Over-ear headphones are the most common audio devices for gamers. But a big, bulky headset isn’t for everyone. They can be uncomfortable, warm, and put a lot of pressure on the top of the head and ears. Glasses wearers may feel the strain after long gaming sessions as the weight from the headset puts pressure on the frame. For those that don’t like over-ear headsets, earbuds are a small, in-ear alternative.
Earbuds have their own benefits and downsides. They are smaller and more portable, for those that travel or game outside of their home. They put no pressure on the outer ear or on the top of the head. You also won’t get that gamer bump in your hair if you choose an in-ear option.
On the other hand, earbuds do not have the capabilities that over-ear headsets do. There are a lot of disadvantages: they won’t always have microphones. If they do have microphones, they won’t be the same quality as those found on the chunky over-ear headsets. Sound may leak from the earbuds only to be picked up by the microphone, annoying any teammates you have.
Microphones aren’t the only issue with earbuds. The audio quality won’t be as good as over-ear headsets. Earbuds are also worse for you than over-ear headsets. The potential for hearing damage and loss is higher for in-ear devices than those that sit outside the ears. Because they sit inside the ear, there’s the potential for pain, discomfort, and fatigue from wearing them for long periods of time.
While they won’t measure up to over-ear headsets, earbuds are capable little devices that suit particular lifestyles better than a large, heavy headset. When looking for good earbuds, keep an eye out on audio quality, comfort, microphone availability and quality, and price. Most quality earbuds are not designed for gamers, but rather for music lovers and mobile use. Gaming brands have yet to dive fully into an earbud market. This makes options with decent microphones and sound quality limited.
Noise canceling is a big bonus of both headsets and earbuds. Most earbuds will have noise isolation. Noise isolation is a passive form of noise cancellation. It prevents additional sound by creating a seal over the ear canal. With an active noise cancellation process, the headset uses technology to cancel extra sounds before it reaches the ears. Both can be effective but noise cancellation will be more reliable. Noise isolation requires a perfect fit.
With all of that in mind, here is our list of the best earbuds for gamers.
Betron makes a variety of low cost wired earbuds with noise isolating technology. The Betron YSM1000 are marketed as having a strong bass, solving one of the problems with earbuds. They have a built-in microphone and controller. The earbuds come with a carrying case and multiple sized silicone and memory foam earbuds.
The Enacfire E60 wireless earbuds look similar to the Razer Hammerhead but without the cost. They are designed for sports use, making them tough and durable, but lacking some of the features gamers expect. They come with a wireless charging case for the ultimate wireless experience. The earbuds can be controlled with smart touch sensors. They are waterproof for outdoor use or spills. The E60 has an eight-hour battery. There is a mic in each earbud for better quality sound. The earbuds also have noise cancellation to filter out ambient noise. These earbuds do a lot for their price. They may not cater to the gaming community but would be a good option for those on a moderate budget.
The HyperX Cloud Earbuds are a lower cost, wired alternative designed with gaming in mind. They are marketed for mobile and Nintendo Switch users but make use of a standard headphone jack. As long as your device or PC has that port, they will be compatible. They also use an in-mic attached to the cable, which won’t be the best quality available, but if you want to nanoboost your Reinhardt, it is better than nothing. The cable is rubberized and tangle-free to help prevent knots in the cord. They also come with three sizes of silicone inserts for maximum comfort. HyperX is a cheaper brand alternative to Razer or Turtle Beach. If you want earbuds but don’t want to spend too much, the HyperX Cloud Earbuds are a good option.
The iWalk TWS wireless earbuds are a mix of sport and gaming earbuds. They have a great, modern and stylish look that will satisfy that part that wants a fashionable set. They have low latency at 40ms, beating Razer’s 60ms. They are waterproof with a built-in microphone, seven-hour battery life, 7.1 Surround Stereo Sound experience. The microphone has noise cancellation, sparing your teammates of background noise.
The KLIM Fusion Earbuds are one of the lower cost items on the list. With over 20 thousand reviews, they are a strong pair of cheap earbuds for gamers and music lovers alike. They come in five colors: black, blue, green, orange, and red. Unlike most earbuds, they use memory foam instead of silicone for the best size and fit. The memory foam blocks outside noise better, provided the fit is good. It has an integrated microphone for calls.
Another well-known gaming brand, Razer, is dipping into the earbud market. They have two models, a wired Hammerhead and the wireless featured here. The wireless has a 60 ms input latency, 15-hour battery life, and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity. They come with silicone tips for additional comfort and fit. They are water-resistant and have touch and voice assistant compatibility. While they have a microphone, the quality won’t match that of standard mics.
Sennheiser is a pricey brand designed for audiophiles, not gamers. As a result, their microphones won’t cater to gamer needs but the sound quality is top-notch. The IE 80 S is a combination pair of earbuds. They rest comfortably inside the ear canal while the cable wraps around the ear for security and stability. They have ear hooks, a detachable cable, and three different types of ear-plugs, each in three different sizes. The IE 80 S is an expensive set, however, so these are best if you’re already comfortable with earbuds as a gamer.
Shure established itself as an audiophile brand. Headphones and earbuds from Shure deliver quality sound but often for a premium price. The SE215 has two variations “-CL” indicating clear and “-k” for black. Both are the same model. Shure designed this model with durable reinforced cables for strength and use. The wires are formable and can be used in an over-ear configuration to stay in place and out of the way. The connector has a lock-snap to allow it to rotate for the perfect fit. The headphones block 37 dB of ambient sound thanks to sound isolation sleeves. The kit includes three sizes of flex and black foam sleeves and a carrying case. These can be used wired or wirelessly. While wireless, they have a 10-hour battery life and 30-foot range.
Turtle Beach is an established headset brand for gamers. The company has long been involved in developing and producing quality headsets for the gaming market. Turtle Beach’s Battle Buds, besides having an adorable name, have a detachable microphone that solves some of the problems with earbuds. Instead of a microphone drooping somewhere around the collarbone, this one sits where the average headset’s mic would rest. They come with multiple earpieces to help users find the perfect fit. Built into the cable is a controller to quickly adjust the volume or mute your mic. They come in a standard black and a white with blue accents. These are wired so charging and battery life are not a concern.
The 1More Triple Driver in-ear phones are a good looking pair of moderately priced earbuds. They are wired with triple drivers to deliver accurate listening and clarity. Designed by Luca Bernard, an award-winning sound engineer, these deliver fantastic sound without sacrificing style. They have nine sets of ear tips to ensure the proper size and fit for anyone. There’s an inline remote control for quick access. There is also an inline microphone with independently set ground wires to eliminate background noise and crosstalk.
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