Never leave home without your gaming headset, thanks to the HyperX Cloud MIX
Gaming headsets, as well as lifestyle headphones are nothing new in the industry, with consumers able to choose from a variety of products that offer different selling points and perks these days. Resulting in two rich headphone sub-markets. However, when it comes to servicing both listening purposes, in one product, the market is not so vibrant. Which is where the all-new HyperX Cloud MIX comes in as these headphones not only want to be your pro-grade gaming headset, but also your on-the-move wireless headphones. The Cloud MIX are now available to buy and are priced at $199.99 in the US.
In the box & specs
Besides the actual headphones, buyers can expect to find a boom mic as well as three different cables in the box. One is a standard 1.3-meter headset (3.5mm) cable for use in wired mode. The second is a 2-meter 3.5mm extension cable which also splits the mic and headphones signals, and the third is a 0.5-meter microUSB to USB Type-A cable for charging. This is in addition to the usual degree of paperwork and a rather plain and underwhelming cloth-based carry bag/pouch.
The HyperX Cloud MIX utilizes a closed-back design and draws on 40mm drivers along with a frequency response of 10Hz–40,000Hz. In addition to typical wired usage, these headphones can also be used in a wireless fashion thanks to the inclusion of Bluetooth 4.2 which means they are capable of establishing and maintaining a connection up to a distance of 10 meters. When in this mode, the included battery is rated to offer up to 20 hours of usage before needing to be recharged again. The HyperX Cloud MIX also features two condenser microphones, one which comes in the form of a noise-cancelling boom mic and the other an omni-directional built-in mic. The headphones weigh in at 260 grams when used without the boom mic, and at 275 grams when the boom mic is in play.
Hardware & Design
At the superficial level the HyperX Cloud MIX do not look that different to other HyperX branded headsets. In fact, in many ways the overall design and chassis is identical to previous offerings from the company, including the 2017 Cloud Alpha headset. So if you are used to the HyperX way of doing things then you will find comfort in the familiar design overall. However, if you are used to HyperX headsets then you might find these to be a diet version of the headsets you've become accustomed to. As while the Cloud MIX utilizes the same shape, style, and feel as previous Cloud-branded headsets, it does not come with the additional dressing one might expect. Resulting in a device that although is a gamers headset, is also not a gamers headset. For example, typically speaking gaming devices and accessories are big on their accents, colors, and general pizzazz. The Cloud Alpha personifies this point with a huge emphasis on the color red which not only penetrates the branding on the ear cups, but also the aluminum frame and even the threading on the headband. If you opted for the Cloud 9 edition then you could expect the same emphasis on color albeit with the eSports team’s color - blue. Either way, the point is, Cloud-branded headsets look like gaming headsets. The Cloud MIX does not.
In comparison the Cloud MIX appear far more muted in design and this applies to pretty much every aspect. Not only are the vibrant colors gone, but the headband is far more generic in its detail and even the aluminium frame is more conservative and basic-looking. Whether this is a good thing or not will likely depend on where you place the value on the overindulgence of color and design cues found on modern gaming products. In either case, this is an intentional move by the brand as what HyperX is selling here is headphones that are designed to perform as well as any other gamer-focused headphones, while also adopting the ability to be altered for use outside and in public without anyone necessarily becoming aware you’re wearing a 'gamers headset.' On that note, HyperX has achieved its mission and possibly a little too well as in cutting back on the over-the-top elements it has somewhat removed the identity of the headphones.
Aesthetics are not the only dual-purpose design aspect in play either as the Cloud MIX functionally adopts the stance of two different headsets. When used in ‘gaming mode’ the user can connect a 3.5mm cable for a wired connection that helps to ensure latency and response is good enough. In addition, a boom mic can also then be attached to assist with in-game chatting.
Both proved to be of a decent build quality and are super easy to attach and remove when needed. In terms quality the boom mic proved to be excellent providing listeners with clear and crisp voice reproduction. Then when away from the controller/keyboard the headphones can be adapted for use in a ‘lifestyle mode’ which basically means the user can detach the 3.5mm cable and rely on Bluetooth for a more portable product, while also removing the boom mic and utilizing the including built-in secondary mic. Once again, there were no major issues noted with the design or performance in this mode with the built-in mic working as well as to be expected, although the clarity was not quite as clean as the boom mic - again to be expected.
Moving away from the dual-purpose usage, and the general design and build quality of the headphones appears to be relatively durable. The aluminium frame feels strong enough as does the braided wire connecting the cups to the headband. Which is a point to dwell on for a moment - due to the use of an aluminium frame such as this, the cup-to-neckband cables are technically exposed which may be a concern for those who are looking at these primarily as an on-the-go Bluetooth product. Other options which do not rely on an aluminium frame such as this one do typically have those cables hidden away within the frame itself - resulting in an additional layer of protection. Although as mentioned, the internal wire(s) are protected through the use of a braided outer cable which will help to improve the durability to some degree, just not to the same degree.
The neckband was another area that appears to be sufficiently durable with a good degree of flex without highlighting any obvious vulnerability. There’s definitely a point at which the neckband tension starts to feel like it could give way, but not necessarily any better or worse than the level of flex found on most other headphones within this price range.
Considering these can be used as traditionally Bluetooth headphones, they do come with on-board controls. The right ear cup features volume up and down buttons, as well as the Bluetooth pairing button. These are thoughtfully positioned making it fairly easy to access and use the controls when the headphones are worn. In addition, an LED light for connection/battery status and a microUSB port for charging are also included. While not necessarily an issue, some consumers might argue at this price point HyperX should be including a USB Type-C port. In contrast the left ear cup is a lot more basic with just an action (play/pause) button, along with the 3.5mm and boom mic sockets.
Overall, due to these headphones looking to employ a ‘best of both worlds’ approach there are compromises in both worlds. On the gamer side you are getting a product that’s less flare and more generic, while on the Bluetooth side you might be compromising a little on overall ruggedness when compared to similar-priced products that solely appeal to the Bluetooth market. Neither compromise is enough to warrant concern and instead HyperX has done a decent job of bridging the gap between these two consumer markets.
Sound Quality & Performance
These are pretty-good sounding headphones overall. They are not the best sounding headphones on the market and arguably for the same price you can buy better. Though, as is always the case with audio, quality is subjective and these will appeal to some users more than others. For example, these are very bass-heavy headphones. So if you are after greater bass response then you will find it in abundance here. In fact, it was surprising how bass-ey these headphones actually are. The issue with this is the greater reliance on bass distorts the natural range and to the point where the bass becomes the main thing you hear. Expanding on this point, the top end proved to be the overall weak point in the Cloud MIX sound quality chain. Tops are present, but they are just not as defined a they could or should be. Which may be of an additional concern for more casual gamers who would prefer to use these in a wireless fashion when gaming and expecting to pick up on the more nuanced sounds in games. Again, the tops are accounted for so it’s not like they are missing or anything, it’s just they are too flat, lifeless and dull. Something that’s only made more apparent by the very lively bass response.
Of course, that’s the Bluetooth verdict on the sound quality and that is only half of the story. In wired mode, the Cloud MIX comes with some notably improvements designed to offer a heightened listening experience. The most notable of which is Hi-Res Audio support. To be clear, HyperX states Hi-Res Audio support is only available when a wired connection is used in addition to when used in conjunction with high resolution content and a playback device that supports high resolution content. In which case, the Cloud MIX supposedly extends the frequency response range up to 40,000Hz. This is an unnaturally high upper limit and one that’s difficult to verify with any certainty. Which is where the Hi-Res Audio certification comes in as you’ll just have to take the improvements that are suggested as gospel. From a user perspective, there was somewhat of an increase in the upper range sound quality when used specifically for gaming in a wired fashion although what is more likely to matter here is the lower levels of latency that are naturally available when used in wired hmode compared to wireless. So while you can connect these headphones over Bluetooth when gaming, and irrespective of the touted Hi-Res Audio support, you’ll still be better off using them as a wired headset.
For comparison, the Cloud Alpha (also wired) only offers a frequency response range of 13Hz–27,000Hz. This is not only significantly lower in the top end, but also higher in the low end. While some may argue that the difference between 27,000Hz and 40,000Hz is somewhat negligible (and they would be right), technically, the Cloud MIX are far superior in sound quality when used in a wired mode. Though if we are to really get into comparisons then due to the more compact design the Cloud MIX utilizes smaller drivers (40mm vs. 50mm) compared to the Alpha - something else which will affect sound quality and depth and therefore might also be worth taking into consideration when defining which sound quality is best for you. A last point to be aware of on the difference between wired and wireless is the use of the cable deactivates the on-board controls completely. This was a little disappointing from the user perspective as it meant the wearer is forced to rely on the in-line remote for adjustments including the volume - which is controlled via a scroll-wheel that makes it even more difficult to adjust the volume with accuracy, albeit quicker to adjust the volume in general.
Speaking of the volume, this proved to be one area where they were no issues in terms of the quality. As like the bass, these are very volume-oriented headphones and are able to up the volume to an unnecessarily loud level. This is externally as well as internally. So for example if you have the headphones on a table and playing at full volume they will be easily heard by everyone in the room. They are literally almost as loud as a cheap speaker in this respect. Which should succinctly highlight that when they are worn they are more than capable in the volume department and to the point where you will barely be able to hear yourself speak, let alone anything that’s happening around you. Which on the positive side is likely to greatly appeal to gamers as the volume and pronounced bass do result in an improved immersive headphones - Bloodborne on the PS4 Pro will attest to this.
Battery life & Connectivity
Being Bluetooth headphones the Cloud MIX does come with a battery built-in and this is one of the fundamental differences between these and other HyperX headsets - with the exception of the Cloud Flight although those differed in the fact their wireless connection was dependent on the use of a USB dongle connected to the other device. According to the company, the battery is rated to offer up to 20 hours of usage. That is somewhat in line with current headphones (of this style and size) expectations although HyperX caveats that figure by stating the 20-hour marker is based on having the volume set to 50-percent. Under normal circumstances this would be a little alarming as the figure is being used as a marketing point and therefore could represent a more liberal measurement. For example, if you are someone who runs headphones at full volume then you should expect a massive drop in battery life compared to what the company states, and in some cases by as much as half.
However, that was not the case with the Cloud MIX and if anything our testing indicated HyperX is being intentionally conservative with its claims. For example, we test all headphones at full volume, continuously, and streaming over Bluetooth. While this might not be the type of usage most consumers will undertake in their daily experiences, it allows us to provide a comparable baseline measurement for all headphones against what the companies claim. In other words, it provides a good example of the worst-case scenario you should expect from a set of headphones. In terms of the Cloud MIX, when used under these conditions the headphones provided exceptional battery life and lasted close to 21 hours. Again, considering this is at the highest volume possible (not the 50-percent level suggested by HyperX) and playing a wide range of music genres including heavy bass tracks, this is the absolute minimum you can expect from these headphones. Drop the volume lower and you will likely find that figure increasing, and quite likely by a significantly margin. Either way, drop the volume to the 50-percent level and it will easily eclipse the duration HyperX suggests.
The same goes for the performance in general as these were considered to be highly reliable headphones. During our extensive battery testing, the headphones proved to be solid in terms of maintaining a connection over Bluetooth. Dropped connections were never experienced and even trying to force one for the review proved more difficult than it should have been. These headphones run on Bluetooth 4.2 and HyperX defines the range as 10-meters. While that's a fairly common measurement for this type of headphones, using this Bluetooth version, that’s not to say all 10-meters are created equal. As some headphones can connect at that range but not reliably, while others connect and exceed that range without breaking a sweat. The Cloud MIX is an example of the latter with the 10-meter marker being easily and reliably achieved, resulting in the sparing of a few additional meters available when you need them. Just like the battery life, the Bluetooth range suggested by HyperX should be the minimum limit you can expect.
Summing up the Cloud MIX headphones is fairly easy to do. If you are gamer and looking for a solution just for gaming, then you are probably better off buying a different pair of headphones, including the other options from HyperX like the Cloud Alpha. If you are an average music listener looking for a new pair of Bluetooth headphones, then you will probably benefit more (and save some money) by buying a standard pair of Bluetooth headphones that do not come with features designed to appeal specifically to gamers. If, however, you happen to be a consumer that falls within the small range of people who are looking for a solution that can be used for gaming, and equally used when away from home (including for mobile gaming) then these really are the best option for you. Yes, at both extreme ends of the market they are not quite as good as other products that distinctly cater to those extreme ends, but they do perform very well in both segments and probably enough to satisfy most average users in the gaming and Bluetooth worlds. Put it this way, if you don't need the best in class for either listening experience then why bother buying two different sets of headphones when these will do the job of both to a good enough degree? In spite of the high price compared to other single headphone options, the Cloud MIX are also cheaper than buying two sets of suitable headphones.