When it comes to gaming headsets, nothing can really beat a solid pair of headphones with a good microphone. That hasn’t stopped some companies from trying to shake things up though. It’s common to see wireless gaming earbuds on offer now, which can be hit-or-miss depending on who you ask. The EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid is an attempt at earbuds that perfectly suit any gaming scenario, and that’s what we have in for review today.
For starters, let’s talk about EPOS and its history with sound. You may have heard about EPOS in the past for its more conventional gaming headsets. Audiophiles likely remember that EPOS and Sennheiser once collaborated on a handful of products like the GSP 670. In fact, EPOS owes its heritage to Sennheiser as an offshoot of the company. The GTW 270 Hybrid earbuds are EPOS’ first entirely independent product. It’s an interesting product from the get-go, and one that puts EPOS right in the spotlight.
Specs and first impressions
Here’s a quick spec sheet for reference and to provide a product overview.
|Connectivity||Bluetooth and USB-C dongle|
|Battery life (earbuds)||5 hours|
|Battery life (charging case)||20 hours|
|Software||Epos Gaming Suite|
|Included accessories||3 pairs of spare earbuds, x1 USB-C cable, x1 dongle, x1 USB-C to USB-A extension cable|
The IPX5-rated GTW 270 Hybrid makes a great start. The first thing that’s immediately noticeable is the quality of the materials used for the case and the general look and feel of the earbuds. There’s a heft to the case that makes it very satisfying to hold, and when it all comes together it’s a really neat little product. But at a price point of $149 USD at MSRP, this sort of quality should be expected. Alongside this, the accompanying manual tells you all you need to know in a clear and concise way.
The GTW 270 Hybrid connects via Bluetooth 5.1 to any device that supports it. But there’s another option with the accompanying low latency USB-C dongle. By plugging the dongle into a device’s USB-C port, you can instantly connect to it and start listening to the audio. These earbuds also support Bluetooth multipoint, which lets you switch between various devices at the touch of a button. As far as connectivity is concerned, Epos has made it an extremely easy-to-use-product.
Build quality and comfort
If you’ve used a pair of wireless earbuds before then you’ll likely know what to expect here in terms of the general look and feel of the device. These earbuds sit snugly in the metal charging case, and the magnets help to keep each secured in place. The case itself also has a magnetic clasp to keep it sealed shut, so you shouldn’t have to worry about it accidentally opening up in your pocket. The case is a bit big though. It comes in at 69 mm x 33 mm x 36 mm. It’s not a great deal bigger than most other cases, but it’s slightly bigger than you may expect.
The form factor for these earbuds is nice and small, which makes the Epos GTW 270 Hybrid perfect for just about any scenario. The earbuds don’t jut out in an annoying way, and the color scheme presents a simple, yet effective look. In terms of comfort I’d say that these are one of the more comfortable pairs of earbuds I’ve used recently. The earbuds don’t fall out of my ears unless I really try to shake them off, and I rarely need to reposition them at all. I did have to downsize the earbud cushions and swapping them over wasn’t fiddly at all. In total there are three sets, with an extra pair already on the earbuds. All in all, the earbuds are comfortable to wear, and finding the right fit isn’t hard at all.
While the GTW 270 Hybrid earbuds are not noise-canceling, the silicone cushions do a good job of sealing the ear. This means exterior sounds can’t easily get through. I had next to no trouble with wearing these earbuds for a few hours at a time during long gaming sessions. Earbuds tend to be more comfortable than headsets for me, so these were a perfect fit.
Generally speaking, these earbuds do a solid job at accurately reproducing sound whether it be in a game or with music. The clarity allows me to easily pick up on each sound within the environment, which is incredibly important in competitive games and immersive in adventure titles. These earbuds also suit calmer soundscapes brilliantly. This makes the GTW 270 Hybrid well-suited to bombastic titles full of action to calmer experiences with a more delicate approach to sound. Horror titles also work brilliantly with these earbuds, where each sound is accentuated by crystal clear audio and punchy bass.
My daily pair of earbuds are Sennheiser’s True Wireless, which goes for the same $149 USD price tag. I was thus fortunately able to compare a device more suited for general listening, against one purpose-built for gaming. I’d say that Sennheiser’s True Wireless earbuds deliver slightly better sound quality, but the difference is pleasantly minimal.
On that topic, I was concerned with the bass at the beginning of my time with the GTW 270 Hybrid. In my experience, plenty of gaming headsets tend to crank up the bass to uncomfortable levels. The GTW 270 Hybrid also uses plenty of bass, but it’s a tasteful amount. It adds the right amount of oomph to a scene while still maintaining audio quality. Simply put, these earbuds are brilliant for gaming and when listening to music. However, if you plan on using its microphone, then you may want to reconsider. The GTW 270 Hybrid’s microphone is pretty awful, so you may want to buy a decent USB microphone to go with it.
Battery life and extra features
The battery life of the EPOS GTW 270 is good enough to get you through a day. First up, the earbuds can last for about five hours on a single charge, and the case can fully charge the earbuds three times. This gives you around 20 hours of use in total, which is good, but is by no means the best on the market. I’m not sure how well suited these are to gaming sessions that run into the early hours of the morning. Unfortunately, five hours may not be enough time. But this depends on whether or not you play games until 5 AM. If you don’t, then you’re not only healthier, but shouldn’t have to worry about the battery life either.
The GTW 270 Hybrid is rather simple in regards to other features. The appearance of the earbuds may make it seem like it has touch-controlled functions, but that’s not the case. Instead, a small button on the left earbud controls actions like pausing and skipping songs, but that isn’t much use for gaming. The button is also in an awkward place on the side of the earbud which makes it difficult to access with ease.
These earbuds also support virtual surround sound on PC via the EPOS Gaming Suite. The software also lets you adjust the amount of reverb in the audio. Additionally, if you have a PS5, you can use its 3D audio feature with these earbuds. Lastly, you can pair up to eight devices at once and switch between your chosen source.
The accompanying EPOS Gaming Suite software is also fairly underwhelming. It offers a decent amount of control over the equalizer for the earbuds, and it looks good aesthetically speaking. But in my experience, the software is glitchy and doesn’t always connect to the earbuds. There were also times when the software would refuse to launch, and restarting my PC seemed to be the only fix. It’s an awkward experience in practice.
Gaming with the Epos GTW 270 Hybrid
Ultimately, we need to talk about the actual gaming experience with the GTW 270 Hybrid. The earbuds are brilliant where it counts with sound quality, comfort, and ease of use. However, there are a few aspects that aren’t so great and could impact your experience negatively.
As I mentioned previously, gaming with the GTW 270 Hybrid is an acoustic treat. The excellent sound quality boosts the immersion of a game, and the ease of connecting to various devices makes these extremely useful outside PC gaming. But there were a few annoyances that bothered me at times. Most of these issues stem from the USB-C dongle, which I was very impressed with at first. However, as I used it I noticed that the audio would lag sometimes. There’s also the fact that you can’t use the microphone on the earbuds while connected to the dongle, which takes away a major aspect of its purpose as a gaming headset.
These aren’t problems when connected to a device via Bluetooth, but it’s annoying that the dongle doesn’t seem to be a more viable option. The GTW 270 Hybrid also lacks any sort of volume control, meaning you’ll need to tweak the volume on your PC directly or with in-game options. It ends up being a cumbersome process that you wouldn’t find on a similarly priced headset.
There’s a lot I like about the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid gaming earbuds. There are a few problems that prevent me from fully switching over from a dedicated full-size headset though. The sound quality is excellent and well-suited to almost any genre of game you could play, from competitive shooters that rely on accurate sound to hear approaching enemies to atmospheric titles that deliver a much moodier soundscape.
Unfortunately, the GTW 270 Hybrid doesn’t quite suit my needs, and many gamers will likely share a similar sentiment. The battery life often makes gaming sessions feel strictly timed, and the problems with the USB-C dongle ruined my immersion in some titles. Then there are the issues with the software and the disappointing microphone that drags the package down a bit.
With all that said, this is a still a high quality pair of earbuds. The features may be a bit bare, but it manages to perform well where it counts. If you want earbuds that deliver great audio, good battery life, and are well suited to gaming for $149 USD, these are worth taking a look at. Just be sure to take a few of its problems into account. If you’re interested in EPOS’ GTW 270 Hybrid earbuds, check them out here.