HyperX Cloud Earbuds for Nintendo Switch - Review
Kingston Technology is a massive company best known for their PC components, and specifically anything memory-related. I’m personally most familiar with them for their high-performance RAM but they also play a lot in the solid state memory and solid state drive categories. The company has revenues of over ten billion dollars annually, demonstrating its position in a competitive market. HyperX is its gaming division, well-known amongst serious players and a big sponsor of eSports, counting many teams amongst its number. It’s exciting then that they have decided to bring out their Cloud Earbuds for the Nintendo Switch, and we were able to get a unit for review.
First impressions are that they’re just cool. The overall size is small as you’d expect from in-ear headphones but with a chunky cable and 90-degree connector meaning there’s some heft within the small form factor, it communicates a level of build quality and solidity. They’re also red, which fits perfectly with anyone who has the red Super Mario Odyssey Switch special edition, or one of the neon Splatoon versions, but perhaps not those with vanilla grey. Maybe it adds the flair those gamers have been after?
The most important things about these earphones though will be the sound and the microphone performance. From the point of view of the sound quality, there’s nothing but praise here. The range was good ensuring that all the dialogue spoken in the opening cinematic of Dark Souls Remastered was crystal clear, as well as being able to hear all the sound effects of the Undead around you in the opening areas such as the Undead Burg. Moving onto The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the orchestral score was delivered with aplomb, with all the rises and falls associated with different moments of the game ever present. When dealing with something borne out of chiptune as the Super Mario soundtrack is, again, everything just sounded right. The microphone seemed to work well, too, in our limited tests (due to lack of online play options rather than any issues with the headphones). One missed trick was that the area of the headphones where the microphone sits has a button, which can start or stop the sound, but there’s no volume control situated here — despite there being space. This means you have to reach for the unit each time to change volume. This seems like a missed trick for something so simple. Thinking about the total audio solution it provides though, we have no doubt that those Fortnite gaming sessions will be handled exactly as needed here.
The fact we have in-ear headphones is a plus, as the form factor matches up with the Switch well and can either be carried in your console’s carry case, or in their own small case which comes with the unit at retail. There are three sizes of earbud tip, with a patented design and made out of silicone. Personally I found these to be problematic — when moving. If I was sat in one place, the size which worked best for me was comfortable for any duration and delivered the sound as well as described above. If I was moving, as when playing on the daily commute in and out of London, then things got more awkward. The three sizes of earbud tip didn’t work for me — I was an in-betweener it seemed — and often they fell out, or didn’t properly go in without lots of wiggling. This is not good at all, and led to discomfort due to all the rubbing of the tips against my ears, plus on removal there was often a twinge of something, too. It may well be just down to me and the size and shape of my ears, but it’s something to be aware of if you’re looking for an audio solution for your Switch (and mobile phone which these worked equally well with in addition to Nintendo’s console). One additional challenge is that without a tight fit, the impact of external noise is significant.
Another negative associated with the commute, or gaming on the move, is the chunkiness of the cabling. Designed to avoid tangling it might be — and in this area it succeeds really well, saving lots of time wasted straightening out your headphones before use each day — but it’s therefore a lot tougher and thicker than other sets of buds, and as such easier to knock and cause the unseated headphones to fall out of the ear, rather than the cable absorbing any impact. Of course this might not be a problem for you, but worth noting as it had a sizeable impact on my experience.
Ultimately what we have here is an excellent sounding pair of earbuds, demonstrating great value in a crowded market, when assessing said value against the audio output and input. The aesthetics work very well too with the target demographic, and the eSports background of the brand can only pique interest further. The watchouts all surround the earbuds and their fit in your ears. With three size options for the tip I’m sure most will find something which works snugly, but there is a proportion of the population who’ll find the same issues I had, where other solutions can be found without this problem. Whilst I therefore overall recommend this kit, I must do so with tempered excitement given this one impactful downside — if you’re unlucky enough to be affected.