It’s rapidly approaching 20 years since SteelSeries announced the world’s first gaming headset back in 2005. As things moved on, we started to see wireless gaming earbuds on the market. We know that gamers have a much higher demand for low latency, high mic clarity, and directional sound when they talk about gaming headsets. All of that motivates Bluetooth technology to keep improving signal transmission between the host and the earpiece so that it finally becomes ‘usable’ to gamers with high demand.
Back in December 2022, I was invited to experience the latest wireless earbuds from HyperX and share some thoughts. It actually turns out to be a considerably decent option as gaming earbuds in 2023. There are things the company has done quite right to make Cloud MIX Buds good, and also things that could have been improved to make them even better.
This was something beyond my expectation when I open the box. We have the HyperX Cloud MIX Buds retail packaging on the left-hand side, a nice cleaning tool, and…elf ears!
I am a big fan of simple design, and I quite appreciated that HyperX adopts this philosophy into the packaging for this product. The MIX Buds are well presented in the box. The charging case is oval in shape, which feels pretty good when holding on hand. While you cannot place it straight up on a desk because of the shape, HyperX has included a case holder made of silicone to help achieve the task. Beneath the charging case is the USB-C adapter used for devices that do not have Bluetooth. There is a 2-metre USB-A to USB-C charging cable. To me, this is the perfect length for a USB cable, and it’s good quality.
The MIX Buds are seeming to have quite a comfy design for ears. I have asked a few people around and tried to fit it into their ears. Surprisingly, all of them claimed that it is very easy to wear, and they were happy to give it “very comfortable” as feedback.
NGENUITY on iOS and Android
In the scene of PC gaming, HyperX offers a dedicated software named “NGENUITY” which appears to be a game changer when used with keyboards, mice and headsets. On mobile devices, there is an application sharing the same name, however, only designed for the single purpose of providing support for the HyerpX Cloud MIX Buds.
I did notice the iOS version actually offers one more feature that’s missing from Android, the Equalizer customization. NGENUITY on Android offers two preset EQs and that is it, no more, no less. While on iPhone, when you click on one of the two ‘Default EQs’, it will take you to a new screen and provides an option to create your own EQ settings. It seems the NGENUITY has different App versions for iOS and Android and, the former has a much higher version number than the latter. Hopefully, the HyperX team could provide an update for the Android community and bring us a unified user experience regardless of the mobile operating system.
I had a few hiccups when pairing the earbuds with my Pixel 6 for the first time, but nothing major. After a successful pairing, NGENUITY kept saying it couldn’t find the MIX Buds. I was actually using them for music at the time. Close and re-open the app resolves the problem for me. I was curious whether there is going to be a different experience when using an iPhone. After a quick test, it appears that fate is fair. I replicated the same software issue using an iPhone 11 with little effort. Same as Android, re-opening the app makes the error message go away. Yes, this is not a biggie, but it also shouldn’t require users to take extra steps just to complete pairing, isn’t it? The user experience could have been improved if they had polished the software with a bit more attention to the details before releasing it.
All platforms are covered, almost.
What I liked about the connectivity of MIX Buds are the options it gives you. From my recollection, these gaming earbuds are the first pair that you can connect via USB-C. It greatly expands the use case scenarios and allows us to enjoy the earbuds on various devices. Because these are paired with the USB dongle in this method, it would save you time to pair them again when going from one console to another. There is a USB-A adapter in the box to cover the devices that do not come with Type-C ports. There is one thing that I couldn’t figure out, though. While the Cloud MIX Buds is able to work on most major platforms, it doesn’t connect to XBOX consoles. Personally, it doesn’t bother me since I am not an XBOX player, at all. It just doesn’t make sense that the product is compatible with Windows, Mac, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, Android and iOS, the majority of devices available today, but XBOX is omitted. Why?
In terms of sound quality, it is good for the price. HyperX chooses to tweak the sound profile for Cloud MIX buds in a conservative way. There is a good balance between bass and treble, and the vocals are quite clear. I understand this is not an audiophile headset. For its design purposes, they did a good job. I really hope that the development team could refine the equalizer setting in NGENUITY, or bring in the option for Android phones at least so people can make better use of the companion app.
I have used them to make a few phone calls, both as a caller and a receiver. In short, the Cloud MIX buds met my expectations in general. For a longer version, the Cloud MIX buds sit in between an above-average Huawei Freebuds 4i and a top-tier Pixel Buds Pro. When making a phone call, the MIX buds don’t seem to be able to collect voice crisp and clear. But don’t get me wrong, though. They absolutely are doing a good job when used for making a phone call, but it would be unrealistic to expect them to have the same level of performance as those higher-end products. However, seeing the comparison will at least give you a rough idea of where they sit.
For wireless headphones, battery life is another key factor that needs to be taken into account. HyperX claims to provide 33 hrs of playing in total. I can confirm it through my experience. I was able to achieve 8 to 9.5 hours after a single charge. It all depends on how you use it, and what loudness you set it to. For battery life, it is on par with my daily Pixel Buds Pro, and I am quite happy with this result, considering the difference in the price tag.
HyperX Cloud MIX Buds are available from HP Store Australia at AU$199.00. This may not an easy choice for some people who just simply want to try them. With a bit of digging, it seems some retailers are currently running a promotional sale for this product. You can buy them for AU$ 169 from Harvey Norman. Alternatively, MightyApe is selling them for AU$ 178 but there will be a shipping cost.
Pros and Cons
- Comfortable to wear
- The compact design of the charging case
- Options for connectivity
- Battery life
- Only supports SBC Codec
- User experience of NGENUITY
- XBOX consoles not supported
You get different answers when asking different people. For me, it was difficult to find a perfect use-case scenario for these gaming earbuds. However, this is because I hardly ever use headsets when gaming. I see good, above-average craftsmanship in Cloud MIX Buds. These were able to provide a stable performance across my experience. Considering these are the first gaming earbuds from HyperX, it is reasonable to say there is room for improvement. As the first attempt, Cloud MIX Buds certainly reach goals to a degree. The rest would be left with the market for comment in the longer term. If you are looking for gaming earbuds from a reputational brand and are keen on playing with new gadgets, give them a chance.