The HyperX Cloud Mix is A Bit Too Expensive
Value leader HyperX makes a gutsy move into the premium wireless headphone market.
EDIT/UPDATE (10/21/2019): I eventually reviewed the launch version of this headset last year and I really liked it (Read it here!)…but I still thought the price point was a touch high. It’s a good product that I still think is just a little bit over a brilliant price sweet spot.
In a world where the only competition is standard headphones, the $199 price point of the HyperX Cloud Mix doesn’t look too bad. In a vacuum, getting a bluetooth headphone with a wired hi-res mode and a bonus gaming boom mic for under $200 isn’t so unreasonable.
Unfortunately for HyperX, the gaming headset market exists and is aggressively competitive, and already offers other options that do the same or more…for less money.
So this price is certainly a gamble.
It’s strange to see HyperX on the back foot, value-wise.
This is the second time I’ve felt this way, after their recent release of the $159 Cloud Flight (read my review here) came in at 10 dollars above the average for competing headsets.
UPDATE: That was only further complicated by the release of the exceptional Cloud Stinger Wireless.
The company is usually so good at offering extreme value for the money, and indeed, many of their other products still do, whether you’re looking at the bottom or the top end of their lineup.
You’ve got a couple of other options for Bluetooth/Gaming headset combos under the price of the Mix.
The $99 Arctis 3 Bluetooth matches the Cloud Mix feature-for-feature at half the price.
It’s not built quite as well. It doesn’t isolate as well. But it will mix audio from the wired and wireless sources, making it perfect for playing a game while listening to music or a call on your phone.
And the plastic nightmare of the Turtle Beach Stealth 700, even though it doesn’t have the world’s most robust build quality, also offers a comparable feature set to the Cloud Mix for $149…and then goes for it by also including noise cancelling and low latency direct-to-console connections.
“But what about the hi-res drivers Alex? Surely they’re going after the Arctis Pro wireless?”
Perhaps. But hi-res audio is sometimes a bit daft. It’s turned from a useful tool in the production space into a marketing trick to sell you a new thing. And even now, cleaning up this article months later, there aren’t any current games on the market that natively support hi-res audio. The launch of the new consoles next year might change that, but right now it’s a waiting game.
Also, those Arctis Pro models offer more in the features department. Yes, the GameDAC and Wireless variants are a fair bit more expensive, but their exceptional audio processors offer all kinds of connectivity options you don’t get with the Cloud Mix, and even the base $179 version offers a decent DAC and RGB lighting options.
Fundamentally, the Cloud Mix is a Cloud Alpha with added Bluetooth support. In a vacuum, that’s a really exciting sentence to me! It’s a wondeful product, but not HyperX’s most competitive one.
And the price premium over the wired model is a bit higher than the typical wired/wireless ratio.
The exceptional Cloud Alpha is $99, or $129 for the surround model.
There’s a couple of ways they could improve this and make the Cloud Mix the only headset I’d ever recommend.
Given HyperX’s excellent prior track record as a value leader, if the Cloud Mix also included the wireless dongle of the Cloud Flight, the price would make much more sense and their position would be nigh-unassailable.
2.4ghz USB dongles are often used on gaming headsets because they provide a much lower latency connection than what typical Bluetooth provides, and offer easy native support for all Windows, Mac, and PS4 machines.
Bluetooth isn’t a super great option for gaming, and I don’t know that it ever will be.
Most modern implementations prioritize audio quality over the hyper-fast latency that games and even movie soundtracks require. Not that long ago, it wasn’t common to experience sync drift with Bluetooth audio connections. They’re best suited to music even today.
Failing a dongle, if HyperX had priced this headset at $179, I wouldn’t have even written this article. $50-$80 for Bluetooth is a premium much more in line with the market standard…though they’d still have that Arctis 3 Bluetooth’s $99 price point to contend with.
I respect that HyperX is trying to cover a wider gamut with their products. But the premium headphone market is a challenging space.
The marketing blast for the Cloud Mix did include numerous deals with game streamers and influencers, who all tweeted and instagrammed about their new exciting awesome HyperX headsets within minutes of each other.
I still prefer that kind of marketing to the weird elitism of Sennheiser’s recent campaign, but I think it would be even better if someone tried to blend the famous people and the technical aspects of the product into one campaign.
It’s fine if you’d like to buy something based on its brand alone. I’m not going to judge you for that. That’s a totally viable marketing strategy that’s worked for many companies in the past. But many of HyperX’s other products offer more incredible value for the money.
I’ve never felt more like a HyperX product ignored their competitor’s pricing structures…or even their own pricing structures.
It’s true that the $200 price point for gaming headsets is still largely untapped, so perhaps they were trying to carve out a new niche there. In the year since launch, only the Corsair Virtuoso has really gone for this price, and I commend the Mix for at least fitting my head.
Fortunately, the headset goes on sale somewhat regularly, and again, in a vacuum I don’t think it’s a bad product. But at a slightly cheaper price it would top my recommendations lists instead of merely being present in the middle of them.