Best Gaming Earbuds 2021 – Noise Canceling, Microphone, and More

Don't want to encase your dome with a massive headset? Check out these great in-ear options instead.

best gaming earbuds

Many people prefer earbuds over larger over-ear (or on-ear) headphones, and while some audio snobs might look down upon such a preference, we don’t blame you; nor do we judge you. Earbuds are lighter, more portable, offer excellent noise isolation, and these days can even produce very comparable sound quality to the huge cans that some people walk around with.

If you’re a gamer who prefers the portability and noise isolation provided by in-ear audio with perfectly fitting war tips, then you’ve probably tried looking for the best gaming earbuds and found that there aren’t many options. We feel your pain and come to you with answers. Below are reviews of our best picks for gaming earbuds as well as a short guide to help you pick the right ones for you.

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How we picked

When narrowing down the wide selection of wireless earbuds on the market today we aimed to consider three key aspects; battery life, types of gaming earbuds, and wireless range. We believe that these three factors separate the best from the rest, especially when we are looking for a set of earbuds that will truly stand out in the heat of a tense gaming battle or even if you are simply looking for the best tech for a great night out!

Let’s find the best earbuds for gaming

So to find out what PC Guide believes to be the best earbuds for gaming, pop in your best noise cancelling ear-wear directly into the old ear canal so nobody disturbs you, and then join us on our deep dive into the subject.

Our Recommended

Best Gaming Earbuds 2021 – Noise Canceling, Microphone, and More

Editor's Choice
PROS

Best active noise canceling

Excellent sound

Comfortable

CONS

Very expensive (It’s Bose after all)

Bose was not trying to deceive anyone when they came up with the name for the Bose QuietComfort 20. These really are the two words that best describe the experience of using these earbuds.

Before the release of the QuietComfort line of headphones, Bose had been manufacturing audio equipment for a couple of decades. One day, however, while on an airline flight, Amar Bose himself began to scribble down the formulas for how to cancel out noise on the back of a napkin (this is not a myth, this is actually how they were invented). Roughly eight years later, in 1989, the first noise-canceling headphones were brought to market.

In 2013, Bose added another achievement to their illustrious legacy when the QuietComfort 20 became the first pair of active noise-canceling earbuds making them the best in-ear gaming headphones for those who often find themselves in noisy environments. In addition to the serene bubble of peace they can provide, the comfort is hard to parallel thanks to the carefully designed StayHear+ tips.

These tips are made of soft silicone, which means they are just as comfortable after 3 hours of listening as the moment you put them in. The shape of the tips also helps them stay snuggly in your ear while active and blocks out more noise than standard earbuds.

As for audio quality, it is what you’d expect of a company that has been at the cutting edge of acoustics for over 50 years. Bose tends to have a very neutral tuning, and these earbuds are no different with rich bass, surprisingly pronounced mids, and incredibly clear highs. These Bose earbuds have absolutely no distortion even at very high volumes and will amaze anyone you let try them.

If you are planning on a little wireless gaming then without a doubt, these are the best earbuds you can plug into the side of your head for the money.

Runner-Up
PROS

Great active noise canceling

Comfortable

Excellent sound

Solid improvement over V1

CONS

Not cheap

If you’ve read any of my reviews in the past, you might have caught onto the fact that I am a bit of a Razer fan (in fact, it pained me to put the QuietComforts ahead of these, but the truth hurts; then again, the Bose earbuds cost over a hundred more, so…). In my defense though, Razer really does make some of, if not THE best peripherals and hardware on the market.

When it comes to the features of the Hammerhead Pro V2, there is a lot to talk about. For starters, there are six different models of these earbuds available, with some sporting active noise cancelling, one that plugs directly into iPhone lightning connectors, a wireless Bluetooth model, and more. No matter what connector you’re looking for, Razer is sure to have an option for you.

Razer has tuned the Hammerhead Pros for the sole purpose of being the best gaming earphones, meaning bass and treble are both brought to the forefront over the mids to provide even better audio quality than ever during those long gaming sessions. The result is a crisp yet punchy sound. Shotguns in Doom 2016 have a real impact on them, and the sound of your blade cutting through the air in Monster Hunter: World is sharp, just as it should be. Music also sounds great with this tuning, especially for the relatively mid-range price.

The overall design of the headphones is excellent and the flat cable offers balanced portability and durability. The drawback to this, however, is that some people actually say these earbuds are heavy and can even tug on their ears after extended use.

Best budget
PROS

Detachable boom mic

Comfortable ear tips

CONS

Mediocre sound

Next, we have the best pair of cheap gaming earbuds on the market, The Plug from Koss. These earbuds are the most affordable on our list, but even some audio snobs would probably be fooled.

They come with conformal foam ear tips that offer a super comfortable and very noise-isolating fit. The sound is better than we anticipated especially in the low range with powerful bass for all the hip-hop heads and EDM fanatics. Unfortunately, however, these do not have a mic relinquishing them to mainly single-player or non-teamwork-oriented games.

PROS

Quality brand

Good microphone

iOS compatible

CONS

Pretty expensive

Sennheiser is a name that will not be new to those who have shopped for audio equipment before. Sennheiser has an illustrious history making recording and audio equipment ranging from consumer-level to professional recording studios.

The Sennheiser Momentum line is a family of products Sennheiser designed for, “people with momentum”, while this is definitely self-aggrandizing advertisement talk, what this basically boils down to, people who have stuff to do and would like more features than just good audio, rings true. Sennheiser delivered just that with these Momentum in-ears by incorporating a number of quality of life improvements over previous earbuds they have produced.

For gamers, the presence of a surprisingly decent microphone is a huge boon. It might not be as good as a desktop mic, but it lets you communicate clearly with your team. These also have a naturally favorable tuning for use as an in-ear gaming headset with similar treble and bass presence to the Razer Hammerhead Pros.

The thing that really irked us about these earphones is that the in-line controls are not cross-compatible with iOS and Android devices. While this is fine for some and all you need to do is make sure you’re getting the right version on the Amazon listing, it makes it difficult for those who might share headphones or change phones often.

PROS

Stellar customizability

Very budget conscious

Top sound quality

CONS

Lacking battery life compared to others

1MORE is a brand that many don’t necessarily know but that doesn’t mean they don’t produce some stellar wireless earbuds. The Piston Fit wireless earbuds’ design doesn’t jump out as revolutionary and they aren’t true wireless, but that enables them to have a slightly better battery life off a single charge and appeal to those sport users that little bit more. Looking at that battery life we can see that you’ll receive 8 hours of playback, 200 hours on standby, and an impressive 1-hour wait to get them back to full charge. Moving to Bluetooth connectivity, they use 5.0 architecture with the 1MORE triple driver providing 10 meters of range, allowing you to leave your device indoors when doing some outdoor activities. It also means you’ll receive faster transmission speeds and a more stable connection overall. Looking at the durability, we can see that 1MORE has included IPX4 water resistance to ensure resilience from outdoor conditions and long workouts as well as a plethora of earbud tips in case your either break them or lose them out and about.

These wireless earbuds actually come in at the lower end in terms of cost compared to the other picks so I’m sure you’ll be wondering if they compete in terms of sound quality. Thankfully, 1MORE has not skimped on this aspect. They brought in Grammy award-winning sound engineer Luca Bignardi to created a well-tuned and precise sound stage in conjunction with 10mm dynamic drivers, producing some really high-quality sound that’s true to how artists intended. You’ll be able to listen to some deep base as well as the smaller, detailed notes in crystal-clear fashion pushing these wireless earbuds to the top of the field. All in all, it’s quite easy to see why we’ve selected the 1MORE Piston Fit Wireless Earbuds as our best overall wireless earbuds under $50, they boast brilliant sound quality, impressive battery life, and overall durability that enables you to use them no matter what you’re doing. You can use these in the rain while working out, and customize them with the array of ear tips that get bundled in.

How To Pick The Best Gaming Earbuds For Your Needs

Now that we’ve covered our top picks for the ten best gaming earbuds, you probably still have a lot of questions. We’ll start by looking at some key terms and finish up by selecting a few winners in some key areas.

Audiophile Lexicon

  • Frequency Response: In short, frequency response is the range of frequencies that a given pair of earbuds can hit. Human hearing is generally limited to around 20Hz to 20kHz which is the frequency response that most earbuds have. Going higher and lower than this though allows for more true sounds to be produced within the range of human hearing.
  • Active Noise Canceling: Noise-cancelling and the next term we are going to look at, noise isolating, are often confused (even some of the Amazon listings for audio products can get them mixed up). Noise-cancelling, or ANC, is when the earbuds themselves produce a “negative” version of ambient noise to literally cancel out the sound waves of ambient noise around you. This is an active process that requires a lot of technology to detect and cancel the noise with an opposite wave.
  • Noise Isolation: Noise isolation, unlike noise canceling, is entirely passive. This term only refers to the ability of a pair of earphones to block out outside noise with things such as sound insulated housing and foam ear tips to block out more noise. In this way, you can basically think of all over-the-ear headphones as providing some amount of noise isolation.
  • In-line Controls / Mic: When earbuds have an “in-line” microphone or in-line controls, it means they are attached at some point to the cable. In-line microphones are common on earbuds but often pick up unwanted sound when they rub against shirts or other nearby things.

Boom mic: Two of the earbuds on our list actually have detachable boom mics. This is the style of microphone found on headsets that extends from the earbud to directly in front of your mouth for the most focused

Top Picks

  • Noise Cancelling: If you’re looking for a pair of earbuds that will offer you a bubble of solitude in today’s busy world, then nothing beats the Bose QuietComfort 20. Bose invented noise canceling technology and remains the leader in the field today.
  • Sound Quality: This category can go one of two ways. If you’re looking for the best earphones that are specifically tuned for the kinds of sounds most often found in gaming, the Razer Hammerhead Pro is at the top of our list with punchy bass and crisp highs. If you want more direct audio for listening to or even mastering music or just out and out audio quality with a comfortable fit, then the Bose set is a fantastic choice.
  • Performance per Dollar: For those who want to get the most bang out of their buck there are a number of options on our list. If we had to pick one though, it would be the Edifier P270s since they are within almost anyone’s price range and offer very solid sound quality for the price along with a decent microphone. Some honorable mentions would be the Razer Hammerheads (certain models, the in-line 3.5mm model specifically) and the Somic G618 Pro for its Bluetooth wireless and boom mic.

Things to Consider

Battery Life

Unfortunately, due to the wireless nature of these earbuds, battery life is always going to be an issue. However, due to the advancements in technology, the tiny earbuds of today still have enough battery life to last a day’s listening. Usually, you’re looking between the 5-10 hour mark on a full charge for most wireless earbuds, but it’s the addition of a charging case utilized by true wireless variants that really bump up those numbers up. With said charging case you’re probably going to get at least another three full-charge cycles meaning you’ll be kept going for a long period of time without having to go to an outlet. Of course, when selecting a pair of wireless earbuds the higher battery life the better but do keep a lookout for those with a charging case as you’ll get a little more longevity.

Wireless Range

Some might argue that all wireless earbuds will work fine as your device will always be close enough to you making range redundant, but this isn’t always necessarily the case. What if you’re gardening for example and would rather have your device inside? Or working out and would rather not have your device in your pocket? These situational factors should be considered when making your choice. Furthering this, the range factor is especially important when in the under $50 price range and is something that manufacturers often put less of a focus on to save on costs so it’s worth taking note of wireless range even if it’s a named brand.

Type Of Wireless

We’ve mentioned this a few times in this buying guide but the type of wireless earbuds you’re going to go for radically changes both their uses and the freedom of your listening. Simply, there are two wireless earbud variants; true wireless and wireless earbuds that are joined together. True wireless is the choice of many due to the freedom of having no physical ties coupled with the ability to have one or both earbuds in. While you might think what’s the point in standard wireless earbuds then? Well, these usually offer a longer battery life on a single charge, potentially better sound quality, and improved sport functionality.

Things To Consider

What type of wireless should I choose?

We’ve mentioned this a few times in this buying guide but the type of wireless earbuds you’re going to go for radically changes both their uses and the freedom of your listening. Simply, there are two wireless earbud variants; true wireless and wireless earbuds that are joined together. True wireless is the choice of many due to the freedom of having no physical ties coupled with the ability to have one or both earbuds in. While you might think what’s the point in standard wireless earbuds then? Well, these usually offer a longer battery life on a single charge, potentially better sound quality, and improved sport functionality.

Does this matter when you are only looking for a pair of earbuds for gaming? possibly not, but you might want to take them with you elsewhere on occasion and that might come into play then!

What range will I get from my wireless earbuds?

Some might argue that all wireless earbuds will work fine as your device will always be close enough to you making range redundant, but this isn’t always necessarily the case. What if you’re gardening for example and would rather have your device inside? Or working out and would rather not have your device in your pocket? These situational factors should be considered when making your choice. Furthering this, the range factor is especially important when in the under $50 price range and is something that manufacturers often put less of a focus on to save on costs so it’s worth taking note of wireless range even if it’s a named brand.

How long does the battery last on wireless earbuds?

Unfortunately, due to the wireless nature of these earbuds, battery life is always going to be an issue. However, due to the advancements in technology, the tiny earbuds of today still have enough battery life to last a day’s listening. Usually, you’re looking between the 5-10 hour mark on a full charge for most wireless earbuds, but it’s the addition of a charging case utilized by true wireless variants that really bump up those numbers up. With said charging case you’re probably going to get at least another three full-charge cycles meaning you’ll be kept going for a long period of time without having to go to an outlet. Of course, when selecting a pair of wireless earbuds the higher battery life the better but do keep a lookout for those with a charging case as you’ll get a little more longevity.

Will gaming earbuds fit in my ears properly?

When it comes to fitting something tightly into our ear canal, it;s fair to say not everybody is created equal. There are many people who simply can’t use Apple’s Airpods as they just continually fall out of their heads so it is a valid question.

Most decent wireless gaming earbuds come with different sizes of ear tips. Getting the correct fitting set is worth the time and effort it takes in order to help the noise cancellation and noise isolating features to work as intended. You can’t really expect perfect noise isolation if your wireless gaming earbuds don’t fit correctly.

A comfortable fit is what you should be looking for, especially over an extended period of time in some intense gaming sessions.

Are wireless gaming earbuds better than a wired gaming headset?

This is purely down to personal preference and the way you will use them. If you want the ability to wander away from your PC here and there and still be able to hear the sound without messing taking a wired gaming headset on and off then a decent seat of earbuds is a necessity.

Pro gamers might tell you that there is a lag and that earbuds aren’t the be-all and end-all – in fact, many pro gamers wear a wired gaming headset actually over a set of gaming earbuds to block out distractions even more (go figure!)

It seems with even the best gaming earbuds the noise cancelling features only work so well in a competitive environment.

The might also be a bonus if you also game on an Xbox One or PlayStation to having some wired gaming headset as you will be able to easily switch your purchase between different machines using the 3.5mm jack on the cable.

Wireless headsets are always more tricky (and sometimes impossible to hook up to even the latest consoles, whatever their price range.

Where wireless gaming earbuds come into their own is that you never have to waste any of that precious gaming messing around with a wire that is always getting tangled!

Our Verdict

Editor's Choice

Even though the Bose has been around for what seems like an eternity they are still a sure sign that quality lasts. Bose knows what it is doing and has produced a set of earbuds here that have stood the test of time. The Bose Quietcomfort 20 come highly recommended when it comes to choosing the nest noise isolating gaming earbuds.