Product Manufacturer: EPOS
Estimated Time With Gear: 60+ hours
What Is It?: EPOS gaming focus earbuds
Compatible With: Mobile, PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch
EPOS has released its first gaming earbuds, and the results will be perfect or not at all useful to you, depending on your gamer type. Although the sound quality and comfort are here — significant factors if you’re someone who hates overhead earphones — there’s no mic, destroying any multiplayer dreams. Unless you want to set up a separate microphone, which I could almost guarantee isn’t something 99% of purchasers would be willing to do.
Let me clarify that opening statement: the EPOS GTW 270 has a microphone, it’s not very good, but even with the quality, it’s not something you can use while connected to gaming consoles. You can connect to your consoles, like the PS5, where I did my primary test via a supplied USB-C dongle (only with the Hybrid unit, the GTW 270 is slightly cheaper without it). Doing so disables the microphone, which will only work with Bluetooth. It’s not a big deal if you don’t want to play games with friends, but as a gaming set of earbuds, a microphone is a big part of any other gaming headset review, and I don’t think these deserve a pass simply because they’re buds, not earphones.
The IPX5-rated buds are bigger than my daily AirPod Pros I carry around, as is the charging case. As a gaming-targeted device, though, they don’t need to be as sleek for everyday office and commute use. That said, neither the buds nor the case, with their elegant design and aluminium case, give off a glaring gamer vibe, so taking them on said commutes or to work wouldn’t be a problem. I took mine to a work conference, and no one ever batted an eye at what I had in my ears. The case is simple enough, with a USB-C charging port on the back and five light-up LEDs to let you know how much charge is left in the case.
EPOS states the buds will last up to five hours, which is true with my testing. They also say the case can hold an additional twenty hours of charge, but I never went through enough battery to thoroughly test that number. Either way, it’s not as high as some other buds on the market, but it’s not a bad battery life either.
The audio quality is good, with a deep base that wasn’t distorting when I tested in tracks like Sofi Needs a Ladder by deadmau5. When gaming, the gun sounds of the Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 beta were all loud and thrilling, while the lack of a microphone again was a noticeable downside. The vocal performances of all the actors when playing a quieter experience in Wayward Strand was also a good test focusing on ambience.
As for where and what audience the EPOS GTW 270’s seem best suited for, it’s the Nintendo Switch, as the small buds make for a great on-the-go device to use with the Switch; you don’t have to use the USB-C adaptor either, as the buds can connect directly to the console via Bluetooth. The only disappointment is that even if you use the USB-C adaptor, you can’t multi-device and listen to music on your phone via Bluetooth. Although the buds support simply flicking between connected devices, you can’t mix audio. Where this becomes even more annoying is that you have to use an app on your phone when playing a game like Splatoon 3, so even though you can hook up the Nintendo Switch and GTW 270’s via Bluetooth, you still can’t chat to friends on this console. But that’s not an EPOS problem.
The only major problem I had with the earbuds, other than the mic, was the design of the on-device quick button. It’s a tiny little button on the top of the left earbud, and it does everything from play, pause and cancel calls. But it’s so tiny on a device with a bunch of room on the front of the buds, as odd of a design choice I’ve seen lately in a year where most companies are adding touch-buttons and other functions to give users more quick-button options with the buds still sitting in their ears. On the PS5, you can’t adjust the volume without pressing the PS button and scrolling the volume control. Odd, a gaming device would have many annoying limitations when talking to the current gaming consoles.
I like the EPOS GTW 270s for their comfortable form factor and sound quality. With three included earpieces, they should fit into most ears. And the sound quality is excellent, especially in the buds category. But as a “gaming” pair of buds, I’m left wondering what the gaming factors of this product are. You can’t get the mic to work on anything but your PC, the place I think these are least to be used. And there are weird oversights on the designs that lack buttons to help you make quick actions while playing games. I’m sure there’s an audience for the GTW 270s for their audio and comfort, but for most gamers — outside mobile-only gamers — sorry, you still need an overhead headset for now.