Angry Miao is one of the most interesting companies in the boutique tech business. It made its name on the unconventional yet excellent Tesla-inspired Cyberboard mechanical keyboard (reviewed here) and its latest product is the last thing we have expected: true wireless earbuds. In true Angry Miao fashion, these earbuds are anything but conventional.
Today, we’re looking at the CYBERBLADE: a pair of true wireless earbuds that may just be the best you can buy for gaming and movies today. They’re inspired by Horizon: Zero Dawn, have a charging case that turns into a giant volume wheel, are far better for PC than standard Bluetooth (which they’re also good for), have active noise cancellation, and more processing power than any other set of buds in their class. They’re also expensive at $328 USD or $299 if you catch them early on Kickstarter.
Trust us: you haven’t seen anything like this before.
Angry Miao CYBERBLADE - What Is It?
True wireless earbuds are probably the last thing you think of when you think of a new gaming headset or pair of headphones for your PC. But that’s exactly what Angry Miao wants you to do.
The CYBERBLADE TWS earphones are multi-functional. You can take them on the go, but they really shine when you’re sitting at your PC. That’s because these buds work hand in hand with their case, and it’s good for far more than charging. If you’re on the move, they’ll connect to your smartphone or tablet with a strong, stable Bluetooth 5.2 connection. At your computer, however, that case becomes a transmitter.
No, scratch that. The case becomes an audio processor. And we mean that literally. The CYBERBLADE uses what Angry Miao calls a triple chip design. Each earbud has its own SoC, allowing it to connect and transmit audio. The third chip is built into the case itself, and when connected to your PC over USB, turns into an external DAC, processing and delivering all of your computer’s audio. Just as importantly, on PC, it puts Bluetooth to the side and forges its own wireless connection with the earbuds.
This setup, and the processing power within, is core to the CYBERBLADE experience. By acting as a transmitter, the buds are able to eliminate the wireless lag you’ll experience with other true wireless earbuds. The company quotes 30-40ms of input lag. For context, the AirPods Pro hover right around 200ms. You’re able to play any game, even fast-paced first person shooters, without any perceptible lag at all. The same applies to video. You can watch any movie, join any meeting, or work on any video project without seeing lips move out of sync with the audio.
Angry Miao calls this SuperFast and, indeed, compared to other true wireless earbuds, it is super fast.
The SoC in the case also allows AngryMiao to roll out its ASE technology. ASE stands for Active Sound Enhancement and works through a series of Boosters that enhance the earbuds’ performance for different types of content. These are, in essence, EQ profiles combined with filters and spatial audio algorithms. At launch, the earbuds come with a Gaming Boost, Movie Booster, and Music Booster, but the company plans to add more in the future. Here’s a brief rundown of each (and note, they all feature SuperFast low latency):
- Gaming Booster: Tuned for competitive games to draw out competitive audio cues like footsteps. There’s also a healthy bass boost for enhanced action and cinematic moments.
- Movie Booster: Tuned for immersive entertainment. Applies a virtual 7.1 surround sound effect based on HRTF (head related transfer function), and includes automatic gain compensation. This mode is also excellent for gaming.
- Music Booster: Fine-tuned EQ profile to bring out details and dynamics in music. The sound signature is much more balanced overall and definitely brings out more detail in music than either of the prior Boosters.
When connecting over Bluetooth, the buds will function like any other true wireless set. Audio processing is controlled without the benefit of the case’s additional chip. There is an app, though its functions are more limited and there are only three EQ profiles available to choose from. It includes standard functionality akin to most other earbuds, such as enabling active noise cancellation or transparency modes, and controlling the RGB built into the earbuds.
The case also offers another unique trick up its sleeve: it acts as a giant volume knob to control your system. When we first unboxed it, we were shocked at how large it was. The case itself is barely pocketable but it also comes with a full magnetic dock, complete with an illuminated, frosted plastic tilt base. When the charging case is drawn into its secure position on the dock, you’re able to freely spin the lid to adjust volume. Clicking and holding the lid also controls different functions, like muting audio, changing booster modes, and swapping between PC and Bluetooth connectivity on the fly.
The entire device is incredibly well designed. What first shocked us, quickly impressed us. The base is perfectly sized and weighted to stay in place on your desk. An illuminated ring around the charging cases’ lid changes colors to let you know what mode you’re in, brightness to tell your approximate volume at a glance, and flashes or turns off completely to let you know your connection status. There’s also a separate indicator LED to let you know your current change status.
The case can also connect to PS5, allowing you to use your earbuds for console gaming too. Do note, however, that controlling volume with the lid doesn’t work when connected this way.
But let’s get to the buds themselves, because they’re just as interesting. Starting with the design, they’re classically Angry Miao: unlike anything you’ve seen before — at least in the real world. The CYBERBLADE is actually modeled after the main character in Horizon: Zero Dawn’s earpiece. They’re available in white, black, or Dark Side. Take those last two colors with a grain of salt, however, as “black” is actually gunmetal gray with prism colored ear tips. Dark Side is true black with red lighting by default. Each bud has a single RGB strip built into it with multiple, miniature LEDs to create flowing colors. These lights, along with all of the lights in this set, can be turned off.
The buds follow a similar design to the bud and stem structure of AirPods. This works to its benefit in comfort and enabling a secure fit. I’ve worn the earbuds for multiple hours at a time and haven’t experienced any ear soreness or fatigue. Just as importantly, this design positions the microphones for the buds closer to the mouth for clearer calls and Discord chats with friends.
The buds are built with single 10mm dynamic drivers. The driver configuration is honestly less important here because of how much processing occurs on the case, but it does a good job of delivering everything from big, bombastic, cinematic surround sound to gentle audiophile-aimed acoustics on music tracks.
The CYBERBLADE also features active noise cancellation. Angry Miao uses a hybrid ANC model to effectively filter out “up to” 35dB of sound. The microphones pull double duty blocking out environmental noise while you’re on calls, so the person on the other end can hear you clearly even with surrounding noise. There’s also a transparency mode to reverse the microphones and let in the outside world.
Surprisingly, there are no touch controls on these earbuds. Instead, there is a single button on the right earbud. Since the case controls volume, you’ll be limited to track, noise cancellation, and call controls when connecting over Bluetooth.
If you do take the buds on the go or for some reason don’t want to use them with your PC where they will naturally recharge on the dock, you can count on six hours of battery life between charges. The case is also good for four recharges. This will, of course, depend on your listening volume and how often you use ANC but I found it to be a close estimate with ANC running nearly non-stop.
Before getting into performance, let’s recap. We have:
- A true combination gaming headset, true wireless earphone
- Dedicated modes for different types of content with unique features and/or tunings for each
- An innovative design that genuinely enhances your computing experience with by doubling as a volume knob
- Virtually no wireless lag
- Console support
- Active noise cancellation
- A unique design unlike any other true wireless earbud on the market today
It’s an impressive, if pricey, feature set and more than a little innovative.
Angry Miao CYBERBLADE - Performance
It’s clear that the CYBERBLADE makes a lot of promises with its feature set, so let’s get into the reality of how it performs.
The CYBERBLADE delivers where it matters most. These are, hands down, the best true wireless earbuds we’ve ever used on the PC. Angry Miao has nailed it.
The biggest wins here are the form factor and the low latency booster modes. The way the case transforms into a large volume knob that’s actually good is surprisingly fantastic. It essentially turns the case into a whole second peripheral. The only downside is that it doesn’t work if the earbuds are still in the case, so you can’t use it for volume with speakers or other peripherals.
The booster modes are also excellent. We were skeptical at first that these would be more than forgettable EQ presets like every other gaming headset, but they’re exceptionally well done. Not only does it make Bluetooth lag a thing of the past, but the tunings and features are actually well-suited to goal. The Gaming Booster enhances positionality and draws out important audio cues. The Movie Booster’s surround sound mode is actually immersive and doesn’t just rely on reverb to create its sense of space. The Music Booster is actually good for drawing out details in music and doesn’t just lean on a simple V-shaped EQ to boost the bass and highs.
I don’t know how they did it, but Angry Miao is out here giving lessons to peripheral brands that have been releasing headsets for decades.
And yes, even on their own, the headphones sound good. You can hear this plainly when connecting over Bluetooth where you don’t have access to these special modes. Instead, if you use the app, you get access to Soft, Vocal, and Bass presets. Each does its job, but these do fall closer to the presets we’re used on other true wireless earbuds, and unfortunately there’s no customizable EQ yet (but it’s on Angry Miao’s radar after launch).
With that in mind, these earbuds aren’t perfect and there are definitely some things to know before backing this project (which, to be clear, I think you should do). Starting with active noise cancellation, it works but still lets through a good amount of ambient noise, including droning sounds like fans (though the transparency mode is excellent). You won’t be tossing out your Sony or Bose earbuds for ANC alone any time soon.
The buds also lack customization options we would have expected at this price. The app is barebones, and the lack of a customizable EQ at launch means that some buyers will pick these up and may find that the tuning options aren’t their cup of tea. That’s going to sting at upwards of $300 retail. I also found it odd that the 7.1 surround sound mode is limited to the Movie Booster and isn’t available in the gaming mode. Presumably, many gamers would want this so its omission stands out (though, the Movie Mode is good enough that I often used it for gaming too).
We also experienced some quirks with the case mechanism itself. For example, if you spin the volume too fast, it sometimes gets confused and will start turning volume down when you meant to turn it up. Likewise, we found that we had to be especially careful when putting the charging case on its dock to be sure it was positioned correctly. The magnets pull it down well, but there are no guides to ensure it’s oriented correctly, so we often put it on the dock only to find we had to wiggle it to get it set correctly.
Microphone quality is also only okay. It will work fine for taking calls and talking to friends, but the noise cancellation made our vocals sound compressed in a way that wouldn’t work for streaming. The low latency wireless makes them great to use alongside a dedicated microphone, however, so you can leave the bulky headphones to the side.
Overall, the CYBERBLADE is a major win in functionality, sound quality, and performance. If we didn’t know better, we would have guessed Angry Miao had been releasing TWS earbuds all along. That this is a first generation product is both exciting and impressive.
The CYBERBLADE isn’t the product we expected Angry Miao to release next, but we’re so glad it did. These earbuds are beacons of innovation in a peripheral industry that desperately needs it. They don’t come cheap, but these are the first TWS earbuds that not only work on PC but excel at it, even over normal Bluetooth audio. The double-duty design of the charging also transformed it into a valuable part of our desktop setup. The CYBERBLADE isn’t without a few drawbacks, but it’s eminently impressive and are an all-in-one headphone solution in the truest sense of the word. They’re TWS earphones like no other and are well worth a closer look. Do that now at the official Kickstarter campaign.
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.