If we go back a few decades, nobody would have thought gaming would blow up and become the phenomenon that it is today. There aren’t just the usual console and PC gamers out there. With mobile phones came mobile gaming, and because of how easy it is, there are way more mobile gamers out there than there are console or PC gamers.
But one thing is for certain, not all mobile devices have good speakers, so what are the best earbuds for gaming on phones?
In competitive mobile gaming, such as PUBG, it’s important to have a good pair of earbuds in hand. Not only can good earbuds shut out ambient noise, but also give you precise directional audio of approaching footsteps. This comes in handy when you want to know from where exactly an enemy is approaching, giving you the upper hand.
To that end, we shall take a look at our best earbuds for gaming on-the-go. Not only can these be connected to your portable gaming devices, but they can be used on any PC, as long as it has a compatible Bluetooth driver. But before we jump to the earbuds, we need to learn about the factors that can help you choose the right earbuds for you.
So without any further ado, it’s time to elevate your gaming experience.
Buyer’s Guide — Which Factors to Consider Before Buying Gaming Earbuds?
To make it easier for you to pick the right earbuds, we shall explain various factors that you should look out for before buying a pair of earbuds.
Any good pair of audio devices will have their frequency profile printed on the box. This is a good general indicator of how the earbuds will sound at various frequencies.
Some earbuds have a very strong bass, while others excel at treble and acoustics. A frequency profile will give you a rough indication of the strengths and weaknesses of the earbuds.
How to Read a Frequency Profile?
Reading a frequency profile graph might seem daunting at first, but it’s fairly straightforward. First, we need to understand what all the numbers and letters on the graph mean.
The range of human hearing is from 20 hertz up to 20,000 hertz. Hertz is the unit of frequency of sound, and the shrillness of sound depends on this factor. The higher the frequency, the more shrill the sound. This unit will be on the horizontal axis of the graph.
On the vertical axis, you’ll find decibels. This indicates how loud a sound is. To read the frequency profile, take note of the sections where the graph line dips and crests.
The best-sounding sound drivers in the world should have a flat frequency profile. This means that the speaker does justice to all frequencies, and produces accurate and pleasing sound. However, speakers with flat frequency profiles don’t exist yet, so a graph with a smoother, less spiky curve is generally the better option.
Speakers that produce more decibels at a lower frequency will be good at bass-heavy audio, but lack depth at higher notes. Similarly, if a speaker is good at mid and high-tones, but the graph dips in the initial section of the graph, the bass on those speakers won’t be very good.
Pick the earbuds that are better at producing the type of sounds you’ll be hearing from your games. For games like PUBG, where being able to hear approaching footsteps is critical to victory, a pair of bass-heavy earbuds will be ideal.
The driver size of most sound devices measures in millimeters. A driver of any sound-producing equipment is the transducer element that converts electrical signals into sound. But when we talk about the driver size, we often refer to the size of the diaphragm of the driver, which is responsible for producing sound by vibrating physically.
While many people think that the larger the driver, the better the sound quality of the speakers, it’s not always the case. A larger driver can push out more sound, but it will need more electricity to do it, and vice versa. Many other factors play a role in the quality of sound produced, so don’t rely only on the driver size.
A good set of over-the-head gaming headphones will often have driver sizes of more than 50mm. Gaming earbuds, however, have drivers of only 10-13mm. This is because of earbuds are physically smaller and don’t need to produce very loud sounds, owing to their close proximity to the ears.
Plus, earbuds can’t pull a lot of power from the 3.5mm jack, or the small batteries if it’s a TWS one. This also puts a limit on how large earbud drivers can get.
Unless you specifically want your earbuds to be able to play audio very loudly, the size of the driver shouldn’t be your only concern. As long as the driver size falls within the average for gaming earbuds, and not lower, you’re good to go.
Active Noise Cancellation
If you have bought any dedicated gaming headsets or earbuds in recent years, you might already be familiar with what noise cancellation is. But we’ll discuss it for the sake of this guide.
Noise cancellation is a magical concept that can cancel out any ambient noise around you to give you a feeling of complete isolation. This idea works thanks to an array of microphones on the earbuds, which are constantly listening to the noise around you.
The speakers then produce sound waves that are directly opposite to the ambient noise, effectively canceling each other out.
Some earbuds only have noise isolation, which is different from noise cancellation. In noise isolation, the shape and design of the earbuds are such that it creates a tighter seal in your ear canal to block out background noises. Noise isolation doesn’t work as well as the cancellation, but it’s cheaper.
For better noise isolation in earbuds, it’s important to pick the correct size of earbud tips. Most earbuds come with extra tips of various sizes. Make sure to apply the tip that is a better fit for your ear.
For multiplayer games, a mic is crucial for effective communication between team members. Mic quality in most earbuds is subpar, and it’s difficult to find a good-sounding microphone. On top of that, the only way to check the quality of the mic is by using the earbuds or watching a review video of how the mic of a specific earbud performs.
Wired earbuds come with a mic module midway in the wire. This module houses not only the mic but often a volume slider and an on-off button for it.
These microphones often perform better than the ones on TWS earbuds, thanks to their optimal placement close to your mouth. Plus, the buttons make it easier to control mic options when compared to most other TWS which have finicky touch controls.
If you plan on gaming for hours on end, comfort should be at the top of your priority list.
Most earbuds these days have a rubberized tip that sits more comfortably in your ear and can provide better noise isolation. This design is called in-ear earbuds.
However, some people might find the rubberized tips uncomfortable for longer gaming sessions. For such people, going with non-in-ear earbuds would be the best bet. These earbuds don’t have a rubberized tip and rest on the outside of your ear canal, without causing any irritation. However, they don’t isolate sound as well as the in-ear design.
Wired or Wireless Options
What is the better option? The answer may not be as simple as you think. The short answer is that it depends on the user’s preference. But let’s take a look at why someone might pick one over the other.
Wired options are great due to their diverse compatibility with any device that supports a 3.5mm headphone jack. This includes anything from the newer Android devices and gaming consoles, like the Nintendo Switch, to the gaming relics of the past, like the Gameboy.
With wired earbuds, you won’t have to worry about charging them, as they draw power from the device through the 3.5mm audio jack.
But using wired earbuds can often get tedious and difficult, as they impede the mobility of the gaming device. Plus the wire can often get tangled easily, further ruining the gaming experience. That’s where the wireless earbuds come in.
While they might reside on the pricier side of the gaming earbuds spectrum and need charging from time to time, the ease of using wireless earbuds is unparalleled. Their range of compatibility doesn’t encompass older devices, but instead, they can connect with newer iPhones that don’t support a headphone jack.
In our list, we shall be including only wireless earbuds, as in our opinion, they provide a far more seamless gaming experience as compared to wired ones.
Factors Specific to Wireless Earbuds
Some factors are specific only to wireless earbuds that we need to discuss as well. These can make or break your purchase and can be the deciding factor of whether you’ll enjoy your gaming sessions with your new wireless earbuds or not.
There are two mainstream designs currently used for wireless earbuds. One is with a stem that hangs down from the actual earpiece, similar to AirPods. The other design is without the stem, also called stem-less earbuds. Google’s Pixel Buds fall in this second design category.
From a visual perspective, it’s up to your own preference which design you like better. Some people like the low-key and covert feel of stem-less earbuds more, while others want to show their expensive earbuds off when they wear them.
In terms of functionality, we have to go with earbuds with stems. Due to their larger housing, not only do they have space for a beefier battery, but they also have space for extra microphones to provide better noise cancellation.
Plus, these earbuds can fit better in your ear and tend to stay in there, even when you’re moving about. That’s why you’ll find that the majority of our gaming earbud picks have a stem.
Charging and Battery Life
One of the most important factors to consider with wireless earbuds is their battery life. Nobody wants to be interrupted midway through their gaming session when the battery of their wireless earbuds dies.
Ideally, you should go with a pair of earbuds that can give you at least 4 hours of battery life on a single charge. With the case, the battery can be further extended, but the case should provide at least 2 more complete charges with a single charge.
Similarly, go with earbuds that charge through a non-proprietary USB-C cable. Ditch any earbuds that use an older micro-USB or any other proprietary cable to charge.
For gaming, picking the earbuds that provide the lowest latency is essential for a good experience.
Latency simply means the delay it takes for the earbuds to receive and play sound from the device, and it’s measured in milliseconds (ms). Most earbuds use Bluetooth 5.0, which gives low latency. However, there can sometimes be driver or compatibility issues with certain earbuds that can lead to higher latency.
A good thing about wired earbuds that use a 3.5mm jack connectivity is that they don’t have to deal with latency issues. So if that’s your major concern, you should go wired.
Make sure that the earbuds you pick have good reviews and are compatible with whatever device you’re mostly going to use them with.
Most wireless earbuds come with an IP rating. There are multiple types of IP ratings, each of which has various meanings.
If you plan on using your earbuds for more than just gaming, then an IP rating would be nice to have. With splash and dust-resistant earbuds, you won’t have to worry about damaging them if you happen to go out while it’s raining or during a storm.
Where wired earbuds have buttons or volume sliders, wireless ones have to make do with touch gestures. These gestures can often be difficult to use, and half the time they don’t do what we want them to do. If you plan on listening to music on your earbuds regularly, then go with a pair that has accurate gestures. For this, you’ll need to read or watch reviews.
A feature that some expensive wireless earbuds have is that they allow the user to customize and modify the gestures for every action. This is done through the company’s first-party companion application which can be installed on either a mobile device or a computer.
5 Best Earbuds for Gaming Wirelessly
We scoured the internet to find these five earbuds that can take your gaming sessions to the next level.
When it comes to gaming, Razer has become a household name. They have their fingers dipped into almost every kind of gaming product there is, including a gaming laptop lineup. Razer is popular for a reason; its products radiate quality and attention to detail. But this often comes with a price range that’s difficult to digest for many gamers.
With Razer Hammerheads, Razer did something different. Instead of releasing another traditional gaming headset, they targeted mobile gamers and introduced wireless earbuds. The 1st gen Hammerheads were a commercial hit, which compelled Razer to further improve them and release a 2nd generation.
These newer Hammerheads improve upon almost every aspect of the original Hammerheads. Everything from the build quality, sound quality, and overall comfort has been enhanced to make the 2nd gen hammerheads one of the best gaming earbuds out there. Plus, it added ANC to these earbuds to make the gaming experience even better.
The Hammerheads have an in-ear design, which, coupled with active noise cancellation, can provide an unmatched level of isolation. True to their dogma, Razer made sure to include RGB lighting to the earbuds, which not only scream “aesthetic”, but can also magically increase your game’s FPS.
Powered by Razer Chroma RGB, users can use the first-party mobile application to change the color of the lights to whichever suits them better.
With Bluetooth version 5.2 and audio latency as low as 60ms, these earbuds are perfect for gaming. The 10mm drivers do justice to media and video games alike.
The earbuds can provide up to 20 hours of battery life (4 hours on earbuds + 16 from the case) with ANC and lighting turned on. Without both these features, the battery life jumps up to 32.5 hours (6.5 hours on earbuds + 26 from the case), which is quite impressive.
- Active Noise Cancellation along with the isolation provided by the silicone tips can effectively mute background noises so you can fully focus on gaming.
- The battery life of Razer Hammerhead is truly impressive, allowing you to game for hours on end, without any interruption.
- The addition of RGB lighting is perfectly suited for gamers who like flashy lighting in their peripherals.
- Users have to use two separate apps, one for controlling the audio adjustments and the other for customizing the lighting, which is tedious.
- These are priced on the higher end of the spectrum, which might be a turn-off for many buyers.
Soundcore vr P10 is a great option to consider if you’re on a budget. At merely half the price of the Hammerheads, you get almost every feature, except for the ANC and lighting.
One of the best features of these earbuds is that they support two types of wireless connections. They have Bluetooth as well as wireless connectivity. With Bluetooth, you can connect to any mobile device, and by using the USB-C dongle, you can use a faster 2.4GHz wireless with any other console.
Plus, both of these connections can be used simultaneously, so you don’t have to pause your game to answer your phone calls.
The P10 is made specifically for the Meta Quest 2 VR headset. The USB-C dongle has pass-through charging, which allows you to use the same USB-C port on the headset to connect the dongle as well as charge the headset.
- The price of these earbuds is extremely reasonable, especially considering the features it has.
- Simultaneous dual-wireless connections allow the earbuds to be connected to two individual devices at the same time.
- The 2.4GHz USB-C adapter allows ultra-low latency of less than 30ms, which is exceptional for wireless earbuds.
- There is no ANC in these earbuds.
- The sound levels when connected to the PC aren’t very loud.
Next up, we have an entry from none other than HTC.
Unlike the other earbuds on this list, the Earbuds 7 have a non-stem design, which makes them minimalistic. These support the Bluetooth 5.3 version with a latency as low as 45ms.
These earbuds are jam-packed with features like ANC and also boast an IPX4 rating, which makes them sweat and water-resistant.
- For earbuds with ANC, they have a very affordable price.
- Lightweight and low-key design that’s perfect for people who don’t like earbuds with stems.
- Superb battery timing allows for up to 6 hours of playtime.
- The sound quality isn’t very good.
- ANC on these earbuds doesn’t perform very well.
A gaming lineup wouldn’t be complete without an entry from the pioneers of gaming peripherals, Asus ROG.
The standout feature of ROG Cetra is its wireless charging capabilities. Installed within the earbud case is a magnetic copper coil, allowing the case to be charged through any Qi-enabled wireless charger. But those who don’t have a wireless charger can simply use any USB-C charging cable to charge up the ROG Cetra.
In terms of battery timing, users have reported uninterrupted gaming sessions of up to four hours. This might not be a lot, but it’s pretty decent considering the RGB lighting on the earbuds.
The ROG Cetra has a first-party EQ and audio control app called Armory Crate. Users can really tweak the sound settings and get the most out of their earbuds using this application. Plus, it also has hybrid ANC for that isolated feel during gaming.
- The wireless charging capability of the ROG Cetra is very modern and appreciated in wireless earbuds.
- Armory Crate has quite an extensive range of audio settings that can elevate the sound quality of these earbuds.
- The comfort level of the ROG Cetra is pretty good. You can expect long gaming sessions without any fatigue.
- They don’t have excellent battery life.
- Priced at a slightly higher point compared to other earbuds.
Last but knot least we highlight another gaming company, this time the conglomerate known as Xiaomi.
Blackshark doesn’t cut back on quality when it comes to its products. Featuring a 12mm audio driver and Snapdragon HD sound quality, you know you’re getting the best in the business when you buy the JoyBuds.
Battery life is a huge selling point for JoyBuds. In our estimates, JoyBuds could easily give a playback time of 6 hours with ANC turned on. This, coupled with the fast charging capabilities truly set it apart from the competition.
- Exceptional audio quality with the 12mm drivers, which are among the largest ones on this list.
- The battery life of JoyBuds is superb, making them truly one of the best wireless gaming earbuds.
- With 40db of Active Noise Cancellation, you will always hear the footsteps approaching in your video games.
- The comfort level of these earbuds is somewhat questionable.
If you don’t want to invest in a bulky wireless gaming headset and don’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack on your device, then wireless earbuds are your best choice.
The built-in mic in these earbuds isn’t too great when compared to some wired headphones, but they do the job fine. We went with the in-ear design of earbuds on our list, most of which had a stem. These proved to be the most comfortable design in our testing.
Our list of best earbuds for gaming should set you up for some of the best and most rewarding gaming sessions of your life.