NZXT Relay review

The NZXT Relay speakers, headset and stand.

There’s a certain mystique in plugging a speaker cable into one jack and producing sound in another speaker: a mixture of audio wizardry and almost pure magic. You plug it in and get that nostalgic hit of real sound. The floor beneath you shakes and… suddenly you’re hit by the sound of Mike Myers “hitting the griddy” in a battle royale with 99 other people. Isn’t technology great?

While I’m being hyperbolic here, our relationship with speakers has changed culturally over the past few decades. They are no longer the only way to get sound out of a device, they fit into a more “audiophile” niche – from a last resort to a first choice. The NZXT Relay embodies that audio wizardry in how great the entire setup is, but new ideas almost always come with growing pains and there are a lot of them.

Let’s talk about that wizardry first, because that’s the most unique thing about these speakers. Although you can buy the speakers separately, the NZXT Relay set works best if you purchase the subwoofer, headphones and Switch Mix stand.

Essentially, that stand has a button on the top that switches from speaker to headphones depending on weight. This allows you to hang your headphones on the stand and they automatically switch to speaker mode. Take them off and you have sound in your headphones.

NZXT Relay Specifications

The right speaker of the NZXT Relay set on a wooden deskThe right speaker of the NZXT Relay set on a wooden desk

The right speaker of the NZXT Relay set on a wooden desk

Connectivity: RCA, 3.5mm aux
Speakers: 2 x 3 inch drivers
Weight: 1.6kg (left), 1.5kg (right)
Frequency response: 70Hz – 20,000Hz
Price: $240 | £230 (speakers only), $630 | £560 (speakers, stand, headphones and subwoofer)

This works almost immediately and no matter how quickly I tried, I could never get the headphones on my head before it started playing my sounds. While this is a stupid test, it is also a good sign of how consistent that transition is.

The speakers themselves are small and sit very neatly on a desk. Mids and highs sound great and feel very well balanced, so Darwin Deez’s geeky breakup anthem ‘DNA’ sounds as it should, thanks to those jangly guitars. However, Lucy Dacus’ equally clever but heartbreaking break-up song ‘Nightshift’ loses much of its raw power due to a lack of bass. When the song all comes together and Lucy’s vocals bellow at you, the speaker doesn’t.

NZXT’s speaker gets the tone of a bass, but none of the feel. There is no rumbling, no jerk.

The same can be said of the audio performance in games. The depths of the Nightingale character creation screen don’t quite hit as expected, but that high orchestra is still quite impactful. Balatro, the video game manifestation of an earworm, managed to get the most time out of this speaker, and the laid-back, synth-driven theme mostly works well.

The NZXT Relay speakers on either side of a gaming monitor on a deskThe NZXT Relay speakers on either side of a gaming monitor on a desk

The NZXT Relay speakers on either side of a gaming monitor on a desk

If you want to play a shooter and experience that real bass feel as your boots stomp on the ground and helicopters fly above, you’ll want something that has more of a banger. However, this fared better in more dialogue-intensive moments than that of the rather exaggerated Razer Nommo V2 Pro.

What the speakers do well is how balanced the rest of the sound feels. If you can get a dedicated bass source like the aforementioned subwoofer, the mids and highs sound tonally great and manage to stay at the forefront of the sound in the same way. I never felt like the high-pitched sound of a flash bang completely drowned out everything, but instead took the spotlight for a moment as it should.

While there’s no Bluetooth option, the speakers can be connected via RCA or 3.5mm aux, which is a fairly diverse group of connection options. This means it can be connected to a PS5 via the Dualsense 3.5mm port and, while a bit limited thanks to the wire, performs excellently.

The speakers turn off after a while if you’re not using them, which can be a bit annoying, and it doesn’t seem to be able to pick up when sound comes out of the PlayStation. This means that it turns off after a while and randomly comes back to life on the console – a minor annoyance.

The NZXT Relay speakers, headphones and stand on a wooden tableThe NZXT Relay speakers, headphones and stand on a wooden table

The NZXT Relay speakers, headphones and stand on a wooden table

The NZXT Relay headset is usually a good addition to the rest of the Relay. It connects with a simple 3.5mm aux jack, is super comfortable and has a very good microphone for the price range.

Buying the NZXT speakers without picking up the accessories is like buying a 4K-capable 4090 and using your mom’s old monitor.

Unfortunately, the headset follows the speakers in having quite clear mids, but very poor bass. It almost feels like listening through earphones: they don’t rattle, but are very convenient.

The NZXT Relay speakers, stand and headset combinationThe NZXT Relay speakers, stand and headset combination

The NZXT Relay speakers, stand and headset combination

The Switch Mix is ​​the centerpiece of the NZXT Relay set and it shows in its whopping $130 price tag. Not only is it a headphone stand, with the really cool ability to switch between speaker and headphones, but it also comes with a slider to switch between in-game sound and voice chat, as well as a volume mixer to adjust the sound and turn it all off to switch .

Buy as…

✅ You like to switch from speakers to headphones: The NZXT Relay set is great if you want to use both headphones and speakers, but a bit of a waste if you don’t.

You want a unique setup: I didn’t feel the signature joy of messing around with the NZXT Relay with any other set of speakers out there. These are great for wowing a friend.

You need everything: If you are looking for a new subwoofer, speaker and headphones, then the whole set is really great.

Don’t buy if…

❌ You already have special headphones: While any headset can work with the Switchmix, it must have an auxiliary jack port to fit into the entire ecosystem.

You have a limited budget: The speakers themselves are very reasonably priced, but it is not a set for which you only buy the speakers. The rather awesome Kanto Ora is a little more expensive than the speakers, but much less than the full set.

You care a lot about bass: Even at its bassiest tone, the NZXT Relay has decent bass. You may feel the rumbling, but it won’t shake your room.

The only non-essential part of this setup is the headphones, as any other pair with a 3.5mm jack will fit into the switch mix and can activate the button at the top. Everything works very well, but one small problem I encountered concerns switching between volumes.

If you have the speakers set quite low and your headset sounds very high, it will blast sound through your speakers in less than a second when you switch. Finding a good volume balance solves this, but it can be a problem if you want to blast your headphones but only play softly from the speakers.

If you pick up NZXT’s subwoofer to make up for the noticeable lack of bass, it will serve you well, but it lacks the sheer volume of the speakers. The NZXT speakers are consistently at just under half maximum volume and this works perfectly for my room, but I still have to turn the subwoofer up to maximum to really match the two sounds. This is a strange mistake, meaning that turning up the volume of everything makes the highs and mids stick out above everything else.

Buying the NZXT speakers without picking up the accessories is like buying a 4K-capable 4090 giant and using your mom’s old monitor. It’s still going to be a good experience, but you’ve spent all this money now – you might as well go for that extra upgrade.

The speakers themselves are surprisingly compact, look beautiful and are relatively easy to connect. You just need some bass to really get things going.

The subwoofer does provide some bass, but the volume is low enough to require something extra. The headset is reasonable for the price, but only really makes sense once you get the smart headphone stand. When it all comes together, it’s a real pleasure to go from listening out loud to talking to friends, but one piece is missing and everything falls apart.

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