud Stinger 2 doesn't look especially pretty or feel especially sturdy. But it has everything it needs to function, and it's not ugly. That's acceptable for the price.
HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 review: Comfort
One thing the HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 has going for it is that it's pretty comfortable to wear. With plush leatherette earcups and a highly adjustable headband, it's relatively easy to get a good fit. This is especially true because the headband has a series of numbered notches, which let you find your perfect fit each time. Once it's on your head, however, the Cloud Stinger 2 can readjust if you push or pull with only a little force. Your perfect fit isn't guaranteed to stay put.
On the other hand, once I set the notches the way I liked them, I found the Cloud Stinger 2 easy to wear for long periods of time, even with glasses on. The device never felt too tight or too loose, and the earcups were breathable enough that I never felt my ears getting sweaty.
HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 review: Performance
The most pleasant surprise about the HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 was that it sounds quite good, especially considering the price. The initial Cloud Stinger also retailed for $50, but had a muddled, inconsistent quality for both game audio and music. By contrast, the Cloud Stinger 2's powerful 50 mm drivers provide rich, clear sound for almost every application. It's not quite as nuanced as what you'd find in a fancier headset, but it doesn't really need to be.
I tested the device primarily with Age of Empires IV, Doom Eternal, Cyberpunk 2077 and Final Fantasy XIV, and occasionally forgot that I was using a $50 headset. Whether I was listening to my medieval villagers set up a stone mine, or a group of monsters advancing on my online party, the soundscape remained comprehensible and consistent. The Cloud Stinger 2 provided an excellent balance between sound effects and background music. My only mild complaint is that voice acting occasionally felt unnaturally louder by comparison, but since most gaming headsets are treble-heavy, this is a forgivable nitpick.
One advantage of the Cloud Stinger 2 is that its 3.5 mm audio jack makes it compatible with older systems. I'm currently on something of a PlayStation Vita kick, and I carried the Cloud Stinger 2 with me for a few days, listening to my PlayStation Vita on the subway as I went. The memorable music of Final Fantasy IV sounded great, and the physical volume dial was easier than adjusting the console buttons while I was in the middle of a fierce battle.
HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 review: Features
Since the HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 is a 3.5 mm headset without any USB options, there aren't many features to speak of. There's no software; there's no wireless connectivity; there's no chatmix; there's no RGB lighting. There is surround sound on PC, as the headset comes with a code to install DTS software. But you could just as easily use Windows Sonic - or listen in stereo.
While the mic's physical design leaves something to be desired, the functionality is OK. In my tests, the device captured my voice clearly and minimized background noise. But it was also remarkably quieter than most headset mics I've tested. If you talk with your friends online, they should be ready to turn your volume up.
HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 review: Verdict
The HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 is a no-frills gaming headset, and doesn't disguise that fact. It's not the sturdiest model on the market, and what you see is what you get. You can't customize anything about it, except for whether or not you want your mic to have a windscreen - and said mic is a mixed bag, too.
And yet, the Cloud Stinger 2 absolutely nails the two most important aspects of a gaming headset: It's comfortable, and it sounds good. Not every $50 headset can make that claim. Especially when you consider that the original Cloud Stinger was a mixed bag, this is an impressive improvement.
For the same price, it's also worth checking out the Razer Kraken X, which has a more interesting design and weighs a little less. Likewise, if you can spend $100, then the HyperX Cloud Alpha is worth the extra cash. Otherwise, the Cloud Stinger 2 is a solid choice for consoles, PCs or anything you can still find with a headphone jack.
Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.