There are a plethora of options to choose from when it comes to gaming headsets - from deciding which manufacturer or brand, to even what type of headset you need - but only a few are compatible with multiple consoles and fewer still are useful outside of gaming. Enter the GTW 270 Hybrid wireless earbuds by EPOS that utilize both a USB-C dongle as well as Bluetooth 5.1 for connecting to consoles or anything with Bluetooth. This makes the GTW 270 a perfect option for mobile gaming, Switch gaming, or even for use on your laptop or PlayStation. Here is our review of the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid.
- Current Price: $199.00 (Amazon)
- Ear coupling: In-ear
- Transducer principle: Dynamic, closed
- Connectivity: Low-Latency and Bluetooth
- Extension cable length: 1.5m USB cable
- Frequency response: 20-20,000 Hz
- Sound pressure level: 100 dB
- Frequency response: 100-7,500 Hz
- Pick-up pattern: Omnidirectional
- Sensitivity: -20 dBV/Pa
- Listening time: Up to 5 hours on the earbuds and up to 20 hours with the charge case
- Charge time: 1.5 hours to fully charge earbuds and 1.75 hours to fully charge the case
- Fast charge: Up to 60 minutes listening time on the earbuds after 15 minutes in the charge case
The GTW 270 Hybrid comes in a sleek package and the box is no bigger than a stack of 4 DVD cases. For a set of earbuds priced at $199.99, the box may be small but has a high-quality look and feel to it. Rather than just a cheap cover or a cardstock slip, it opens and snaps closed with magnets. Everything packaged inside has its own space and feels minimalist. This was extremely important to me since I like to keep the extra cables and silicone ear tips inside the box so that I know what device they go to. This makes storage simple and doesn’t take up a lot of space for a small item.
The GTW 270 Hybrid was good-to-go right out of the box, and I didn’t even need to flip through the included quick guide booklet to find out how to pair them. Pairing via Bluetooth is intuitive and like most other earbuds, such as the Apple AirPods, you simply open the case and hold down the front button to start finding a Bluetooth connection. They showed up instantly on my phone, and I was paired up without any hassle. I noticed that the left earbud doesn’t work by itself, but you can use the right earbud for mono calls or listening to music while keeping your left ear open. The right earbud houses the Bluetooth transmission whereas the left earbud has a singular button that allows you to play/pause music on the phone, or to answer calls.
Using the USB-C dongle to pair to my Nintendo Switch was even more simple. I simply kept the earbuds in the case, plugged in the dongle to the bottom of my Switch, waited until it turned purple (which only took a second), and the earbuds were ready to rock and roll. Unfortunately, to switch back to my phone via Bluetooth I did have to set the earbuds back into the case first. That said, after the initial pairing to the dongle I was able to instantly move back to the Switch without that extra step. It is a shame though that I had to return the earbuds into the case anytime I wanted to switch Bluetooth connections from one device to another, though.
Besides Bluetooth, if your phone has a USB-C port then you can use the dongle as well for a lower latency connection. The USB-C dongle connector only protrudes a small amount though, which did require me to take off my phone’s protective case in order to plug it in. Included with the earbuds is a USB to USB-C adapter cable for use on devices like the PlayStation 4 and 5 or PCs/laptops that don’t have Bluetooth capabilities. This just turns the dongle into a plug-and-play wireless receiver to almost any device.
The USB-C dongle has a seemingly lag-free connection thanks to the aptX Low Latency technology by Qualcomm. This allows for a perfect sync between audio and visuals with only a 40ms latency. By comparison, Bluetooth 5.1 has around 80ms of latency which is a much better improvement over previous versions of Bluetooth, but still twice the latency as the dongle thanks to aptX. The downside however is that the aptX only allows for one-way transmission of audio, meaning you can’t utilize the dual microphones of the GTW 270 Hybrids to talk or chat with your friends.
Although you technically can use the Hybrid earbuds for talking to your squad in Warzone or chatting with your friends over Discord, I wouldn’t recommend these for voice over most other headsets. This is instead a very nice addition for mobile gaming in particular, where you can have some quality earbuds while you get in a match of Wild Rift or grind out in Warhammer: Odyssey and still be able to easily answer a phone call. Likewise, the GTW 270 Hybrid is perfect for playing on-the-go with the Nintendo Switch, which is almost exclusively how I used it.
I usually play my Switch in handheld mode rather than docked to a TV because I like the freedom it provides to take it with me and play wherever I go. (Also, because my kids love to watch Netflix and I’d rather just sacrifice the larger screen to prevent a toddler meltdown. But, mostly because of the freedom thing). We can all agree that the Switch’s speakers are less than stellar, but I don’t want to carry a gaming headset while I’m on the go. Instead, I would use a wired pair of earbuds that I could wrap up and stuff in my Switch’s carrying case for portability. But I always hated untangling the cord on wired earbuds when I took them out, and the audio jack on the Switch being on top meant that I had to fight with the cord even while playing.
The GTW 270 Hybrid’s dongle plugs right into the bottom of the Switch and keeps it out of the way. It’s also small enough to fit inside one of the game cartridge slots to keep it secure and prevent it from accidentally falling out. Unfortunately, the earbud’s case itself is not small enough to fit inside the case, but it is small enough to just throw in my pocket. Beware, however, as the case’s metallic finish is susceptible to scratches from objects such as keys or loose change in your pocket. Albeit only cosmetic, the case will start to show its age over time.
It’s all worth it, however, since the GTW 270 Hybrid delivers amazing sound for such small drivers. The frequency response is between 20-20,000 Hz, putting it on par with most gaming headsets. Just walking around in Kamura village in Monster Hunter Rise and listening to the music, I was able to distinctly differentiate between each instrument and still hear the crunch of leaves beneath my feet with each step. Part of the clarity comes with how well the earbuds seal in-ear, as the closed acoustic design blocks out a lot of outside noise.
The only other gaming-centric earbuds I’ve used that can readily compare to the GTW 270 Hybrid is the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Earbuds which, to be frank, is no contest. The Hammerhead earbuds are awful. I bought them over the holidays because I wanted wireless earbuds that could perform both while gaming and for exercise. Unfortunately, the Hammerheads share a similar design to the AirPods and were incredibly uncomfortable to wear. Not only that, but they would often lose connection to my phone, even when I was only a foot away. It’s like a night and day difference between the GTW 270s and the Razer Hammerheads.
In my two weeks of use with the GTW 270 Hybrids, I have never once lost the Bluetooth connection to any device. I only thought I did once when I was parked in my car and wanted to listen to tunes on my phone rather than the radio and my phone kept switching between the car’s Bluetooth and the earbuds. That said, I have had a couple of issues with the dongle itself forgetting the connection to my Switch. It was an easy fix as I just had to re-sync it by putting the earbuds in the case again until it connected, but I found it unusual since the earbuds usually just see the dongle and connect instantly.
The GTW 270s are also surprisingly comfortable to wear, and I have gone several hours with them in the entire time. Most earbuds I have to remove or readjust every 10-15 minutes, but the Hybrids sit very comfortably within the ear. In fact, not once but several times I completely forgot that I was wearing them. The actual part that goes into the ear canal is very small, and the silicone ear tips come in four different sizes so you can find the right pair for your ear types. The smallest-sized tips were almost perfect for me, but it wasn’t completely sealed and I lost a lot of the bass sound. The next size up was a noticeable improvement for me and contributed a lot to my enjoyment of the music that I listened to.
You don’t want the Hybrids to feel loose since there’s also a chance that they could fall out if not snug. Luckily, I never had the issue where one of the earbuds would fall out. It even passes what I like to call the “Shirt Test” which means simply that they stayed in my ears while I changed shirts. The earbuds don’t stick out from your ears a lot and what friction does rub up against them isn’t enough to dislodge them at all. This is great news for anyone looking for a set of earbuds for exercise as well since this means they’re less likely to fall out during runs or intense activities.
In fact, the GTW 270 Hybrids are IPX5 rated for water resistance, meaning that they are protected from sweat and light rain. While I didn’t go out to test them in the rain, I did throw them on before a shower. While IPX5 doesn’t mean that the earbuds are protected from jets of water, they are resistant to water splashing from any angle. An IPX5 rating is good enough for about 5-10 minutes in a shower, which is perfect for continuing to listen to jams after a workout or not having to hit pause on a podcast or stream that you’re listening to. The GTW 270s had no problems in the shower either with sound quality or from maintaining a Bluetooth connection. Cleaning it up was as easy as wiping it dry afterward.
Throughout my two weeks of testing the GTW 270 Hybrids, I only had to recharge the case once. On a full charge, the Hybrids will go for up to 5 hours by themselves, but the charging case stores up to an additional 15 hours for continued use. Charging the case via the included USB-C cable took about two hours, which is pretty fast in my book -- that’s about how long it takes my phone to charge completely with an adaptive fast charging cable.
All in all, the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid wireless earbuds are one of the best earbuds I’ve ever used - wireless or not. The sound comes in clear with distinct mids and highs without sacrificing the bass, and it’s extremely comfortable to wear even for extended durations of time. The biggest drawback to me is that the Hybrids don’t allow for a simultaneous connection to both Bluetooth and the wireless dongle. I’d love to be playing on my Switch and then, with a tap of the button on the left earbud, answer a call coming through on my phone. For quality audio when gaming on the go, the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid wireless earbuds are a no-brainer.
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.