(Pocket-lint) – It still baffles us that there aren’t more gaming earbuds from well-known brands out there – true wireless options that could act as a one-stop shop for your audio needs if you’re a gamer.
The likes of EPOS’ GTW 270 have shown that good wireless earbud audio can work for gaming, but often lack some key features that make them non-starters. Can HyperX reverse that trend with the Cloud Mix Buds?
The HyperX Cloud Mix Buds have us a little conflicted – we love the idea they represent, that your earbuds should be able to work not just for your music and calls, but also for your console and PC gaming.
In some moments, too, they fully deliver on that promise, with connectivity to our PS5 that made them feel like true all-rounders. However, there are just enough limitations, and the process of switching devices is just manual enough, that they still feel like they’re short of the final article.
The reality is that we’ll be sticking with our AirPods Pro for phone use, and a headset for console gaming. But if you’re keen to slim down your array of audio gadgets, though, there’s definitely plenty to like here.
- Solid sound
- Nice case
- Good connectivity
- Case grip collects lint
- Won’t work on Xbox
- Available only in black
- Case comes with extra protector to house USB-C dongle
HyperX has played it pretty safe with the look and feel of the Cloud Mix Buds, which is easy enough to do given how standardised many earbud designs are at this point.
You get a slim, wide black case that’s shallower but also longer than most, and a pair of earbuds that could be AirPods Pro painted black (if they were a little blockier and less refined).
With a few earbud tips to choose from, we didn’t have much difficulty getting a comfortable fit with the Cloud Mix Buds, and they remained comfortable for long periods. That said, they’re on the chunkier end of earbuds in terms of your outer ear, so your mileage may vary.
Unlike most earbuds, the Cloud Mix Buds come with some noteworthy extras, though. For one thing, there’s a USB-C dongle that can plug into your PC, Switch or PlayStation console for a quick connection. It’s really small and light, which is great for skipping on clutter but does make it easy to lose.
HyperX has thought of this, though – the Cloud Mix Buds come with a rubbery sleeve that you can house the case in, and there’s a crevice you can store the USB-C dongle when it’s not in use, plugged into the case itself.
This is a really nice idea and it’s executed okay, but has some downsides. For one, it makes the case a lot bulkier when you use it, and the sleeve’s material is also a magnet for dirt and lint, making it feel distinctly less premium.
There are some clear refinements that could be made in a subsequent version, we think, but that doesn’t mean the overall picture is anything other than solid here – the Cloud Mix Buds are decently made and match their budget well.
The headline good news is that HyperX has managed to fit in some very creditable sound performance into the Cloud Mix Buds, something we tested in two main capacities. First, we used them for a while like normal wireless earbuds.
Listening to music, watching videos and taking calls, they were a solid companion to our phone that didn’t wow us in any one regard but returned solid results as far as bass, detail and clarity were all concerned.
There’s no active noise-cancelling here, though, so they were a little out of their depth when we travelled by train or walked along a busy street, but that’s somewhat made up for by the other features they offer, in our mind.
Namely, while the Bluetooth experience is solid, using the UCB-C dongle gets you a quicker, more responsive connection that will also work with consoles. While some, like the Switch, do have Bluetooth connectivity, this dongle offers something much closer to a true headset experience.
Used with games, the sound quality on offer is similarly impressive, in short, with a nice sense of balance to it but enough oomph to make for impactful moments if you’re playing Warzone 2.0 and a grenade goes off at your feet, for example.
Battery life and features
- 10 hours Bluetooth, six hours using dongle
- 33 hours in total including charging case
- Limited touch controls
The battery life situation is very solid for the Cloud Mix Buds, albeit a little more complicated than usual due to the dongle’s second connection option. In Bluetooth mode, 10 hours is actually better than most mainstream buds on a single charge.
The six hours they manage when using the dongle is more normal, and represents a pretty even performance. That said, you’re partly coming to these earbuds for their adaptability – if you were to pick up a pure gaming headset, you can easily find one that has dozens and dozens of hours of batter life for a similar price.
You’d be missing out on the convenience of a device that can do both, though, so we can very much see the argument for the Cloud Mix Buds if you literally want a single audio product for all your likely uses.
Using the earbuds is relatively straightforward, although the touch controls on each earbud are far from the best we’ve used. They’re a little over-sensitive at times, but also limited in what they can do, with no volume controls to speak of.
Compared to a gaming headset this is pretty underwhelming, but the size of an earbud does mean this might be a necessary and unavoidable sacrifice. There’s nowhere for a volume dial or voice-chat level adjuster to go, after all.
It’s an interesting experience, then, having earbuds that can theoretically do it all – but you do have to prepare yourself for slightly more hassle in each use case than a more dedicated product would offer. That might mean remembering to unplug the dongle so they don’t automatically connect to your PS5 instead of your phone, or using your controller to adjust the microphone level instead of a shortcut on your earbuds.
Speaking of the microphone situation, you’ll sound pretty clear through the Cloud Mix Buds regardless of whether you’re on a phone call or in a voice chat, which is handy to be able to rely on. It doesn’t match a good headset microphone but the beamforming here is decent enough.
HyperX is on to something here – finally, a set of earbuds that works with consoles and PCs as well as your phone, with sound quality that’s genuinely creditable. They’re still perhaps a little niche, but we think there’s a lot potential here.
Writing by Max Freeman-Mills. Editing by Verity Burns.