It started with the SONY Walkman and those horrible flimsy foam filled on-ear pads. But it was only really when Beats made the oversized look a trend did we see the world starting to go mad for designer headphones, something that was pushed to the utter limits by the little white buds created by the free flowing Apple. Trends dictate much in the world, and that statement is fully true for headphones – we’ve seen a whole range of ideas come to market over the years. But now the gaming industry is catching on and EPOS are among the first of the real audio giants to provide a solution for gamers on the go; gamers that want discreet buds to provide audio power from their games. Welcome, the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid Wireless Gaming Earbuds.
The EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid Wireless Gaming Earbuds are a bit of a mouthful in terms of naming, but what they provide is a discreet, pretty sleek, extremely simple in-ear bud that will let gamers across a multitude of formats enjoy precise sound. They have been specifically created for those gamers who like to move around with their sessions, most notably working brilliantly with both mobile options and Nintendo Switch. But they also come in super handy for times when you’re looking to take your Xbox gaming on the go, utilising the power of Project xCloud and the arrival of Xbox Game Pass titles onto mobile.
Let’s get the big news out of the way first – the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid Wireless Gaming Earbuds do not work with Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S consoles. I’ve tried workarounds, I’ve tried praying to the gods. But if you’re one of those gamers who are solely dedicated to the old-school ‘box under the TV’ way of Xbox gaming, you’re going to be out of luck here.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for the GTW 270s in our Xbox lives though, and I’ve found them to be a superb addition to everyday life – a life that is powered by mobile gaming, and the need to have enthusiasm levels lifted whilst exercising.
The EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid Wireless Gaming Earbuds see EPOS go it alone in the hope of providing an option for gamers, splitting from the EPOS | SENNHEISER branding that previously saw the superb GSP 602, open-back 500 and cheaper 300 range of over-ear headsets fill a void. These have instead been crafted to last, and designed to excite, providing an in-ear solution for those that want the very best in gaming audio driven directly into their ears.
They are damn good at doing that too, with the small, lightweight buds fitting my ears perfectly straight out of the box (there are four tip types included), so much so that these have now fast become my go-to option for whenever I feel the need for new sounds. I’ve been using the GTW 270s for gaming through my Android phone and Xbox Game Pass, I’ve been using them whilst hooked up to the latest podcasts whilst out on daily walks, and I’ve been massively enjoying them as a way of getting into the zone whilst exercising – and it’s pretty important to note that even in the most intense sessions, they’ve not fallen from my ears once. You’re safe to nail every single workout possible with these too, with an IPX 5 resistance rating protecting them from sweat and light rain.
Another bit of context is required here I think, and before I go on I’ll admit to being something of a Google fan, working daily on a Pixelbook, running Android drivers through my pocket and pretty much purchasing – and loving – anything the Big G creates, including the much maligned but super sexy Gen 2 Google Pixel Buds. However, the GTW 270s are so good in terms of both use and sound that those Pixel Buds have been handed down to the kids – something that breaks my heart – with a second set of the 270s already on order for the other half. Yes, EPOS are fast ruining my love affair with Google.
So what makes them so good? Well, the buds themselves are a delight. They fit brilliantly in the ear, with a simple noise isolating rubber tip embedding itself deep whilst the outer curved rectangular bud itself fits nicely in the small of the ear. It fits so well in fact that as soon as these are put in place, you feel very much like you are cut off from the outside world – very little external sound comes in, and hardly anything ever escapes the other way. They look cool too, working a design that is a far cry from the bright white stems that you’ll see protruding from ears across the globe. With an EPOS logo on the external silver outer, and full black coverage elsewhere, the 270s are a delight.
It’s pretty simple to control them too – at least once you begin to get to grips with the tiny button placement. With a right earbud connecting up nicely to the left, popping them out of the case and inserting them into your ears is simple. From there, a single button on the side of the left bud works your controls – single press for play and pause, double for track skip, and a triple depress for going back. It handles calls nicely too thanks to a dual mic system, and works with the virtual voice assistant of your choice – Siri, Alexa or, my own favourite, Google Assistant. These voice assistant commands work pretty much every time, with a two second press of the bud button activating voice listening. It’s all very simple to use.
It is here however where the GTW 270s are let down slightly, and the omission of any form of volume control is an annoyance. Granted, EPOS have created these mostly for use with mobile gaming, and that will mean your phone is in hand at all times – dropping the volume up or down a hit is therefore easy. You can also use voice assistant to kill any intensity, but personally I’d have liked some kind of ‘swipe to reduce or increase’ option, even if that was only contained within the right bud or something to that effect. It’s a shame that this has been overlooked, and I guess removing a bud to chat to someone isn’t a biggy, however the fact that removal from the ear doesn’t pause any audio may be another problem that some can’t look past.
Thankfully though, the main draw of the GTW 270s is found in the sound, and this is superb. You see, if you’ve ever used an EPOS or SENNHEISER headset before then you’ll know what to expect here – super rich sounds that are capable of handling pretty much every single audio hit that you are looking for. They allow for deep, intricate sound whilst gaming, but equally deliver the goods when powering on through with hard hitting music. I’ve been massively impressed with the overall sound that these have been capable of providing to my ears, and can only commend EPOS on bringing all their technology and knowhow into such a small little package.
Talking small, the case that the GTW 270s sit in when not in use is pretty nice too. A little chunkier than I would possibly prefer (again, comparing to the Pixel Buds it’s about twice as deep), the curved rectangular design of the buds themselves are replicated here within the aluminium carry. All grey in design with the EPOS branding sitting slap-bang centre on the top, the case happily slips into jean pockets when required. Again, it’s a simple design; one that has a sync button on the front, and five lights which indicate the amount of charging power left in it. Around the back we have a USB-C charging port, whilst inside the buds fit and attach magnetically with a 7-pin system. It’s super easy to slip the buds into this when not in use, and whilst occasionally taking them out again can be a bit of a pain – especially when out and about in cold weather when getting a grip is a little harder than it should be – the case itself does the job. I am however a little concerned by the outer finish and can see it scratching up over time if placed in the same pocket as keys.
It covers the charging needs of the buds though. With a five hour battery life promised from one use, and then up to 20 hours present from the case itself, with full charging capabilities provided within just 90 minutes, the GTW 270s cover the bases of what is required from any top-end earbuds. You’re sorted with the fact you can get an hour of use out of just 15 minutes charge too, when times call for it.
The GTW 270s really are a great set of earbuds. But that’s not all we’ve got here, and whilst I’ve found that connecting to mobile and utilising Bluetooth has been a daily occurrence, the GTW 270 Hybrid Earbuds come with a secondary connection option – am aptX low-latency USB-C dongle; hence the inclusion of Hybrid in the name. Mostly of use via Nintendo Switch or even for attaching to a laptop, this allows EPOS to make the most of other routes. It is however this which disappoints me slightly and I’d have loved to have seen EPOS follow the route of SteelSeries to be able to see this dongle work with Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S consoles. It is SteelSeries who have been able to provide this with a flick of a switch in their Arctis 7X Wireless Headset, and it’s a shame that something similar hasn’t been worked in here. As someone who primarily plays games on Xbox, it would be optimum to find the GTW 270s available for console use, particularly when you find that included in the box are a couple of additional cables; the usual USB-A to USB-C for charging and a lengthening USB-A to female USB-C for the dongle to attach.
But whilst it doesn’t, it’s still not going to stop me from expressing my love for the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid Wireless Gaming Earbuds. On the whole I’ve been extremely impressed with what EPOS have created, but perhaps that was always going to be the case after fast becoming enamored by this gaming arm with the brilliant over-ear GSP 602s. They may not be perfect for an Xbox gamer, and EPOS really do need to take a leaf out of SteelSeries’ book to ensure that the GTW 270s work straight out of every console box, but should you be looking for superb gaming sound whilst on the go, or a great little alternative to your usual white buds, these should be on your list.
Huge thanks go out to EPOS for sending us a set of the GTW 270 Hybrid Wireless Gaming Earbuds for unboxing and review. If you wish to pick some up for yourself, head over to EPOS direct where you’ll find them available for £179.
Unboxing and first look – EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid Wireless Gaming Earbuds