Best Gaming Earbuds 2018 | Buying Guide and Reviews

Gaming earbuds: for when you need to get a Victory Royale at home, and on the train to work! If you’re looking for high quality sound in a low profile that won’t hurt your Steam Wallet, then earbuds are the way to go. Many gamers are turning to these headphone alternatives to meet their audio needs because in 2018 earbuds are more comfortable, portable, and affordable than ever.

Whether you want a lightweight solution for total audio immersion at home, or the option to shout at your Fortnite teammates while riding the bus, gaming earbuds might be perfect for you.


Best Gaming Earbuds 2018


  • Features
  • 13.5mm driver
  • Dual mics: one boom, one in-line
  • Adjustable ergonomics for comfort fit
  • 3 interchangeable earpieces
  • Inner ear supports
  • PC adapter included

Pros:

  • Mute control for mic (this is surprisingly rare)
  • Reputable brand
  • Detachable boom mic is omnidirectional

Cons:

  • One color choice only, and some might not like the bright green


​​This buyer’s guide is focused on you gamers out there, and with that criteria in mind, the only logical choice for best overall would be the Mad Catz E.S. Pro 1. There are other earbuds in our list below that have specific features better than the Mad Catz, but no others that have all of the features all gamers might need, and a cost that nearly all gamers can afford.

Driver size doesn’t mean everything when it comes to determining sound quality, but the Mad Catz E.S Pro 1 comes equipped with the largest drivers on this list. Also important in determining sound quality (besides listening to them yourself), is the frequency response range, the materials used in the housing of the earbuds, and the physical and electrical dampening of the drivers done by the manufacturer (also known as “tuning”).

The Mad Catz feature a solid 20Hz - 20kHz frequency range, further allowing for a substantial presence of “highs” and “lows”, and while materials used in the housing and the tuning of the drivers is hard to determine through the item description, Mad Catz is a reputable brand-- so we’d give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to a product at this price point.

But it’s the little things that really worked to tip the scale in Mad Catz’ favor with this product. The presence of a detachable boom mic and a mute button on the in-line controller are incredibly important to gaming, and also incredibly rare when it comes to “gaming” earbuds. Even earbuds hundreds of dollars more don’t have these features, despite being marketed for gamers!


Top 3 Budget Gaming Earbuds

Name

Driver (per earbud)

Frequency Response

11.5mm Driver

20Hz - 20kHz

9mm Driver

15Hz - 21kHz

10mm Driver

20Hz - 20kHz

1. Betron DC950 - Best Budget Gaming Earbuds 2018

  • Features
  • Quality, durable design
  • Comes with 3 different sized in-ear silicone eartips
  • Travel pouch
  • Large drivers for price
  • Built-in, in-line microphone and volume controls
  • Noise isolating
  • Flat, tangle-free cable

Pros:

  • Great drivers and sound quality for the price
  • Solid bass
  • Different sized eartips ensures ideal comfort and sound isolation
  • Durable metal housing, great quality for the price
  • “L” shaped connector and overall design creates sleek, stylish look

Cons:

  • No adapter for PC included
  • Microphone is adequate, but may not be robust enough for your gaming needs
  • No mic mute


If you’re on a tight budget, like less than $10 tight, then it’s hard not to recommend these earbuds. For the price they offer sound quality and features that are more than you would expect, and are more than you get from competitors are this same price point. There are some features you’ll have to sacrifice, but every single penny you spend on these earbuds will be put to good use with this purchase.

The combination of the relatively large 11.5mm drivers (one in each earbud) functioning at a decent frequency response range, results in the “super bass” that the manufacturer touts and hundreds of positive reviews rave about. These earbuds have an in-ear design for sound isolation, and come with three different sized eartips to help achieve the perfect fit. They’re encased in a sleek metal housing that should be as durable as it looks, and have an elegant aesthetic overall-- so you can look good while gaming on the go!

Where these earbuds fall short is with their included microphone and their compatibility. The in-line mic may not pick up your voice as well as most gamer-communicators might need, and a mic mute button is also lacking. In addition, PC gamers will need to buy an additional adapter to split the cable into separate mic and audio outputs.

If you don’t game on PC and mic communication isn’t your first gaming priority, or if you want to use your earbuds for music as well, then the Betron DC950 is hard to pass up. Keep in mind that you can pick up a PC headset splitter for relatively cheap on Amazon too.

2. Granvela G20 Gaming Earbuds

  • Features
  • 3 pairs and sizes of eartips are included, including one pair that are memory foam
  • Noise isolating in-ear design
  • PC adapter included
  • In-line mic and volume control
  • Color choices: black, green, red
  • Magnetic clasp to easily wear around neck and to prevent tangling
  • Extended Cable

Pros:

  • Good sound quality for price
  • Wide frequency range for price: theoretically deeper bass
  • 3 sizes of eartips and bonus memory foam tips to perfect sound isolation
  • All features work on PC, console controllers, and mobile devices thanks to included adapter
  • 12 month warranty
  • Mic works well according to reviewers

Cons:

  • Smaller drivers than Beton
  • Durability, quality of components
  • No Mute for mic


The $5 extra you’ll spend compared to the Betron earbuds will buy you a good amount of gamer-related features, while still staying within a budget price point. While the Betron’s offer amazing bang for your buck when it comes to sound quality, the Granvela G20’s have the gamer in mind: they’re earbuds designed for gaming, not just earbuds that could suffice for gaming.

The drivers are smaller, but the frequency range is wider, especially in the low end, which will give you the deeper bass that reviewers of the product mention. The addition of a pair of memory foam eartips (in addition to 3 other ruber pairs) should not be overlooked, as this can really help with sound isolation and comfort. The microphone is also more sensitive than other budget-level in-line mics, and is thus better suited for gaming needs. To top it off: an adapter comes included, making theses earbuds compatible with all consoles, PCs, and mobile devices.

The gamer was clearly at the forefront of the design process when it came to these… They even match the look of much more expensive Razer products!

3. CIMAZHEN Gaming E-Sports Earbuds

  • Features
  • Dual mics: adjustable and in-line
  • 3 inner loop and silicone earbud tips (S/M/L) included
  • Adapter for PC

Pros:

  • Silicone eartips are great for sweaty gaming sessions
  • Detachable mic helps greatly with mic volume and clarity
  • The inner loop clips allow for snug fit and better sound isolation
  • Compatible with all consoles, PCs, and mobile devices

Cons:

  • Frequency range technically not as wide as Granvela budget earbuds
  • Sound quality not on par with Betron budget earbuds
  • Some gamers might find the inner loop clips uncomfortable


The Cimazhen e-sport earbuds tick all of the boxes for your gaming audio needs. Will these earbuds have the sound quality of product that is $10 more? No. But Cimizen does provide all the essentials for sound isolated gaming on the go, whether you’re playing on console or PC, or playing an RPG or competitive FPS.

Theses earbuds are basically the budget version of the Mad Catz (our overall pick), for when you just don’t have that extra $10 to spend (or you’d rather spend it on the game itself). So keep that in mind when considering this product. However the Cimazhen e-sport earbuds are exactly what you should buy if you want everything a gamer-on-the-go needs, at a price that won’t hurt your Steam Wallet.


Top 3 Mid-Range Gaming Earbuds

Name

Driver (per earbud)

Frequency Response

10mm Driver

20Hz - 20kHz

(2) 6mm Drivers

20Hz - 24kHz

8mm Driver

18Hz - 22kHz

1. Razer Hammerhead Pro V2 - Best Mid-Range Gaming Earbuds 2018

  • Features
  • High quality housing to improve acoustics
  • Flat style cables to reduce tangling and increase durability
  • In-line mic with call control buttons
  • Carrying case Included

Pros:

  • Rich bassy sound
  • PC adapter included
  • Gamer aesthetic

Cons:

  • In-line mic only
  • Doesn’t come with additional multi-sized eartips


The Razer Hammerhead Pro V2 is a solid product that comes from a well known PC gaming oriented company. The company’s tagline is “For Gamers. By Gamers.” and many professional eSports players use their products. However, this solid reputation usually comes with a surcharge as well. This is indeed a quality product, but some of your dollars are going towards looks, logo, and fancy packaging.

This is the “V2” model indicating that this is the second version of this product, and that Razer has sought to make improvements on their first iteration. The company claims that this V2 model has been “thoroughly redesigned” with an emphasis on its body design and flat cables to better suit the on-the-go gamer.

There is one 10mm driver in each ear, which is technically smaller than some of the other earbuds in the budget category. But as you might remember from the “sound quality” section in the guide above, size isn’t everything when it comes to good sound. The materials used in the earbud housing are also important, which Razer claims are “optimized”, and the tuning (hard to tell without listening yourself) is also important-- which is why going with a reputable brand like Razer could benefit you. Also of note in the sound quality equation is the frequency range which is right at good 20 - 20,000 Hz.

We definitely recommend sticking with brands you know and love when it comes to electronics and sound equipment (if you’re not able to try the product out first-hand). And if you like Razer’s edgy gaming look, then this product just might be a no-brainer purchase for you. It’s too bad there aren’t any LEDs in these earbuds like most of their stuff!

2. GranVela VJJB V1S

  • Features
  • Dual drivers, two in each ear
  • Wide frequency response range
  • Quality materials
  • 3 different sized silicone eartips, and 1 pair of memory foam tips

Pros:

  • OK for gaming, great all-around sound performance for price
  • Sleek, elegant, expensive look
  • Eartips are great for sound isolation and long sweaty game sessions
  • 12 month warranty

Cons:

  • In-line Microphone only
  • No PC adapter


This is GranVela’s second appearance in our buyer’s guide because they offer an excellent price to performance ratio with their products. They’re not the best earbuds money can buy, but they just might be the best earbuds you can buy with this amount of money. That said, they do have points where they are lacking, and if one of those points is something that you value highly in your search for the perfect earbuds, then you may want to look elsewhere. Let’s get into the details.

Reviewers agree that the sound quality in the V1S is amazing for the price. The two drivers (four total) offer crisp clear sound throughout their wide frequency range of 20Hz - 24kHz. If you really crave deep, ultra hard kicking bass you may want to look elsewhere (and probably spend more). These earbuds are designed to be worn in-ear, and are effectively noise isolating thanks to shipping with 3 different sized silicone eartips

Where these earbuds may fall short for some buyers is in their lack of splitter for PC gaming, and in the quality of the microphone. The microphone is in-line (part of the cable) built into the controller that also works for pausing/playing music-- which are nice features to have if you also want to use your earbuds for general purpose things, but not if they’re strictly for gaming communication. For dedicated PC gamers this could be a deal breaker, but there is also the option of buying an adapter separately and still ending up with an overall solid price for this product.

3. Symphonized NRG 3.0 (Best for PS4)

  • Features
  • Comes with 6 pairs of silicone eartips in 3 sizes
  • Sound isolating, in-ear design
  • Mic is robust despite being in-line
  • Housing is handcrafted from actual wood

Pros:

  • In-line controller for phone and music functions if need be
  • Lots of color options and a unique real wood look

Cons:

  • No adapter for PC
  • No mic mute button


At this price point, really it’s hard to find anything that detracts from this product… unless you don’t like the look of it. And if you happen to be a PC gamer it’s not ideal with it’s lack of adapter. But, as we mentioned above, this is our number one choice for console gamers.

The sound quality is crisp and clear at all volume levels, and reviewers rave about the deep bass, even when comparing these earbuds to Beats! The manufacturer claims that the use of the wood in the earbud housing is not just for superficial purposes, but that it also enhances the sound due to the “natural acoustical qualities found in wood”. It’s hard to verify that claim without trying the product out, but the evidence is out there: violins, guitars, concerhalls, etc.

If wood is not your thing, then it may be hard to get around the aesthetic; but there are many different color options to choose from and wood, cable, and eartip color all change between color choices! Aside from the wood, the look is definitely one of quality and of a pricetag much higher than it really is. If you game on console only, or are a PC gamer who has a splitter already lying around, you should really check these out.


3 Splurge Gaming Earbuds - If You Can Afford Them

As we enter into the high-end product category, driver size begins to matter a lot less (which you’ll notice in the gaps in our table above). This is because other sound influencing factors which are commonly absent in more inexpensive earbuds are now coming into play, like: the housing and the “tuning” of the earbud’s drivers. “Tuning” refers to the electrical and physical dempening of the driver and its enclosure.

Tuning gets pretty technical as it can be done in a plethora of ways, and it’s a feature that’s a lot easier to hear than to understand through text. So if one of these high end products piques your interest, we recommend trying them out before making your final decision. But this guide is still helpful in that you can’t go wrong with any of them!

1. 1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear

  • Features
  • Drivers tuned by Grammy award winning sound engineer
  • Ergonomically designed to match ear canals
  • Extremely small and sensitive in-line microphone
  • Comes with 9 different sets of eartips in a range of sizes
  • High Durability: metal frame and kevlar wrapped cable
  • adapter for airplanes and 1/8th to 1/4 inch adapter included

Pros:

  • Amazing sound quality for price with wide frequency range
  • Sensitive microphone

Cons:

  • No PC adapter
  • No mic mute button


1MORE’s triple driver earbuds would be our overall best pick, but this price point isn’t as accessible to most gamers. But, if you have more money to spend on earbuds, these are what you should spend it on, as you’ll get a lot of quality and features for every bit of the price tag.

The three speakers in these earbuds are just like a miniature sound system you might find in a car or an entertainment system: there is one main driver and two tweeters in each earbud. Theses tweeters add additional detail to the high range, while the main driver provides the mid range and deep bass. The frequency range is a whopping 20-40,000 Hz, the housing is aluminum, and the tuning of the drivers was done by a grammy award winning sound engineer.

These earbuds from 1MORE have a really impressive résumé. They are really impressive for mail-order electronics, where a solid chunk of the deliveries end up DOA through no fault of the manufacturer. To top it all off, these earbuds are the first ever in the world to be certified by THX.

Technically there are earbuds that offer specific features that surpass those offered here (we’ll get to those products next) but if you can afford it, and want a wide range of features, these are the earbuds to get.

2. Sennheiser PC300 G4ME Earbuds

  • Features
  • The quality of Sennheiser’s drivers, tuning, and engineering
  • Sensitive omnidirectional mic
  • In-ear design
  • Spiffy, high-quality travel pouch
  • 3 sizes of soft silicone ear tips

Pros:

  • The backing of a quality brand
  • 2 year warranty
  • Light and small

Cons:

  • The surcharge that comes with a well known brand
  • Only comes in one color


Even though I haven’t tried out these earbuds personally, I’m already inclined to trust its quality based on the positive reputation and experience I’ve had with Sennheiser products. However, this benefit of the doubt it something one should be wary about as quality can dip occasionally between products in an otherwise reputable brand, and at the very least, you’ll end up paying extra for a name brand when you could possibly get the same quality in another product for the same price. Let’s dig into the details.

The driver size for these Sennheiser earbuds is not listed (as is fairly typical with high end earbuds) and neither is the specifics of the materials used in the housing. We do know that the frequency range is a sizable 40 - 18,000 Hz, and that the reviews generally praise the range and the quality of the sound and sound isolation. Where reviews complain is in the durability, both in the cable and the housing of the earbud, which is why it’s especially disappointing that the materials used are not listed.

There is no detachable boom mic, although it’s not as much of a drawback for a mic to be position “in-line” within a controller in the audio cable when a high end mic like the one used. The mic is super sensitive and omnidirectional, and reviewers claim that it works well for their gaming needs despite the fact that it isn’t right next to their mouths.

It’s really exciting to see such a well know and professional audio brand’s foray into gaming tech, however I would've liked Sennheiser to be a bit more explicit with the details of their equipment. They seem to be relying on a lot of brand trust to sell this product; and I must say that this trust alone is one of the reasons why this product made it onto our guide.

3. Bowers & Wilkins C5 Series 2

  • Features
  • Equipped with micro-porous filter for realistic and immersive sound
  • HD drivers
  • Cushioned inner-ear loop to fit snugly and comfortably for long periods of time
  • 2 year limited warranty
  • Multiple eartip sizes included
  • Fancy storage pouch

Pros:

  • Excellent bass
  • High quality drivers
  • Only earbuds on this list with an inner-loop clip that is cushioned
  • Elegant, luxury look and build quality

Cons:

  • All button function on in-line controls don’t function with Android devices
  • No adapter for PC
  • Mic is adequate, but doesn’t match the quality of the rest of the unit


Remember when we talked about how other factors besides the driver are important to determining sound quality? And remember how we mentioned that you’d see much more emphasis on those factors in higher-end products? Well here is a perfect example of that. The drivers in the B&W C5 series (sounds like we’re talking about a car) are 9.2mm in each ear, but they’re “bespoke”, and contain a similarly bespoke transducer that produces “remarkable bass extension”. Also contained within the housing of the earbuds (which are partially made of tungsten-steel) is a semi-porus “sonic diffuser” to improve the overall quality and clarity of your audio experience.

The microphone is within the audio controller along the cable, but it is ultra-sensitive and is fully enabled for clear communication. Reviewers mention these earbuds as being great for dealing with sweat, and frequently refer to them as the “best” headphones they’ve ever had. The primary complaints had to do with durability due to normal use-- but thanks to the warrantee you’ll at least be covered for 2 years of gaming enjoyment.


3 Best Gaming Earbuds for Immersion

1. TaoTronics Noise Cancelling - Best Gaming Earbuds for Immersion

  • Features
  • Active noise cancelling
  • 15 hours of noise cancelling functionality
  • Ultra-sensitive MEMS microphone
  • In-line controller contains mic, phone/music features, and noise cancelling slider
  • Aluminum build
  • USB Charger
  • 6 pairs of eartips included

Pros:

  • Noise cancelling reduces up to 25dB of outside sound
  • Sleek, quality look
  • Enhanced gaming immersion
  • Excellent microphone
  • Very long noise cancelling battery for the price

Cons:

  • Noise Cancelling feature needs to be charged every 15 hours
  • No PC adapter


If you need gaming earbuds with noise cancelling technology, this pair has nearly all the features you might need-- the only thing it’s missing is a splitter for PC gamers. While I hadn’t heard of this company prior to this guide, and the Amazon link for this item doesn’t have a lot of reviews, TaoTronics has a lot of other headphones for sale on Amazon and they’re mostly stacked with positive reviews. I noticed the same to be true for this specific pair of earbuds when I checked out listings for it on other web stores.

A large portion of those reviewers agree that the features perform as advertised; that the sound profile could use more bass, but that the 20 - 20,000 Hz frequency range drivers provide solidly enjoyable sound. If you’re not familiar with noise cancelling units, that 15 hours of functionality between charges is actually a very good amount of time. The $250 Bose earbuds that are coming up later in this list) have only 1 extra hour of battery life despite being $200 more expensive. The microphone in this TaoTronics unit is similarly the quality you would see in much more expensive products , and will serve you well for all of your gaming needs.

The TaoTronics also come with nearly all the extra goodies you might hope for: extra eartips, airline adapter, detachable ear hooks, and even a travel pouch— the only thing missing is the PC adapter. These earbuds really are feature-packed. If noise cancelling is what you’re after, unless you have hundreds more to spend or need a specific feature to be absolutely top-of-the-line, then these earbuds will give you excellent bang for your buck.

2. Etymotic Research MC3

  • Features
  • Custom fit, ultra-isolating soft eartips
  • 35 - 42 dB of noise isolation
  • Assortment of eartips included
  • In-line mic and audio controls

Pros:

  • Significant outside noise reduction without demands of noise cancelling unit
  • Enhanced sound quality due Etymotic’s proprietary driver system

Cons:

  • No PC adapter
  • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit


According to an independent and accredited laboratory these earbuds offer the highest noise isolation potential of all in-ear earbuds-- up to 42dB! That’s as much as many mid to high-end noise cancellation headphones, and no charging or cumbersome ANC powerpack required. Just to put that decibel level in perspective: average conversation noise is about 60 dB, someone mowing the lawn is 90 dB, and a loud concert is approximately 120dB.

But what about the sound quality? This unit sports an 8mm driver, but as I’m sure you’ve learned by now from reading this guide, that number doesn’t tell us everything. What’s contained within the housing of these earbuds is Etymotic’s proprietary “acoustic side-branch”, that “redistributes energy, smooths the peaks and compensates for weak highs,” resulting in a sound profile that competes with much more expensive earbuds. Reviewers agree, and their most common complaint is of the cable’s durability.

Included are extra eartips and extra filters that go behind the eartips to protect the drivers. And it’s easy to order more of these specially designed accessories from Amazon. Reviewers seem to so back and forth about the quality of the mic, and while it is definitely the weakest feature of this product, the mic is certainly sufficient for most gaming needs.

3. Bose QuietComfort 20

  • Features
  • Soft and secure fit
  • Massively efficient noise cancelling potential
  • Adjustable reduction of noise
  • “Active Aware” mode lets you hear your surroundings at the push of a button
  • Relatively long charge time (16 hours)

Pros:

  • Deep, crystal clear sound
  • Sensitive mic
  • Great looks

Cons:

  • Price, may be a bit inflated due to popularity of Bose brand
  • Short warranty for price-- only one year


The price of these earbuds makes them a bit hard to fit into this discussion. Coming in at nearly 250 dollars these earbuds are in a whole ‘nother level, a whole ‘nother planet, a totally different solar system! But, their price doesn’t change the fact that, if you can afford it, these earbuds are worth the purchase.

If you’re in a situation where ambient noise around you is constant, or you have trouble keeping your mind off of auditory distractions, the quality of noise cancellation these earbuds provide could be life changing. In fact, one reviewer describes their experience with these earbuds as such. He or she was persistently haunted by surrounding noise they had no power to control, and the Bose QuietComfort 20 was the only thing to provide respite and chance to focus.

These earbuds could give you ultimate gaming immersion if you can afford them. They’re the best of the best, and they have a price tag that matches.


Gaming Earbuds Buying Guide

Why Earbuds Instead of Headphones?

There are many reasons why gamers might choose earbuds over traditional headphones:

like the fact that earbuds won’t mess up a cool hairstyle, or that earbuds allow you the portability to hear every nuance of your FUS ROH DAH on your Switch at the airport.

There are a few other reasons too. Let’s dig into “Why earbuds?” now.

Portability

Earbuds primary function for years, and the catalyst for their increase in popularity, is their portaility. That's why earbuds come shipped with our now ubiquitous smartphones, or why they give earbuds out for free on airplanes. They’re smaller, they’re less obtrusive to those around you, and their weight is particularly suited for many on-the-go activities.

Comfort

Gone are the days when earbuds were the more painful option when it came to audio headgear.

Eartips, the soft thingys on the end of in-ear style earbuds, are engineered to be more comfortable than their headset counterparts, especially when it comes to long sweaty gaming session. Additionally, when using earbuds, those eartips are basically the only thing touching your head. Earbuds are free of heavy, bulky headbands and earcups.

Total immersion

When you’re trying to focus on making a big play in an FPS, or trying to avoid the sound of crunching cereal in the next room while questing, anything that helps immersion is incredibly valuable for gaming. And in-ear style earbuds can help with that.

Immersion allows for a deeper connection to the gaming world (no matter what type of game your playing), and achieving that when your on the go riding a train to work, waiting for the bus, or sitting in the back row during a boring lecture is a really nice.

All of the earbuds are on this list are designed to fit snugly in your ear canal. This factor alone allows for earbuds to naturally isolate their user from outside noise and distraction. Combined with the added feature of noise “cancelling” which we’ll get to later, earbuds provide a unique level of isolating immersion that is also extremely comfortable and unobtrusive.

Balancing Features with Price

Let’s not kid ourselves, price matters; that’s probably why you found your way to this list in the first place! No matter what your budget is, you want to make sure that for the quality and features you’re getting, the price is fairly matched. That’s exactly what we hope to do with the products and the information we’re providing here-- you’ve come to the right place! Let’s discuss the features you want to look for when choosing earbuds to better help you decide what you need, what to get, and what you should pay.

What Features to Look for When Choosing Gaming Earbuds

Noise Isolating vs Noise Cancelling

We touched on this in the “immersion” section above, but basically there are two ways that earbuds can separate you from the sound of the world around you to allow you to better focus on lining up headshots. Noise cancellation was originally developed to be used in headphones, but the same principle applies to earbuds. If you’d like to learn more about the history of noise cancelling technology follow the link here; and read on to find out how earbuds are uniquely geared for noise isolation.

Noise Isolating

As the name implies, this type of earbud will isolate you and the audio you’re listening to from the world around you by physically blocking external sounds from entering your ear. Just by being fitted properly in your ear, in-ear style earbuds will automatically offer some noise isolation. Some products will “isolate” better than other, as you can see in the product details above, but the shape and purpose of earbuds to be held snugly in your ear canal lends itself to noise isolation!

Some earbuds, depending on their design, quality, and the material used in those squishy tips, do a better job than others at blocking out external noise. If you think of the the white ipod/iphone earbuds that we’re all familiar with, those aren’t designed to fit in the ear canal-- they’re too large, and the material they’re made of is too hard. Both of which are things you want to look out for when choosing the right earbuds for you. A good noise isolating earbud is like an earplug with a tiny speaker in it.

Noise Cancelling

Earbuds with this feature can cancel out certain sound around you by listening to the “bad” noise and then creating “good” sound waves of their own to counteract it-- thus cancelling the bad noise. Because of the design/purpose of them to fit directly in your ear canal, many earbuds are BOTH noise isolating and noise cancelling.

Earbuds equipped with noise cancelling technology actually have an additional microphone behind the speaker in the ear piece. This microphone detects the wavelength of incoming ambient noise, inverts that wave length, and then adds it to the sound being pumped into your ears. The result is a simulation of being in a much quieter place.

This noise cancelling feature works better on some ambient sounds than others. Things like occasional voices, the dog barking, or your wife yelling at you from the other room are all example of “noise” that isn’t easily counteracted by this technology. The feature works best on loud, consistent noise like the sound of a plane or subway. Another thing to note is that you’ll be paying extra for this tech, and an Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) unit will need to be attached to the earbud cable and charged periodically-- so keep that in mind!

Sound Quality

This is one of, if not the most important feature when buying earbuds, and it’s also the most difficult to offer advice on via writing. Ideally you would be able to try out each of these products for yourself before you bought them to determine if there was enough bass, mids, or treble for your liking; but that’s not really possible-- and if you’re looking to spend less than $15, maybe it’s not really worth it either.

So, I’ll do my best to describe the details of the sound quality for you. What you should look out for are these keywords:

Drivers

This is simply the more technical word for “speaker”. Drivers “drive” sound into your ear! It is commonly (and logically) assumed that the larger the driver the “better” the sound; but in reality, there’s a lot more to it. Technically, the size of the driver is just the diameter of the speaker diaphragm, and while a larger diaphragm will move more air with every blast of sound, this size is only one of many variables that go into determining the quality of the sound.

Driver size is not available for higher end products on this list because those earbuds feature other details that are much more meaningful to sound quality-- especially since a driver doesn’t need to be very big when it’s 1 inch from your eardrum! For the lower end products the size of the driver could matter more since it’s somewhat of an indicator of quality, but don’t let that number be the only thing you look at!

Frequency Response (or Range)

The frequency range (measured in Hz) basically tells you how low and how high of a sound a speaker can reproduce. The frequency range is the measure of how much bass, mids, or treble the drivers can pump out.

20 to 20,000 Hz is the average range the human ear can hear, although bassy sounds below 20 can be felt as well. The low end is something you want to keep an eye on when choosing the right earbuds for you, as better quality speakers can often produce lower frequencies than their competitors.

Other features That Impact Sound Quality

Despite what some might say, size isn’t everything-- especially when it comes to driver size. The materials used in the housing of the earbuds can affect their sound quality, as does the enclosure of the actual driver itself within this housing, and finally the “tuning” of the driver. That last feature is pretty nebulous, and is hard to discern without trying the earbuds out for yourself. Which is why when your purchasing medium/high-end audio products online, buying from reputable brands can go a long way.

Adapter

An adapter might not sound like an important feature to look out for, but what this basically means is: will these earbuds fully function on my PC, console controllers, and mobile device? The headphone/mic input that is on PS4 and Xbox One controllers is just that, a single input, whereas on most PCs the headphone and the microphone jacks are separate-- meaning that you need an adapter that splits that one output from your earbuds into two.

Microphone

While you may not need a mic for all of your gaming needs, we wanted all of our “gaming” earbuds on this list to have one. It’ll be up to you to decide how much of a priority a microphone is for you, and then to decide how clear, loud, and reliable you need the quality of this mic to be. The quality of the mics included with the earbuds on this list will vary.

Comfort

This is another criteria that’s difficult to make a decision on over the internet. Earbuds have the potential to be much more comfortable than traditional headset, especially for long gaming sessions, because they are lighter, smaller and softer. Look out for things like the material of the eartips, how big they are, and if your able to replace them with new/larger/smaller ones.

Extras

Believe it or not, you may want to use the earbuds you purchase for something other than gaming! Earbuds lend themselves to many other activities where audio isolation is important, so keep that in mind. Other extras to note might be the cable length, the durability, warranty, color options, or other small “creature comforts” that can sometimes make a big difference if they’re enjoyed every day.

Thanks for Reading

We hope you both learned a lot from this guide and are now better able to decide which pair of earbuds is right for you. Whether you’re a console or PC gamer, prefer RPGs or FPSs, or have a budget of $10 or $100, there is a product on this list that fits your need. Just decide which features matter most to you and go from there. And if you can’t decide which features are most important, sound like you need all of them!

Leave a Comment: