HyperX has distilled some of its gaming headset know-how into a much more portable form factor: a set of wireless earbuds called the Cloud Mix Buds. These $149.99 earbuds largely replicate the standard features of over-ear gaming headphones, at least in terms of connectivity. They include a 2.4GHz USB-C transmitter that lets them pair to a PC, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, or an Android phone. They can also be paired to your phone or another device via Bluetooth.
I’ve spent a couple of weeks testing out the Cloud Mix Buds, both as my primary gaming headset and earbuds. Sound quality and battery life are two things that HyperX nailed with these. But even with those wins, there are key areas where the company fumbled, like comfort, fit (both of which HyperX usually gets right), and glitchy touch controls. In this case, the convenience of having one set of earbuds that works with everything doesn’t outweigh the cons.
In terms of features, HyperX leaned more on the side of competing directly against other earbuds, not against headsets. As such, the Cloud Mix Buds offer a limited set of functions compared to the company’s gaming headsets. Each bud supports touch controls. One tap plays or pauses music, while double or triple tapping skips or reverses the track, respectively. Tapping and holding will put the buds on mute. Each bud can be used independently, which is nice if you want to keep an ear open to hear outside noises. And within the companion app, which I’ve tried on iOS (it’s coming to Android within a few days after launch, HyperX says), you can set one of its customizable commands to trigger a voice assistant.
Each earbud has a 12mm dynamic driver, which sounds great with games, Zoom calls, music, and more. There’s more than enough bass and power to make me feel like I’m not really missing out on much from an over-ear headset. These don’t offer active noise cancellation, but they offer better-than-average noise isolation even without it. Back in 2020, I complained that the mics on EPOS’s GTW 270 (very similar in execution to the Cloud Mix Buds) didn’t work when connected to its USB-C transmitter, but that’s not a problem here; the mics work over both USB-C and Bluetooth. Good job, HyperX.
As for battery life, HyperX claims that its buds and the charging case offer up to 33 hours of combined use in Bluetooth mode, and I’ve used these buds on five-hour sprints without having to recharge. The company says they can be used for up to 10 hours on a single charge in Bluetooth mode or up to six hours via the USB-C transmitter.
The tiny, clever transmitter has a button to toggle between the wireless modes (they can’t be used simultaneously). Pressing it puts the buds’ microphones on mute, but holding it swaps connections. There’s a USB-A extender included that makes it easier to keep the transmitter within reach.
Even with those big wins, a few negatives tanked my enthusiasm. These might be obvious omissions to some, but compared to other gaming headsets, they don’t offer volume controls, nor do they offer a means to adjust the game and chat audio mix, which is important for gaming and general use alike. And if you want to use them more often as on-the-go earbuds, you should know that these are a bit bulkier than your average set of earbuds.
While I found a good fit with one of the three included sets of silicone ear tips, the Cloud Mix Buds still slipped out of my ears whenever I’d talk, smile, or eat something. This might not happen to everyone, but it was a total mood-killer for me during multiplayer chat or during a video call. Also, comfort was an issue after only an hour of use. This is another “your mileage may vary” situation, but they felt a little too large to nest comfortably within my outer ear area, resulting in discomfort verging on mild pain after some time.
One other big issue with the buds was that music would occasionally play or pause automatically, seemingly due to an issue with their touch sensitivity. This happens more when I talk or when I’m making movements that shift the buds’ seating in my ears. Even chewing on some gum was enough to set it off. HyperX told me that it was aware of this issue and that it would make the fix to their firmware before launch. Connecting them to the company’s Ngenuity iOS app didn’t initiate a firmware update, so it seems that fix isn’t ready yet.
Like most earbuds, it’s better if you can try these out before committing to a purchase. That’s a little less feasible with earbuds like these versus larger brands, and I wish that my recommendation of the Cloud Mix Buds wasn’t gated behind a warning that you might encounter some of the same comfort and bug issues that I did. Even if HyperX can fix the annoying glitch that automatically plays and pauses music, I don’t suggest that people spend $150 on earbuds that feel this unrefined in terms of comfort and fit. Even though they aren’t as portable, you can spend less and get more for your money with one of these over-ear, wireless gaming headsets.
Photography by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge
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