Review: NZXT Relay Audio Ecosystem
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NZXT has dipped its toes into an audio ecosystem that’s powered by four individual devices for one’s complete audio needs. Its Relay Audio Ecocsystem offers the Relay Headset, Relay Desktop Speakers, Relay Subwoofer and the SwitchMix. NZXT sent this audio suite over for review and it allowed me to appreciate the instant switching between a headset and a desktop speaker setup, which I’ll break down how that works thanks to the SwitchMix. As a whole, the entire suite depends more on proper wiring and knob adjustments across the board between an almost vintage feel to this ecosystem. The major caveat to the Relay Audio Ecosystem is the cost.
Coming from a desktop speaker system that Logitech has offered for five years with the LIGHTSYNC G560, this system packed a punch and offer two 2.1 satellite speakers that received power directly from the large down-firing subwoofer. The speakers had RGB and instantaneous bluetooth swapping for devices and were DTS compatible, but settings were controlled through software. Jumping to these new releases from NZXT sees more of a requirement on power, much like vintage speaker systems. The Relay Speakers offer peak power of 80 watts (40 per speaker) that are designed for close up listening. Silk dome tweeters and glass fiber woofers allow for crystal clear audio to the point that I’m hearing certain portions of songs I haven’t picked up before.
The connections offered come in the form of RCA cables (the red and white cables used years ago), or traditional copper speaker wire where a good connection needs to be verified. What’s nice about the speaker wire connection is that the connectors are brass and screw down to ensure tight connection. Normally, setups like this just have a clamp and a small hole. These speakers are truly desktop shelf speaker and sit about seven inches high and about four inches wide while being 6 inches deep. They offer the white NZXT aesthetic with smooth plastic and a rubber base. Users can also choose black to match the subwoofer, if desired. Both these and the Relay Subwoofer both have their own power sources, so that will need to be accounted for. The sound of these little speakers is impressive, but while they can get loud, at high volumes there is some distortion. That is an extremely loud parameter to sit in front of, though. Users will be adjusting the volume knob while adjusting the system volume level for ultimate results.
The Relay Subwoofer to pair with the Relay Speakers is actually sold separately. The sub is also black, unlike the speakers and lacks any type of white to counter it. Technically, subwoofers will go on the floor as this is a down-firing subwoofer that peaks at 140 watts. This accounts for a total of 220 watts of peak power between the entire setup. This speaker sits much shorter than that of the Logitech G560 system, also offering adjustment knobs on the rear for audio. The bass hits consistently well on this, but I’m not getting as deep as I would hope, although I believe this has to do with proper adjustment of the subwoofer with the phase control and crossover knobs. Granted, this is placed under a desk, but it is also possible I’m draining out the bass from the speaker volume. The driver is 6.5 inches and it offers solid bass production without being overbearing. It won’t rattle the wall, but it’ll get the job done. It does an excellent job complimenting the entire desktop ecosystem that NZXT has offered.
The Relay Headset matches the Relay Speakers with its white and black aesthetic, or full black as an option. The exterior plastic is white with the NZXT logo on both the ear cups while the leatherette cushions are black with a hint of that NZXT purple used for the mesh that covers the speakers. This is a Hi-Res Audio certified headset that truly brings precise audio and almost no audio fatigue. The only fatigue, even after two hours, is minimal due to its lightweight design. It’s amazing how well this sits on the head with some of the softest leatherette earcups. This comes with memory foam cushions and different sound settings within the NZXT CAM Software with customization options. This wired headset includes the mute and volume control on the 3.5 mm cable so there are no buttons on the headset, itself. The Relay Headset offers 3D spatial audio via DTS Headphone: X technology. There’s a USB attachment that offers the driver if going alone with the headset and not integrating the SwitchMix. The microphone is detachable and is unidirectional with a built-in pop filter, but simply doing that doesn’t do this microphone enough justice. I also have a NZXT Capsule Mic, and the audio quality in communication and in streams with this microphone is unmatched across the board. I’m utterly impressed with the crisp vocal audio recorded from this headset. NZXT CAM also allows to adjust the volume for those that want to hear themselves speak while talking. The driver size is rated at 40 mm and uses Neodymium to deliver the audio. This headset for $99 is the best deal of what’s being offered here. The audio is very distinct and clean, much like the aesthetic of the entire ecosystem.
Lastly, the SwitchMix is a bit questionable with its existence. This allows both the speakers and the headset to connect to one device to drive the DTS 7.1 surround sound and offer a few more options. There’s a stand with an audio mixer that sits down into grooves on the base of the stand. The mixer allows for prioritizing game or voice audio that comes through the speakers or headset. There’s also a large dial with custom lighting to adjust volume or to mute the audio. The neat caveat is where the headset sits as this allows for literal instantaneous switching between the headset and the speakers. Are you about to stream or jump online with friends? There’s literally no hesitation between switching the outputs. I feel like it’s needed to get the most out of this audio ecosystem, but for $130, it’s steep and not necessarily a necessity.
The entire NZXT Audio Ecosystem will cost you $630. The Relay Headset comes in at $99.99 and in the current headset world, this offers better results than those that are close to double the price. The SwitchMix can’t be fully utilized without adding the Relay Speakers and the USB dongle offers the DTS:X audio tech, so paying $129.99 for the mixer is steep. Yes, it’s still a holder, but that’s $130 for a headphone holder. Jumping to the Relay Speakers, these are the highest priced coming in at $249.99, which doesn’t include the subwoofer. Tacking on the Relay Subwoofer is another $149.99 to maximize the sound. While the sound quality that is offered is excellent, I don’t feel that it’s $400 excellent. There are no discounts for combo items on the NZXT website either.
The reason I led off with the Logitech G560 LIGHTSYNC speaker system is that it offers a valid comparison. This actually offers ten more peak watts from its system and seems to offer more options with software customizations, bluetooth and RGB. Those launched five years ago for $250 (which I thought was high), and is still going for over $200 which speaks a lot to that system. For nearly double the price in 2023, while this is an excellent sound system for its size, it doesn’t feel like a $400 sound system. As for the Relay Headset, this is an absolute steal for $99.99 and with the excellent microphone, I might be moving to this full time to record videos due to its clarity and unidirectional design. Lastly, the SwitchMix can only really be maximized with both the speakers and headset. With only one or the other, it doesn’t offer much and this also means tacking on another $130. While instant switching is something nice to have, it’s at most a perk to having the ecosystem. Yes, the speakers would need the DTS mixer to take advantage of that tech, but this isn’t aimed for budget users. The NZXT Relay Audio Ecosystem is aimed at those who don’t mind the price who want a clean low profile aesthetic that offers excellent audio quality with options.Closing Comments