Both SteelSeries and HyperX are known to manufacture some incredible gaming peripherals and the two we’re going to be looking at today are some of the best budget headsets on the market. The two companies haven’t cut too many corners with these devices. With that said, let’s take a closer look at both of the products and see which one is better.
SteelSeries Arctis 1
The Arctis 1 headset is both attractive and simple, although not really as attractive and simple as its other more expensive counterparts. This pair of headphones has a plastic, black-colored chassis accompanied by foam earcups. All this looks just fine, however, you can’t quite call the overall design “elegant”. Sadly, “plain” would be a better description. The headset’s steel headband is also something many people won’t be crazy about. The headband itself features rigid notches and has a lot of padding, making it very comfortable to wear, however, getting a precise fit isn’t as easy as one would think. It’s a huge step back from the Arctis 7, 5, 3 and Pro’s “ski goggles” design, which automatically adjusts the fit of the headset every time the user puts them on.
The left-side earcup is where all the magic is. Okay, not magic but where all the special features are. The removable microphone, mic mute button and volume dial are all found on this earcup. It’s hard to get a removable mic on a budget gaming headset, and even more impressive is that it also has a flexible microphone that’s both easy to detach and unobtrusive. This means that, the Arctis 1 has the capability of doubling up as an everyday listening headphones as well.
While these pair of headphones connect via a 3.5mm jackpin, the headset also comes equipped with a mic/audio splitter that can be used for gaming PCs. The cord itself is super long, almost comically so, so you will need to find a way of how you’ll shorten it. Otherwise, you can connect the headset to just about any system, from game consoles to mobile phones.
HyperX Cloud Stinger
The Cloud Stinger from HyperX has an overall design-style that’s quite conservative to say the least. Its plastic chassis, that’s black in color, comes alongside a padded headband on the top with a notched steel-bar inside and huge foam earcups (over-the-ear). The earcup located on the right side is where basically all the special features reside. Here’s where you’ll find the power button, the flexible boom mic as well as the headset’s charging port. The volume dial, however, is located on the headset’s left earcup. Although the boom mic on the headphones isn’t removable nor is it retractable, it does mute itself automatically when pushed upwards by the user. It even has a subtle, polite telltale click feature that’s there to confirm to you that the mic has been muted. It also features a wireless dongle that allows it to be used on a PC or PlayStation 4 system.
Okay, yes, this HyperX headset may not be one of best looking budget gaming headsets out there (it maybe even be far from this), however, it’s got both a smart and solid overall appearance that doesn’t have too many surprises. A retractable and removable mic would’ve been a wonderful and most welcome addition. A dongle storage area would also have been something many people would’ve loved having, seeing as how easy it can sometimes be to lose that tiny attachment. Another major downside with this gaming peripheral is that it lacks a 3.5mm audio jackpin feature as well. We know it isn’t the only budget gaming headset to lack this incredibly helpful feature, however, it still severely limits what this pair of headphones can do.
SteelSeries Arctis 1
The biggest flaw the Arctis 1 has is the rigid notches it uses to find a comfortable fit. An elastic headband would’ve been so much more efficient. Having rigid notches means that you’ll need to go through a lot of fine-tuning processes to finally get the most comfortable fit, and if someone other than you wears it, then you’ll have to start all over again because all the hard work you’ll have put in will most likely be reset. On top of all this, the Arctis 1 seems kind of huge. Even though you might have a head with a fairly big circumference, you might still have to use the tightest conformation the headset has. That being said, even though you might not get the most precise all-round fit, the headset isn’t uncomfortable to wear. The foam earcups don’t press down too hard and the padded headband doesn’t feel like you’re carrying a log on your head.
HyperX Cloud Stinger
This HyperX gaming peripheral is a lightweight, 9.5-ounce headset that’s can be easily worn for long periods of time without it getting too uncomfortable. It has very supportive foam earcups that never get too hot. It’s also not that hard to find the right fit, all thanks to those distinct notches that are considerably hard to accidentally adjust and easy to purposefully adjust. The earcups might press down a little bit too tight when you have glasses on, however, that’s really not an issue if you aren’t going to be using them for hours on end. Though, if you do routinely have daylong gaming binges where you’re wearing your glasses, then you might want to keep this potential pitfall in mind. Though, the one downside is that the mic tends to get in the way sometimes during gameplay. Other than that, this is definitely one of the most comfortable budget-friendly gaming headsets out there.
SteelSeries Arctis 1
The SteelSeries Arctis 1 does incredibly well at everyday gaming. You can hear all the directional sounds when you’re shooting down enemies as the Reaper in the Overwatch title, as well as all the distant battle cries in Age of Empires that are often there to redirect attention. Both the orchestral fare and dialogue in Baldur’s Gate sound clear and crisp under these headphones and World of Warcraft sounds like, well, World of Warcraft. Okay, the headset might just be a bit too light on the bass sound, so don’t expect explosions and gunplay to have tremendous amounts of oomph in them. Furthermore, while the headset has balanced sound properties, there’s no one particular genre in which it really shines through in all aspects. The Arctis 1 is basically a pleasant and, most importantly, competent headset that doesn’t really have any aural epiphanies to speak of.
What often sinks most budget gaming headsets is that they really suck when they’re used for listening to music. In fact, a lot of them are almost useless in this department. But, thankfully, that’s not the case with this pair of headphones. Yes, you won’t be getting any concert-hall experiences with them, however, they’ll let you hear everything when it comes to music, from the clear vocals to rhythmic instrumentals to bass parts. Whether you’re listening to Bob Marley’s greatest reggae hits or whether you’re listening to Chester from Linkin Park screaming his lungs out, the headset will provide a good balance among instruments, harmonies and lead voices, especially in vocal-heavy, treble songs.
Though, just like with gaming, the bass is almost non-existent. But, at least you won’t also get that faraway, hollow sound quality you get from most of the other budget gaming headsets out there.
HyperX Cloud Stinger
HyperX was targeting PlayStation 4 when they came up with this headset. The Cloud Stinger is primarily designed to connect with PS4, which basically means that that system is where it’ll work best. You’ll get a rich, nuanced sound with this pair of headphones. It does a fantastic job at balancing vocals, sound and music effects. Whether you are listening to those captivating and intriguing conversations between Peter Parker and MJ in Spiderman or whether you’re annihilating all your enemies in Star Trek, this pair of headphones will offer up crisp, clear audio quality. It has a soundscape that might skew toward the treble sound a bit, however, considering this headset was specifically manufactured for gaming purposes, the treble sound skew isn’t that bad.
That being said, the audio quality a user will get from their computer will almost equally be the same. Basically, what we’re saying here is the sound might just be as good on a PC connection as it would on a game console connection. It sounds absolutely fantastic in World of Warcraft, Destiny 2 and StarCraft: Remastered. It’s very easy on the ear and it allows you to focus a lot more on what is happening in and around the game you’re playing.
As far as its music performance is concerned, all music genres played on the device sounded both well-rounded and robust, which is a huge upside considering how most budget headsets really suffer in this department. From the rock and roll tunes produced by Coldplay to the smooth, reggae sounds provided by Bob Marley and the Wailers, the headphones will not disappoint and will provide you with great sound. Although, as seen earlier in this piece, the headphones focus more on the treble side of things even when used for just listening purposes. Anyway, even though it does well as just a listening device it lacks the 3.5mm audio feature, meaning that it can’t be connected mobile devices like smartphones and tabs. This generally means that you can’t really adopt it as your everyday listening headphones.
SteelSeries Arctis 1
Because this headset has a 3.5mm audio jackpin feature, one of its greatest benefits is that it can be connected to just about any system there is. It sounds great when used on a Nintendo Switch, especially in games like Final Fantasy and the like. Not only is the cable it comes with more than long enough but the soundscape it offers also does a great job of enhancing and emphasizing both sound and music effects.
The microphone, on the other hand, is functional, yes, but certainly nowhere near as good as what’s there on the other high-end devices. Vocals come through clearly but with a husky, bold quality to it. Furthermore, the microphone isn’t very selective when it comes to the sounds it picks up. You can hear a few sound from your surrounding when you put them on. This headset’s microphone can be used for online gaming, provided you aren’t playing in an area that’s too noisy. You also need to be willing to mic mute when you’re not using it if you want to have an all-round good time with them.
Hyper Cloud Stinger
The Cloud Stinger wireless headset has great close-range connectivity, but the sound will start to slightly drop off once you get past the 20-foot marker. Although, there are really not many gamers that are going to stray more than 10-feet, or even just 5-feet, away from the setup. But, there are some wireless gaming headsets out there that can work even as much as 35-feet away from the gaming system being used. This tells you that the Cloud Stinger still has a long way to go as far as wireless connectivity is concerned. Though, this is not to say it’s not powerful enough. Truth is, what it provides is just right.
The company claims that, on one single charge, the battery should be able to provide its users with around 19 hours of runtime. However, this is one thing that can’t really be accurately measured just yet. There’s LED indicator feature right beside the power button. The different colors this indicator displays represent the different levels of power the battery has. However, it would have been nice just to get exact battery percentages. When the device is used for around 4-5 hours or so it drains to about 25-30%, which is quite close to what the company claims you’ll get from it.
The Cloud Stinger’s major downside, however, is the fact that it lacks customization features. This is quite the bummer. You won’t have access to software that can allow you to come up with your own profiles, as well as no equalization level and surround sound settings. Yes, it has a pretty decent overall default soundscape, but that’s generally all you’re going to be getting.
The Cloud Stinger from HyperX leaves a lot to be desired. There’s so much we’re used to seeing on budget headsets that’s not there. The headset doesn’t have customization options, a chat mixer and a 3.5mm audio jack feature. However, we also understand that these are things not every gamer will need. If you’re one of them then this headset might just be enough for you. Not only does it have a reasonably comfortable all-around fit but it provides great sound quality as well. For a budget gaming headset, it’s not too shabby.
However, despite the few reservations about the mic and overall design, the SteelSeries Arctis 1 headset might just be one of the best budget gaming headsets out there. It handles both games and music with aplomb, and it happens to be incredibly easy and comfortable to wear as well (even though it doesn’t really provide that perfect fit). Truth is, the Arctis 1 is what all budget-friendly gaming headsets should be really and this is why we believe it’s a much better option than its Cloud Stinger counterpart. If you really have to choose between the two then your best bet would definitely be the Arctis 1 from SteelSeries.