The best earbuds for gaming have to produce big sound on high and low frequencies while delivering a comfortable wear for hours at a time. It’s a big ask, and in today’s crowded product environment companies are asking gamers to shell out hundreds for premium products. We think it shouldn’t be that way, so we put together a list of key considerations you should use when looking for the best earbuds for gaming. Click here to skip down to the list if you’re ready to take a look at the products we chose.
Wired or wireless? That’s right folks, wired earbuds are simply better for gaming than wireless headphones. 99% of the wireless earbuds out there use Bluetooth technology to delivery sound from device to eardrum. The problem lies in the latency and overall quality of the signal. Gaming is all about perfect reaction time. Being better than the enemy comes down to responding quickly. You just can’t do that in the same way when you aren’t plugged in. Every millisecond counts!
Are the earbuds comfortable? Those little bits that plug your ears can real old real fast if they aren’t comfortable. It’s a situation further complicated by your own ear shape, which is unique to you. Manufacturers have tried to solve this problem for years by using different materials, designing different shapes, and even including removable tips. Gamers may need comfort over seven or eight hours of continuous use.
How much power do earbuds use? It may seem like a little thing, but some earbuds use a lot more power than others. In fact, if you use earbuds with active noise cancellation or other built in tech, you’ll find smartphones and laptops get drained of power quickly. And for gamers on the go that’s a big issue. Let’s get a little more technical on the topic of power.
In reality, wired earbuds draw very little power relative to other things like screen backlights and data storage. If you read our article on how earbuds actually work you know because earbuds create a seal in your ear canal they only need to vibrate a tiny amount to produce seemingly big sound. But the issue of power consumption is a little known stat that nobody really publishes or tests.
That makes it hard to draw definitive conclusions about exactly how much power is being used by the earbuds. But we can estimate. Based on specs and repeated trial and error it seems most wired earbuds use between 10 and 20 milliwatts of power. While that’s a tiny number in the grand scheme it could add up to longer battery life. For the best earbuds for gaming roundup we’ll use only earbuds that come in at under 15 milliwatts of power usage during peak times.
Can you get good bass quality from earbuds? It’s a question we get asked time and time again. Earbuds are never going to be as effective at delivering bass as wired headphones. That’s largely due to physics and their capacity to vibrate your skull. But there are certainly winners and losers when it comes to the best earbuds for gaming. We have captured a compromise of all worlds in this roundup. Bass-head purists may also want to check out our review of the best earbuds for bass.
Do earbuds offer noise cancelling functionality? You are being lied to Neo. The world is not what it seems. The thing I hate about noise cancelling earbuds is that much of the time manufacturers fib. Let’s call it out for what it really is: They lie. Take a look at this Amazon.com search for ‘noise cancelling earbuds’. Over 30,000 results! This must certainly be the most common headphone category on the planet! In reality, most – if not all – of these earbuds are total fakes. The manufacturers get away with it because earbuds plug your ear canal.
That means you can’t hear ambient noise as well as you normally would. By that logic cotton balls also have noise cancelling features. Here’s the deal: There’s only one kind of noice cancelling when it comes to earbuds, and very few products have it. We did a recent roundup of noise cancelling earbuds with a more detailed description of the technology.
1.VAVA MOOV 11 are the best earbuds for gaming
It’s not often we make the claim that there is an absolute winner in our roundups. VAVA MOOV has won our eardrums with their 11 line of earbuds for gaming. The 11s seem to take care of everything – including waterproof hands free calling controls – in a sleek, matte black package. That’s coupled with an unusually comfortable shape that hugs your ear without adding pressure or discomfort. But design is only part of the story. The real joy of using the 11s comes when you turn them on. We gave Destiny 2 a go to test out range. Treble is sharp without being annoying. Bass is deep and rich despite the 11s tiny size. And the overall snug fit is comfortable even for long gaming sessions. Buy them. Use them. Thank us later.
2. Symphonized NRG 3.0 take a close second in the best earbuds for gaming r0undup
This isn’t the first time we’ve covered Symphonized. You’ll also find the NRG 3.0 earbuds on our roundup of wood grain headphones and earbuds. And as the product mix has evolved the NRG 3.0s seem to have gotten better and better. Crisp sound is almost on par with the VAVA MOOV 11s, while wood grain styling gives these earbuds a classic finish and a unique style. You can also select from a few color options. While that isn’t a game changer it is nice to add a little flair to your gaming earbuds to complement your rig setup. Playing Overwatch with the NRG 3.0s was actually better than normal thanks to clear surround sound giving warning when something is going on in the space around your character.
3. Zeus shows up to party with gaming earbuds that deliver a punch of bass
Games with rich sound benefit tremendously from the Zeus Premium Dual Driver Earbuds. Choosing to focus on bass for gaming earbuds works well if you play a lot of single player survival horror and action games like Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. Jump moments become more terrifying. Gunshots and explosions sound better. Ambient noise is somehow eerier. While these earbuds are wired, they include a portable Bluetooth receiver kit. That allows them to work with any Bluetooth device. That’s great if you want the 3.5mm jack to be compatible with newer iPhone models and your laptop. It’s an annoyance to have to buy and remember to bring two different sets of earbuds for various tasks.
4. KIKO E-Sport earbuds prove time travel is possible
Remember 2014? We sure do. The Razer Kraken headphones were the best (and most flamboyant) in gaming sound. KIKO’s E-Sport earbuds take us back to the time when neon green was the coolest gaming color for rigs and accessories, and it was awesome to have a snake or a spider as your company logo. It’s all about those Instagram sponsorship moments for pro gamers, right? Nostalgia aside, KIKO delivers a product that makes our best earbuds for gaming list with a value that is hard to match. And if you don’t like the color, an all black version is also for sale. Overall sound is good. Range is somewhat restricted on lower bass tones.
5. Enhance features a tangle-free design and overall great quality for the money
Encased in anodized aluminum housings, the ENHANCE earbuds are built to resist corrosion, wear and tear, and the elements. Thats a key aspect that others on our roundup of best earbuds for gaming don’t truly address. On top of high quality engineering the ENHANCE earbuds feature pretty good sound. The silicone support hooks and tangle-free flat cord are also nice touches that prove ENHANCE knows what gamers want. The price point is also a winner here. And though they aren’t at the top of our list, that may make a big difference to games on a budget.
That’s it gamers! The best earbuds for gaming come in all shapes and sizes. Now you have to decide which matches your style and needs. Check out our guide for the best wireless surround sound system worthy of gaming!