When speaking of gaming headsets, this usually means large and heavy over-ear models. But there are exceptions.
The EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid is the first completely wireless earbuds specifically for gaming I have seen. What makes the difference is the included USB-C dongle, that provides a lossless connection without the audio delay that is common on Bluetooth. Of course, Bluetooth is also supported, so the plugs can be used for listening to music with the mobile. And here the “hi-fi-friendly” aptX protocol is supported, which is unusual for the price.
If you have no need for fast, lag-free gaming sound, there is also a pure Bluetooth version, just called EPOS GTW 270, which is a few hundred kroner cheaper.
EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid is a little more square than most completely wireless earbuds and made entirely of black plastic. EPOS ‘logo is the only design feature.
As with other true wireless earbuds, a carrying case with a built-in battery for charging is included. The case is also used for Bluetooth pairing. The earplugs are well protected in the case, but unfortunately there is no space in it for the USB adapter, which you would like to have handy anywhere.
Battery life is five hours, and the charging case provides an extra 20 hours away from the electrical outlet. Five hours is not the longest battery life we have seen on true wireless plugs. But aptX and lossless wireless connection can easily cost extra power consumption.
Operation is always a compromise on truly wireless earbuds where there is no room for a row of push buttons. A single button on the left earplug is everything. And you can – with difficulty – control playback and handle mobile calls with it. But it is easier just to use the mobile, which will be nearby anyway. You can also use voice control with Google Assistant or Siri, but then you still have to fumble with the single button to activate it.
The USB dongle works completely smoothly. Once plugged into the USB port and the earbuds in place, there is an immediate connection and it is as fast as it should be. Since the dongle has to fit in Nintendo Switch and Android phones, it requires a USB-C port, which is still less common on PC than the old USB-A, but all the necessary adapter cables are included.
We have recently seen several true wireless plugs with automatic noise reduction (ANC), among them the Jabra Elite 85t. But the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid has to make do with passive noise reduction through a tight-fitting “gasket” in the form of silicone nipples in four sizes.
And close they end. When you screw the GTW 270 Hybrid into the ear canal, it gives the well-known “locked-in effect”, where the world is shut out. However, the feeling of overpressure is temporary and the plugs sat stably in the ear throughout the test. It was also no problem to achieve the density needed to ensure good bass reproduction.
Gaming headsets can usually be recognized by the microphone, which is crucial in team games. For obvious reasons, a gooseneck microphone cannot sit on a wireless hearing aid, so you have to make do with the microphones in the capsules. They do it well, but are still best suited for mobile talk over Bluetooth.
The sound quality
EPOS ‘relationship with Sennheiser does not deny the sound quality. Because it’s excellent.
The main impression is a headset with neutral sound, but with a little extra warmth at the bottom. The midrange is clean and really well resolved. That means a lot for music, where fine nuances in Sinead O’Connor’s “Scarlet Ribbons” stand out clearly. But it especially makes a world of difference in shooting games where you can distinguish everything that is going on. We are not in the same all-revealing class as Audeze Penrose. But there is also a price range and a technological grade difference between the two. And it’s still good.
Bass and earbuds do not have a tradition of going well together, but when the connection is completely hermetically tight, it can work and there is no shortage of bass on the GTW 270 Hybrid at all. In fact, the deep end gets a little extra push compared to the other tone ranges. And it works great for gaming, where the explosions actually feel like a vibration in the head.
However, the party comes to an end when screwed up, as the tiny drivers can only play limited loudly. EPOS sets the maximum sound pressure to 100 dB. In comparison, the aforementioned Audeze Penrose (with 100 times larger membrane area) can deliver 140 dB in the ear canal, if you allow them!
The quality was assessed via both Bluetooth / aptX and the wireless USB connection.
The EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid is an exceptional gaming headset by virtue of its size. Or an unusual pair of completely wireless earbuds thanks to the wireless USB connection. And it works pretty well in both roles. For long gaming sessions, I would still prefer a full-size headset for both comfort and microphone, but for portable gaming, it’s excellent. The sound is clear and precise enough to keep up with the game. And warm enough that it’s fun in the meantime.
Having ANC would have been a plus, but for the price one cannot demand it. Especially not when you get aptX in return. But a feature to send the sound from the surroundings through should have been within the possibilities.