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 170 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 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 best wired gaming earbuds with a boom mic that we've tested to date are the Turtle Beach Battle Buds. These in-ears occupy an unusual place in the headphone market, combining the compact footprint of a pair of earbuds with a detachable boom microphone. They have a shallow in-ear fit that doesn't cause too much fatigue as well as a reasonably easy-to-use, comprehensive control scheme on their in-line remote.
They have a very bass-heavy sound profile that should bring out the thump and rumble of sound effects in more action-heavy titles, though this may come at the expense of slightly cluttered and muddy-sounding dialogue. Their small detachable boom microphone does a decent job of making your voice sound clear and easy to understand, even in noisy environments. Their analog audio connector yields full audio, and their microphone is compatible with PS4 and Xbox One consoles as well as PCs with an AUX port.
On the downside, these in-ears don't feel especially premium, with cheap-feeling plastic and rubber used in their construction. Also, their ear tips feel quite brittle and can start to hurt your ears during longer listening sessions. Still, if you're looking for the best gaming earbuds but don't want to deal with the bulky design of over-ears, these are a solid choice.
The best wired gaming earbuds with an in-line microphone that we've tested so far are the 1More Triple Driver. These well-built, lightweight in-ears are very comfortable, and they come with a choice of nine different earbud tips to help you find the best possible fit.
They have a decently well-balanced sound profile with a bit of extra kick in the high-bass, making them suitable for most music genres. They also have an in-line remote, which makes it easy to adjust the volume while gaming. Their microphone has a good recording quality, so it should transmit your voice clearly and accurately to your teammates.
On the downside, the microphone doesn't perform as well in loud, crowded environments, so your voice may get drowned out if you're using them on the go. They also only do a mediocre job blocking out background noise. However, these versatile headphones should still please most casual listeners and gamers.
If you're looking for wired gaming earphones with a more neutral, accurate sound reproduction, consider the Beats urBeats3 Earphones instead. They aren't quite as comfortable as the 1More Triple Driver, but their sound profile is a little less under-emphasized in the treble range, which gives dialogue and music a little more brightness. They're also slightly better-built and block out more ambient noise, so they're a better choice for gaming in a crowded environment. That said, their in-line microphone struggles slightly to isolate speech from ambient noise. Also, despite having an analog 1/8" TRRS audio cable, a loud hissing noise can be heard when using the microphone while they're plugged into a PS4 controller. They also don't offer any microphone support when you use them with Xbox One consoles.
Get the 1More if you want a comfier fit and game on PS4 or Xbox One, but consider the Beats if you value a better-balanced sound profile and superior noise isolation.
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 headphones reviews. 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.