Best Gaming Earbuds of 2021

Looking for some great gaming audio that you can easily carry around? Earbuds is where it’s at. Whether it’s for your smartphone, or something that you can easily use on (handheld) consoles, earbuds can easily level up your mobile gaming experience. We’ll get you looking in the right places, with our top picks on the best gaming earbuds of today. 

Why choose earbuds over headphones for gaming?

First thing first: earbuds are somewhat of an acquired taste. Although many in-ear drivers nowadays prove exceptional in audio reproduction, many cost-comparable over-ear headphones usually outperform them. With larger drivers, it’s simply easier to create a deep sound stage, which can elevate spatial awareness in games. Comfort-wise, not everyone likes having tiny drivers pressed up to their ears. 

Close-up of the HyperX Cloud Earbuds, which can be considered on of the best gaming earbuds on the market.

Headphones often offer better price-to-performance ratios, albeit in a bulkier package. If you value mobility, or just like the idea of “closing your ears up”, then earbuds should be your go-to. And if that’s the case, you’ve come to the right place.

These are some of the best gaming earbuds of 2021

As personal preference plays a big part in earbud approval, we can’t just recommend one singular set to everyone. Some of our picks are tailored to certain budgets, others to different desires. All of them, however, could be considered the top of their respective class. 

The “best gaming earbuds” for you personally are still up to taste, but our picks will get you looking in the right direction. Without further ado, here are some great earbuds for gamers to consider.

HyperX Cloud Earbuds — A all-in-one mobile gaming solution

Great audio quality, proper comfort and competitive pricing: HyperX has it all. The Cloud Earbuds are a great starting point for any gamer looking for mobile audio. These red in-ear headphones connect over a singular 3.5mm jack (splitter not included), feature a solid in-line microphone and sound great out-of-the-box. 

HyperX Cloud Earbuds - Gaming Headphones with Mic for Nintendo Switch and...
  • Optimized for handheld mode
  • Signature HyperX comfort
  • Immersive in-game Audio

HyperX scores double in accessible comfort. Three patented silicone ear tips have been included, which are rather easy to swap as well. They fit most ears, while many users describe them as incredibly comfortable — even after prolonged gaming sessions. The 14mm large audio drivers have been tuned carefully, ensuring you’ll get some spatial awareness.

The HyperX Cloud Earbuds were mostly meant for Nintendo Switch use on-the-go (a leatherette carrying pouch is even included), but work great on other devices too. The embedded microphone works great with smartphones too, as well as the controllers of most gaming consoles. Do take in mind that the in-line control unit won’t let you change volume, as the Switch wouldn’t really require that. 

Razer Hammerhead Duo — The new generation of gaming earbuds

Razer has put out quite some Hammerheads over the years, with the Duo range now making up for a quick entry point. These analog, wired earbuds come with a tighter sound scape and an integrated microphone, making them highly accessible for mobile gaming.

Razer reigns with a sense for style. The Hammerheads look sleek in three different color ways (black, green, and one mirroring the gray on the Nintendo Switch) with an aluminum frame and rigid build. 

Razer Hammerhead Duo Console: Custom-Tuned Dual-Driver Technology - in-Line...
  • Immersive Full-Range Audio Custom-tuned dual driver technology provides deeper bass and higher frequency detail for dyanamic superior audio clarity...
  • Secure In-Ear Fit & Passive Noise Isolation Comes with 3 sizes of silicone tip replacements for achieving the best fit to improve comfort and outside...
  • Convenient In-Line Audio Controls Includes a built-in volume controller and microphone

The slick in-line controls let you mute your microphone quickly, but lack any volume control on the versions meant specifically for consoles. Razer delivers your standard of three ear tips, but cheaps out of supplying a splitter cable. It’s pretty clear Razer is pivoting towards mobile use cases with the Hammerhead family.

The embedded, dual drivers (one dynamic driver in the back, and one armature driver) have been tuned to enhance listening experiences. Most headphones will outperform the Hammerheads in spatial awareness, but they do alright in a pinch. Most users find that they can still pinpoint where shots are coming from. In addition, it can get bass sounds pumping, albeit less “muddy” than earlier Hammerheads.

Sennheiser CX 80S — Your all-round budget pick

Sennheiser is no stranger to solid mobile audio solutions. The CX 80S can mostly be seen as their budgetary point of entry, which still performs on-par. It’s not exactly high-end audio reproduction, but it’s well-defined enough for accessible, everyday use.  

Sennheiser CX 80S In-ear Headphones with In-line One-Button Smart Remote...
  • Uncompressed and balanced Sennheiser sound, so you will hear every detail of your music.
  • Product Note : If the size of the earbud tips does not match the size of your ear canals or the headset is not worn properly in your ears, you may not...
  • In line one button smart remote makes it convenient to play and pause music and take calls without needing to fumble with your phone.

The CX 80S sounds like what you would expect from Sennheiser. It does however lack some neat luxuries. For example, the headphones don’t come with an integrated microphone, and the in-line controls won’t let you change audio volume. It’s just for pausing music and taking calls. It’s abundantly clear where Sennheiser cuts costs. The CX 80S does feature a trio of different ear tips though, ensuring comfortable use. 

In addition, Sennheiser’s budget-friendly earbuds won’t enhance your gaming specifically. Overall, the audio reproduction is clear and well-balanced, but the earbuds won’t naturally push spatial awareness. Considering they’re highly affordable and still sound great, we’d say that’s a rather small price to pay.

Mad Catz E.S. PRO 1 — Still solid for competitive mobile gaming

We know: Mad Catz properly died off, at some point. And yes, we all associate the brand with that one yanky controller we were handed somewhere in our childhood. And still, some of their products have proven rather interesting. Mad Catz’s E.S. PRO 1, for example, still offers one of the best gaming earbuds on the market.  

Mad Catz E.S. PRO 1 Gaming Earbuds for PC, Consoles & Mobile Devices
  • Multiplatform Gamer: Play anywhere with a 35mm audio cable that links directly to console controllers, laptops, and mobile devices
  • ES PRO 1 has a 13.5mm speaker that's larger than most gaming earbuds Plus, a bigger ear-can boasts fantastic clarity and bass response
  • Dual Mics for Clear Chat: Its go beyond PC headsets with only 1 microphone An omnidirectional boom is ideal for gaming, and detaches for music or...

Mad Catz is coming in with fully analog earbuds, hefty 13.5mm drivers and a detachable omnidirectional microphone on top of an in-line alternative. Those microphones won’t have you podcasting or anything, but the additional boom mic is quite a strong nice-to-have for competitive gaming on the go. Mad Catz tops the package of three ear tips, an optional ear wing, in-line volume and mute controls, colorized splitter cables, and a neat carrying pouch. All in all, that’s quite a package for the price. 

As Mad Catz is no audio veteran, the sound production isn’t of the highest caliber. The rather large drivers do make for some trembling bass though, while still sounding clear. It’s great for gaming and cinematic movies, but music lovers might be left unsatisfied. The same goes for Mad Catz fluorescent green, alien-esque aesthetic — not everyone is game with those looks. If anything, that probably drove the brand to bankruptcy. 

Razer Hammerhead True Wireless — The AirPods of gaming

As wireless earbuds grew into popularity, Razer cut the wires on their Hammerheads too. The Razer Hammerhead True Wireless are connected over Bluetooth 5.0, with up to 15 hours of battery life. The earbuds come with their own USB-C charging case, as well as silicone ear tips for additional wearing comfort.

Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Bluetooth Gaming Earbuds: 60ms Low-Latency -...
  • More synchronized audio visual response for mobile gaming: Provides a more immersive wireless experience for videos and games via a 60ms input...
  • Immersive, Full-Range Audio: Custom-tuned 13mm driver technology provides deeper bass and higher frequency detail for dynamic, superior audio clarity...
  • Secure In-Ear Fit: Comes with silicone tips for comfort and added grip

These wireless buds are still Hammerheads at heart, but they steer slightly more into a mainstream appeal. The dual drivers made way for singular 13mm dynamic drivers, while the entirety of the Hammerheads is made water-resistant up to IPX4. It’s less about gaming, more about music enjoyment and work-out routines. Still, the soundscape serves gaming alright, and Razer worked the wireless latency down to 60ms. 

Control-wise, the Hammerhead True Wireless features touch-enabled voice commands, compatible with most Android and Apple devices. Pairing them to your smartphone is rather easy, too, with a solid auto-pair function on top. More expensive competitors might offer better microphones or other luxuries, but for Razer, it’s a great step towards mainstream appeal. 

HyperX Cloud Buds — The best sounding wireless gaming earbuds 

HyperX also cut cables, and made their Cloud Earbuds wireless. The so-called Cloud Buds connect over Qualcomm’s aptX HD — essentially Bluetooth on steroids — while still featuring 14mm drivers and an in-line microphone and control unit. This time, the headphones do offer digital volume control.

HyperX Cloud Buds – Bluetooth Wireless Headphones, Qualcomm aptX HD, 10...
  • Bluetooth wireless connection: Experience wireless freedom with Bluetooth ready media devices.
  • Long-lasting battery life: Enjoy music and video streaming with fewer interruptions for up to 10 hours on a single charge.
  • Premium HyperX sound: Features 14mm drivers to get you immersed in your audio entertainment.

The Cloud Buds aren’t exactly competitors to AirPods — at least not in physical form. The two ear pieces are connected with a HyperX red cable, integrating the microphone, wireless receiver, control unit, and the battery with a USB-C charging port. It might look “off”, but ensures that the earbuds themselves are still relatively light and comfortable. To ensure mobility, HyperX still supplies a neat carrying pouch.

As for battery life, the Cloud Buds should last around 10 hours, while taking roughly 2 hours to fully charge. That’s not the best battery scenario available, but HyperX makes up for it in greater comfort and exceptionally solid sound performance. Especially when making use of the aptX HD, these bad boys can really pull you into any mobile game.   

Nipped in the earbud

That’s where we’ll leave our list on some of the best gaming earbuds of today. Whether it’s something budget-friendly or exceptionally luxurious, we hope you found something that fancies your eye — or, in this case, ear. 

If there’s anything else you would like to know, feel free to reach out to us. The same goes for any suggestions that you feel should be considered the best gaming earbuds. No matter what you would like to add, we would love to keep talking mobile gaming audio. You can always hit us up, in the comments down below. 

Want to read up on more gaming audio? Check out our recommendations on the Best Bluetooth Gaming Headsets too, or get to know What Virtual Surround Sound Means.

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