EPOS wireless gaming earbuds gtw 270

EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid Wireless Gaming Earbuds Review

The Low-Down!

Overall, the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid holds its own when stacked up against other wireless gaming earbuds on the market. The low latency that is made possible by the aptX™ codec through the USB dongle pushes these earbuds to the top when it comes to response time. They are, however, not without faults. Volume control and USB-C microphone features would certainly have made these earbuds appeal to a wider market.

EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid Specs

Platform
PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, Mobile/Tablet


Connection
aptX™ Wireless, Bluetooth 5.1


Noise Control
Passive


Battery Life
5 Hours (15 Hours in Charging Case)


The release of the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid true wireless earbuds saw a new direction for gaming audio. Until now, the latency issues plaguing other wireless gaming earbuds meant that gamers were unlikely to move away from the standard headphone model. Wireless headsets, after all, have been around for a while and have already established themselves as capable of producing low latency and high-quality audio.

So who exactly is the EPOS GTW 270 for? 

The short answer is anyone looking for versatility. To call the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid versatile would be an understatement. These earbuds make use of a small wireless USB-C dongle which completely changes the game by making use of aptX™ technology which we will go into more depth on below.

Apart from the impressively low latency, the small size of the dongle and its ability to move seamlessly between devices makes it great for the avid gamer who may have multiple consoles or wish to have a single audio device for their consoles and their smartphone.

The Technology

What separates the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid from other wireless gaming earbuds on the market is the extremely low latency that comes with the use of the aptX™ codec. aptX™ is a fast and efficient way of transmitting high-quality audio faster than traditional Bluetooth audio transmission.

The secret to the fast response time found in aptX™ is the method of compression and decompression used during the exchange of data between the source device and the receiver. The sound quality is retained in conjunction with the rapid response time by compressing the audio data while sending it and then decompressing it for the receiving device.

While there are products on the market offering up to 60ms response time via Bluetooth, the USB-C dongle used by the EPOS GTW 270 assists these earbuds in pushing ahead of the competition and offering true wireless response times that we haven’t seen from wireless gaming earbuds before. The aptX™ codec brings latency down further, ensuring that your game is synced with your audio.

Compared to the Razer Hammerhead, another set of wireless earbuds designed for the gaming market, the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid is faster in its default configuration than when the Hammerhead is set to its fast gaming mode brings its response latency down to 60ms.

Epos gtw 270 hybrid wireless earbuds

For The Gamers

While the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid is suitable for all uses, the reality is that these are specifically designed and created for gamers. There are countless options on the market for regular wireless earbuds, which offer the same or even better quality at a similar price point. So do these earbuds work well for gamers?

The answer is perhaps a bit more nuanced than that. We found that it depends entirely on what type of gamer you are. If you’re a casual or hobby gamer, these earbuds should tick most of the boxes for you. They will provide you with quality audio that is easy to set up while also being extremely versatile.

We’re thrilled with the low latency performance provided by the aptX™ codec. However, the lack of microphone capabilities when using the dongle may prove a deal-breaker for some.

The biggest drawback for us was the lack of microphone capabilities when using the USB-C dongle. Whether this is a deal-breaker for you will depend on the type of gaming that you do. For those who are more into single-player games where the ability to communicate with teammates rarely presents itself, the issue isn’t as glaring. However, if you’re a competitive FPS player or even just someone who likes to sit on Discord and talk with friends while playing, this can be a major issue. However, it’s nothing that a stand-alone mic using your mic-in port can’t solve.

Audio Quality When Gaming

The performance of the earbuds when gaming was surprisingly good. The passive isolation from a snug in-ear fit meant that it was easy for us to feel immersed in our gameplay. During single-player adventure games where directional sound isn’t of the most importance, it was difficult to fault the EPOS GTW 270 in what it brought to the table.

Explosions, for instance, managed to carry the heavy bass one would expect, but without muddying the higher frequencies. And the treble at no point felt particularly invasive either.

The directional sound quality was excellent when panning left and right, with the ability to identify footsteps from these directions easily. However, the front and back directional sounds were noticeably different from what you’d find in a pair of 7.1 gaming headphones and lacked the depth that surround sound headphone users may be used to. That’s not to say that they don’t compare with other gaming earbuds on the market. It’s just that if you’re not going to require the versatility of the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid, you may benefit more from a quality pair of wired gaming headphones.

A firmware update that took place in April 2021 opened up the ability to connect between both Bluetooth and the dongle at the touch of a button, which in theory allows you to swap between a Bluetooth audio channel capable of voice chat and your dongle, allowing you to run Discord on your phone via the Bluetooth and the game audio via the dongle. However, in real-world applications, this isn’t going to solve the issue of instant communication with teammates when needed, as you will need to manually switch between your audio connections when you start and stop speaking.

Sound Quality & Performance

While these wireless earbuds are specifically marketed towards gamers, we wanted to get a true representation of the sound quality across all uses. So we sat down and listened to how they performed across multiple music genres as well.

On our initial tests, we were impressed by the audio quality of the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid. While there is some bass boosting present, as is the case for many similar gaming headsets on the market, we didn’t feel as though it was over-amplified or interfering at all with the other frequencies. In fact, the bass seemed to nestle sweetly in the mix among the mid-range. Both the music and gaming tests left us happy with how the bass is handled with this device.

The mid-range frequency is really where this pair of wireless earbuds shine. Whether you’re gaming or listening to music, one can appreciate the distinct depth of the mid-range frequency, which, while not perfect – is still comparable with quality wired gaming headphones in a similar market space. We didn’t notice any issues with the mids being flat or drowned out.

When it came to the high-range frequency, we are pleased to say that we didn’t encounter any dreaded ‘tin-like’ metallic sounds that can sometimes plague budget wireless earbuds. Instead, we found the high-range frequency closely aligned with the quality we experienced with both the mids and lows. That said, there was a decline in the depth of the audio in the treble, seemingly making it sound a bit flat at times. This was more noticeable when listening to music than it was during gameplay.

Epos GTW 270 earbuds

Microphone Quality

When it comes to microphone quality, you should set your expectations relatively low. As mentioned, this microphone feature is only available when using the Bluetooth connection and is not present when using the low-latency USB-C dongle.

The primary drawback of the microphone quality itself is that the audio is slightly muffled and distant, not to the point of being in any way inaudible. However, given the price point, we’d have preferred a bit more clarity in this area.

Noise Cancellation

There is no dedicated noise cancellation feature with the EPOS GTW 270; instead, you can expect some isolation from the in-ear design, which, to be fair, actually provides some noticeable isolation, assisting in the immersion aspect when gaming. Naturally, you’re not going to find the same strength of isolation found in true noise-canceling headphones.

Wireless Quality

When testing the wireless connection and range stability using the dongle, we noticed that the connection started to get spotty from around 5 meters from the dongle and was completely lost at around 6 meters in an open room environment.

While this range is acceptable and within the range of typical use in most situations, it would have been nice to know that one could perhaps go to the bathroom and back without losing connection, especially if one is in a Discord call and wants to continue to hear from your buddies when the next round is about to start.

It is worth noting that the pairing resumes automatically when you are back in range. However, there is also a slight delay to this, and it typically occurs around 5 seconds once you are back within the wireless range.

When using the Bluetooth 5.1 functionality and not the USB-C Dongle, you will find more freedom with a range of up to 15 meters, at the cost of the low-latency feature.

EPOS wireless gaming earbuds boxed

Setup / Connecting

The dongle can be inserted directly into modern motherboard designs where a USB-C port is available. Otherwise, the USB-A to USB-C adapter cable can be used as a bridge to allow wider compatibility with a vast number of devices. 

When pairing the earbuds to a device, one may instinctually remove the earbuds from the charging case first and try to pair with the earbuds in hand or even in the ear. However, when pairing, you are required to keep the earbuds inside of the charging case. 

Once you insert the dongle into your device, you’ll notice a flashing blue light on the dongle indicating that it’s searching for the earbuds to pair to. At this point, turning on your charge case with the earbuds positioned inside will result in the pairing process being completed. You’ll know that the earbuds are connected as the LED will light up.

You may be required to adjust the audio output device if your device doesn’t automatically switch it to the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid by default. During our testing, we found that Windows 10 would automatically swap to the earbuds as the default audio device as soon as the dongle was paired.

Epos wireless earbuds

Design & Feel

Across the board, the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid has an appealing aesthetic. The inside of the box sees a wrapped teal accent complementing the otherwise grayscale design. All three primary parts of the device are also easy on the eye, with gray, silver, and black tones.

There is nothing obnoxious about the color choices or the design. EPOS opts not to follow the same path as many other gaming audio products that rely heavily on brightly colored accents. Instead, these earbuds could easily find themselves inconspicuously nestled in the ear of a businessman on the street.

The earbuds fit neatly into the charging case, held there by a magnetic connection, meaning your earbuds aren’t going to be moving around constantly inside the case when you take them out with you. A small LED light is also present on both of the earpieces, which for the record, feel weighty and durable. There are certainly no complaints when it comes to the build quality.

The charging case is simple, with a single button, 5 small LED lights to indicate pairing and charging status, as well as a single brand logo neatly on the top. The construction feels solid, though we recommend avoiding placing the charging case together with metal objects that are prone to scratch the metal.

We were also impressed by the small size of the dongle, which can easily fit into USB-C slots without hampering the nearby USB-A ports on motherboards where USB-C is supported natively.

The EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid is rated IPX5, meaning you won’t need to worry about sweat damage or light rain when wearing them outside.

The EPOS GTW 270 is one of the more comfortable in-ear designs we’ve used. The earbuds sit sturdily in the ear and provide passive noise isolation that is capable of creating the immersion that is so important for many gamers.

The comfort of the earpieces is likely to be subjective, depending on the shape of the user’s ear. We found very little to complain about when it comes down to the comfort level experienced during our testing, though, and none of our team found them uncomfortable when used for average periods. After the three-hour mark, I did start to feel a slight bit of discomfort, though after removing it for a few seconds, repositioning, and placing it back, I was good to go for another couple of hours.

The earpieces seemed to hold their position extremely well, and we didn’t feel as though we were going to have them fall out of the ear. They nestle neatly within the ear and are surprisingly discrete for what they offer. You should be aware, however, that if you remove the right earpiece, the audio will stop playing, so if you’re looking to quickly make a phone call or talk to someone in the room but don’t want your game audio to stop, you will need to remove the left earpiece to do so.

One downside to the design, in our opinion, is the lack of volume control on the earbuds. You may be used to a slider or button on the earpiece where you could mute or adjust the volume. However, the EPOS GTW 270 does not offer any volume control. All volume control needs to be done on your device settings. With that said, I expected this to be a much bigger issue when testing than it was. 

There were still times when I wished I could lower the volume for a few seconds, but I was impressed at the level of volume, which is standard with the device. I was worried about being overwhelmed by excessive volume in shooters while finding more ambient noises requiring more volume. However, our experience was that the volume always seemed balanced and never too loud or too soft.

That said, if you’re looking to really blast your ears with music – the limitation of a set volume level that isn’t quite as high as some other earbuds on the market may leave you wanting a bit more in terms of volume.

Epos gtw 270 hybrid

Battery Life

Battery life, we found, was a little on the short side at 5 hours when used in practical application. The recharge times are fairly impressive, though. You can extend this battery life to 15 hours using the charging case (3 recharge cycles). However, this didn’t seem practical.

We are used to seeing longer battery life from other similar products on the market that aren’t offering the low-latency functionality, and that is the real caveat here. Given that this technology is a first for the market, there aren’t benchmarks set yet on what one should expect from a battery performance with this same functionality. It would be unfair to compare them directly to other earbuds on the market which don’t offer that same low-latency feature.

We do, however, see some limitations from a 5-hour battery life, especially for those hardcore gamers who frequently spend more time than that in a single sitting grinding through their raid encounter or becoming immersed in a new digital world.

Compatibility

There is no denying that a massive benefit of the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid is the range of device compatibility and the ease of use for each of those devices. We found the ability to swiftly and seamlessly move between consoles and devices an excellent feature and one of the product’s highlights.

Playstation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch, and Mobile/Tablet are all supported devices according to EPOS. We found that the Playstation 5 was able to support the GTW 270, despite not being listed on the manufacturer’s specification sheet. Unfortunately, a big drawback for Microsoft console gamers is that they are not compatible with Xbox consoles.

The ability to switch between Bluetooth and the low-latency dongle at the press of a button, added in the April 2021 firmware update, makes the earbuds feel more versatile.

Conclusion

The EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid should be appreciated for what they have brought to the table regarding a true low-latency wireless option for gamers who have otherwise had to deal with out-of-sync audio when using wireless earpieces. The low-latency feature does, however, come with several drawbacks. The lack of microphone capabilities when using the dongle is perhaps the most obvious.

If versatility and mobility aren’t of great concern to you, it likely does not make sense to opt for these wireless earbuds, as there are a number of gaming headphones on the market for a lower price point that offers superior quality and full microphone capabilities.

However, if you find that you’re often moving between gaming consoles and want something you can go outside with and use as an all-around earbud, then the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid may be exactly what you’ve been looking for.

Epos gtw 270 box front
Epos gtw 270 box

What’s In The Box

  • GTW 270 earbuds L & R with built-in rechargeable battery
  • On-the-go charge case with built-in rechargeable battery for earbuds
  • GSA 70 USB-C
  • Low-latency dongle
  • Dongle sleeve
  • USB-A to USB-C® charge cable
  • USB-C® to USB-A extension cable
  • Silicone eartips – XS, S, L (M pre-mounted)
  • Quick Guide
  • Safety Guide
  • Compliance sheet

About EPOS

EPOS may not yet be a household name. However, we anticipate that it’s simply a matter of time. EPOS is the new name given to Sennheiser’s gaming audio division and brings with it the same technological advances we’ve seen from the Sennheiser brand over the years. With the sale of Sennheiser to the hearing aid powerhouse Sonova Group in May of 2021, there remains some uncertainty about the future of both Sennheiser as a whole, as well as the new EPOS division. However, we do expect the brand to be retained through the acquisition.

Written by
Bryn De Kocks

While competitive gaming is behind him, Bryn still enjoys indulging in the casual gaming experience, as well as dabbling in some music production on a hobby level. Outside of gaming and audio, he is a birder, photographer and severe weather enthusiast.

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