If you enjoy gaming on your phone, a traditional gaming headset is likely far too bulky to take around with you everywhere. Luckily, as mobile gaming has risen in popularity, more earbuds and in-ears are being designed with that in mind. Generally, for a gaming headset, you want something with a good microphone, a comfortable fit, and a well-balanced sound profile, so all your game's explosions and dialogue sound the way they're meant to. Latency can also be very important, as many Bluetooth headphones introduce noticeable lag, which can be an issue when gaming online with others.
We’ve tested over 190 pairs of earbuds and in-ears, and below are our picks for the best earbuds for gaming to buy. Unlike traditional over-ear gaming headsets, we haven't tested nearly as many earbuds that are suitable for gaming yet, but we'll update this list as we buy and test more. You can also check out our recommendations for the best gaming headsets, the best earbuds, and the best earbuds with a mic.
The best wireless earbuds for gaming that we've tested are the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless. These truly wireless earbuds don't enter the ear canal as deeply as most in-ears, which some people may find more comfortable. They have a unique 'Gaming Mode', which allows for outstandingly low latency when connected to mobile devices, making them a great choice for competitive gaming on your phone.
Their sound profile is quite bass-heavy and uneven, though this helps to bring out explosions and gunshots in your game. If you also use your headphones for listening to music, they'll be best suited for bass-forward genres like EDM or hip-hop, as they're likely too boomy and muddy for genres like rock or country. On the bright side, their dedicated companion app gives you access to a few EQ presets, so you can boost their treble or bass to better suit your taste.
Unfortunately, their microphone is rather disappointing, especially for headphones designed for gaming. Your voice sounds muffled, lacking in detail, and it can be difficult to hear in even moderately loud environments. Their 3.7-hour battery life is also sub-par for truly wireless earbuds, though you can fully charge them in their case within an hour. Overall, these are a unique pair of truly wireless headphones geared towards gamers that offer outstanding low latency when paired to a mobile device.
The Turtle Beach Battle Buds are the best wired gaming earbuds with a boom mic that we've tested. Although they have a very simple yet colorful design, they're lightweight and flexible, which makes it easy to take them with you on-the-go. They also have a detachable boom mic, so they can be made to look more casual for day-to-day use.
These earbuds have a very bass-heavy and warm sound profile, which is well-suited for sound effects in action games. However, vocals and lead instruments can sound cluttered and muddy. That said, these headphones have full audio and mic compatibility with PCs, PS4, and Xbox One via their AUX ports, which is good if you like to use different consoles. Their boom mic also offers a decent overall performance, so you're heard clearly by your teammates.
On the downside, they have a plasticky look and feel. Their ear tips, in particular, feel quite hard and could be uncomfortable if worn for long gaming sessions. They also lack sound customization features, and their in-line controls are very basic. That said, these earbuds' detachable boom mic keeps them easily portable and lightweight, while their wired connection ensures you can use them on several different consoles without too much of an issue.
The best wired gaming earbuds with an in-line mic that we've tested are the 1More Triple Driver. These well-built earbuds use an in-line mic that's able to capture your voice clearly. They also have easy-to-use in-line controls, and while they're not really designed with gaming in mind, they're a bit more versatile for casual use.
They have a decently comfortable design and come with several differently-sized ear tips, including three foam pairs to help you find a fit that's best for your needs. They also have a warm sound profile with a bit of extra bass, so sound effects are emphasized in action-packed gameplay. They're still balanced enough in the mid-range to keep vocals and lead instruments in cut scenes detailed and accurate.
On the downside, the in-line mic does a mediocre job of separating your voice from ambient noise, making it better suited for chatting in quieter areas. If you like to game while you're on-the-go, they also struggle to cut down bass-range noise like bus and plane engines, which can be a little annoying. Still, if you're looking for more causal-use gaming earbuds with an in-line mic, they're a suitable choice.
If you're looking for more neutral and accurate sound reproduction from your wired earbuds, check out the Beats urBeats3 Earphones. While they aren't as comfortable as the 1More Triple Driver and they don't offer as many ear tip options, they have a more neutral sound profile. They're balanced in the treble range too, which helps to keep vocals and lead instruments bright and present. Their in-line mic also does a better job of recording clear and accurate voices. However, just like the 1More, it struggles to separate background noise from speech. It should also be noted that a loud hissing noise can be heard when using the mic if you plug these headphones into a PS4 controller. Unfortunately, if you're an Xbox One gamer, you can only receive audio, so you won't be able to use them to team chat.
Go for the 1More if you game on either the PS4 or Xbox One and you're looking for a comfier fit. However, try the Beats if you prefer a more balanced sound profile for your gameplay.
12/23/2020: Added the Samsung AKG Type-C to 'Notable Mentions'.
10/30/2020: Added the Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC to 'Notable Mentions'.
09/01/2020: Slight changes to the article for accuracy and clarity, no change in product recommendations.
06/11/2020: Replaced Samsung Galaxy Buds Truly Wireless with Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless in Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best earbuds for gaming. We factor in the price (cheaper headphones win over pricier ones if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our in-ear and earbuds headphones reviews, sorted by their wired gaming scores. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference, and listening habits will matter more in your selection, especially if you don't care about having a microphone or wireless features.