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You’ve been gaming for hours (yes, you).
Your team is up against the boss, but the real-world discomfort around your ears is starting to be more than just a nag.
Eventually, the heat and heaviness of your gaming headset just get too much. You pull out of the game.
Thinking about alternatives to switch out that headset?
Even if that’s not the case, we’re still more than happy to throw in some suggestions. Earbuds are advantageously portable.
With that thought, here are some of the best gaming earbuds we could fish out from a sea of options.
Quick List: Top 7 Gaming Earbuds
- MOXKING Metal Earbuds
- MINDBEAST SPS03-HD Noise Canceling Earbuds
- TUNAI Drum Hi-Resolution Earbuds
- HyperX Cloud Earbuds
- SONY MDR-XB50AP Earbuds
- TURTLE BEACH Battle Buds
- RAZER Hammerhead True Wireless Earbuds
Researching Gaming Earbuds: What We Looked At
When it comes to wearable audio for gaming, some of the questions raised would be:
- Are earbuds good for gaming?
- What are the best gaming earphones for mobile?
- What are the best gaming earbuds under $50?
- Wireless gaming earbuds with mic—do they exist?
- Wireless vs wired, which one?
The market is chock-full of options and it can be a hassle trying to wade through it all. We’ve taken these questions into account and come up with a list that, hopefully, answers most of them.
Everyone has a priority when making a purchase, the first most likely being the cost. You might be looking for earbuds for small ears and we have an excellent post for you on those.
The earbuds we’ve picked are all under $50 except for the Razer Hammerhead.
If you have more to spend, then you might want to splurge on a good headset, which brings us back to the question: are earbuds good for gaming?
Sure they are.
If you need to relieve your ears of that burn, you have trouble fitting headsets over your glasses, or you just want a super-portable alternative, earbuds could work just fine. You might lose some in-game spatial awareness, but all things have their pros and cons.
The Best Gaming Earbuds In 2020
1. MOXKING Metal Earbuds
When your wallet’s feeling a little skinny, the cost will be your number one factor. For something under $25, these earbuds should come under your radar.
✔️ What we like: Durable aluminum build
❌ What we don’t like: Volume control quirks
👌 Standout Features:
- Low price
- Good bass for the price
- Well-balanced sound
- Robust build
Just because something is marketed at the lower end of the price spectrum, doesn’t mean it has to look so. These metal earbuds certainly don’t. Made of solid aluminum, with tangle-free cables that feel heavy-duty, the Moxking Metal Earbuds are sturdy and designed to suffer the indignities of being rolled up, squished, and yanked.
It has a satisfyingly powerful bass and a crisp sound that is rather unexpected for its price. The mic works fine for chatting during gameplay.
The in-ear design provides decent noise isolation, though as with any earbud, you have to make sure they sit properly in your ears to gain that passive isolation. Moxking provides 5 different silicone ear tips to help you find the correct fit. These could be a little fiddly to swap out, and you may have to turn them inside-out to get them to latch on.
These earbuds come with a convenient 3-button in-line remote that allows you to pause/play music, skip tracks, answer/end phone calls, control the volume, and also activate voice control. Note that these controls won’t work on old iPods, PCs, laptops, and Kindle.
One little thing we’d like point out is that the volume control does not adjust the volume on the earbuds directly, but on the source—as in your phone, for example. You’ll see your phone volume slider go up and down, and it will stay that way even after you disconnect the earbuds. So if you had music blasting at 70% of your phone’s volume, don’t give yourself a heart attack when your phone blares out in a quiet room, after you’ve detached the earbuds.
Otherwise, the Moxking Metal earbuds is a buy that will cover your needs but won’t hurt your wallet.
2. MINDBEAST SPS03-HD Noise Canceling Earbuds
Looking to cut out ambient noise and get Hi-Resolution audio for less than $50? These Mindbeast earbuds give you that, plus a funky looking shark fin shape that may make you wonder… how do these work…
✔️ What we like: Great sound with an ergonomic fit for the ears
❌ What we don’t like: To get the ‘extra’ bass, you may need an EQ
👌 Standout Features:
- Hi-Res audio
- Comfortable, ergonomic fit
- Good passive noise canceling
- L-shaped plug
First, let’s talk about the funky design that may cause a little bit of head-scratching. Those shark fin-shaped extensions? They’re ear-hooks that support the earbuds from dislodging from your ear, especially during physical activity. Made of soft and flexible silicone material, they can bend in all directions to get that optimal fit. They’re comfortable enough, you could probably fall asleep in them.
These earbuds are built for Hi-Res audio, with a frequency range of 4Hz – 40kHz. The sound quality is very good even on regular tracks and will stand out on audio that is recorded at higher sampling frequencies. The bass performs well, great for those shooting scenes. However, if you’re one of those who really love a lot of extra bass, you may need to use an equalizer to get the ‘extra’.
The noise-cancellation helps a lot to focus on the quality of the sound. This is passive noise cancellation, which is supported by the design of the earbuds, and they do work to cut out most ambient noise. Just don’t blame us if you don’t notice your boss walking in while you hit a quick session of PUBG.
The L-shaped 3.5mm plug allows more room for your hands to hold your mobile device and the stylish tangle-free cable is durable and smooth. There’s an accompanying clip to attach the cable to your clothes during exercise. An in-line remote works to handle calls and music, but lacks volume control.
For the comfort offered with great audio range, the Mindbeast Noise Canceling Earbuds are worth consideration. Did we mention the neat, round case that comes with it?
Check these out if you’re in the market for mid-priced earbuds.
3. TUNAI Drum Hi-Resolution Earbuds
They say the larger the size of the driver, the bigger the bass. While not always the case, with a bass that matches its ‘Drum’ name, these crowdfunded earbuds prove that to be true.
✔️ What we like: Incredible bass and a wide soundstage
❌ What we don’t like: No in-line volume control
👌 Standout Features:
- Solid, warm bass
- Hi-Resolution audio
- Wide soundstage
- Comfortable for extended wear
The TUNAI Drum earbuds come with large 13mm drivers, built to deliver some very solid bass sounds. Despite the size of the drivers, these earbuds are light on the ears and comfortable to wear for long periods. This is probably due to the plastic build, though they still look stylish with a fair choice of highlight colors.
The noise isolation is excellent when positioned properly in the ear. This is also important to capture the bass and provide an immersive audio experience.
Boasting a frequency response of 10Hz – 40kHz and Hi-Resolution audio, these earbuds will truly shine when fed a high-quality signal. For the price, that ought to satisfy most audiophiles. But even regular signals give you great listening experience. The bass is deep and warm. The mid-tones clear and expansive. Part of the audio quality could be attributed to the cable, which uses an oxygen-free copper that allows better conductivity, helping keep the notes distortion-free.
One thing to note is the wide soundstage, providing a distinction between distance and direction. If you’re gaming, you’ll love the spatial awareness afforded by hearing footsteps, vehicles passing by, the blast of a fireball in the distance. Almost like surround sound minus the surround speakers.
The cable is very resistant to tangling, and the L-shaped 3.5mm plug is compatible with most mobile and audio devices. The mic works fine even when it’s not close to your mouth. There is no in-line volume control though, just an on/off button.
If you’re an audiophile, you may want to invest in memory foam ear tips to get the maximum sound range these earbuds can offer. If you’re into the softer music genres, like classical, the emphasis on bass may not be for you.
But if you like your bass, then give the TUNAI Drums a spin.
4. HyperX Cloud Earbuds
Marketed as a pair-up for the Nintendo Switch, these wired earbuds work just as well with other consoles and gaming devices. No problem hooking them up to your PS4 or Xbox, or your mobile phone to up some levels in your favorite game.
✔️ What we like: Great audio for gaming
❌ What we don’t like: Maybe not so great for just listening to music
👌 Standout Features:
- Balanced audio for gaming
- Comfortable for extended wear
- Nice case for portability
There’s no question these were built with mobile gamers in mind. Simple but durable, with a mid-heavy, balanced stereo sound that is what most mobile games need. Footsteps, voices, gunshots are clear with good positional audio for in-game surround. If you’re looking for a wider soundstage with a concert effect, then you may have to look at alternatives.
The L-shaped plug allows you to grip your handheld device better without having that stiff end stick into your palm. The cable is somewhat lengthy, but don’t worry if it gets caught or you if happen to sit on it. That happens, we’ve been there, especially when you’re moving around but paying more attention to the game than your surroundings (please don’t do this in the streets). The earbuds will just pop out instead of break.
The earbuds are designed to sit on your ear, not go into them like earplugs. This is supposed to extend the wear when you’re gaming long hours. It may take some adjustment to get them to be positioned correctly, but once they are, they should be very comfortable.
There isn’t any noise cancellation for these earbuds, so you’ll get ambient noise in busy areas. This is not necessarily a bad thing if you’re out and about often. The mic on these work well too, but note that you can lose some quality in the call if the mic happens to twist away. There’s also no in-line volume control.
If you’re not an audiophile, these may work for you music-wise, but there are better alternatives if you’re just looking for something that plays great music at a similar price range. However, hearing someone sneak up on you from behind makes that difference between a score and game over.
We’d definitely recommend these for the mobile-game-oriented.
5. SONY MDR-XB50AP Earbuds
Sony has been around for a long time, producing audio peripherals ranging from the low cost to premium. The MDR-XB50AP earbuds fall into the former range.
✔️ What we like: The large dome driver delivers a punchy bass
❌ What we don’t like: Multifunction button but no volume control
👌 Standout Features:
- Strong bass from the large driver
- Crisp audio
- Good noise isolation
When you see the driver size being advertised—in this case, 12mm drivers—you can expect some solid bass performance. These Sony earbuds don’t veer far off that path. The natural bass is dynamic and punchy but doesn’t drown out other sounds, and the treble ranges come through clearly defined. The overall sound is well-balanced, boasting a frequency response of 4Hz – 24kHz.
The large driver does come at a cost of larger earpieces though, which may make them feel somewhat heavier. Some people may find this an uncomfortable fit, and they are quite noticeable in your ears, if this type of aesthetic is a concern.
However, the sound isolation for these earbuds are good when given a tight fit, and there are 4 different ear tip sizes to help you find this.
The earbuds are well-constructed of solid plastic material, with a metallic exterior coating that adds a nice touch to the overall look. The cable is a tangle-free flat wire that feels sturdy and has an L-shaped plug that is convenient for mobile gaming. The L-shape also makes it easier to disconnect without risking damage to the cable.
The mic is clear for enough for calls but the multifunctional in-line remote lacks volume control, which is a shame. It only works for answering calls, play, pause, skip, previous tracks.
The Sony MDR-XB50AP earbuds would work both for music-listening and gaming. They’re quite exceptional for the price and if you’re kind that likes plenty of bass, you wouldn’t be disappointed with these.
6. TURTLE BEACH Battle Buds
Tired of bulky over-ear headsets, but don’t want to give up your boom mic for that important teamplay coordination? These neat Turtle Beach Battle Buds could be your alternative.
✔️ What we like: Has a boom mic for better control on voice chat
❌ What we don’t like: Can be uncomfortable on the ears after extended play
👌 Standout Features:
- Detachable boom mic
- Clear crisp audio
- Super portable
For a long time, headsets and their boom mics ruled for teamplay gaming. They still do, but gamers’ ears get hot just like the rest of us regular mortals. Along comes that other option—earbuds with a boom mic.
Why bother with a boom mic when in-line mics work just fine? Well, sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes you get feedback from cable thumps when you move around with an in-line mic.
The boom mic on these Battle Buds offers a clear chat option and they’re detachable, so you don’t have to walk around with them if you’re out and about. The in-line mic can be your alternative. There may be some echo on the boom mic at high volumes, so you may have to adjust the volume to fix that. Talking about volume, the in-line controls can be a bit fiddly to work with too.
The sound on these buds is pretty good for its price. The bass may not be the strongest, but this is an earbud built for the balanced sound usually needed for games. With 10mm drivers, the sound is nice and clear, though you won’t be getting effective spatial audio. In-game orchestration mixes well with sound effects and dialogue, and regular music sounds just as good though again, the bass suffers some.
The earbuds themselves are relatively comfortable for the short term, and have several ear tip size options, but can devolve to discomfort after several hours of usage. This is where you might want to switch back to your headsets.
Overall, the Turtle Beach Battle buds offer a nice alternative to headsets when you want a boom mic. They’re well-suited for on-the-go gaming, designed more for the mobile and Switch.
They’ll work fine on your PC (though may need an adapter for the plug), but you may miss out on the richer cinematic orchestrations that larger PC games tend to have.
7. RAZER Hammerhead True Wireless Earbuds
Can wireless earbuds be used for gaming? While wireless technology may not always be the go-to for gamers, especially those running at high FPS, the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Earbuds come with extremely low latency to counter desync issues.
✔️ What we like: A gaming mode that cuts latency to almost non-existent
❌ What we don’t like: No noise cancellation
👌 Standout Features:
- Low latency game mode
- Amazing sound
- Easy to pair
- Charges with USB-C
Let’s talk about latency since that’s probably your main concern when it comes to wireless gaming. With these Hammerhead wireless earbuds, that’s a minimal issue. On normal mode, regular calls and music streaming is fine, with no problems on some games. But if you’re starting to notice that lag, it’s time to switch on the gaming mode. This mode will drop the latency to 60ms, creating almost no discernible lag between video and sound.
Sound-wise, the 13mm drivers deliver an excellently balanced audio experience with plenty of bass. It may not satisfy your average audio snob, but for gaming and general music purposes, they do the job sterlingly.
Done in black with the green Razer logo imprinted on them discretely, they’re rather stylish. Just don’t expect the RGB lighting Razer gear usually has. The earbuds are comfortable, sitting in your ear instead of going into the ear canal. This doesn’t allow for much noise isolation, but these earbuds don’t advertise that anyway.
The batteries last about 4 hours, with an additional charge of 12 hours with the case. The case charges with the convenient USB-C and is very slim and portable. Just slip them into your pocket. One little oddity would be the way the earbuds sit in the case. The right buds sit on the left side, and the left buds sit on the right. This may seem awkward in the beginning, but the intent is so you don’t have to flip the earbuds around when you pick them up one-handed.
These Hammerheads are easy to pair up with an uncomplicated control scheme, and the built-in mic is decent. However, the capacitive touch controls can be a bit finicky.
If you want to do without the hassle of wires, the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Earbuds are a decent Bluetooth option for the price, that works with most of your gaming and mobile devices.
Things You Need To Consider When Choosing Gaming Earbuds
It can be daunting trying to figure out all the features a set of earbuds offer. Or it could be as simple as “I want the neon green one”. Regardless, here’s a quick guide to brief you on what’s what so you can define your priorities.
Gaming earbuds vs Regular Earbuds
Is there any major difference? No. They perform the same way. The word ‘gaming’ tagged onto a product can hike up the price some though. That said, some gaming earbuds are designed for the balanced soundstage that suits in-game audio.
Drivers (not the ones you hire)
These devices are what determine how large your sound will be. The larger the driver size, the bigger the sound, and usually, the stronger the bass. Typical earbud drivers would be around 8mm – 15mm, depending on whether they just sit in your ear, or go into the ear canal. They’re not necessarily an indicator of overall audio quality, but do play a major part. If you like lots of bass, you probably would want one with a large driver.
Frequency Response (what?)
This is the range of audio the earbuds can reproduce. The human ear can roughly hear within 20Hz-20kHz. Earbuds with a wider frequency response may be able to reproduce a wider spectrum of frequencies, but this will depend on the quality of input audio as well. If you’re not an audiophile, the 20Hz-20kHz range should be just fine.
Noise Isolation vs Noise Cancellation (not the same)
This is a point of confusion for some. Most in-ear earbuds have noise isolation, as their physical design naturally blocks out ambient noise. Earbuds that sit on the ear may not naturally produce this effect. Noise isolation is also known as passive noise cancellation and isn’t the same as active noise cancellation. Active noise cancellation uses a powered circuitry to filter out ambient noise and will add to the cost.
To Be Wired or Not To Be Wired
This is a pretty important question for gamers. Wired earbuds won’t suffer latency issues, where else wireless ones can’t run away from it, though there are wireless products that manage to minimize this. Wired earbuds also tend to be cheaper. Don’t forget that battery life needs to be taken into consideration for the convenience of going wireless.
Styling & Extras (do they make you look good?)
Comfort should be at the top of your consideration regarding style, so if there’s a test pair, try them out. The rest is a matter of preference. You may also want to see if adapters (like Y splitters for the PC) are supplied, does it have a mic and where is it positioned? Are there in-line controls?
Compatibility (we’re not talking about matching horoscopes)
If the earbuds come with a 3.5mm plug, then they ought to be compatible, at a base level, with most mobile and console devices. Some software options may be available to only certain systems, so make sure to have a look at what works on yours.
Cost (yes! Almost missed this one)
How badly will the earbuds decimate your wallet? It doesn’t have to be catastrophic to get a good, functional pair. If you like trendy products you should check out our top 5 Skullcandy earbuds, you will love them.
Ultimately, the best decider will be: if you like them. Everyone hears differently. If there is a test set, make sure to try them out before you buy.
The Final Question: Should You Go For Earbuds?
This is a question that only you can answer. Earbuds can be a life-saving (ok, we exaggerate!) alternative when the headset gets too hot and heavy.
You need to ask yourself what you’ll be using them for. However, they do come as a lighter, portable option for your audio needs, and the convenience of having one sitting in your pocket, ready for a stint in Fortnite, does have a magnetic draw.