When you are looking for fantastic sound quality without huge speakers or having to wear massive headphones, you may want to know what the best earbuds for gaming are. Well, that is not always an easy question to answer. That is because the market for electronics is growing faster than most other consumer goods. With new technology becoming available almost daily, you have to be asking yourself, what do I need to look for in gaming earbuds.
First of all, you may think, well, why should I not use regular headphones? Well, we have found them to be quite cumbersome in the past. Especially if you are wearing them for an extended length of time, and let’s face it, what gamer doesn’t spend lots of time on their favorite game?
We have a list of common questions that we get asked about gaming earbuds, and we will try to answer them in this article. However, first of all, you need to know that there are two main types of earbuds that are used by gamers. They are standard earbuds, and some people use IEMs. IEMs are in-ear monitors, and they are used a lot by people who are on stage. Musicians, actors, etc. Some people love them for gaming. However, we will be focusing on earbuds in this article.
- 1 Buying Guide For Gaming Earbuds
- 2 Price
- 3 Gaming Earbuds – Connectivity
- 4 Wireless Gaming Earbuds Pros:
- 5 Cons:
- 6 Wired Gaming Earbuds Pros:
- 7 Cons:
- 8 Gaming Earbuds – Features
- 9 Microphone
- 10 Transducers
- 11 Boom Vs. Inline
- 12 Controls
- 13 Gaming Earbuds – Sound Quality
- 14 Noise Isolation or Cancelling
- 15 Isolation
- 16 Cancellation
- 17 Gaming Earbuds – Comfort
- 18 Conclusion
Buying Guide For Gaming Earbuds
So, now that you know why you should be using earbuds, we need to start looking at the features of them, what you want, and what you may not want.
If you think that earbuds are all the same, then you would be wrong. Even to look at, they come in different shapes, sizes, and comfort features. So, what sort of things should you be looking for when buying gaming earbuds? I will write a list in the order that I think is most important for a gamer who spends a lot of time wearing them, then we will look at the different features for those categories:
- Wired or Wireless
- Sound Quality
You may wonder why comfort is so low down on the list. My thoughts are that you may find the most comfortable earbuds that you have ever worn, but if they have wires and you are looking for a wireless set, they will be useless. If you look at the list differently, then feel free to scroll up and down in the order you prefer.
The first thing that you need to do is to decide what you can spend. Just a quick search on any online market place will bring up results ranging from $9 for a pack of three pairs, up to $120 for one pair.
If you are serious about gaming, then the money probably isn’t an issue. However, for the average home gamer, you probably don’t want to spend quite that much. However, a word of caution, even if you do not read any more of this article, Do not buy cheap. You will regret it.
If there is one other thing that I can say to you, it would be to buy the most expensive that you can afford. If, after reading this article, you know what you want, then look for the best in the price range you have.
Gaming Earbuds – Connectivity
After you have figured out what money you have available, you should start to think about the connectivity. Do you want wired or wireless gaming earbuds? Before you shout at the monitor that you NEED wireless, let’s look about the pros and cons of each:
Wireless Gaming Earbuds Pros:
- No wires to get in the way. – Of course, one of the main advantages of having wireless gaming earbuds is that there are no wires to get in the way of your hands and the controls of the game.
- You can move freely. – If you want to get up and move about the room, you can still do so without having to take your earbuds out. Therefore, you can always listen to what is going on in group chats, etc.
- You can sit far away from the sound sources. – If you have your computer right next to a huge screen, you may not want to sit right next to it. Think of your eyes, people. Having wireless means, you are not stuck next to the screen all the time.
Those pros are often enough to make most people decide that they need wireless. However, let’s take a look at the cons:
- Limited Playtime. – Wireless earbuds are battery operated. Even the most expensive still only have small cells, and can often require charging after two to three hours of continuous use.
- Possible Loss of Quality. – There can be interference due to other radio signals on similar frequencies. Also, Bluetooth can cut out if you are facing at a slightly wrong angle.
- Some Connectivity Issues. – Your device needs to be able to connect to your earbuds, whether that is Bluetooth or wifi.
- Cost. – Wireless often costs more money than wired due to the connections and batteries.
Now you may be seeing why wireless is not always the best option for you. However, let’s continue to the wired variants.
Wired Gaming Earbuds Pros:
- Plug and Play. – If you have a 3.5mm jack on the TV, smartphone, or PC, then you can connect them. You do not need to worry about having Bluetooth connectivity.
- Higher quality. – You are a lot less likely to get any interference from radio equipment with wires.
- Fewer Connectivity Issues. – While there are a few issues with connecting wired earbuds, there are more with wireless.
- Unlimited Playtime. – The bullet point says it all. You will not run out of battery life halfway through playing your favorite game.
- Connectivity. – I know I have had this as a pro. However, some phones do not come with the aux-in jack. That means you may have to buy an adapter.
- Less Movement. – You can only move as far as the cable will let you based on the length of wire.
- Wires Tangle. – If you are the more active type of gamer, the cables may get in the way. You may even pull them out of the aux-in jack.
- Prone To Faults. – The wires can often break at the two ends.
As you can see, there are a few points that you need to consider when you are thinking about what gaming earbuds you want to buy. And that is only in the debate of wired vs. wireless. However, just a Google image search of “pro gamers” will show a lot of people who prefer the wired variants.
Gaming Earbuds – Features
There are more features available on gaming earbuds than you would first think. In this section, I will try to go through some of the most common ones that you might find or want on your next purchase. Although I may touch on the sound quality in this section, we will look at that in more depth a little later on.
Of course, a pair of gamer earbuds are going to be useless without a microphone. However, there are still types of microphones that are better than others. As I have already said earlier, technology is advancing at a tremendous rate. Thus there are a lot of types of microphones that are available, even on gaming earbuds. Now we are going to have a look at what some of the features are that you may find on microphones:
The transducer is the part of the receiver that turns sounds into an electrical signal for transfer to the computer or mobile device. For receivers, there are three main types of transducers. Dynamic, Condenser, and Ribbon. However, the two most common are dynamic and condenser. Let’s have a little look at how they work and which id best for gaming:
- Dynamic. – Dynamic microphones are a lot like a backward speaker. They have a diaphragm connected to a floating copper coil wrapped around a magnet. They are pretty simple in construction. Therefore, they are cheaper and more robust than other types. However, they are more set up for loud sounds, with a lower quality than the different two types.
Condensers. – Condenser microphones are more electronic than dynamic ones. The condenser has an electrically charged plate and a backplate to form a capacitor. As soundwaves move the charged plate, the airgap changes, providing a different capacitance. These are a lot more sensitive, smooth, and provide a more natural sound. If you can afford gaming earbuds with a condenser microphone, then do it.
Boom Vs. Inline
The next mic option that you have is between a boom or inline mic. Now, there isn’t a lot to say about this. Of course, you are going to have better voice quality with a boom mic. That is because they are directly in front of your mouth.
There are still a few types of boom microphones. They usually have one or more of three functions.
- Auto mute when lifted, if they are not removable.
- Some have a light to show when muted via inline controls.
The choice between this is entirely your own. However, my personal opinion is that I prefer fixed booms with auto-mute and a light to indicate muting from controls. There is nothing worse than having to guess if your mic is on mute.
Inline controls are so standard now that it is challenging to find earbuds without them. However, one thing that we have seen very often is that people like large controls. Finding earbuds with large controls will allow you to adjust volume and mute your mic without having to fiddle about or look at it. We all know that gaming can be fast-paced, and feeling for the controls takes one hand off the game. Doing that for too long is going to cause you to give advantages to other players.
Gaming Earbuds – Sound Quality
Sound quality is another must for all gamers. There are four main aspects that you need from earbuds in the sound department:
- Bass. – One of the biggest bugbears of people using gaming earbuds is the bass. It may be one of the most challenging aspects of sound to get right. However, the way that speakers produce bass is by a decent magnet. Now that you find 10mm neodymium magnets in them, so long as you’re not buying cheap earbuds, you are likely to get some fair bass.
- Mid-range. – Mid-range and treble are just as crucial as bass. Getting a useful distinction between them is vital.
- Treble. – Same as mid-range.
- Surround Sound. – W do not think there is much point in having gaming earbuds if they do not have surround sound. A lot of action goes on in places you can’t see in games. You need to be able to take advantage of rustling and footsteps behind you. 7.1 surround sound is the epitome of sound quality at the moment.
Taking your time to look at reviews and specifications of sound quality will save you a lot of headaches trying to return earbuds that you do not like.
Noise Isolation or Cancelling
The choice between noise isolation and canceling is entirely personal. I have children, so I prefer noise canceling so that I can still hear them call if they need me. However, some people would rather not be able to listen to their neighbors and have no issues with power consumption, may prefer cancellation.
Noise Isolation is the simplest form of controlling what you can hear around you while wearing earbuds. This technology is something that you have seen almost every time that you use a pair of earbuds. The rubber part that goes inside your ear forms a barrier between your ear and the outside world. Depending on how thick that rubber is, what material the manufacturer makes it from, and the fit of it all decide how good at isolation it is. Earbuds with isolation usually come with extra tips so that you can pick the best fit.
Cancellation earbuds utilize a relatively new technology of creating their own noise barrier electronically. If you buy some high-quality earbuds with this feature, you will effectively have 2x the noise reduction, as they will still use rubber seals. However, you have to remember that these will use more power. So, you will either need to have an external power source, i.e., USB for wired, or a lower battery life for wireless.
Gaming Earbuds – Comfort
Yes, yes, I know. Comfort, for most people, would be at the top of this list. While we agree that comfort in gaming earbuds is crucial, answer this: Would you rather have the most comfortable earbuds ever that sound rubbish, or high-quality sound? Of course, everyone wants to be able to wear earbuds for ten hours plus, but I believe that the main points of consideration have to be the quality of the other features first.
If you look for comfort first, you may find some that lack in other areas of this article, and then you will be disappointed. So here are a couple of things that you want to look for, comfort-wise:
- Tip sets. – You should have at least three sets of tips included when you buy your gaming earbuds. If you do not, then you may find that you can’t get the right fit. If they don’t fit correctly, you will have noise getting past them, and worse still, they may fall out of your ears.
- Weight. – The lighter, the better. Lightweight earbuds are a lot less likely to fall out of your ears if you move around a lot. Also, they will put less strain on your ear canal while you are wearing them.
- Additional retainers. – Some earbuds have over-ear retaining clips. It is a personal choice of liking them or not. I struggle to find retainers that do not hurt the tops of my ears, so I would rather spend more time trying to find good fitting buds without them.
As you have seen throughout this article, there is a lot more to think about when buying gaming earbuds. It is a bit of a juggling act to get all of the pieces to fit together well. However, if you go through this list in the order that I have put it, you will not be disappointed in your purchase. That is providing you do not try to buy the cheapest available.
Take your time to create a shortlist at each step, and eliminate the earbuds that do not have what you want, and keep the features you need.
Check out our Quiet Buds Review here.