High quality, excellent sound, and impressive versatility help overshadow some of the Epos earbuds shortcomings.
I’m already a true believer in wireless earbuds. For as long as I’ve owned a pair (two-plus years), I’ve considered my Airpods nearly as essential to my daily routine as my phone and wallet. I honestly don’t leave home without them. So the Epos GTW 270 Hybrid gaming earbuds didn’t need to convince me that earbuds are a viable alternative to over-the-ear headphones. They only needed to convince me to add earbuds to my gaming experience.
Epos has previously partnered with Sennheiser to create some truly high-end headsets, but these gaming earbuds are the first solo effort from Epos. They retail for a hefty suggested retail price of $199, and I’m going to dive deep into these tiny things to see if they are worth that not-so-tiny pricetag. Let’s jump in.
Even as I opened the box, I could tell that these were going to be yet another high-end product with the Epos name. The gun-metal grey anodized aluminum charging case is sleek and obviously well built. The earbuds themselves are a little chunky but still manage to somehow look sleek and expensive looking. Plus they are less conspicuous than Apple’s Airpods as they don’t hang out of your ear but instead rest mostly inside your ear. This may not sound like much, but being able to leave my earbuds in while I pull my hoodie or shirt off doesn’t suck. Inside the box, you’ll also find a GSA 70 USB Type-C aptX low latency dongle and a handy USB Type-A converter cable allowing you to connect these to just about anything. And that’s what I did. I connected these to everything I own, including my cell phone, Ipad, PS5, Nintendo Switch, Laptop, gaming PC, and even my Oculus Quest 2. Here’s how they performed.
You’ll want to use the low latency dongle to connect for intense gaming but for music and phone calls, a quick Bluetooth connection is all you need. The earbuds connect via the dongle without any process aside from plugging in the dongle, but for a Bluetooth connection, you’ll need to give the case’s one button a long push to begin the pairing process. So, not as easy, but still easy. And they sound great. Once you find the right size tip, these earbuds deliver a full sound with warm tones and a surprisingly satisfying low end. I typically don’t love rubber-tipped style earbuds, instead preferring the looser fitting Airpod style, but this design – and these Epos earbuds specifically – deliver a superior sound. They are noise-cancelling by design and by directing the sound waves directly into your ear canal, improved immersion and a richer sound were inevitable. But I was still surprised at how good these sounded.
These come with four different size rubber tips. The tips that were pre-mounted were too small for me and the sound was shockingly bad. As I’m not used to this style, it took me a couple of days to find the right size and then about a week to get used to having something jammed in my ear. I went with the third-largest size and I have to admit they are really comfortable when you get used to them.
So music sounds great and the mic works and sounds good as well. The person on the other end of the call always said everything sounded crystal clear for them, but for me, the phone calls had a slightly tinny sound to them. It wasn’t terrible, but not perfect. Plus, on more than one occasion while listening to music and receiving a phone call, it didn’t immediately transfer the call to the earbuds, making me manually select the Epos in the dropbox. Most of the time it transferred it normally, but not every time. Not sure what was up with that. When you are on the phone, the left earbud has one button that answers the phone and ends the call. While listening to music, a press of this button will pause, while the second press skips a song. Three presses will take you back a song, and if you hold it down, you can summon Siri or Google’s voice assistant.
These earbuds make a very strong case to be your everyday cellphone headphones for taking on the go. With 5 hours per charge, plus fifteen hours extra hours from the charging case, that’s more music and gaming than even I would recommend. And speaking of gaming on the go, these pair great with the Nintendo Switch’s portability. Simply plug in the tiny low-latency dongle and you’re good to go. If you want to play Dragon Quest 11 without your coworkers hearing that cheesily great soundtrack blasting, then you need a pair of these. Sadly, these don’t allow pairing two things at a time so if you get a call while you’re playing your Switch, you’ll need to unplug your dongle to answer the phone and reconnect them to your phone.
These worked great with my PC and PS5 as well, with one very large caveat. With the low-latency dongle connected, the Epos mic doesn’t work. You can connect to your PS5 via Bluetooth which allows the use of the mic but there is a small delay in the sound that can make fast-paced competitive gaming, well, not so competitive. You can use the mic built into the DuelSense controller, but that is subpar, to say the least. In the end, if you want to play Call of Duty and curse at your teammates, these aren’t your best bet. But if you just want to immerse yourself in a great single-player story like The Last of Us 2 or if you play Call of Duty like me and immediately mute all of the players so you concentrate on the game, these headphones will do a great job of letting you know where that enemy fire is coming from.
I needed to use the USB adaptor cable to connect to both my laptop and gaming PC because neither have a USB Type-A slot. But in both cases, the connection worked quickly and without issues. As when I connected to my cell phone, the connection to my Ipad via Bluetooth was quick and easy. Watching Youtube videos and listening to music sounded excellent. It also worked great playing several of the Apple Arcade games without connecting the dongle, although this might say more about the games than the headphones.
I was very excited to try these with my Oculus Quest 2. I’m currently using the Mantis clip-on headphones but I would love to go wireless. The Epos earbuds connected straight away using the dongle but for some reason, the volume was cut in half. Strange, considering the volume was just fine on everything else I connected them to. Hopefully, this can be fixed down the road, because the Quest’s onboard mic would allow me to use the low latency connection with no downsides.
These quite simply outperform my Airpods in a number of ways, including I suppose, the most important way: the sound. I love how the Airpods transition from my phone to my Ipad seamlessly, and that I can remove either ear if I want to casually listen to music while with others. For some reason with these Epos Hybrids, I can only remove the left ear. And even when using both Airpods, you can still hear the outside world to some degree. I realize that this is a negative to many, and the reason noise-cancelling earbuds are so popular, but sometimes I want to listen to music even when I need to be present in the real world. For instance, my Great Pyrenees Betty and I almost got run over on a jog the other day while using these Epos earbuds. I was so into the music (and tired from the exercise) that I didn’t realize I had drifted too far onto the road. A car was directly behind me waiting patiently for me to get out of his way. Or maybe he wasn’t waiting patiently at all? I had my noise-cancelling headphones in… he could have been laying on the horn for all I know. I know I’ve laid that out as a negative but it’s really a positive.
I’m not used to using noise-cancelling earbuds so that is on me, but after finally getting my ears used to how they feel, I can see why people love them. They aren’t for casual listening, but if you want to really get lost in your music or your gaming, then these are a great choice. They aren’t that much better than any other $200 pair of earbuds, including my wife’s Airpod Pro’s, when it comes to listening to music, but if you want a great pair of headphones for music, phone calls, and on-the-go gaming, these are absolutely worth the money. Not being able to use the mic in Low-latency mode is a huge bummer, but that is simply a limitation of the technology at this point. These Epos Hybrids are an excellent first step for the future of gaming earbuds and are a great choice for the gamer on the go who values versatility and quality sound.
Epos Hybrid GTW 270 Gaming Earbuds Review
These new Epos gaming earbuds sound great, and they offer an enticing combination of excellent build quality, a robust battery, and surprising versatility. It sucks that you can’t use the mic in low-latency mode, and I wish it was a little simpler to switch from one device to another, but having one pair of high-end earbuds for almost everything I own is pretty great.
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