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The best wireless gaming earbuds

JBL and Creative earbuds on an orange background
(Image credit: JBL | Creative)

The best gaming earbuds have long been a staple of mobile gaming enthusiasts. Jam some sound isolating buds into your ears and you can crush them candies or clash your clans with impunity. But it's only recently that it's made sense in the PC gaming realm. With the best gaming laptops (opens in new tab) finally offering genuine performance away from the plug and the Steam Deck (opens in new tab) delivering on the promise of mobile PCs, a discreet set of earbuds is now a worthwhile part of your gaming toolkit.

A traditional, over-ear gaming headse (opens in new tab)t is a fine thing when you're sat at your desktop, chasing the peak aural quality that can only come from encircling your ear drums with the finest audio drivers. But when you're sat in a cafe working on that screenplay, novel, crusading like a king on your gaming laptop, or have finally managed to bag yourself that longed-for Steam Deck, a good set of wireless earbuds is what you covet.

They're easier to carry around, can vanish into a pocket without issue, and will offer better noise cancelling than most circumaural headsets. The main things to look for are, audio quality, sound isolation, battery life, and an effective gaming mode. They're mostly going to sport Bluetooth connections, so you want to make sure to eliminate as much audio lag as possible. 

But audio quality still has to be a key part of the debate, and with many years of professional listening experience (I've also had ears all my life and can back that up with a lot of hearing at an amateur level) I've put all of these sets to the task of delivering in terms of both gaming and music-listening. These have all been tested on the Steam Deck, and using MQA high-res audio playback on Tidal, to get a real feel for how they perform in the right situations.

Best wireless gaming earbuds

Simply the best wireless earbuds for gaming.

Specifications

Drivers: 10mm
Frequency response: 20Hz - 20,000Hz
Weight: 0.4 oz | 11 g
Connection: Bluetooth 5.2 | 2.4GHz wireless
Battery life: 5 hours (ANC on) | +16 from case

Reasons to buy

+
Good price
+
Dual-connection
+
Solid noise cancelling
+
Easy touch controls

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the most stunning audio
-
Don't have the longest battery life

The JBL Quantums are your classic wireless fare; aping the long-stemmed look of Apple's AirPods, but with a black finish. They come in a magnetic charging case, which helps extend the battery life of the buds themselves, and this case also holds the USB Type-C dongle which allows you to connect to other devices, such as a gaming laptop.

That's one of the features which propels the JBL Quantums ahead of the pack; the fact that it has both Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity and 2.4GHz wireless via a Type-C dongle. And the switching is fast and the connection robust.

The noise cancelling is decent, too, even if it does inevitably cut down the battery life from eight to five hours. Using the JBL phone app you can tune them to your ear canal, to further enhance the ANC as well. I would say, the Creative Outlier Pro buds do have the edge when it comes to completely blocking the outside world, but the Quantum buds are still impressively effective.

The fact you can jam the Type-C dongle into your laptop or Steam Deck and play without delay makes the Quantums incredibly versatile.

But what about the audio quality? I've said they're not the best-sounding buds I've tested, but the sound quality is still really good. I would steer clear of the QuantumSURROUND feature if you're running them from the USB dongle on your desktop PC, though—I almost blew out my eardrums with the unreasonable bass thuds in Red Dead Redemption 2 from just a short gallop through the desert cacti. 

With that off the bass tones are more subtle. And, in fact, I did bump the EQ to Bass over the Bluetooth connection in order to squeeze a little more feeling out of The War on Drugs, but in general they sound better with a flat EQ. The JBL app will also allow you to enable game mode, which helps sync game and video audio, but the fact you can jam the Type-C dongle into your laptop or Steam Deck and play without delay makes the Quantums incredibly versatile.

And they're affordable, too. Considering that the Audeze Euclids—easily the best-sounding earbuds I've ever used—are $1,200, that the JBLs are more usable on a day-to-day basis and a tenth of the price is pretty astounding. 

Read our full JBL Quantum TWS review (opens in new tab).

Infuriatingly almost awesome.

Specifications

Drivers: 10mm
Frequency response: 20Hz - 20,000Hz
Weight: 0.24 oz | 7 g
Connection: Bluetooth 5.2
Battery life: 10 hours (ANC on) | +60 from case

Reasons to buy

+
Great ANC
+
Excellent battery life
+
Impressive audio
+
Speedy connection

Reasons to avoid

-
Awkward touch controls
-
Frustrating day-to-day experience

The Creative Outlier Pro buds are almost the perfect wireless gaming earbuds. They're cheaper than the JBL Quantums, lighter, last longer, and the ANC is stronger... and even now I'm writing that I'm questioning myself for picking the JBLs over them. But those objectively positive features of the Outlier Pro are just one part of the wireless bud puzzle, it's the more ephemeral, subjective experience of actually using them on a day-to-day basis that has them falling just short.

It's the basic controls that have really rubbed me the wrong way. Touch controls are not my favourite things on headphones or earbuds; I don't care about the aesthetics of a protruding physical button as I know exactly where the controls are because I can feel them through my fingers. But touch controls on an unseeable device jammed in your ear can be a bit of a lottery.

There's a very specific area to hit on the flat outward facing surface of the buds, and that's not always super easy to nail when you're not able to see them. Then you have to double tap for play and pause, which is just crazy as it's the single most common control you'll ever use. And then there's volume control, which is split between left and right buds for up and down. 

The actual experience of listening and gaming through the Outlier Pro earbuds is almost enough to completely offset those ergonomic issues.

These are the ergonomic frustrations that meant I struggled with the day-to-day use of the Creative earbuds. But, while they are definite annoyances, they're the sort of issue that you'll internalise over a relatively short period of time when you're actually using them. Because the actual audio, the actual experience of listening and gaming through the Outlier Pro earbuds is almost enough to completely offset those ergonomic issues.

The 10mm drivers are strong and deliver an excellent, detailed sound. And that active noise cancelling is the best I've experienced on any headset. The bass is well delivered, too, offering enough oomph so you know it's there without crashing into the mid or high tones and muddying the overall sound.

The standard, flat EQ allows for your gaming soundscape and musical experience to be clear, but is still punchy.

The battery life is outstanding as well. It can deliver double the ANC-on time that the JBL Quantum TWS is able to, and the charging case will go on for days. 

And, so long as the last time you used the buds via the app you enabled the low latency gaming mode, it will remain on when you then plumb your buds straight into a laptop or Steam Deck. Maybe the Type-C dongle of the JBL Quantum TWS is a touch tighter on latency, but not enough so you'd really notice without listening to them side-by-side. 

All of which makes the Creative Outlier Pro buds a great set for gaming, but with certain ergonomic caveats.

Read our full Creative Outlier Pro review (opens in new tab).

Seriously, how much?!

Specifications

Drivers: 18mm panar magnetic
Frequency response: 10Hz - 50,000Hz
Weight: 0.53 oz | 15 g
Connection: Wired | Bluetooth 5 w/ adapter
Battery life: 8 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent audio
+
Fast wireless gaming response

Reasons to avoid

-
Brutal pricing
-
Expensive wireless adapter
-
Almost too-sharp audio
-
Personal comfort issues

If it was all about the sound I would be tripping over myself to recommend you stick Audeze's Euclid earbuds into your soundholes. The sound is delicious. Because when you're trying to describe audio quality it's important to keep using different adjectives, and because whenever I stick some high-res audio files through the Euclid buds I always end up going 'Nom, nom, nom, nom.'

But how do you, in all good faith, recommend someone spend $1,300 on a set of earbuds? I'll wait for you to crank your jaw up off the deck… yes, the Audeze Euclid buds really do cost that much. And if you want to go down the wireless Bluetooth 5.0 route then you need a $130 adapter wrapped around your neck. 

Which makes them suitable only for the most miniscule of audiophile niches, if I'm being honest. Generally, if you want that high-end audio experience you spend big on a pair of over-ear audiophile headphones (opens in new tab).

The Euclids, even ignoring the pricey elephant in the room, have too many real-world sticking points.

Despite initial concerns the Bluetooth 5.0 implementation wouldn't have the speed of connection to live with the lag-free wireless audio you really need for twitch gaming, the Euclid Bluetooth adapter is lightning fast.

Which all makes them actually an excellent set of earbuds for gaming. But you don't need a set of buds at this price level to get a very close approximation of this audio quality from a particular game. The Creative Outlier Pro buds deliver an impressive aural experience for a fraction of the price, and the JBL Quantum TWS have the ease of use to make them both an easy Steam Deck accessory you barely have to think about.

The Euclid's on the other hand, even ignoring the pricey elephant in the room, have too many real-world sticking points to make them a reasonable recommendation. 

The eight hour battery life of the Bluetooth adapter is an issue, though you could, of course, quickly switch to a wired connection when you run out of power. But, even if the power thing isn't an issue, you're still having to deal with the adapter cabling between the two buds which I found either weighed down too much if worn around the front of your neck, or tangled with any collars on my clothing, putting pressure on the buds' fitting if worn around the back.

And I struggled with that fitting in general anyways. None of the other wireless buds I've tested were much of a struggle to comfortably sit in my, admittedly small, ears, but I found with the Euclids—even with three different silicone tips, and a pair of premium Comply foam tips—long term comfort was difficult to find. 

Read our full Audeze Euclid review (opens in new tab).

The budget earbud choice.

Specifications

Drivers: 13mm
Frequency response: 20Hz - 20,000Hz
Weight: 0.14 oz | 4g
Connection: Bluetooth 5.2
Battery life: 6.5 hours | +27 from case

Reasons to buy

+
Great price with regular discount
+
Good battery life
+
Responsive game mode

Reasons to avoid

-
Weak audio
-
No sound isolation

I will admit I wasn't expecting a lot from the most budget of wireless gaming earbuds that I've tested recently, but honestly they're not bad. At full price I would absolutely recommend spending that little bit extra on the Creative Outlier Pro, but if you're willing to ship from Tronsmart via its AliExpress storefront (opens in new tab) you're looking at almost half the $60 sticker price.

And at that level these are some great budget wireless buds. They have a decent battery life, solid Bluetooth 5.2 connection, and come with a dedicated gaming mode accessible directly through the headphones rather than enabled via a separate app.

And that gaming mode is actually pretty impressive, too. It perfectly matches the gunshots in Hitman 3 via Bluetooth on the Steam Deck or a gaming laptop, and makes for a great, super portable gaming experience. Tronsmart recommends disabling gaming mode for music as it won't offer the best audio experience, but I noticed nowhere near the same strange aural artefacts as with the Gravastar Sirius Pro buds.

Leaky as a colander that's been sieving shotgun pellets direct from the muzzle.

Generally speaking, the audio is good. Not great, but it's only really a lack of direct oomph in the low ends that marks the sound out. I don't love an overly bass-heavy tuning anyway, but the Onyx Ace Pro buds do still feel lightweight on that front. The highs and mids are crisp, however, and the audio nicely detailed despite that slight bass tone failing.

These things are leaky as a colander that's been sieving shotgun pellets direct from the muzzle, however. You can hear everything. If you're concerned about being oblivious to traffic when you're crossing the road, fine, but if you want to use the Onyx Ace Pro buds to game on the go you're going to suffer.

And that's a problem, because most of the situations where I want to be using a set of wireless earbuds for gaming will find me on some sort of transport or in a public place. And generally not sat in a quiet room with a level of noise that isn't going to aurally intrude upon my play time. 

If you're after a good budget set of AirPod-a-likes for your Steam Deck, however, the Tronsmart Onyx Ace Pro will make for a solid purchase. So long as you pick it up with that AliExpress discount, that is.

Read our full Tronsmart Onyx Ace Pro review (opens in new tab).

Specifications

Drivers: 10mm
Frequency response: 20Hz - 20,000Hz
Weight: 0.21 oz | 6 g
Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
Battery life: 4.8 hours (ANC on) | +17 from case

Reasons to buy

+
Good all-round feature set
+
Simple controls
+
Easy game mode

Reasons to avoid

-
Limp audio quality

Whether connected to your PC, laptop, Steam Deck, or phone, the ROG Cetra TWS buds deliver an okay audio experience. It does though have a broad feature set which rivals the best on the market. With one minor, though missed, exception. I love the auto cut-out feature the JBL Quantum and Creative Outlier Pros offer, which saves battery and means you can just pull the buds out of your ears and they'll immediately pause. Then automatically resume when you jam them back in your earholes. 

But the ROG Cetra TWS is still a good set of earphones… but notably not a great one. 

For me it's the actual audio quality where the Cetra earphones fall down, because everything else is right up there. The ANC is good, the connection robust and quick to hook into whichever device they've been set up for, and the gaming mode can be enabled with a quick touch, and is as quick and reliable as you'd want from some wireless buds.

Sadly, the audio quality is kinda limp.

I'm into the wee charging case, too. It adds another 17 hours (21+ if you've got ANC disabled) and it's a smooth little box which is easy to palm and would slip into a pocket without being too obtrusive. The same cannot necessarily be said of the buds themselves; they've rather ROG. 

That angular design is, at least, effective. I've struggled with touch controls on earbuds for a while, preferring the reassuring feel of a physical button when you can't actually see what you're trying to hit. You know where you are when you actually have something to press. But with the sharper edges of the Cetra it creates an obvious flat plane for the touch-sensitive surface which makes it easier to find with digit alone.

Which in turn makes activating game mode, or cycling through noise cancelling levels, or even just hitting the one-touch play/pause command, a mercifully simple task. That's not something you can say of all the earbuds I've tested recently.

Sadly, the audio quality is kinda limp. 

There just isn't much depth to the sound, which is a shame either when you're playing a game or listening to music. And, in the end, it's that weak audio which makes the ROG Cetra TWS just a fine set of wireless earbuds rather than a world-beater.

Read our full Asus ROG Cetra True Wireless (opens in new tab) review.

Very much the 'gamer' earbuds.

Specifications

Drivers: 7.2mm
Frequency response: 20Hz - 20,000Hz
Weight: 0.21 oz | 6 g
Connection: Bluetooth 5.2
Battery life: 4 hours (ANC on) | +12 from case

Reasons to buy

+
Strong gamer aesthetic
+
Doubles as a bottle opener

Reasons to avoid

-
Bass-heavy audio
-
Weak battery life
-
Low latency mode sacrifices sound quality

Aesthetically, the Sirius Pro buds are the most 'gamer' of all the wireless headphones I've tested recently. The case isn't so much a case as a cage. Attached to a battery pack of a bottle opener. Really. Yeah, there is maybe a feeling that Gravastar is maybe trying a little too hard to hit a particular niche of a user.

But hey, it's a crowded market, so why not do something to make yourself stand out? The thing is, you need to be able to also deliver on the fundamentals so that the thing which makes you stand out isn't the only thing you have going for you.

And that's arguably where the Sirius Pro buds fall down. 

Battery life is one place where the Gravaster buds struggle. The 4 hour battery in the buds themselves is so weak you'd only want to use them on your shortest journeys. For most commutes I guess it's fine, but if you're going transatlantic it's a definite no. The fact the pseudo-futuristic charging cage can deliver another 12 hours of charge doesn't really help when the charging time is, at a minimum, 90 minutes.

There is some strange, almost electronic distortion going on.

But it's the audio quality where I really struggle with them, especially at this price. The Sirius Pro earbuds seem to have been too heavily tuned towards the bass. While that doesn't necessarily muddy the rest of the audio, as I initially thought it might, it just becomes too overpowering after a short time.

That's only in music mode, however, as when you switch to the low latency gaming mode the bass bias disappears. That seems to be in order to cut the lag, which it does to great effect when I've been hitting men in Hitman 3 on the Steam Deck, but it does add a certain artificial quality to the aural experience.

There is some strange, almost electronic distortion going on, and the drop in audio quality is rather plain to hear. Still, you do get used to it; the human brain is very adroit at normalising poor audio over time. And the audio latency is low enough that the trade-off is almost acceptable.

Or would be if other buds didn't deal with it far better. The Creative Outlier Pro's Bluetooth connection is speedy enough, when the specific low latency mode remains enabled, and the JBL Quantum TWS has a Type-C dongle that makes it indistinguishable from a wired connection. The Gravastar seems to just lower the audio quality to tighten up the latency issue.

When there are better sounding, longer lasting, and more affordable options on offer, even if I loved the more 'gamer' aesthetic of the Gravastar Sirius Pro, I would still recommend you spend your money elsewhere.

Read our full Gravastar Sirius Pro review (opens in new tab).


Wireless gaming headset FAQ

How do you test wireless gaming earbuds?

More than a standard wireless gaming headset you have to test earbuds for a longer time. Comfort and general ergonomics are key to a set of buds that you're likely to use every time you leave the house, whether tethered to your phone for music or podcasts, or connected to your gaming laptop or Steam Deck for mobile fun times.

We will use a set of buds for an extended period of time, testing with mobile gaming in mind, plugged into the Steam Deck, and using high-resolution audio to get a bead on the overall sound quality.

Latency is also of vital importance when we're talking about wireless earbuds, so being able to turn on game mode, and it being seamless when gaming, is a necessary part of testing, too.

Can wireless earbuds be used for gaming?

There are certain things to look for when chasing a wireless set of earbuds for gaming. They need to at least have Bluetooth 5.0 to deliver a low latency connection, but it's also worth looking for a dedicated gaming mode, which drives latency down even lower.

This ideally should be enabled via the buds themselves, and not from an app, to make them easily compatible with a gaming laptop or handheld gaming PC such as the Steam Deck.

There are buds with 2.4GHz wireless dongles, which will cut latency down to an almost invisible level, which is also worth considering.

Are wireless gaming earbuds more expensive?

The sad fact is that you are likely to be paying a premium for a wireless version of any product. You have to factor in the extra design, the extra connectivity peripherals (the wireless dongle, etc.), and the fact you now have to have a battery.

Are wireless gaming headsets heavier than wired ones?

Generally, because of that added battery, you will find that a wireless version of a gaming headset will weigh slightly more than its wired equivalent. 

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.