If there’s an underserved market in gaming, its for players who prefer earbuds to bulky over-the-ear headsets. Gaming earbuds are few and far between, even as a few companies have tried to develop solutions. EPOS—formerly paired to Sennheiser, but now spun off into its own brand of gaming headsets—is addressing the need for more gaming earbuds and in-ear options, but taking it a step further. What would a wireless version of gaming earbuds look like, akin to Apple AirPods?
Enter the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid Wireless Gaming Earbuds. These powerful earbuds are quite reminiscent of Apple AirPods—two separate wireless earbuds come with a charging case and can connect via Bluetooth to any Bluetooth compatible device. The key difference that makes them unique for gaming is the inclusion of a small USB-C wireless dongle—which can plug right into the front of your PS5—that the GTW 270 earbuds can connect to via aptX low-latency wireless. This means you can use the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid Wireless Gaming Earbuds with your PS5, which doesn’t support traditional Bluetooth connections for headsets. You can also use it with USB Type-A devices thanks to an included adapter.
If there’s one immediate downside, it’s that voice is not supported via the USB-C wireless dongle. While they do have a mic for when they are connected via Bluetooth—using them to take phone calls or other voice applications—the USB-C wireless option doesn’t support voice to maintain low-latency. For some, this will be a deal breaker. The EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid Wireless Gaming Earbuds aren’t a proper gaming headset without voice, even if they do offer a unique solution to at least listening to gaming audio.
The PS5 does have an interesting workaround for using voice with these earbuds, however. You can set the voice chat mic to the DualSense controller, allowing you to use the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid Wireless Gaming Earbuds to hear sound, while using the onboard DualSense mic to talk to your friends and teammates. It’s a bit of an unconventional solution, but it finally makes good use of that otherwise annoying DualSense mic, and works to plug the holes in the earbuds’ feature set.
For someone who doesn’t care about voice, however, these earbuds are a great option. My wife uses headphones while gaming at all time, but rarely uses voice chat options. She prefers in-ear headsets when she can find them, and the GTW 270 Hybrid Earbuds works perfectly for how she games, letting her have wireless in-ear audio but not needing it to transmit her voice. While they wouldn’t work for my traditional evening or weekend of gaming, they meet all of her needs. The bonus is being able to take them away from the console and use them with her phone, or even just plug the USB-C dongle into the Switch if she decides to change what console she’s using.
We did find that the earbuds can experience occasional small dropouts and crackling interference via the USB-C low latency wireless, but our space is pretty dense with wireless signals that can easily cross and interfere. The issue was infrequent enough that it didn’t register as a major problem, but it’s still worth mentioning.
EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid Wireless Gaming Earbuds Review – Small Speaker, Big Sound
Fortunately the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid Wireless Gaming Earbuds make good use of the bandwidth not taken up by voice. They sound great, with high-quality projection that accurately reflects the source audio. EPOS isn’t prone to digital manipulation of audio, rather, they are interested in clarity. These earbuds won’t artificially pump up the bass or scoop the mids just to achieve an artificially “good” sounding audio profile, but rather let you hear the sounds as the original audio designer intended. There will always be limitations to what such a small driver can achieve, but these are impressive, given the size.
You’ll need to make sure you have the right fit for the eartips, however. When I first used them, I was quite impressed with the audio quality, but my wife immediately complained of them being flat and tinny, with a lacking bass profile and piercing highs. At first I accused her of buying into the audio marketing lie that more bass equals better audio, but we soon discovered that the default eartips didn’t fit her ear right, and weren’t creating a good enough seal to allow the bass to resonate through the small speakers, creating a very flat sound. Once she found the proper fit, she was much more satisfied with how the earbuds performed.
There are no volume controls on the earbuds themselves. You’ll need to set the level of the audio through your source. This isn’t uncommon for Bluetooth earbuds, but many gamers are used to having volume control options on their headsets, so it does end up requiring a bit of a shift in thinking. Removing the right earbud will fully mute all audio (as the controlling earbud that pairs to the left), while just taking the left one out of your ear will let you continue listening via the right earbud. There is a single multi-function button on the right earbud to control audio playback, skip songs, answer calls, etc. via Bluetooth.
Battery life clocks in at about 5 hours, with the charging case holding another 15 at a full charge, for 20 hours of use in between charges. In the past couple of weeks testing them, I never reached a point of running out of battery on the earbuds. Storing them in the case means they are always fully charged and ready to go the next time I pull them out, and a convenient charge indicator on the front of the case lets you know when the case itself needs to get a top up. In my humble opinion, all battery-powered headsets and earbuds need storage solutions that charge them to prevent that mad scramble for a fully charged headset at the most inopportune moments.
All in all, the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid Wireless Gaming Earbuds are a great foray into exploring a different kind of audio solution for gaming. While the lack of voice through the USB-C wireless is an enormous downside, particularly at the $199 price point, there are workarounds on the PS5, and the earbuds still serve a niche that has so far gone unchallenged in gaming audio. Perhaps rather than seeing these as a gaming headset with limitations, approach the GTW 270 Hybrid as a nice set of wireless earbuds that happen to have a pretty solid gaming audio solution included.
EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid Wireless Gaming Earbuds review unit provided by manufacturer. For more information, please read our Review Policy.