Which gaming earbuds are best?
Gamers are always on the lookout for products to make their gaming experience better and more comfortable. While many headsets offer superior sound quality, wearing a large device on your head that covers your ears during long gaming sessions can become uncomfortable. For this reason, many gamers are switching to earbuds. Earbuds sit inside your ear and are smaller, more comfortable and weigh much less than a cumbersome headset. They’re also much less expensive, which makes them perfect for budget-minded gamers.
Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise-Canceling Headphones are some of the best on the market. They offer headset-quality sound, noise cancellation and a comfortable fit.
What to know before you buy gaming earbuds
Different types of audio devices
With all the technical terms surrounding audio devices for gaming, it can be difficult to understand. It’s important to know why earbuds are different from traditional gaming headphones and headsets.
Earbuds: Earbuds are small headphones that sit inside the ears. They can be either wireless or wired and are designed to be more affordable and comfortable than traditional headsets. Some designs use silicone tips that go inside your ear canal to provide noise isolation, while others rest on the outside of your ear canal and don’t offer noise isolation.
Headphones: Headphones feature two small speakers that go over your ear and are attached by a band. They have a higher quality of sound, noise cancellation and battery life compared to in-ear devices, but they’re larger, bulkier and more expensive. If you use headphones for gaming, keep in mind that you have to use a separate microphone to communicate in-game.
Headsets: Headsets are very similar to headphones in size and shape. They provide better noise cancellation and sound quality than earphones and earbuds, but they’re also more expensive. The main difference between headsets and headphones is that headsets combine a built-in microphone that extends out, providing better communication to your teammates in-game. For more, check out this BestReviews list of best gaming headsets.
What to look for in quality gaming earbuds
If you’re gaming in a noisy environment, noise isolation can be very important. Noise isolation earbuds use silicone tips inside your ear canal to physically block out external noise. This is different from noise cancellation, which uses actual soundwaves in the earbuds to block out certain sounds. Certain higher-quality earbuds use both noise cancellation and isolation and include an additional silicone piece to keep the earbud in place within your ear canal.
Wired vs. wireless
Wired earbuds offer less latency than wireless. This means sound travels from your game to your ears with less delay. This can be very important for gamers, especially if you want a competitive edge over your opponents. Wired earbuds also have a better overall sound quality. However, the difference can be negligible to a casual gamer. Wireless earbuds offer more comfort and mobility, but you may sacrifice audio quality.
Most earbuds come with a built-in microphone that can be used for gaming, and they’re also convenient for online meetings and phone calls. If you’re planning on using a separate microphone with your earbuds, this may not be of importance to you. Because most gamers are familiar with using headsets that have built-in microphone extensions, some manufacturers put a bigger emphasis on microphone quality.
How much you can expect to spend on gaming earbuds
Gaming earbuds can cost from $40-$250.
Gaming earbuds FAQ
How long do gaming earbuds last?
A. This depends on the quality of the product and how carefully you handle the earbuds over time. With proper care, quality earbuds can last 2 years or more. You can also check the product’s warranty before purchasing to ensure you can get a replacement, should it become faulty.
How long do the batteries stay charged on wireless gaming earbuds?
A. Battery charge varies from 4 hours all the way up to 20 hours with premium earbuds brands.
What are the best gaming earbuds to buy?
Top gaming earbuds
What you need to know: Bose is a well-known high-end audio brand, and their QuietComfort headphones use a proprietary tip that extends within your ear to keep the earbuds in place.
What you’ll love: These premium earbuds use true noise cancellation and isolation technology that blocks out ambient noise and brings the important sounds to the front. They even have an Aware button that shuts off the noise cancellation, allowing you to hear what’s going on around you.
What you should consider: These are some of the most expensive earbuds on the market.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top gaming earbuds for the money
What you need to know: Razer’s Hammerhead earbuds mimic the popular style of Apple’s AirPods, so you can be confident in their comfort level.
What you’ll love: Even though these are truly wireless earbuds, Razer promises low-latency audio with only a 60-millisecond delay, keeping you competing alongside gamers who use wired headsets and headphones.
What you should consider: There are too many touch-sensitive controls, so adjusting settings can sometimes be difficult.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: Turtle Beach is a staple in the gaming audio market, and while most earbud microphones stray too far from the mouth, they’re the only major manufacturer who offer a built-in extended microphone for in-game communication.
What you’ll love: These earbuds are very inexpensive and are universally compatible with Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox Series X and S, and they can even be used for mobile gaming.
What you should consider: There is no noise cancellation, and the sound quality is lacking.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Jordan Beliles writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.