If you’ve never owned a pair of gaming earbuds, you might be shaking your head right now as you discover this article. Earbuds? For gaming? It sounds a bit crazy, but let us say this — don’t knock it till you try it.
It’s true that gaming headphones and headsets are often associated solely with huge, somewhat intimidating, over-the-ear options. If asked to imagine a gaming headset, we know you’d likely think of something large, futuristic, and probably colored in a mix of black and red. However, as technology advances, more and more gamers give up their headsets for a set of gaming earbuds.
Initially promoted by eSports players, these earbuds are adapted to the unique needs of gamers. They’re a great alternative, especially if you find huge headphones uncomfortable to wear. Things such as feeling too warm or getting a pressure headache are simply non-issues when you use earbuds.
The extra comfort may come at a small price in terms of sound quality, that is why it’s important to pick the best of the best options. If you choose wisely, you will be able to find a pair of gaming earbuds that you’re not just satisfied with — you’ll find a pair that you love.
We’ve truly done our homework on gaming earphones, and we’re here to share our notes with you. Keep reading to learn all the things you need to know to make the right choice.
Things to Keep in Mind
Before you get to the shopping part of the whole process, it’s important that you’re aware of all the different aspects that play into your decision. Impulse buying can be fun, but a good pair of earbuds is an investment — it’s not worth rushing into it.
As no pair of earphones is going to have every single feature, you’ll have to face the choice between several different options. In order to make sure you know what suits you best, we’ve prepared a write-up of all the important factors. Check out our buying guide below.
- Wired and Wireless: This is something we point out in most of our headphone guides. Wireless earbuds are all the rage right now, but then you have to keep in mind that they have limited battery life. Some earphones only last about three to four hours on a single charge. This is good enough if you plan to head to work or to school, but if you’re gaming, it might not suffice. On the other hand, earphones with a cord can be a nuisance to use.
- Compatibility: What device do you mostly plan to use your earbuds with? PC users with wireless earphones have to make sure to provide some sort of Bluetooth connectivity (usually a USB dongle). Mobile players will usually have no problem pairing their earphones, but it’s still worth checking if that particular model works on both iOS and Android.
- The comfort of wear: Earbuds are sometimes superior to over-ear headphones in terms of comfort. This largely depends on whether or not the ear tips are matched to fit your ear. This is why it’s good to look for models that offer several sizes of ear tips.
- Earphone style: Especially prominent and important in wireless earphones. Wired buds usually don’t require this, but wireless ones have several options that hold them in place. You may run into ear hooks, neckbands, and more. Keep that in mind, when you try to pick something comfortable.
- Noise cancelation: For a gamer, this could be crucial. If you play a lot of FPS games or other games that rely heavily on sound, you need a really good set of earbuds that will block all outside noises. On the other hand, if you want earbuds that will have more uses than one (for example, going running), noise cancelation should not be complete and definite. You will need to maintain a certain level of situational awareness when you’re outside.
- Sound & microphone quality: Both crucial in gaming, both sometimes overlooked in earphones. You may not be able to get the same level of audio quality in a pair of earbuds as you would in a massive pair of over-ear headphones, but that’s not set in stone. There are lots of decent gaming earbuds out there that offer a good range and a solid microphone — you just have to be careful.
Best Gaming Earbuds In 2020
Having covered all of that, we still have some important information to pass on to you. New earphones and headphones are being produced nearly daily, so it’s quite hard to get a pair of your liking.
Here’s a bit of news for you: we actually love testing headphones. Comparing different models is the bread and butter of our work here. For that reason, having checked out a bunch of gaming earbuds, we were able to shortlist a few of our favorites for you.
Check out the best gaming earbuds currently on the market!
Our Best Overall Pick
HyperX is a brand known for its immense gaming gear. It’s not a surprise that when they chose to tackle the difficult matter of gaming earbuds, they did a magnificent job.
Type: Wired earbuds
Connection: 3.5mm audio jack
Special features: built-in microphone, optimized for many platforms
We all know that gamers are divided by the platforms they prefer to play on. PC gamers vs. console gamers — it’s an endless war for some, while others have no favorites and simply play on several platforms. Whichever camp you’re rooting for, you’ll be able to make use of these earphones.
Optimized for Nintendo Switch and its handheld mode, these will work with nearly every device due to the use of a 3.5mm audio jack. You can use them for PC gaming, PS4, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and Mobile.
The cable is rubberized and decently resistant to tangling. As cables often have a life of their own, this is a major plus. You’ll also get a complimentary carrying case with these earbuds, so you can take them with you on the go.
Our only gripe with these earphones is that they’re suited for gaming, not so much for music. The highs and the lows sometimes fall a little flat. However, for the purpose of playing games, they’re definitely solid.
HyperX Cloud has a built-in microphone that offers a surprisingly good input quality for a pair of earbuds. Your teammates will be able to hear you in every game that supports it, giving you an extra edge.
If comfort is what worries you, you don’t have to worry anymore. There are three different sizes of ear tips attached here, so you’re sure to find yourself a good fit. Overall, considering these are fairly affordable earbuds, we think these are pretty great.
- Great microphone quality
- Tangle-free cable
- Good sound quality in games
- Three sizes of ear tips for extra comfort
- Carrying case included
- Not the best sound quality in music
- Very visible design
Our Best Sound Pick
Gaming earbuds are mostly meant to suit video games, but occasionally, you’ll find a pair that excels at both gaming and music. Sound Panda is one of those rare models.
Type: Wired earbuds
Connection: 3.5mm audio jack
Special features: enhanced bass, built-in dual microphone, multi-platform compatibility
Like the HyperX model above, you’ll be pleased to know that these 3.5mm dual-driver earphones will work fine with all of your gaming platforms. PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox, PS4, tablets, smartphones… All of these are A-okay to use with these earbuds.
One of the strongest selling points for these earphones is the dual microphone. That’s right — there isn’t just one, there are two. There’s an in-line mic that has button controls and an extra 11cm detachable mic that both pick up your voice clearly. Your teammates won’t complain about not being able to hear you, which can sometimes be the case with earphones.
These also have three differently-sized sets of ear tips to ensure comfortable and secure wear. The cable, unfortunately, is not flat, so it may be a little prone to tangling — keep an eye out for that.
The sound quality here is what truly hooked us. As opposed to many other gaming options, these Sound Panda earphones offer clear sound reproduction, boosted bass, and an overall crisp sound.
- High sound quality for gaming earbuds
- Dual microphone
- Ergonomic ear-tips (three sizes)
- Multi-platform support
- Great sound reproduction
- Dual 6mm drivers
- The cable is prone to tangling
Our Best Budget Pick
Earbuds sometimes get a bad rep. You may be told that you need to buy high-end if you want to get anything worthwhile. Don’t listen to the nay-sayers — LUDOS provides you with a very good budget pick when it comes to gaming earbuds.
Type: Wired earbuds
Connection: 3.5mm audio jack
Special features: memory foam ear-tips, enhanced bass
For a budget pair, these are really well-made and look sturdy enough to survive a few drops and spending a lot of time tangled up in your backpack. They also offer a great deal of comfort, thanks to the use of memory foam in the ear tips.
Memory foam is used in hundreds, if not thousands, of products. This is due to the fact that it’s extremely comfortable, be it a pillow or a pair of headphones. Using it for ear tips is a great way to ensure proper breathability.
LUDOS offers decent sound quality in both games and musical ventures. They paid a great deal of attention to the bass, so you will be able to hear all your favorite songs the way they were meant to be heard. Meanwhile, game audio remains crisp and clear. The microphone, while not outstanding, is definitely good for this price range.
These also offer multi-platform compatibility. They make for a good budget pick for PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox, and mobile gamers.
- Very affordable
- Elegant design
- Good sound quality
- Boosted bass
- Comfortable memory foam ear tips
- Built-in microphone
- Only one size of ear tips
- The cord could be of better quality
Our Best High-End Pick
If you’ve got the money to spend, Razer is never the wrong way to go. Made to cater to gamers, these earbuds are of the true wireless kind and suit many other uses.
Type: true wireless
Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
Special features: custom-tuned 13mm drivers, water-resistant, low latency connection, voice assistant
Gaming is one thing, but what if you wanted to go for a jog? These true wireless Razer earphones are going to suit you well if you’d like to get more out of your earbuds than just gaming.
Thanks to Bluetooth 5.0, their connection is nearly flawless and definitely low latency. This means that even in competitive games, you won’t regret picking these over the wired (usually lower latency) options.
The audio they offer is great, with clearly discernible differences in the tracks. In FPS games, the surround sound is more than adequate to hear every enemy sneaking up on you. Razer Hammerhead comes with a pair of 13mm custom-tuned drivers.
They are water-resistant, so if you like to take them to the gym, you absolutely can. They also offer a secure fit and several sets of earbuds.
To make things even better, they’re voice-assistant compatible and enabled by touch. In a way, they’re futuristic, but most of all, they’re tailored to the needs of more demanding users. If that is you, check them out.
- Voice-assistant compatible
- Auto-pairing for Bluetooth 5.0 devices
- Comes with a charging case and silicone earbud sleeves
- Custom-made audio drivers
- Solid microphone
- True wireless without any cords
- Decent battery life
- They’re a bit pricey
- Only compatible with Bluetooth 5.0 devices
This wraps up our list of the best gaming earbuds. Have we managed to convince you to switch camps and try out the earphone way of life? If you’re not quite convinced yet, let’s take one final look at all the above models.
- HyperX Cloud Gaming Earbuds are our favorites on this list of four. They combine great audio, a tangle-free cord, and a solid microphone, all in one affordable package. They’re not the best pick for music, though.
- Sound Panda Gaming Earbuds make up for what HyperX may lack by offering good audio quality in both games and music. However, the cord has a tendency to tangle.
- LUDOS Clamor Wired Earbuds: this is the budget option that we recommend. Decent all-around, they’re more than adequate for casual and semi-casual gamers.
- Razer Hammerhead True Wireless is the high-end alternative on our list. Completely wireless, voice-assistant compatible, running on a Bluetooth 5.0 latency-free connection — they’re everything you could ask for in a pair of gaming earbuds.
And just in case none of these appeals to you, here are our runners up for your consideration.
Gaming earbuds just might be the way of the future of gaming, but even if they’re not and they will remain a novelty to some, they will always be a favorite to many others. If you find that over-the-ear headphones just don’t cut it for you, check out one of the above gaming earbud options. They’re very likely to surprise you in a good way!