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If you’re a gamer, a headset might seem like the go-to choice to wear while playing. But earbuds have their advantages over headsets, both at home and for mobile games on your phone or tablet.
For starters, they’re generally more affordable, and have plenty packed into their small size. These buds are designed with powerful drivers to produce deep bass, balanced mids and shimmering highs, with the goal of bringing out pure, crisp sound from your favorite games.
While some work better than others on different consoles and devices, a good pair of wireless buds should pair with pretty much everything that has Bluetooth. The built-in mic matters too, especially if you’ll be playing collaborative games with others.
Fit is another factor. Most buds will come with a few different options of rubber tips and grips, to find what best matches the shape of your ear. The better seal you can form, the more immersed you’ll be in the audio. And even if it fits perfectly while you’re sitting still, keep in mind that the more you’re talking and shouting (either at your teammates, or at the game itself), a loose-fitting bud can fall out at the worst times if it isn’t in there securely.
Along with forming a snug fit in your ears, ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) is another big perk if you want to totally block out any distractions and focus solely on the game. Most buds give you the option to switch it on or off, and the boost of decreased distractions is instantly noticeable. Some buds now even have a third hear-through option, where you can keep track of your surroundings via the bud’s microphones. This comes in handy to stay alert and safe while enjoying your game, particularly for mobile users outside and on the move.
These four pairs will deliver big sound directly to your ears, immersing you in the game and enjoying it on a whole new level.
1. Jabra Elite 85t True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds
If you were a fan of Jabra’s last generation, the 75t, these new ones prove that it’s only gotten better. The 85t features improved ANC that does an excellent job of reducing surrounding noise, as well as a hear-through mode to keep an ear on everything going on near you. But even without ANC, the oval-shaped ear tips do a nice job of securing the buds in while keeping unwanted sound out.
The case is conveniently compact and well-built, snapping shut tightly and providing a charge as well as an indicator light on the front. Unlike other cases, these can stand upright while charging, with the port on the back instead of the bottom. They can also charge wirelessly through Qi technology, which is super convenient instead of searching for the charging cable every time.
Three mics per bud, six total, pick up every nuance in your voice clearly. With ANC on, these last about 5.5 hours, or up to 25 with a fully charged case.
Once paired with a device (or two devices at one time, a refreshingly great feature), the Jabras pick up right where they left off, instantly connecting you back up as soon as you take them out of the case. You can also set your own EQ, along with other personalization options, in the free accompanying Sound+ app.
They’re rated IPX4 but probably best to keep these inside, and save the rainy-day jogging for the Jabra Active 75t.
2. Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Bluetooth Gaming Earbuds
The Hammerheads’ sound is deep and satisfying, with strong 13mm drivers, and these can multi-task for music, exercise and calls throughout your day. There’s a designated Game Mode, as well as Bluetooth 5.0, making it fast and easy to pair up with your system. Once paired, they can last up to 15 hours, and keep latency and lag to a low level. They’re also IPX4 rated, meaning they can take on accidental splashes of water and still function just fine.
3. Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Samsung’s next generation of buds features ANC, as well as four different settings to let noise in or cancel it out completely. They still feature wireless as well as wired (USB-C) charging, and battery life is outstanding here, with anywhere between five and 18 hours, according to the brand. However it’s diminished if you’ve got ANC running all the time. Multiple mics pick up your voice instantly, letting you access a virtual assistant, take calls and communicate with other players.
Another feature that tops the rest here is its waterproof ability. These are rated IPX7, and the brand says they can stand up to being immersed in three feet for up to a half hour, so there’s no worries if you drop them in your water glass or get caught in the rain.
There’s no more wingtips on these like with the Plus, and the fit — while still secure — can take some getting used to if you’ve been wearing Samsungs from previous generations. But they still sound superb, with an 11mm woofer and 6.5-mm tweeter in each bud, pumping out even the most minute details in the mix.
4. Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones
Don’t count out wired buds just yet – especially for Nintendo Switch users. While the Switch does have Bluetooth capability, it’s mainly used to connect all the different wireless parts to each other, and not readily available for wireless earbuds. It’s still possible to use them, but you’ll need an adapter or transmitter that can fit into the unit’s bottom port. The Switch does, however, have a headphone jack, and that’s where this pair of Bose buds fits in nicely. The noise-cancelling capability does a great job of blocking out distractions, so you can stay 100 percent focused on the game.