In an audio solution that is nearly four years in the making, NZXT has given us multiple items that, together, are greater than the sum of its parts, the NZXT Relay series, comprised of NZXT’s first headset, their first speakers (and subwoofer) and a very creative way to switch between the two.
The NZXT Relay series is the result of the company’s painstaking efforts to put out their first audio devices. In 2019, they nixed their original launch after it failed to meet up to their own expectations. Fast forward to 2023, where they have created a complete audio ecosystem for gamers and all other users alike.
The components that make up the NZXT Relay Series are the Relay headset, a sleek, super comfortable headset with a really flexible microphone. The Relay Speakers, a solid set of 80W stereo speakers, the Relay Subwoofer, which connects directly to the speakers, and the heart of the whole system, the Relay SwitchMix, the device that allows you to seamlessly transition between the headset and the speakers as well as control the volume and mix between chat and game audio.
The NZXT Relay Headset is a lightweight, adjustable headset with cushy, leather-covered memory foam padding for your ears and the top of your head. In fact, I am fairly confident that long-term gaming with this headset won’t lead to that dreaded headset dent in the top of your head, a worry of those who are bald or have closely cropped hair.
The all-black design with subtly etched NZXT logos is incredibly clean looking. The detachable microphone is incredibly flexible and stays where you put it. But now that you have this knowledge be cool and don’t eat that microphone so you are blasting your teammates’ ears.
“The NZXT Relay Speakers, clarity aside, are also optimized for accurate stereo imaging to recreate a decent gaming environment.”
The headset is also capable of DTS 7.1 surround sound when connected through the NZXT CAM App, whose presets and EQ controls can give you a rich sound in any scenario, whether gaming or watching a movie. The custom-tailored audio control gives you the ability to best immerse yourself in whatever soundscape you find yourself in. It is worth noting that the use of the USB dongle is required to connect the headset or speakers if you are not using the SwitchMix.
The sound quality of the NZXT Relay headphones is decent overall. The max volume left a bit to be desired (when hooked up to the SwitchMix, but that looks like it was remedied with a firmware update. The mic quality is also very nice. It’s not broadcast quality (nor do they claim that it is), but it is nice and clear, and people in your chat are going to have an easy time hearing you call out squads. I also love the detail of the detachable mic because not everyone is a gamer, and this is a very nice set of headphones for someone just working away at their PC.
The Relay Speakers are a nice addition to any desk. They produce a pretty big sound while taking up a minimal amount of real estate on your desk, real estate that can be in big demand when you are talking about a gaming setup. The speakers are equipped with 20mm silk tweeters and 3-inch glass fibre woofers in an MDF body.
The left and right speakers are connected with standard speaker wire (and are capable of supporting banana plugs if so desired. If you decide to purchase it, there is also an RCA connection for the subwoofer. Looking around the back, you find the speaker set’s power button and volume controls.
The overall sound quality was actually surprisingly good for the size. I made the mistake of having the speakers turned up pretty high when first testing them and, to my delight (but probably my heart’s dismay), I got a blast of big sound. My second thought when actually taking a moment to take in the sound quality was that, even at a higher volume, they were quite clear. For those who were wondering, my first thought was, “Is this your first time reviewing an audio product, dummy? Check the volume settings before you turn them on!”
The NZXT Relay Speakers, clarity aside, are also optimized for accurate stereo imaging to recreate a decent gaming environment. While you certainly get an accurate representation of sound via the stereo speakers, I’d never recommend speakers as the best gaming experience. They’re fine if you feel like your ears need a break, and they are great for everyday listening and maybe some editing if you’re in the content creation space, but you’re not going to get as complete an auditory experience as you will with a good headset.
An add-on to the speakers is the NZXT Relay Subwoofer. The subwoofer sports a 6.5-inch driver and provides 140 watts of power to give you those deep bass rumbles that fill out your sound. The back of the subwoofer has controls for crossover and phase as well as its volume control and power switch.
I love a nice, deep bass as part of my sound ecosystem, but I feel it is less than necessary for a gaming setup for the overall experience. If you are looking to get the speakers and headset with the SwitchMix, it is a pretty pricey combo. As nice as the NZXT Relay Subwoofer sounds, I would probably sacrifice that first to save a little money, as it feels more like an accessory than a part of the overall ecosystem.
“The NZXT SwitchMix is the Nick Fury of the whole setups as it’s the piece who brings all the major pieces (NZXT Avengers?) together.”
Now we get to the piece de resistance, the NZXT Relay SwitchMix. This is the Nick Fury of the whole setup, as it’s the piece that brings all the major pieces (NZXT Avengers?) together. Consisting of a small mixer, not much bigger than a credit card in terms of how much desk space it will take up, and a stand for the headphones that do a whole lot more than just give your headset a place to rest.
The SwitchMix is designed to hook up both the Relay Headset and Relay Speakers simultaneously, allowing you to hand off seamlessly (are we getting the “Relay” part of it, now?) the responsibility of delivering your PC’s audio between the two. On the SwitchMix, you’ll find an auxiliary port to connect the headset stand (we’ll get into why in a moment), a TRS port for the speakers, a TRRS port for the headset, and a USB-C port for connection to a PC.
On the top, you’ll find a large knob for controlling the volume of the active source, in the middle of which you will see a semi-circle of LED lights to indicate the volume. The colour of those LEDs indicates what source you are controlling (those colours can be customized in the NZXT CAM app.
To the right, you’ll find a mixing fader for when you are on the headset, allowing you to switch the balance between voice and game. If you look very closely, you will see labels for which is which, but they are incredibly subtle, allowing NZXT to maintain its clean aesthetic. A nice little touch is that when you fade between the top and bottom, you’ll feel a little click caused by a small, hidden notch that will indicate the exact centre of the levels, allowing you to find that perfect balance between voice and game while not needing any markers on the fader itself to find it.
The headset stand, whose base is the perfect size to house the NZXT Relay SwitchMix Mixer, not only makes for a full setup that takes up a small space on your desk but also is the point of hand-off between speakers and headset. The second you lift the headset, the speakers shut off, and the headset takes over. You will also see the colour of the volume lights instantly change, another indication that the switch took place. Putting the headset back on the stand instantly re-engages the speakers. It is, by far, my favourite part of the whole setup and its performance is flawless.
In terms of pricing, this is an à la carte setup for the time being. The NZXT Relay Headset will run you $99.99 USD. The Relay Speakers are $249.99, the subwoofer costs $149.99, and the SwitchMix comes in at $129.99, for $629.95 USD. It is a pretty big price tag but for a pretty cool system.
In the end, the NZXT Relay series has been a very ambitious first foray into this type of gaming audio for NZXT, and it was an overall successful attempt. The Relay ecosystem looks cool, sounds crisp and is built for performance and comfort. If you are looking to overhaul your PC audio, this system is worth a good look.