When it comes to gaming headsets, the last thing most of us think of are earbuds. Yet, with the success of the Nintendo Switch, mobile MMOs, and high-end game streaming, maybe it’s time we rethink that. Today, we’re looking at the brand new HyperX Cloud Earbuds. Do they live up to the reputation of their well-reviewed over-ears? Join us as we find out in this review.
- MSRP: $49.99
- Driver: Dynamic 14mm with neodymium magnets
- Frequency Response: 20Hz–20,000Hz
- Impedance: 65 Ohm
- Sound pressure level: 116dBSPL/mW at 1kHz
- T.H.D.: <2%
- Weight: 19g
- Cable type and length: 4 pole, 1.2m
- Element: Electret condenser microphone
- Polar pattern: Omni-directional
- Frequency response: 100Hz-6,300 Hz
- Sensitivity: -42dBV (0dB=1V/Pa,1kHz)
- Warranty: Two-year
When the news floated across my desk that HyperX was releasing a pair of earbuds with the Cloud branding, I have to admit: I was a bit surprised. The Cloud series has an iconic look and a reputation to match. As a critic, I have a responsibility to be objective, but I don’t think there’s been a Cloud headset I’ve used that I haven’t found impressive in some way. But earbuds… those are usually a whole different domain entirely.
At the same time, it’s the rare case where you’ll see me wearing an over-ear headset out of the house and even rarer for it to be a gaming headset. Having dedicated audio gear for my Switch and other mobile consoles is an appealing proposition if I don’t also have to get “headset head” in the process.
The Cloud Earbuds, though, come to market at $50. It’s an interesting asking price: more expensive than your average SkullCandys and less expensive than most mid-range gaming headsets. If that’s the case, they’d better offer more than those SkullCandy’s, no?
Well, they do. For starters, the drivers in each bud are a much larger 14mm, a full 56% larger than the drivers found in most Skullcandy headphones and even larger than some others. This allows for a much larger sound, which is great for making games sound full.
The earbuds also ship with three sets of fairly unique tips. Unlike many headphones, these aren’t designed to be pressed into your ear canal. They feature a longer, elliptical design with a rear wing that presses into the crease of your ear, keeping it in place. This also helps create a nice seal for sound isolation, which is great if you’re playing your Switch on a bus or on your lunch break.
How those tips attach is also interesting. Rather than stretch tightly over a stem, they fit more loosely but are held in place by the retention tab pictured above. When I first took it off, I was worried this would cause them to slip right off but they really don’t. To remove the tip, you have to pull it back fairly intentionally. Accidents could happen if it were snagged on something in a pocket but for the most part, this should keep your tips safe and sound.
Also in the box is a nice hard shell carrying case to store the earbuds when not in use. This was a nice touch and necessary too. The earbuds are plastic, like most at this price point, but feel even a bit more lightweight. Great for wearing, not so great if you should happen to sit on them.
Sliding down the wire, you’ll also find the in-line remote and mic. It’s a single button media control, so there won’t be any muting of your mic, but it’s a nice feature for multiplayer games and taking calls if you’re hooked up to your phone. I would have liked to see an in-line volume but what it lacks in controls, it makes up in microphone quality.
The Cloud Earbuds have one of the best in-line microphones I’ve heard this year. They’re clear, present, and don’t drop out the lower frequencies of your voice. That last point is especially noteworthy as that’s typically the first thing that occurs with in-line microphones and the resulting capture is much more natural as a result. It’s design does pick-up on a good amount of background noise but substantially less so than many music-based headphones, so it’s clear that HyperX has put a lot of consideration into their mic.
What it really comes down to is sound and here the Cloud Earbuds deliver. Those larger drivers deliver a wide, reverberant bass response that’s fantastic for gaming. They’re easily the better than any other earbuds I’ve used for gaming and, probably like most of you, I’ve tried a bunch over the years. For music, I prefer a bit more treble than these deliver out of the box, but they still deliver an entertaining soundscape that doesn’t distort even at higher volumes.
When it comes to my home setup, I won’t be leaving my over-ear headsets any time soon. For gaming on the go, however, the HyperX Cloud Earbuds are a quality option for delivering that full, bass-rich sound gamers crave without the headset hair to go with it.
- Large 14mm drivers
- Excellent in-line mic
- Well-tuned for gaming
- Comfortable tips that stay in your ears
- Included hardshell carrying case
- Lightweight plastic
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of review.