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Best gaming earbuds
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Read full review...
Read full review...
Read full review...
Gaming earbuds are essential for many gamers. People who want great sound and features for gaming outside their homes on mobile or portable consoles like Nintendo Switch, or even people who just want something less hefty than over-ears at home could benefit from a decent pair earbuds. While many earbuds on the market can work for gaming, some are certainly better tailored to it than others. Here are our picks for the best gaming earbuds.
Why is the JBL Quantum 50 the best gaming earbuds?
For most people, the JBL Quantum 50 will be the best option for gaming earbuds. It’s very affordable at $30 USD, and sounds quite good for any gaming or musical genre. It’s a great quality and affordable option for mobile and console gamers alike.
The JBL Quantum 50 carries an in-line control module with a microphone, fits comfortably, and can connect to anything with a 3.5mm headphone jack (from the Xbox Series X/S to the PlayStation 5). It’s a great portable option for on-the-go gamers who also want to listen to music or take a call with their earbuds. You can experiment with the three different ear tip options for the perfect fit and great isolation. A rubberized disc grips onto your ear and allows the buds to sit comfortably and securely.
The frequency response of the JBL Quantum 50 follows our consumer curve pretty closely, with a bit of emphasis in the bass frequency range. (See the frequency response chart at the end of the image gallery above.) This is common in gaming headsets, and you can still hear the mids and highs along with the bass frequencies. This all makes for truly enjoyable earbuds that reproduce sound clearly.
See also: The best wired earbuds under $100
EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid does everything well, not just gaming
The EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid is a set of wireless earbuds that does a lot very well. It’s well built, it has an IPX5 water-resistant rating, and it’s pretty lightweight too.
The earbuds come with a USB-C dongle which uses aptX Low Latency for connecting to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and 5, and PC. It also supports dongle free Bluetooth connections using the regular aptX and default SBC Bluetooth codecs, but not AAC. These earbuds even support Bluetooth multipoint.
There are a host of high-quality Bluetooth codecs for Android phone owners to take advantage of, with aptX being among the most reliable for the largest range of handsets. You can read all about Bluetooth codecs in our explainer, but all you really need to know is AAC is best for iPhones and aptX (or LDAC) is generally best for Android phones.
(Click the chart to expand.)
Anyone who hates the heft of over-ear gaming headsets will enjoy this pair of wireless gaming earbuds, though the microphone doesn’t work when you’re gaming, so there is a trade-off there. The frequency response chart (at the end of the image gallery above) shows a pleasant sound profile apart from an under-emphasis in the treble frequencies, but in testing it, there aren’t any notable problems with it. The slight b00st in bass makes for a traditional gaming experience, with gunshots and explosions being pleasantly loud, without masking higher pitched sounds like footsteps.
See also: The best wireless earbuds
Get the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Pro if you want noise cancelling gaming earbuds
With noise cancelling and IPX4 water resistance, the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Pro is a great option for on-the-go mobile gamers looking for low-latency wireless gaming earbuds.
It uses Bluetooth 5.1 and supports the SBC and AAC codecs, and has a low-latency mode for gaming and streaming that reduces latency to 60ms. Even without aptX support, the low-latency mode works really well, and there’s no noticeable lag when using it.
Sound quality is also great, with Razer partnering with THX on these buds. The frequency response chart (end of the gallery above) for the earbuds closely follows our consumer curve, though there’s some under-emphasis in the treble range. However, this doesn’t cause any significant issues, and you can EQ the sound in the mobile app. It also comes with a variety of ear tips, with six different silicone tips and a memory foam tip option as well to ensure good isolation. This is a lot better than its predecessor, the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless, which has no isolation at all.
The HyperX Cloud Buds Wireless is lacking in a lot of areas. It fits most people pretty poorly, leaving you with bad isolation and discomfort. It is also hard to get a good idea of frequency response from the earbuds, since they don’t fit our testing head properly. With that, the bass frequencies were really under-emphasized, and it’s hard to know how it actually sounds with its fit being so bad.
The Razer Hammerhead Duo is a great pair of wired earbuds for gaming
Anyone who wants a tangle-resistant and reliably great pair of wired earbuds will love the Razer Hammerhead Duo. Its braided cables will keep the buds from getting tangled, it has comfortable ear tips for extended gaming sessions, and it sounds great too.
The Hammerhead Duo has dual drivers in each earbud, making the listening experience really great. Its frequency response (chart at the end of the gallery above) is less bassy than the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless, but it’s still quite enjoyable. It also has in-line controls and a microphone on the right cable.
For $60 USD, the Razer Hammerhead Duo is a great option for gamers who want great sound quality, a low-key aesthetic, and comfort from their gaming earbuds.
See also: The best Razer gaming headsets
The Logitech G333 is a great value pick for gamers
For $50 USD, the Logitech G333 is a great choice for gamers who want a great bang for their buck. The Logitech G333 has a 3.5mm connection as well as a USB-C adapter, so mobile gamers and console gamers alike can enjoy these buds.
The Logitech G333 features an in-line microphone and media controls, making for a convenient experience whether you’re gaming, listening to music, or taking a call. It also has dual drivers like the Razer Hammerhead Duo, making for improved sound quality.
With three silicone ear tip options and an aluminum build, the Logitech G333 is a comfortable and durable option that doesn’t break the bank.
See also: The best cheap gaming headsets
Should you get the Asus ROG Certa II?
The Asus ROG Certa II has a heftier price tag than the other options on this list, but is it worth the extra money? The earbuds feature active noise cancelling and RGB lighting, as well as liquid silicone rubber drivers.
If you’re looking for something with more of a gamer aesthetic than other options, the Asus ROG Certa II certainly brings that to the table. It also connects via USB-C, making it a good option for mobile or Nintendo Switch gamers. It also boasts a microphone with noise suppression. Most mobile gamers won’t see the point of spending this much on wired earbuds, but it could be worth it if you value ANC, customizable RGB lighting, and a solid mic system.
The Bose QuietComfort 20 is the best option for noise cancellation
The price tag is high on this one, but hear me out. Bose has built a reputation for great active noise cancelling, so if you’re looking to game on an airplane or a loud bus, this will likely cancel out a ton of noise for a smooth, uninterrupted gaming experience. The Bose QuietComfort 20 also features in-line controls and a microphone, as well as three ear tip sizes for optimal comfort.
The best gaming earbuds: Notable mentions
- ROCCAT Syn Buds Core: This pair of earbuds is super affordable, has in-line controls and a microphone. It’s a very basic and easy-to-use option, though it’s worth noting that they sound very bass-heavy.
- Turtle Beach Battle Buds: The Battle Buds is another cheap option for on-the-go gaming, though it sets itself apart from other earbuds as it comes with a detachable microphone. Does it look silly? Yes. Is it useful to have a boom mic rather than an in-line mic? Also yes. You can also use the in-line mic if you are too embarrassed to use the boom mic in public.
- SteelSeries Tusq: The SteelSeries Tusq earbuds feature a boom mic as well as an in-line mic, so talking to others while you’re gaming will be a breeze. It connects to a 3.5mm headphone jack, so it will work on most consoles and any phones that still have a headphone jack.
- 1MORE Quad Driver In-Ear: This pair of wired earbuds has great sound quality and great durability, though it comes at a hefty price and with a less great microphone. This could be a good option for anyone who favors sound quality above other features.
See also: The best Nintendo Switch gaming headsets
Hold up! Something’s different:
Some of our picks’ frequency response and isolation charts were measured with our old testing system. We have since purchased a Bruel & Kjaer 5128 test fixture (and the appropriate support equipment) to update our testing and data collection. It will take a while to update our backlog of old test results, but we will update this article (and many others!) once we’re able with improved sound quality measurements and isolation performance plots. These will be made obvious with our new chart aesthetic (black background instead of white).
Thank you for bearing with us, and we hope to see you again once we’ve sorted everything out.
What you should know about gaming earbuds
Are wired or wireless gaming earbuds better?
Latency can definitely be a concern when gaming, so it’s important to consider your options and preferences when buying earbuds for gaming. Wired earbuds will consistently have the lowest latency because they’re wired, and you can run into issues when looking for wireless options.
Wireless earbuds with receivers can have lower latency, but Bluetooth can be a mixed bag. AptX Low Latency is a good option, while SBC and AAC run the risk of lagging. Some earbuds will come with a gaming mode with lower latency, which helps reduce latency enough to not be noticeable. If you’re looking to avoid latency as much as possible, wired is the way to go. Remember, lower latency codecs require a device that supports it—it doesn’t matter how many great codecs your earbuds support, the Nintendo Switch still only uses SBC, after all.
What is isolation and active noise cancelling?
Isolation is a really important factor when it comes to earbuds. It is the physical barrier that your earbuds make with your ears to ensure environmental sounds stay out of your ears and your earbuds aren’t leaking sound either. Achieving a good fit is crucial for isolation. Isolation works best against higher-pitched sounds, like dishes clanging or fingers snapping.
When you’re using earbuds, fit matters a lot. To have the most sound isolation, the best sound quality, and the most comfort when you’re gaming, you’ll want to have earbuds that fit well in your ears. Many earbuds come with different ear tip sizes, since companies realize not everyone has the same size ears. Silicone ear tips won’t always come in the best size and fit for you, so foam ear tips can be great for getting a more custom fit for your ears.
Active noise cancellation uses microphones to pick up sound from outside of your earbuds and cancel it out with the opposite sound waves, or anti-noise. Since there’s a delay in picking up sounds and identifying them, it works best with droning noises, since it can predict what to cancel out. With good isolation and noise cancelling working in tandem, you can keep most outside sounds out of your ears.
Related: Why do my headphones sound bad?
How should gaming earbuds sound?
If you’ve read any of our reviews, you’ve probably seen our frequency response charts. These charts show how closely headphones (cyan line) will reproduce audio compared to our house curve (pink line). Our house curve represents what consumers tend to prefer in headphones. While some people will prefer a flat curve, most people will prefer more bass and treble. If you want to learn more, you can read more about the SoundGuys house curve.
The best frequency response will be one that doesn’t boost certain frequencies so much that it’s hard to hear others. If you have too much bass and too little treble, you’re not going to enjoy what you hear as much, and when you’re gaming, you might miss out on some important environmental cues.
How we choose the best gaming earbuds
At SoundGuys, we perform objective tests to measure things like frequency response, isolation, microphone quality, and more. In order to do so, we use a Bruel & Kjaer 5128 head and torso simulator (HATS) with an anatomically realistic ear canal and outer ear. We also use a standardized setup to test the microphone quality of products with pre-recorded phrases from a calibrated artificial mouth in our test chamber. This allows us to present standardized microphone samples to you so you can judge the quality of various products and compare them across the board. After we collect all of this data, we then score each product through a variety of objective and subjective measures.
Our team then confers with one another regarding the best products for a given category and we present our list to you. It’s not over after we hit “publish,” though. Instead, we treat every article as a living document that we update as new and worthy products come out.
Why you should trust SoundGuys
Each writer at SoundGuys has accumulated years of experience reporting on the consumer audio market, and our staff adheres to a strict ethics policy. We don’t use ads or sponsored content on the website at a time when doing so is the norm. SoundGuys’ survival depends solely on readers enjoying their purchases. We pride ourselves on transparently outlining objective facts, while accounting for the subjective experience to contextualize an audio product’s performance. When we do misspeak, we correct and own up to it.
Frequently asked questions about gaming earbuds
Connecting your earbuds will depend on the earbuds and the console. If you’re using earbuds with a 3.5mm connection, you can just plug it into the headphone jack of your console, controller, or PC. If it has a dongle, you can plug it into the corresponding port on your device. If it’s Bluetooth, you’ll need to go into your Bluetooth settings and pair the earbuds to the device. For a more in-depth guide, you can read more here.
That depends on your own preferences. Some people like bass frequencies to be louder so deeper sounds like explosions or gunshots are more impactful, but others prefer something flatter so they can hear treble frequencies like footsteps better. The best earbuds will be ones that don’t mask any frequency, but still reproduce sound to your specific liking. If you know you like some bass boosting, you can go for earbuds that have an emphasis in that range. If you know you like hearing treble more clearly, go for earbuds with less emphasis in the bass frequency and an emphasis in the treble range.