The $199 GTW 270 Hybrid earbuds from audio firm EPOS are, to my data, the primary really wi-fi earbuds made for gaming — however the buds themselves aren’t the largest promoting level. The USB-C Bluetooth receiver that comes with the earbuds will get that distinction.
It’s way more compact than the usual flash drive-sized USB dongles included with many headsets. It’s extra succesful, too, working with the aptX low latency (aptX LL) codec that delivers good-sounding audio with no perceivable lag. Utilizing the receiver, the GTW 270 Hybrid may be particularly nice for fast-paced video games the place sound cues depend for achievement; however actually, it’s good to have for any title.
Nonetheless, there may be one drawback: the microphones don’t work whenever you’re listening to audio by way of the USB-C receiver. (The earbuds’ built-in microphones do work, nonetheless, once they’re paired to a tool by way of Bluetooth.)
This falls extra on the technical limitations of aptX than EPOS’s decision-making. In an effort to prioritize bandwidth for sound high quality and responsiveness, solely the playback channel is lively whenever you’re listening utilizing the USB-C dongle. That’s a possible deal-breaker for some avid gamers who would possibly need to have the ability to bounce right into a voice chat with buddies on their consoles. However to EPOS’s credit score, the latency between the dongle and the earphones actually does appear nonexistent.
These gunmetal-colored buds have a easy, understated design in order that they don’t poke out an excessive amount of out of your ear. They aren’t too heavy, and the match is snug, because of swappable silicone ear ideas that assist to get an excellent seal in your ear. As for controls, they’ve only a single multifunction button that handles pausing and resuming music, altering tracks, in addition to selecting up telephone calls. In different phrases, with out the USB-C dongle, these aren’t that particular. (EPOS does make a $169 model sans dongle.) For normal use — equivalent to telephone calls or music — you may get extra by spending much less in the event you try a few of the choices in my colleague Chris Welch’s affordable wireless earbud buying guide.
Exterior of gaming, these earbuds can be utilized like every other wi-fi set to hook up with your telephone, pill, or laptop computer by way of Bluetooth. They help Bluetooth 5.1 (with the SBC or aptX codec, relying on the machine you hook up with) for music, movies, video games, and telephone calls, and EPOS says you may pair them with as much as eight units. Pairing is completed by holding down the button on the charging case.
Talking of the charging case: it has an all-metal design that’s sadly very simple to scratch. It prices by way of USB-C; with a full cost, EPOS says it may possibly ship as much as 15 hours of additional battery life to the earphones. In the course of the overview interval, the GTW 270 Hybrid earbuds made it to the five-hour mark for battery life, which matches the corporate’s declare. And in the event you’re somebody who goes on the occasional sweaty jog or simply doesn’t need to get caught within the rain, these are IPX5 water-proof.
I’ve spent the previous few weeks utilizing the earbuds to play video games alternately on my PS5, my Change, and my work laptop computer a number of occasions every day. (In case you’re curious, there’s an adapter included that permits you to plug the dongle into a tool that has USB Kind-A ports.) The GTW 270 Hybrid works like every wi-fi gaming headset, however the really wi-fi type issue has some apparent benefits. I like that they let me transfer round uninhibited by wires, and utilizing them doesn’t isolate me (or mess up my hair) as a lot as cumbersome over-ear cans. The receiver is pre-paired to the buds, they usually join virtually immediately.
I additionally love the comfort of having the ability to use simply the correct earbud (the correct one controls the Bluetooth transmission, so listening by means of the left earbud alone doesn’t work), so I can preserve an ear obtainable to pay attention for packages being dropped off. This, after all, is nothing new for individuals who already use really wi-fi earbuds. It simply feels new to expertise this freedom with a gaming headset.
I sampled the Demon’s Souls remake, 2018’s God of Battle, Ring Match Journey, and Ghost of Tsushima, together with a number of different video games, throughout the overview interval. Whereas they don’t have the widest soundstage or the clearest frequency separation I’ve heard for listening to music, they shine with recreation audio — specifically, with encompass sound results and bass supply. The general sound high quality isn’t explosively strong, and there’s a restrict to how immersive the encompass sound results may be, given the earbuds’ small drivers. However the sound isn’t too compromised. Except you’re a hardcore gamer who wants to listen to each element in crystal-clear presentation, these will seemingly go well with you.
The GTW 270 Hybrid can be very near splendid if the microphones labored whereas linked utilizing the USB-C dongle. Alas, they don’t, so utilizing the dongle might be subsequent to ineffective for individuals who continuously play multiplayer video games with buddies. (It’s a barely completely different story in the event you play plenty of single-player video games and don’t thoughts not having a microphone for gaming.) Because the earbuds usually are not all that helpful for gaming with out the dongle, which means you’re making an enormous compromise, and it’s one which not one of the best gaming headsets I’ve tested (most of that are cheaper than this) ask you to make. It’s your selection.
Images by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge