With the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid earbuds, EPOS is showing serious interest in trying something new. Many have tried to create gaming earbuds but none have ever had the punch of a decent set of cans. EPOS is a partner brand of audio maker Sennheiser. They are tinkerers and inventors, they like to throw ideas at the wall and see if anything sticks. The ones that do may wind up Sennheiser mainstays. I don’t know if the GTW 270 Hybrid will meet the same fate, but as first attempts go, they are not to be sniffed at.
The EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid’s design is exactly what you expect from headphones in this price range. The build quality is rock solid, the look is sleek, and they feel expensive. The anodised aluminium charging case the buds sit inside has a firm, cold feel to it and the lid has the feel of a jewellery case. It’s all purpose-built to satisfy. The face button is chunky, and the buds snap into place with a magnetic pop. Good stuff.
The high-end sensation continues when you actually put the buds in. As with any set of buds, the size and shape of your ears will dictate the experience you have. The GTW 270 Hybrid comes with enough extra tips and seals that it should fit the vast majority of ears. For me, the default trips were far too small and I needed to move up to something much larger before they’d sit comfortably. The left bud has a small button on it that allows for a small amount of control. Press it once to pause, resume, or accept a call. Press it twice to skip a track, and three times to go back a track. Holding the button will get Siri or the Google assistant’s attention, which is the only way to alter the volume without pulling out your phone or device.
Sound and Performance
One of the first things you may notice about these buds is that you can’t pair them to a USB device and Bluetooth at the same time. It’s one or the other. That means, if you’re using them with your Nintendo Switch and you want to use to them to answer an incoming call, you’ll to manually switch them over. The built-in microphone can’t be used if the buds are connected via the USB dongle, only via Bluetooth.
Beyond that bump in the road, these are exemplary buds. I’ve been jumping between my Switch and my phone while working and getting around 5 hours of charge from them. Pop them back into the charging case and you’ll get as many as 15 hours from them. Just 20 minutes in the hopper will give you a full hour of charge, so if you do need to top them up you won’t have to wait long. They’re basically perfect for travel. In a post-vaccination era when frequent flights are back on the table, I can’t stress enough how much I’ll be relying on these little legends.
The sound on offer, the part everyone really cares about, is fantastic. They were a touch tinny until I found the right sized tip for my elephant ears and the seal kicked in. After that, they acquitted themselves beautifully. Playing Bravely Default 2 for review was made more enjoyable because I could hear all the work going into the sound design. They handle high-end audio and voices quite well and jumping to music with a bit of bass reveals how strong their low-end bona fides are. The bass has a full, warm sound, but doesn’t obliterate the high end or create distortion. From such a small piece of kit, the kind of sound they can produce may well blow your hair back.
The biggest draw with these buds is their versatility. Any device with a USB port or Bluetooth connection can be paired. That means you can hook up your phone, your PS5, your PC, and even your Nintendo Switch to the same set of headphones. Indeed, the GTW 270 Hybrid is one of the only wireless headphones on the market that works with the Nintendo Switch, which is attractive and a feature long-asked-for.
They don’t tick all the boxes, however. Your mic won’t work if you’ve connected the headphones via the included USB-C aptX low latency dongle. It simply can’t transfer speech on top of everything else and maintain its low ping. If you can live with these minor frustrations, you’ll be well served indeed.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: Great sound; Great form factor; Switch functionality a revelation
Lowlights: May take a few minutes of fumbling around to find the right tips to fit your ears
Manufacturer: EPOS Audio
Price: $349 AUD RRP
Review conducted using a retail set of headphones provided by the manufacturer.