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, there have become more earbuds and in-ears designed for mobile gaming. 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 160 pairs of earbuds and in-ears so far and below are our picks for the best earbuds for gaming to buy. Unlike traditional over-ear gaming headsets, we haven't reviewed 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 gaming earbuds with a wireless connection that we've tested so far are the Razer Hammerhead. 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 bring out the 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 personal taste.
Unfortunately, their mic 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 headphones, 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 best wired gaming earbuds with a boom mic that we've tested to date are the Turtle Beach Battle Buds. These in-ears have a distinct cyan and white color scheme that stands out from the crowd. They also use a detachable boom microphone that can be removed for better portability or more casual use.
These in-ears have a very muddy and dark sound profile and while some users may find them too bass-heavy, they can help bring out the rumble of explosions in your favorite action games. They also have a thin boom mic that manages to pack a decent punch. As it sits close to your mouth, it captures voices well and even if you're talking in noisy places like at a gaming convention, you'll still be heard fairly clearly to your teammates on the other line. Thanks to their in-line remote, you can adjust for volume or manage your music and phone calls too. Their wired connection is also fully compatible with PC, PS4, and Xbox One, which is great if you tend to switch between different consoles.
However, while they look colorful, their plastic build feels cheap and not very durable. Their ear tips aren't very comfortable either, so they may not be the best choice if you've got a long gaming session in front of you. While they also don't block out a lot of background noise like bus engines, it shouldn't be too much of an issue if you're gaming at home. That being said, these are a suitable choice if you communicate with teammates a lot and you prefer the lightweight design of wired gaming earbuds.
The best gaming earbuds with a wired connection that use an in-line mic are the 1More Triple Driver. These wired-in ears have a casual look that's versatile enough for gaming at home or more casual use. Thanks to their in-line remote, you also have access to a microphone for group chat as well as simple controls you can use on-the-fly.
They're well-suited for a variety of audio genres as they have a well-balanced profile with a touch of extra bass. While some gamers may enjoy a warmer bass with more punch to it, it can unfortunately make them also sound slightly muddy or dark for other listeners. Still, their microphone does a good job of capturing voices that sound natural and clear but lacking in a bit of detail and brightness. They're also decently comfortable and they come with nine sets of ear tips, so you can easily find a pair that best suits your needs.
On the downside, their in-line mic doesn't sit very close to your mouth, and your voice can be drowned out if you're talking in even moderately noisy environments. The earbuds also struggle to block out background noise, so if you're wearing them during your commute, you'll hear almost all the rumble of bus or train engines. Still, if you're looking for versatile wired headphones that can work for gaming as well as more casual use, they're a solid choice.
If you prefer a more neutral-sounding pair of headphones, go for the Beats urBeats3 Earphones. While these wired in-ears aren't as comfortable as the 1More Triple Driver, their sound profile is better-balanced and accurate. It still has just a touch of extra bass across the range though, which can help make explosions in your video games sound a little more exciting. The Beats also have a similarly performing in-line microphone, and voices recorded with the mic sound clear and bright. However, just like the 1More, it struggles to separate voice from noisy environments. While they are fully compatible with PC and PS4, their microphone also makes a loud hissing noise, which can affect the understandability of your speech. They have audio-only compatibility with the Xbox One as well; however, they can still be a suitable choice if you want to keep others from hearing your audio.
If you're looking for comfortable in-ears that can be used on most consoles with full audio/mic compatibility, get the 1More. However, if you're looking for headphones that can reproduce audio more accurately and you don't mind the limited microphone compatibility, go for the Beats.
07/21/2020: Updated text for accuracy and clarity; no changes to product picks.
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 reviews for earbuds and in-ears. 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 do not care about having a microphone or wireless features.