Gaming Headset Showdown: HyperX Cloud MIX Vs The Gauntlet
HyperX’s Bluetooth model takes on comparable models and its own family
When the HyperX Cloud MIX first launched a year ago, it carried the burden of being HyperX’s first “premium price point” headset.
It sat right at the top of a family of products traditionally known for offering great budget-conscious value, and said “No, I am more expensive and more stylish.”
At the time, ~$150 wireless gaming headsets were all the rage, and HyperX took a gamble that a $200 price point for a headset that was equal parts Bluetooth style headphone and gaming product would pay off.
A year later, the market is different.
The Cloud MIX no longer carries the banner as HyperX’s flagship. That burden is now on the shoulders of the excellent Cloud Orbit and Cloud Orbit S, priced around the $300 mark.
Gaming headsets have continued to pursue many different price points, but the $200 mark is still largely untouched, and Bluetooth support still isn’t that widespread.
Style headphones are most commonly priced at $300 or more, and even budget manufacturer Skullcandy has launched both the Crusher 360 and Crusher ANC at premium prices, somewhat ignoring the lower-end market that built their brand.
Below, the showdown gauntlet begins. First, a collection of various competing headsets and then direct comparisons to some of HyperX’s own lineup.
You can click the included links near the names of the other headsets to see my full review where applicable.
THE OUTSIDE MARKET
Cloud MIX Vs. Steelseries Arctis 3 Bluetooth (Review Here)
I’ve been a fan of the Arctis lineup since it launched a few years ago. It brought in a whole new take on headset design, speaker drivers and tuning that trickled down from a more expensive pair, and good value for the price.
The Arctis 3 Bluetooth offers an astounding number of features for its low $99 price. It has both wired and Bluetooth connection modes, just like the MIX. And unlike HyperX’s model, the Steelseries pair will play back both the wired and Bluetooth audio simultaneously.
Unlike the MIX, which features AptX and AAC, the codec situation in the Steelseries camp is super basic, with the Arctis 3 offering only standard SBC support.
The build quality of the Arctis 3 also isn’t as nice, with a broader use of plastic, a suspension headband design that might not be to everyone’s taste, and less memory foam used overall.
The Cloud MIX comes in at an undeniable price premium, and hopes its sleeker design, better codec support, and additional comfort will be enough to entice you. The included accessories package is nicer on the MIX, with good braided cables that won’t kink.
The MIX is also better for those that love a deep, accurate bass response, while the Arctis has a brighter profile overall.
I love getting a good deal, and it’s hard to outright say that you should spend $199 for the MIX instead of $99 for the Arctis 3 Bluetooth. They’re both good for different reasons.
The MIX is unquestionably better looking, and uses more premium materials, and it is definitely an upgrade all around in terms of luxury feel, but the lack of dual connection support might be a dealbreaker for your particular use case.
The Arctis 3’s battery also manages a little more playback time, rated at 24 hours compared to 20 on the MIX…
But the Arctis 3 isn’t as portable or light as the MIX, and doesn’t really look like a style headphone at all. So it’s going to be a bit of a toss-up depending on your personal tastes and whether or not your Bluetooth device supports AptX.
Winner: Arctis 3 for pure value, Cloud MIX if you need the most style and portability, and are concerned about codec support.
Cloud MIX Vs. Arctis Pro (Review Here)
You’ll have to step all the way up to the $329 Arctis Pro Wireless if you want an Arctis Pro model with Bluetooth support, and just like the cheaper Arctis 3 Bluetooth, it only supports SBC.
The Arctis Pro brings its build quality and comfort more in line with the Cloud MIX, with more metal used in the headband and thicker ear pads.
Sound-wise, the Arctis Pro is more balanced/flat than the Cloud MIX, which is slightly warmer and more “fun” to listen to.
Some users don’t like the self-noise that the Arctis Pro Wireless produces, and indeed I can hear a tiny bit of white noise/hissing when they’re powered on. Self-powered headphones often exhibit some kind of noise, but the floor for that sound on the Cloud MIX is lower, so it won’t be as much of an issue.
The Cloud MIX is much less bulky than the Arctis Pro, and easier to carry around. Its 20 hour battery lasts longer than the 10 hour swappable batteries in the Arctis Pro.
Winner: The Cloud MIX is a better Bluetooth headphone, no question.
Cloud MIX vs Turtle Beach Stealth 700 (Review Here)
The build quality of the Cloud MIX is comically better than the all-plastic build of the $149 Stealth 700, and if you’re hard on your gear, the extra money is absolutely worth it.
I really wish my Stealth 700 hadn’t shipped with a broken adjustment frame. The features package is great, with Active Noise Cancelling, SBC Bluetooth connection, a Wi-Fi Direct connection to the console on the Xbox One version, and multiple EQ presets.
But the Cloud MIX is more comfortable, with properly thick ear pads and better noise isolation.
A Stealth 700 with a metal headband would be a serious competitor for the Cloud MIX, and Turtle Beach should probably consider putting this feature set inside their Elite Atlas frame. They did recently launch the Elite Atlas Aero, a $149 model I hope to look at sometime soon, but although it features WavesNX 3D audio, it doesn’t match the Cloud MIX’s Bluetooth support.
HyperX undeniably wins at every price point on design and build compared to Turtle Beach, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. The Cloud MIX looks like a real style headphone, and the Turtle Beach model is toy-like by comparison.
Winner: Cloud MIX on style, build, and sound quality
Cloud MIX vs Bluetooth Style Headphones
I know that HyperX likes to market the Cloud MIX as a gaming headset that also happens to convert into a Bluetooth style headphone, and that’s fine.
With the new Rose Gold color on the market, it reads to me more as a mobile style headphone first that also happens to contain an entire Cloud Alpha inside its shrunk-down frame.
Against other Bluetooth non-gaming products in the $200 range, it does very well.
It’s more sleek and portable than the M50XBT(Review), and its warm sound is right in line with typical consumer tunings. It’s better-built than Skullcandy’s newest offerings. It doesn’t have the noise cancelling of the Sony WH-CH700N(Review), but it has comparable audio quality and better materials in the frame.
Best Buy could shelve the Cloud MIX next to other $200 Bluetooth headphones and I wouldn’t bat an eye.
It stands toe-to-toe with many of them, and has exactly the right feature set for that sort of product. That it also happens to contain a nice wired gaming headset is just icing on the cake.
If you’re primarily a mobile phone/laptop listener looking for a good, small, stylish Bluetooth headphone, the Cloud MIX is a great choice.
THE HYPERX FAMILY
Cloud MIX vs Cloud Alpha (Review Here)
The Cloud MIX’s wired gaming headset mode is essentially, feature-for-feature, identical to the $99 Cloud Alpha.
The $100 price disparity between the Alpha and the MIX is the major reason that reviewers questioned the price point of the Bluetooth version a year ago, myself included.
On the surface, it seems weird to pay $100 more for a sleeker Alpha that also has Bluetooth support.
But from a different perspective, you could say “Well, they spent a lot of engineering time to replicate the Alpha’s performance in a smaller, optionally wireless package that’s still comfortable. It’s more stylish. It’s more portable. It’s much lighter. And it offers good modern codec support.” All of these things are true.
Whether those things are worth $100 or not is the tricky thing, and I think that’s up to each person’s tastes to answer. I can’t jump inside your head to figure out how you use your gear.
If you’re mainly after a wired gaming headset, the Alpha is the clear choice. Its larger pads will fit more heads better (though I have no issues with fit on the MIX), and its price point is still very compelling years after release.
Both headsets sound largely the same, with the Cloud MIX offering just a touch more bass that’s good for portable use scenarios. Both have a similar microphone. And both use the same detachable cable system, so if you end up owning both you can swap the cables if you need to for some reason.
If you’re frequently using your headset on the go, the lighter frame of the Cloud MIX might make it worth the premium it to you, whether you go wired or wireless.
It’s the most “cloudy” of the entire family, and I think that’s more of a strength than a lot of folks gave it credit for last year. Myself included.
Winner: Cloud Alpha for those that don’t plan to use Bluetooth extensively
Cloud MIX vs Cloud Alpha S(Review Here)
This is an even tougher choice than the one above. The $130 Cloud Alpha S is incredibly compelling, featuring improved comfort over the original model, fun bass adjustment sliders, and a new surround dongle that features a new original surround system from HyperX.
These are targeting two different sorts of users. Do you use your headphones out and about a lot, but also game at home? Then the Cloud MIX’s light weight, style, and Bluetooth make it a better choice.
Are you a fan of bass and virtual surround sound who primarily games at home? Then the Cloud Alpha S is a wonderful choice, and you won’t mind its criminally short cable as much.
If HyperX were to launch a “premium” version of the Cloud MIX (maybe called the Cloud MIX S?) in a new series of fun colors in the future, with a built-in EQ using the existing amp circuitry, and they also included the surround dongle from the Alpha S…I’d personally buy one immediately.
Winner: Cloud Alpha S for home users, Cloud MIX for frequent portable users.
Cloud MIX vs Cloud Flight (Review Here)
If your aim is to game wirelessly, the Cloud Flight is a better choice than the MIX thanks to its 2.4ghz receiver.
Bluetooth, even when paired with the AptX Low Latency codec, has never been the absolute best choice for gaming. For the most immersive gamplay, you want the sound to get to your ears as fast as possible, and the receiver on the Flight does a great job of that.
The Flight also has a more balanced sound profile than the warmer Cloud MIX. That’s not at all a slight against the sound quality of the MIX, but if you’re a real detail-hound or you’re not as into hard-hitting bass, the Cloud Flight will probably sound better to you.
As far as portable use goes, the Cloud MIX’s small frame still takes the win, just like in every other comparison here. The Flight’s ear cups rotate flat, but don’t collapse, and it’s almost as bulky as the Cloud Orbit.
The only thing that frustrates me to this day about the Cloud Flight is that the microphone doesn’t work in the optional wired mode, meaning that you can only use the mic on a PS4 or PC with the wireless connection.
The Cloud MIX has no such mic problems, allowing you to use its boom mic in both wired and Bluetooth mode, and including a second microphone built in to the ear cup if you need to take a call without the boom.
Winner: Cloud Flight for audiophiles and the lag-sensitive, Cloud MIX for Xbox gamers that want to use a mic. :)
Cloud MIX vs Cloud Orbit (Review Here)
Save for lack of Bluetooth support, the ~$300 Cloud Orbit is better in almost every way than the Cloud MIX.
As it should be!
The Orbit sounds better thanks to its planar drivers, offers a variety of EQ modes, has better ear pads, and has full 3D sound thanks to WavesNX support.
Its only “failings,” as far is this comparison is concerned, are in the design and build departments. The Orbit is a bulkier headset with more plastic used in its frame, and it’s not as portable-friendly as the MIX.
Still, the Orbit is a true flagship gaming product, taking that mantle away from the MIX and allowing it to instead be HyperX’s fun, compact Beats competitor.
Winner: Cloud Orbit
Style, portability, and design matter in headphones. This is a thing you’re going to touch all the time, and put on your head.
In that area, the Cloud MIX really shines. It’s built from solid materials. It’s stylish. It’s small and light, and very comfortable to wear for long sessions.
It’s not as cheap as some other gaming products. It doesn’t offer a dedicated 2.4ghz gaming connection. It doesn’t include extra ear pads or a surround dongle.
But it holds its own against other comparably-priced Bluetooth headphones, and contains the performance of the Cloud Alpha, a well-regarded gaming headset, within a more compact frame.
When it first launched and was inadvertently HyperX’s new flagship, I didn’t get it.
It didn’t offer the same sort of value as other HyperX products, and seemed almost like a spin-off from the family.
Now, it’s no longer the top-end product in the line, and no one else in the gaming headset space offers this level of performance in such a tiny frame.
If you’re looking for a stylish Bluetooth headphone to use with your phone and laptop, and you’re also a console or PC gamer, then the Cloud MIX is a wonderful choice. It sits right between those two market segments, and as such somewhat defies the traditional apples-to-apples comparisons so common in gaming headset reviews.
Purely as a gaming headset, it falters a little bit on raw value compared to the cheaper Alpha. But considered as a portable style headphone it wins those points back.