EPOS GTW 270/GTW 270 Hybrid gaming earbuds review
Quick verdict: The EPOS GTW 270s cram impressive gaming audio performance into a set of compact and comfortable wireless earbuds.
- Very comfortable fit
- Remarkably powerful for their size
- Clear and crisp audio, even at max volume
- Low-latency connection has stability issues
- Weak bass output
- No microphone support when using low-latency connection
You don't see too many earbuds geared specifically towards gaming. Outside of Razer's Hammerhead True Wireless buds, most audio brands stick with full-sized gaming headsets, as the larger form factor allows for more power and higher-quality audio.
But the comfort and portability of a set of in-ear buds has appeal, especially for folks who like to game on the go. Enter the EPOS GTW 270s. These wireless earbuds promise convenience without compromising on audio quality, delivering a premium experience across multiple devices whether you're at home or out and about. They come in two variants: the vanilla GTW 270s with Bluetooth connectivity, and the GTW 270 Hybrid which adds support for a low-latency connection via an included USB-C dongle. I've spent a few weeks testing the GTW 270 Hybrid to see if it lives up to EPOS's claims, so let's dive in, shall we?
- The most comfortable and well-fitting earbuds I've ever tested
- Low-latency USB-C dongle improves gaming viability
- Sturdy metal charging case offers solid protection for on-the-go gamers
EPOS is talking a big game with the design of the GTW 270s, claiming that it solves many of the issues associated with your average earbuds. By leveraging a database of 800,000 ear scans, the company believes it has successfully balanced comfort with a tight seal and a firm fit, improving not only the feel of the buds in your ear but enhancing noise isolation and audio quality to boot.
I'm always sceptical of such lofty claims, but the GTW 270s actually deliver. They are far and away the most comfortable earbuds I've ever worn, achieving the coveted effect of feeling like they're not in your ears at all after just a few minutes.
Much of that comes down to the rubber ear tips, of which there are three different sizes included with the buds. The generic tips on most earbuds tend to slip and inevitably fall out of my ears, but not these. No matter how much I moved or shook my head, the GTW 270s remained firmly ensconced inside my ears.
This has the additional benefit of improving noise isolation. The tight seal muffles ambient background noise quite well for a pair of earbuds – it's not as effective as a full over-ear headset, but it's more than sufficient once the audio starts playing.
As with most wireless earbuds, the GTW 270s support Bluetooth for connecting to compatible devices like phones, tablets and laptops. However, EPOS is pitching them as gaming earbuds, and to that end, the GTW 270 Hybrid offers a secondary connection via a USB-C dongle included with the buds.
The dongle uses aptX audio technology to reduce connection latency, speeding up the delivery of audio from your device to the earbuds. This is most applicable in games, where the lower latency minimises the delay between on-screen action and its corresponding audio cue.
While not as widely compatible as Bluetooth, the USB-C dongle supports the Nintendo Switch and many Android devices, as well as the PS4 and PC using the included USB-C to USB-A adaptor cable.
Also included with the GTW 270s is a metal charging case, used for storing the buds and travelling with them. It's a hardy piece of kit, fashioned from anodized aluminium and built to be battered around inside bags or pockets without damaging the buds inside.
The buds themselves are also reinforced for additional protection, sporting a water resistance rating of IPX5. This rates them suitable for surviving dripping, spraying and splashing water as well as directed water jets.
- Surprisingly powerful for such small earbuds
- Clear and strong audio, though lacking in bass
- Wireless performance on the low-latency connection is inconsistent
The GTW 270s pack a surprising amount of power into such compact buds. EPOS's proprietary drivers pump out clear, strong audio that keeps pace with the cacophonic soundscapes present in many modern games. Yes, the output is tinnier than you get from a proper over-ear headset, and the bass is considerably weaker, but the overall quality is still excellent, especially considering the size of the buds producing it.
Volume output is equally impressive. The buds can go as loud as a lot of full-sized headsets, blasting the eardrums when you push the volume to max. Audio retains its clarity even at max volume, too, introducing no distortion or peaking.
To put the GTW 270 Hybrid through its paces, I connected it to my PC via the USB-C dongle and ran through my standard audio benchmark titles.
First up was Destiny 2, and my initial impressions were mixed. Weak bass output robbed my pulse rifle of its typical kick, whereas the metallic ping of my scout rifle rang out nice and sharp. This contrast manifested itself across all audio in the game: highs were crisp and potent while lows tended to lack impact.
DOOM Eternal proved more amenable to the GTW 270's audio capabilities. Despite the lack of bass, weapons fire, glory kills and the cries of demons sounded surprisingly beefy. Once again, high frequencies popped the most, with the rattle of the Heavy Cannon, the sizzle of the Plasma Rifle and the shriek of a dying Arachnotron cutting through the mix with tangible lethality. I could still tell something was missing, however. In games like DOOM, the bass is the glue that binds the relentless fury into a cohesive whole, and its absence leaves the mix sounding incomplete.
Such was not the case with Gears 5. The weaker bass had negligible impact here, resulting in an excellent audio experience all around. Explosions were rich and meaty, the Gnasher shotgun boomed with satisfying force and the Talon auto pistol sliced through the air with diamond-sharp severity.
When connected to a PC using the USB-C dongle, the GTW 270 Hybrid supports virtual 7.1 surround sound via the EPOS Gaming Suite desktop app. Virtual surround sound is a common feature of modern gaming headsets but it's not often found on earbuds, and I was curious how it would perform. Pretty well, it turns out. In Destiny 2, for instance, it considerably improved the positional accuracy of the audio, making it easy to pinpoint and track enemies, weapons fire and loot. The illusion of 360-degree space is a lot smaller than you typically get from full-sized headsets, and noises coming from behind you sound compressed and even tinnier than the rest of the audio. Still, it's a decent result from a pair of tiny earbuds.
All told, I was suitably impressed by the audio chops of the GTW 270 Hybrid. While its sound isn't as large or full as a proper gaming headset, it's raw, piercing and potent in a way that still delivers a satisfying aural experience.
Battery life on the GTW 270s is pretty typical for wireless earbuds. You get around five hours on the buds themselves, with an extra 15 hours from the charging case.
For all the emphasis EPOS places on the GTW 270 Hybrid's low-latency connection, I found the wireless performance to be a little inconsistent. Testing across multiple devices in multiple locations, I always experienced occasional hitches where the audio would clip or cut out for a fraction of a second. Sometimes these hitches were infrequent, occurring once every 15 or 30 minutes. Other times, I'd experience multiple hitches within a single minute. Taken alone, each hitch isn't particularly bothersome, but they occurred frequently enough that they became hard to ignore.
Interestingly, using the Bluetooth connection completely eliminated these hitches. It's a disappointing trade-off, since you then have to contend with the noticeable Bluetooth audio delay in exchange for a more stable connection.
- One of very few earbuds to offer virtual 7.1 surround sound
- Supports more customisation options than a lot of earbuds
- Pairing is quick and easy
Wireless earbuds don't typically offer a vast array of features, but EPOS has equipped the GTW 270s with a decent selection.
On the hardware front, the left earbud features a multi-function button you can tap or hold to play and pause music, change tracks and manage incoming calls when connected to your phone. The buds also include a dual microphone array for calls and voice communications. Voice quality is totally decent if unremarkable, which is to be expected given the lack of a proper boom mic. It's worth noting that the mic is only active when connected over Bluetooth. Using the low-latency USB-C dongle, the microphone simply doesn't work, so bear that in mind if you plan on playing team-based games where communication is critical.
When using Bluetooth, you can pair the earbuds with up to eight devices at a time. Pairing is nice and simple: Just put the earbuds in the charging case, close and open the lid, hold down the sync button on the case, then select the earbuds from your connecting device. A handy voice confirmation will play through the buds to confirm you're connected.
Connecting the earbuds to a PC unlocks a few additional features by way of the EPOS Gaming Suite desktop app. There's a nine-band equaliser for adjusting the balance of different audio frequencies, letting you mess with the mix of lows, mids and highs to suit your preferred audio profile. There's a toggle for activating virtual 7.1 surround sound, along with a slider to control the level of reverb added by the surround sound.
Should you buy the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid?
- Buy it if you want a set of wireless earbuds you can legitimately game with
- Don't buy it if you're expecting the big and bassy sound of a full-sized gaming headset
With the GTW 270s, EPOS has managed to compress the experience of gaming on a full-sized headset into a compact pair of earbuds with surprisingly few compromises. The sound isn't as big or as meaty, but it packs an impressive punch that feels larger than the tiny buds should be capable of.
For folks who want to game on the go without lugging around a bulky headset, the GTW 270s deliver a compelling balance of power and portability in a very comfortable package.
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