The freshly announced EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid wireless gaming earbuds are the most inevitable thing to happen to audio since the introduction of the low latency wireless headset. In and of themselves, there's nothing inherently special about these Bluetooth earbuds; hell, the Razer Hammerheads have been around for some time now.
There's a problem here though: Bluetooth is a relatively high-latency interface. That's fine for Spotify but not so much for gaming where every millisecond counts. The GTW 270 Hybrid differentiates itself from the competition by adding aptX low latency wireless via a dedicated 2.4Ghz dongle on top of Bluetooth 5.1. Will this be enough to find a spot for the GTW 270 Hybrid in our best gaming headset guide?
Type: In-ear wireless
Frequency response: 20-20,000 Hz
Connection: aptX low-latency and Bluetooth 5.1
Battery: 5 hours on buds, 15 hours on case
Charging: 1.5 hours full charge, 15min for 1 hour of listening
Price: $199 (£179)
The GSA 70 USB Type-C aptX low latency dongle is rather small making it perfect for smartphones and the Nintendo Switch. Additionally, it works perfectly with PC's, laptops, and even the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. EPOS supplies a USB Type-A converter cable for those devices that don't have USB Type-C ports too.
The $200 GTW 270 comes in a handsome, slim metallic case that holds an extra 15 hours of battery life. The buds themselves last 5 hours per charge meaning a total of 20 hours altogether. And in a pinch, just 15min in the case will net you an hour of audio on the go. The slim rectangular box has a USB Type-C port on the back for charging and at the front is a single button and tiny LED that show battery and connection status.
Opening the case reveals the chunky earbuds nestled in their snug housing emblazoned with EPOS logo. They fit surprisingly comfortably in the ear and stay put once properly seated in place. The IPX5 rating means they won't die from your sweat or light rain showers.
Correct ear fit and seal is essential for the GTW 270 to deliver rich, bassy sound otherwise, the audio will be noticeably flat and tinny. I was initially shocked at how bad they sounded when I first put them in, but once I switched to bigger tips, the sound improved radically. Unfortunately, the larger tips hurt my inner ear canal after a while but I had to soldier on to keep the audio quality. I think some people might struggle to find a good fit with the bundled tips.
Once you take the GTW 270's out of their case, they automatically power on and connect to either the dongle or Bluetooth but not simultaneously. This feels like a missed opportunity because it would make sense to keep these paired to a smartphone and a PC or console. Pairing with the USB dongle doesn't require any work, but Bluetooth pairing is a bit more involved. The buds need to be inside the case followed by a long press of the case button to initiate pairing.
Once connected to a USB device, the low latency works as advertised. I didn't notice a huge difference between Bluetooth and low latency modes, to be honest. However, low-latency gives you EQ presets and 7.1 surround sound through the EPOS Gaming Suite on PC. which does make a noticeable difference to the audio quality.
I used the GTW 270 daily for roughly two weeks, testing with a number of games, songs, and videos to ascertain the overall audio performance. The sound is typical EPOS with warm tones that lean to a more bassy sound. As far as earbuds go, these are certainly impressive. And because they are driving sound directly into your ear, the buds almost seem to disappear, as if you are listening to live audio.
In CyberPunk 2077, I was impressed with how good the soundstage is; the GTW 270 really brings Night City to life. The electropunk soundtrack thrills with decent bass, while NPC conversations and ambient sounds come through crystal clear—it really feels like you are walking those streets. Listening to music is good too, though the bass was always just a tad shy of being great.
Perhaps the biggest flaw with the GTW 270 is that you can't use the microphone in low-latency mode. EPOS says it's a limitation of the aptX low latency which prioritizes playback channel only. If you love multiplayer games with your mates, you'll have to stick with the slower Bluetooth.
However, the mic itself is pretty good for earbuds. Despite a faint, audible background hiss, the microphone does a great job of picking out my voice and rendering it clearly with my natural tone. It's definitely good enough for your phone calls and game chat. Here's a sample:
Overall the EPOS GTW 270 is an exciting new product that's especially suited to mobile gamers who want to swap between their smartphone, Nintendo Switch, and a laptop. However, the fact that you can't use the microphone when using the dongle is a huge turn off for PC users meaning you can't use these to do Zoom calls. But for a first product, this is a great omen for things to come.