There’s something so nice about putting on a pair of headphones and getting that feeling of the world fading away, leaving only music or the chatter of a podcast or the ambient noises of some fantasy world. It’s comforting, like being swaddled in a blanket while you shoot stuff in the face. What I’m getting at here is that I have the HyperX Cloud Mix headset to review, so lets talk sound.
Compared to the HyperX Cloud headphones the Cloud Mix goes for a more subdued style that fits in with the idea that it’s good for both gaming and listening to music on the go. There are no bright LEDs threatening to blind anyone who looks in your general direction, and no random coloured accents. Overall, I really like the Cloud Mix’s slightly chunky look. It’s something I can play games with, but wouldn’t feel like an idiotic for wearing out and about. It’s only blemish is the overly large HyperX logos plastered on the earcups which I would like to have done in a glossy black or something so that it blended in more with the rest of the headset.
It’s reasonably comfortable on the old noggin, too. A generous amount of headband padding, the light weight (265g) and a nicely judged amount of pinch meant that even after a few hours the headset still felt good on my head. There’s plenty of padding on the earcups, too, although personally I did feel that the earcups were a bit small.
For a headset that is designed to be taken out into the wild lands known as civilization it’s a little odd that the earcups don’t rotate around to rest flat on your collarbone. Instead, they sort of strangle you gently, like someone with a fetish who doesn’t want to scare away the person in bed with them. Ahem. Having the Cloud Mix resting around my neck was uncomfortable, is what I’m attempting to say, and turning your head becomes nearly impossible.
The build quality is definitely a positive here. The headset is flexible yet shows no sign of weakness, nor will it creak and moan when stretched out. The HyperX Cloud Mix feels like a premium product, exactly what you want from something that boasts such a big price tag.
All the cables are of the braided variety, but they aren’t too thick with plenty of flexible, so they don’t tend to bunch up awkwardly like other braided cables can. However, there is a problem with reverberation through the ear cubs when the cable slides along something. For example, when gaming I’d frequently hear the cable shifting on my hoodie’s zip, sending an irritating noise up the cable and straight into my ear.
Moving onwards, first up is the Bluetooth connection using version 4.2. Powering up the headset is as easy as holding down the power button, whereupon a pleasant voice tells you how much battery life is left. HyperX claims that the Cloud Mix will last 20-hours on a full charge and so far I’d say that’s pretty accurate. Not too shabby. And it can be recharged using the included USB cable, although sadly it isn’t USB type-C.
Once paired you can use the controls located on the right earcup to adjust volume, answer calls and control your media. These buttons are easy to find and use despite being reasonably small and innocuous, and my only disappointment with them is that they don’t work when the headset is wired. Instead, you have to swap over to a little control module on the wire made of a cheap feeling plastic.
Since the Cloud Mix does support Bluetooth you can hook it up to a PC if you want. Of course, your PC or laptop does need to have inbuilt Bluetooth for this to work. Considering the hefty price tag on the Cloud Mix I feel like HyperX missed a beat by not including a Bluetooth adapter in the box for even more flexibility.
When using the Bluetooth mode the included boom mic doesn’t work so you have to rely on a second, built-in microphone which is considerably worse. While it is usable, the voice quality over the built-in mic is crackly and lacking in definition. If you’re in a noisy environment, such as out on a windy day, then things become worse.
Annoyingly, the Cloud Mix will also only pair with a single device, so if you want to swap from your tablet to your phone or anything like that you need to pair it once again. Of course, this doesn’t take long but it’s still frustrating and not really what you expect from a premium headset.
For the wired connection you get a 5ft (1.52 m) long male to male cable, and a second 5ft (1.52 m) cable but this time with male to female connections and the inline control module. As you would imagine wired mode is compatible with anything that has a standard 3.5 mm audio connection, letting you plug the Cloud Mix into phones, tablets, PCs and consoles. Basically, anything with a hole is fair game. Except that. Get your freaking mind out of the gutter. Jeez.
So lets get down to that all important sound quality. The Cloud Mix proudly boasts a Hi-Res audio sticker on the front of the box which means the headset is capable of handing audio up to 40,000Hz, meaning you can really do justice to your 24-bit/96KHz lossless music collection. Right? Yeah, even as a music-loving drummer I don’t have a hi-res music collection, and most streaming services that people use don’t offer that option. Nor do games typically support the format, either. In other words, for the vast, vast majority of people out there this Hi-Res official certification means absolutely nothing. Worse, it seems to be a thing headphone developers are using to bump up the asking price.
The Cloud Mix uses HyperX’s dual-chamber design that apparently allows the headset to separate the low-end bass from the mids and highs. According to HyperX this should allow for much less distortion.
Starting with the bass there’s a bit of enhancement at play adding some extra oomph in explosions, which naturally fits with gaming and action movies where big bangs are aplenty. These certainly aren’t the most bass-heavy of headsets which could potentially be a deal-breaker for people who love their low-down thump, though. The lows and mids feel warm with plenty of detail, while the highs sound reasonably crisp, especially listening to some tasty cymbals whose metallic song shimmers just like it should. I felt like I was picking up a slight dip in the highs, though, which gives the Cloud Mix a modern feel, and they didn’t have the richness of sound that I look for in an expensive headset. That’s fine for the most part in games and movies but it was most noticeable in those layered songs where the sound really needs depth.
Basically, I’d describe the Cloud Mix as having good sound overall with a reasonably open sound-stage, especially for being closed-back. I had no trouble picking out footsteps or the distinct chatter of a machine gun even if the positional audio wasn’t able to match other headsets I’ve tested, while the low down booms of explosions, thunder and shotguns packed a pleasant punch. During testing I played a lot of The Division 2 which features some superb sound design when it comes to gunfire and just general ambient audio. Hooked up to my Sennheiser external AMP and DAC (you can read my review of that here) the headset sounded great, but even without that bit of kit helping them along the Cloud Mix’s performed well.
The Bluetooth audio fares well, the 4.2 connection managing to retain an impressive amount of the sound quality. Sure, there’s a drop because ultimately wireless can’t fully compete with wireless yet, but for some casual music or podcast listening the Cloud Mix was great.
As for the detachable boom mic it also left me quite impressed. My voice came through clear and unlike a lot of other headsets it didn’t sound like a chunk of my voice at the low or high end was missing. It does a good job of cancelling outside noises, too, so none of my friends noticed my mechanical keyboard or even my crazy German Shepard doing important dog stuff. The only disappointment is that HyperX still aren’t going with the retractable mic design that other companies have switched over to, so losing the mic is a possibility if you’re a forgetful twit like I am.
Weirdly it feels like HyperX are trying to compete with themselves as they also sell the Cloud S, a wired and wireless headset that connects to PC via an included USB adapter. Now, it doesn’t offer Bluetooth support, but the Cloud Mix doesn’t offer wireless to a PC out of the box, either. Offering the Cloud Mix at roughly the same price would have been a smart choice because customers could pick whichever headset suited them more.
Ultimately the Cloud Mix is a good all-round headset that boasts nice connectivity, a stylish aesthetic and feel comfortable to wear. However, with a £200 price tag that would send many people screaming for the hills I’m not sure being good or even really good is enough. With an included Bluetooth adapter and a £125-150 RRP the Cloud Mix would have hit the sweet spot, I reckon. Still, if you’re looking for something you can listen to music with on the bus then plug in for some gaming time at home that sounds good then the Cloud Mix might be for you. Even if it does stop you from being able to turn your neck.