I have tested countless devices in my career to produce better sound quality. In almost all video games, it is now crucial to hear all the sounds to react adequately. This post will discuss if earbuds are actually better than headsets or gaming headsets and give you my recommendation for an excellent pair of earbuds to play with.
As a general rule, if the sound quality is very high, earbuds are preferable to headsets for gaming. Earbuds are located the shortest distance from the eardrum and transmit sound with the lowest latency. The External Auditory Canal is wholly covered, and disturbing external noise is blocked.
Let’s look at the issue from two directions.
First, if you are a casual gamer, comfort is undoubtedly more important for you. You want to hear everything, but you don’t want to spend a fortune on it.
On the other hand, as a competitive gamer, where the slightest sound snippet (e.g., footsteps of the opponents) decides about victory or defeat, I naturally have a higher demand and invest the money accordingly.
But first, let’s take a look at some directly related questions you might have about this topic.
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Why do so many Gamers use Earbuds?
Almost every gamer has earplugs available these days. Over 62% of the world’s population owns a mobile device and the earbuds that come with it. Earbuds are always used in mobile gaming.
Look around, and you’re guaranteed to have earbuds flying around somewhere.
So, assuming compatibility, you can start playing with them right away. And if you’re used to earbuds anyway by listening to music and watching videos, then it’s the most natural thing in the world for you to play games with them.
So ultimately, a simple answer: gamers have free earbuds available, so they get used.
Why do Pro Gamers use Earbuds?
Most tournaments end in an offline final with live spectators. A headset blocks distracting noise with white noise. The game sound is heard through the earbuds. Pro gamers always train for competitions, so they use earbuds most of the time. In addition, the sound quality is optimal with good earbuds.
Feel free to take a look at this post where we explain why sometimes pro gamers wear headsets and earbuds on top of each other:
Provided that the earbuds have an outstanding sound quality (unfortunately, this is reflected in the price), a competitive gamer with earbuds has a slight advantage over competitors who play with a headset.
I mainly played shooters.
The sound quality determines whether I know almost pixel-precisely where an opponent is.
Through the game’s sound, the brain interprets the volume, distance, and direction with a bit of practice.
It almost seems like a wallhack for many gamers with a more lacking sound experience when you can track exactly where an opponent is based on sounds. Earbuds can make all the difference.
Wired vs. Wireless Earbuds: What about Latency?
As a general rule, wired earbuds always have lower latency. Earbuds with Bluetooth 5.0 or better have very low latency, around 50ms, and are suitable for gaming. Higher-end earbuds offer features like ultra-low latency mode to reduce latency even further.
For hand-eye coordination in computer games, the lowest possible latency to visual stimuli should be aimed for.
For auditory stimuli, quality is more important than absolute synchrony. This is because humans see faster than they hear, which corresponds to physics: light is faster than sound.
So if you prefer mobility and can get by with battery runtimes of around 6 hours, there is nothing against wireless earbuds.
The only thing that really speaks against it is the price. For decent wireless earbuds, you have to spend about $150+.
There are earbuds from Razer, especially for gaming, but the sound quality is not sufficient, in my opinion.
If you ask yourself the same question for headsets, then you will find an answer here:
Are Headphones or Earbuds Better for Gaming?
Let’s not beat around the bush. Should you get a (gaming) headset or headphones, or would you rather play with earbuds?
Let’s return to the different perspectives mentioned at the beginning.
Let’s say you’re a casual gamer and don’t have earbuds lying around. Also, you might be playing on your PC most of the time, listening to music, watching videos, and so on. In that case, I would advise you to get a good headset.
Earbuds have one major disadvantage: they are uncomfortable in the long run.
If you have earbuds in your ears for hours, you will eventually feel pressure or even pain. This is because you jam the earbuds in your ear, and the jamming becomes noticeable at some point. Of course, this is bearable, but it can also be perceived as annoying.
Of course, there are earbuds with perfect fits or even customizable to your ear, but let’s face it: that drives the price to astronomical heights. If I can then get an equivalent headset for half the price, I don’t think twice.
I can recommend this headset to you because I have had the best experience with it myself:
And what about good earbuds for casual gamers?
We recommend these inexpensive earbuds that have sufficient sound quality for gaming. You can find many other earbuds in a price range from $10-$30 on Amazon, but Sonys products are always reliable and of high quality. Take a look here.
Let’s say you’re aiming for a professional career and take gaming much more seriously. Then, even though you might prefer to use a gaming headset for everyday use, i.e., 8-12 hour-long sessions, it makes sense to get good earbuds.
As a pro gamer, there is nothing worse than getting into a situation where you have to use other people’s equipment or new equipment without training. So it would be best if you always prepare yourself for the use of earbuds.
Depending on what earbuds you play with, it may become your standard.
And of course, now comes the follow-up question:
What are the Best Gaming Earbuds?
After my own tests, only one candidate for me comes with incredible sound quality, is comfortable even over a long time, and is very durable.
I can only warmly recommend the QC 20 from Bose.
Many good and more famous streamers, but also many pro gamers, play with these earphones.
You can check it out at your favorite marketplace or here on Amazon.
I have been playing with it for years and hear the slightest noise with it.
As always, many factors play into the decision of whether earbuds are fitting for you. However, I have shown you that you can definitely use earbuds for gaming and should also use them in the case of competitive gaming.
If, like most people, you have earbuds lying around somewhere that also happen to be compatible with your computer or console, then give them a try. Or maybe you can borrow some from your environment first.
Headphones or headsets still have a raison d’être, though. Especially during very long gaming sessions, earbuds can literally be a “pain in the ear.”
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