Finding the right gaming headset can be tricky, especially if you don’t really like the traditional over-ear design. Some users prefer the feel of in-ear buds to bulky headphones or headsets. Gaming earbuds are a relatively new accessory, and most of the available options either use a wired connection or Bluetooth. That isn’t bad, but there’s definitely room for improvement.
That’s where the HyperX Cloud MIX Buds come in. These new earbuds were designed to fit and feel like an ordinary set of wireless earbuds, but with the addition of a built-in omni-directional microphone, software controlled spatial audio for gaming, and — most importantly — the option to use a super low latency 2.4GHz connection. HyperX sent us a set of these wireless gaming earbuds for a fair and unbiased review. Here’s what we found.
Zoom In: Specs
- Connectivity: 2.4 GHz via USB Type-C dongle, Bluetooth 5.2
- Compatibility: PC, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, Mobile
- Built-in omni-directional microphone
- 12mm dynamic drivers
- NGENUITY software
- DTS Headphone: X
- Battery life without charging pod: 10 hours/Bluetooth, 6 hours/2.4GHz
- Battery life with charging pod: 33 hours/Bluetooth, 21 hours/2.4GHz
- 3 included silicone ear tip sizes
- Price: $149.99
Build Quality and Comfort
The Cloud MIX Buds come in a black charging case with a protective silicone shell and a magnetic lid. The buds themselves are made of plastic and have small arms that each appear to have a microphone built in at the bottom of an attached arm. In addition to the medium-sized silicone ear tips that come pre-attached to the earbuds, there is also a smaller and larger set included so users can make sure the earbuds fit securely.
They generally seem well-built and feel both comfortable and secure in the ear. My ears did start getting sore after a few hours of use, but that happens to me with every set of earbuds, so it’s hard to hold that against the MIX Buds. The only real issue that I had with their build quality is that the tap activated controls seem overly sensitive. I found myself accidentally muting them multiple times when I was simply trying to adjust their position.
The HyperX earbuds have two connectivity modes: Bluetooth 5.2, which uses less battery life, and 2.4GHz, which offers a faster connection and less latency. They come with a discreet USB Type-C 2.4GHz dongle that fits perfectly on the bottom of a mobile device. It can either be used directly or paired with an included C-to-C adapter and C-to-A cable. This allows users to get a more direct connection with the dongle by moving it closer, and even to use it as a controller (since there’s a button on the adapter that switches the pairing mode between Bluetooth and 2.4GHz).
The earbuds can be connected via Bluetooth without the dongle, but I found that using the dongle seemed to give it a stronger connection. The ease of using the button also encouraged me to use 2.4GHz while gaming in order to minimize latency, then switch over to Bluetooth mode when battery life was more important.
The sound from the MIX Buds is surprisingly good right out of the box. You could certainly find Beats or Bose that sound better (and over-ear headsets will always have more full-bodied sound), but the Cloud MIX Buds are no slouches. They have decent high and mid-tones and even a moderate amount of bass, though they could probably stand to be a bit louder.
I tested them out playing Until Dawn on PS4 and Doom Eternal on PC. The earbuds had to be turned up to a pretty high volume for the whispered dialogue in the quiet horror title Until Dawn, but their volume was more than adequate for the pulse pounding metal soundtrack in Doom.
The Microphone is fine, though it’s probably the weakest thing about the Cloud MIX Buds. It doesn’t sound bad, per se, although the audio does sound a little tinny. The bigger issue is that it’s an omni-directional microphone. That means it will pick up sound from the entire room and will not be able to isolate the user’s voice.
That’s to be expected, since it is located by the ear and can’t be positioned directly in front of the mouth, but it’s still definitely something prospective buyers should consider before purchasing the MIX Buds. People with clicky keyboards or loud housemates may end up irritating their fellow gamers without even realizing it.
Those who plan on using the Cloud MIX Buds with PC or Mobile will also be able to take advantage of the extra features offered by the HyperX NGENUITY software. It’s currently available on PC and iOS, and a HyperX representative has informed us that an Android version is currently undergoing final approvals and will be available shortly. PlayStation and Nintendo Switch users will not be able to use this, however.
This software doesn’t offer a ton of features, but it does have two very important ones. You can use it to activate DTS: X spatial sound, which essentially give the headset digital 7.1 surround sound. This is particularly useful for gaming since it gives the audio a more directional quality, allowing players to determine which way sounds are coming from. It also has an equalizer. There are no easy-to-use presets, but users can dial up the 32Hz–250Hz range in order to digitally boost low-end sound.
Are the Cloud MIX Buds Worth the Money?
There are several gaming earbud headsets on the market, but none seem to compare to the Cloud MIX Buds. Most are either wired like HyperX’s own standard Cloud Earbuds or have a higher latency Bluetooth connection like the Razer Hammerhead Earbuds.
The HyperX Cloud MIX Buds seem to be the only in-ear headset with a 2.4GHz connection from a major manufacturer on the market. That said, most of the other gaming earbud sets retail around $40, while the HyperX Cloud MIX Buds MSRP at $149.99. This will be a hard sell for most people, but it may impress those who aren’t interested in a bulky headset, but still want a low latency, wireless headset solution with good sound.
Zoom Out: Verdict
The HyperX Cloud MIX Buds are well-built and have good quality audio, though the microphone could probably be better and the price is definitely on the expensive side. That said, they offer a low-latency 2.4GHz wireless connection that is ideal for competitive gaming, and they have a few extra features that make them worthwhile for those who prefer a good in-ear headset.
- 2.4GHz connection offers a super low-latency wireless connection
- Dongle is low profile and makes switching between wireless modes easy
- Plug-and-play with most devices
- Microphone is tinny and doesn’t isolate sound
- Finicky touch controls can make using the earbuds frustrating
- More expensive than most in-ear headsets