The Best Gaming Earbuds 2023
The Best Gaming Earphones 2021 For Earphone Gaming - Best Gaming Earbuds With Mic & Without
Buying the best gaming earbuds may sound a bit peculiar to some, however, with esports becoming larger by the day, earbuds have managed to creep their way into the gamer-specific category. Whether it’s because over-ear gaming headsets are too warm, uncomfortable, or you’re just looking for something slightly more incognito, there is an in-ear headphone offering that will suit your needs.
In the following article, we sit down with what we believe to be the best gaming earbuds in 2023 We have a bunch of different options that range from the best gaming earphones with mic, the most affordable option, the best all-around gaming earbuds, and the more premium, feature-packed alternatives.
Our Top Picks
How We Choose
Buying a new pair of gaming earbuds can be a little daunting, they tend not to perform as well as their over-ear counterparts and have been deemed unreliable in the past. All this before having to sift through the wide range of options!
Making sure you get the right gaming earbuds for your needs is crucial, the last thing you want to do is waste your cash on a product that doesn’t fit the bill. This process can often require a lot of research and time but this is where WePC comes in. We will sift through online comparisons, competitor and user reviews to narrow down our search.
Once we have our selections we bring them all into one place to make your life easier.
How We Test
Testing the products we recommend is one of the most important aspects of our best-of-guides, and something we take extremely seriously. We don’t just want to recommend the most popular products; we want to recommend the best products, regardless of reputation or brand.
How we do this is by physically going out and purchasing the products we recommend. Once we’ve acquired a shortlist of recommendations, we start by doing our independent in-house tests to make sure they live up to our standards. We use gaming earbuds in real-life scenarios, whether it’s gaming or music. We then whittle down our shortlist into a final five, which becomes our best.
Numerous team members will test each set of earbuds to provide a consensus instead of just one person’s opinion. This will hopefully give a more rounded and accurate representation of what each product offers.
The earbuds get tested in gaming scenarios, music audio playback, microphone clarity, comfort, and price.
You can check out some of our related consumer guides right here:
- Best Gaming Headsets
- Best Wireless Gaming Headsets
- Best Gaming Headset under $100
- Best Gaming Headset under $50
Things To Consider
It is unfortunate that not everyone can enjoy the comfort and quality of gaming headsets and over-ear headphones but regardless of your needs, we want to make this process as simple as possible. What makes a pair of earbuds the best for gaming comes down to a few, easy to understand factors.
Gaming Earbuds Vs. Regular Earbuds
It is important to know that some gaming earbuds may be marketed as such but they are simply branded earbuds in disguise. There is little to differentiate between the two, with the more established audio brands usually offering higher quality experiences. If you enjoy gaming with your earbuds and need a set that features a microphone then by all means upgrade but if you play with your current earbuds and they work fine, maybe consider saving your cash or going for a gaming headset.
Gaming Earbuds Vs. Gaming Headsets
While gaming headsets are still behind in terms of sound quality compared to audio headphones, they still offer a much more balanced and well-rounded gaming experience over earbuds. Sound and mic quality is better but sometimes they can be a little bulky and less desirable for anything other than gaming.
While gaming earbuds are going to be cheaper and more portable, with wireless technology being as good as it is right now, you could always pick up a wireless gaming headset instead. Of course, for some, a headset is a no-go area, with some favoring the lightweight, compact earbud alternative.
It is worth noting that you may lose some of the immersion and audio quality when using gaming earbuds from the more cinematic games out there but this is all rather subjective to what is important to you.
In headphones, speakers, and other sound systems, “drivers” refer to one of two things: the software component that allows the device to be used with a computer and the hardware component that produces the sound in the headphones.
Larger headphones typically have multiple drivers per-ear, each used for different frequency ranges. The more drivers you have, the “cleaner” your sound should be since you won’t have just one driver being over-stressed with too many things to do.
Because of the smaller, cheaper nature of earbuds, though, many units will only come with one driver or two. In general, the larger the driver and the more there are, the better your listening experience will be.
Adapter And Mic
In this context, we’re referring to an adapter that you can use to split your single headphone cable into two; one for your mic, and one for your headphones. This is because most PCs won’t be able to take both of those inputs from just one input, unlike most smartphones.
Having this adapter included is a great feature that saves the user money spent on workarounds or just buying it themselves.
Of course, a mic is also important for the purposes of communications. While you can also look into our collection of best microphones for gaming if you’re serious about that, having a mic in your gaming earbuds is much more convenient overall.
Most, if not all of our earbud selections feature a 3.5mm jack meaning they will work in your console controller, with your Nintendo Switch, and mobile phone. There are Bluetooth options available but they are not latency-free like the wired options you see here.
Generally, earbuds are worn when out and about and generally being active so they are naturally a bit more durable and weatherproof than other types of audio equipment. It’s because of this that they are also sweatproof and can keep your ears cooler for longer when compared to bulky gaming headsets. For the masses, a sweaty head is a bit of a none issue but there are plenty of gamers out there who struggle with comfort from all types of audio hardware.
The The Best Gaming Earbuds
- Great build quality
- Nice compact ergonomic design
- Good functionality
- Good value
- Included gaming microphone
- Very low sound leakage
- Mediocre battery life
- Noise Isolation could be better
- Microphone not of great quality
Razer are a well-known gaming peripherals brand: producing keyboards, mice, and full-size on-ear headphones, among other things (i.e. thin gaming laptops). The Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Earbuds mark their first foray into the wireless earphone space.
As with all things Razer, these earbuds look great, as does the mini carry and charging case which can store up to three additional charges for the earbuds. They are one-size-fits-all, which may put some people off with particularly small ears for instance, but for us, they proved to be very comfortable and snug. The braided USB-A to USB-C charging cable feels robust and light and has the ability to adapt to different device platforms which include PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, and mobile devices.
The touch-enabled functionality can take some getting used to when you use the standard logo area on the side of the earbuds as the touchpad, but the functionality it offers in terms of accepting/rejecting calls, playing/pausing media, skipping tracks, activating pairing mode etc. is impressive on such a small device. You have to hold your finger on slightly longer than just tapping them in each case to enact these commands – a small but significant difference that reduces accidental miss-presses when gaming.
Sound quality is overall fairly average when compared to on-ear headphones, but as good as you will get in earbuds outside of the most expensive premium options like the Bose QuietComfort 20, which cost several times the price. In games such as fortnight, CS:GO, and Insurgency: Sandstorm that we tested it in, there was good bass representation and explosions and gunshots sounded solid.
As you’d expect from an inbuilt microphone inside some earbuds, the audio quality is not the best – we wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a bad mic, just fairly mediocre. You will be audible to those you’re communicating with in-game, but expect some background noise to be picked up and a degree of muffling to your voice in loud environments.
These Razer earphones occupy about the mid-range of the price spectrum, and we definitely feel they justify that pricetag and offer good value for money.
You can check out our full in-depth review of the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Earbuds for a thorough look through each of the features.
- Great Sound Quality
- Good Bass
- Microphone Included
- Noise cancelling
- Hardware Controls
- Very expenisve
- May need a splitter for PC
The Bose QC20’s may not compete with the likes of gaming headsets and in-ear monitors but they offer a decent sound quality with excellent noise cancellation, for paying in loud environments on the go or at home.
These are very well-designed gaming earphones, with a comfortable fit and durable construction. The sound is decent for gaming and with the included inline mic and noise cancellation, they perform well. These are quite versatile and feel stable enough to enjoy at the gym or while playing sport, with the shape keeping them in your ears.
These feature a low latency connection for gaming and while the microphone isn’t the best, the noise isolation is superb, offering a bit of immersion.
These barely leak and will block out a decent amount of external noise, making these a very good option for anyone looking to pick up a pair of earbuds for gaming.
- Great Sound Quality
- Good Bass
- Detachable cable
- May need a splitter for PC
The Linsoul Kz Zs10 are actually in-ear monitors, not gaming earbuds as such but they are incredibly comfy and deliver great sound in many environments. These are a very affordable option and are a great addition for anyone looking to play single-player games.
There is a mic included with these but you may need a splitter to get these working without PC (depending on your PC). Furthermore, they can plug straight into your console controller or phone. The design with these is one of the best on the list, with that twisted wire look, see-through casing, and detachable cable, they look superb. These are quite compact and easy to carry around, making them a better choice for mixed usage than others on this list.
These are a very durable pair but they do lack hardware controls, which could be an issue for some gamers out there.
- Cool aesthetic design
- Very light weight
- Solid audio output
- Decent bass
- Quite expensive
The Shure SE215-CL gaming earphones signify the start of the premium offerings in this best of guide. They are the first of the IEM’s (Inner Ear Monitors) which provide superior audio playback and comfort over the non-IEM gaming choices.
The professional series comes in a clear shell that shows off the intricate inner technology nicely. The cable is also clear, creating a really unusual design that we lovehere at WePC.
The single dynamic driver helps produce great sound output which is brilliant for both in-game audio and music playback. They provide excellent sound isolation to help users become immersed in their gameplay. Crucial for tournament-level gamers.
Unfortunately the mic these gaming earphones have been equipped with can only be used alongside phones meaning you would have to purchase a standalone microphone for gaming purposes. What you lose in microphone accommodation is made up for with superior audio playback and comfort.
With great sound and comfort naturally comes a higher price tag, however, for IEM’s this is considered good value.
- Nice in game spatial awareness
- 3 varying ear inserts
- Perfect for the Nintendo Switch
- Mic isn't compatible on PC without splitter
- Longevity is questionable
HyperX is a household name when it comes to gaming headsets and audio devices. What we have today, however, is their latest offering in the earbud category.
The Clouds, as we like to call them, come to the table with a bunch of features and benefits which allow for effortless sessions of gaming. They have a 90-degree angled plug and tangle-free cable which allows for obstructive free gameplay which is always welcomed.
The design is strictly red with black accents around the controls and earbuds. The patented silicone ear inserts come in 3 different sizes helping to cater these buds to all consumers. We found them particularly comfortable but we prone to slipping out occasionally.
The built-in mic worked very efficiently and provided excellent audio playback with mid/low outside noise pickup. The actual sound output is pretty decent offering good high’s and bass respectively, whereas spacial awareness which was pretty decent, was ultimately nothing to write home about
Overall, if you’re looking for a budget set of earbuds with decent audio output and a solid built-in mic, the HyperX cloud’s could be the pick for you. They are definitely our choice for the best earphones for gaming on a budget.
- Excellent design and aesthetics
- 3 varying-size ear inserts
- Nice comfortable fit
- Solid build quality
- Included gaming microphone
- On the expensive side for earbuds
- Only 1 style of ear insert
Cooler Master is better known for their range of excellent cases and fans, however, they’ve developed some cool keyboards, mice, and now gaming earbuds with mic for the consumer to get their teeth into.
They have a cool design that offers a sleek metallic finish with three different-sized ear inserts to accommodate all types of users. The braided cable feels robust and light and has the ability to adapt to different device platforms which include PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, and mobile devices.
The audio output is very pleasing and works excellently in-game to give pinpoint spatial awareness in games such as fortnight, CS:GO, and PUBG. A fantastic feature Cooler Master has implemented is the new FocusFX 2.0 switch, which when pressed alters the audio output from stronger bass to a more balanced, cleaner sound.
The microphone works well and provides solid voice output, it does pick up some background noise but nothing too crazy.
They come to shelves in the mid/high price range but we feel they justify that pricetag and offer decent value for money, as far as gaming earbuds go.
- Impressive case build quality
- Sleek gamer aesthetic
- Poor sound quality
- Substandard earbuds build quality
Aside from the aforementioned value for money, the EKSA GT1 Cobra earbuds offer some fun features and possibly the most out-there design we’ve seen from a set of gaming earbuds here at WePC.
The most notable feature of these is the ‘gaming mode’. This is activated by a double-tap of either bud and switches them into an ultra-low-latency mode, with an impressively low 38ms response time, making them faster than the Razer Hammerheads, which is impressive given the huge difference in price. We’re talking about a total difference of almost $100.
The design is our favorite thing about these, as not only does the case take the form of a cobra head, but so do both earbuds, literally everything about this product other the cable has a snake-centric design, little lights even illuminate their eyes which is a nice touch.
If you’re anxious f0or more info, take a look at our full EKSA GT1 Cobra True Wireless Gaming Earbuds Review
The Best Gaming Earbuds frequently asked questions
Why Do Pro Gamers Wear Earbuds and Headphones?
Two sets of headphones seem outlandish at first, but there’s a very good reason why pro gamers don both to compete.The earbuds feed gamers the sounds coming directly from the game they’re playing, but earbuds have no noise-canceling capabilities. This is a problem when you’re competing in a large arena with a crowd and commentators. That’s where the second pair of headphones come in. To help them both focus on the task at hand and to prevent cheating, small amounts of white noise are played through the second set of headphones to ensure no noise from their surroundings can reach their ears.
Which is Better for Gaming Headphones or Earbuds?
Full headphones offer the better sound quality and noise cancellation for gaming. That’s assuming both products have a similar price tag and occupy the same portion of the market. For the most part, the mics on headphones are of a higher quality than what you’ll get with earbuds too.
Headphones, with their cushioned ear cups and space for the ears, are also a much more comfortable prospect if you enjoy lengthy stints on your favorite games.
Conversely, not everyone prefers headphones. Even if they technically offer better audio, some are willing to sacrifice sound quality for the minimal scale of earbuds.
These smaller in-ear designs are also slightly more versatile as you can use them for general listening on the go, whereas specialist gaming headphones should really stay with your build.
What Earbuds Do Pro Gamers Use?
You might be surprised which earbuds find their way into your favorite pro gamer’s ears. You’d think the big players would only settle for the best, but some use fairly entry-level products. JW, for example, is known to use standard Apple earbuds from time to time, as does his Counterstrike contemporary, Lekr0. There’s nothing wrong with this. Apple earbuds have pretty good audio quality, but they’re not too durable. We’d be surprised if these pros don’t keep spares with them just in case their first set fail.
You’re just as likely to see the pros using Sennheiser earbuds, namely, the momentum design. If you’ve got a sharp eye, you’ll also notice a fair few Razer Hammerheads nestled in the pro’s ear canals. Others use high quality, gaming-optimized Samsung, Bose, or Cooler earbuds. There isn’t really a set standard for pro gaming; It all comes down to personal preference.
There we have it, the best gaming earbuds / best gaming earphones of 2021. With the rise in mobile gaming, the popularity of gaming earbuds is only going to grow. These are the most portable option out there and offer refuge for gamers in hotter climates during peak summer.
The best gaming earbud option overall were the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Earbuds. This set of buds brings all the connectivity you need to get that audio working across a variety of platforms. The Bose QuietComfort 20 offer the best sounds quality, but at a premium price.
What do you consider to be the best gaming earbuds out there? Would you ever consider using them on your daily commute or would you prefer to stick to a gaming headset? Let us know what earbuds you’ve gone for down in the comments below.
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