The Bottom Line
Introduction & Specification Details and Close-up
EPOS has launched its very first premium audio product that solely comes under the EPOS brand, and it's a pair of gaming earbuds.
EPOS announced in a press release for the GTW 270 Hybrid, which will be referred to as Hybrid for the remainder of the review, is aimed at the mobile gaming market, but it's compatible with PlayStation's and PC. Throughout this review, we will be putting the Hybrid earbuds through a series of tests and attempt to determine what type of gamer EPOS is aiming at.
The Hybrid earbuds are currently priced on Amazon for $199, and EPOS claims that gamers will be able to get five hours of interrupted battery life off one 90-minute charge. Additionally, the Hybrid earbuds are noise canceling, and the case that comes in the package provides an additional 20 hours of charge once fully charged. It seems that EPOS has packed these earbuds with all the bells and whistles that a mobile gamer would need, but they have slapped a very premium price tag on them. Are they worth it?
To kick things off, we have the front of the box, and as we can see, we have some nice graphics of what the Hybrid's look like.
On the back of the box, we have a detailed breakdown of all of the features that the Hybrid sports.
On the side of the box are all of the specifications for the Hybrid earbuds and the platforms the earbuds support.
Here we have a shot of the inside of the box, and as you can see, the packaging is very clean-cut and nice - everything you would expect out of premium earbuds.
Above, we have a close-up image of the charging case that comes with the Hybrids. Each of the blue LED's represent 4 hours of charge for a maximum of 20 hours.
Opening the case, you are presented with both Hybrid earbuds, which fit in very tightly and snap into place when you put the buds in their respective cutouts.
Next, we have an image of the earbuds out of the case, and as you can see, they are on the larger side.
Included in the case is a Bluetooth dongle, which can be used with your PC, Nintendo Switch, and Android device.
Lastly, we have an image of the USB-C to USB-A cable that is provided in the box.
Jak's Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Hero X570 (Wi-Fi) (buy from Amazon)
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600X @ 4.4GHz (buy from Amazon)
- GPU: EVGA GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER XC GAMING (buy from Amazon)
- Cooler: be quiet! Silent Wings 3
- RAM: 16GB (2x8GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB 3200MHz (buy from Amazon)
- SSD: GALAX HOF Pro SSD PCI-E M.2 2TB
- Power Supply: Corsair CX Series 750 Watt (buy from Amazon)
- Case: be quiet! Silent Base 600 (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (buy from Amazon)
Design & Software
When you are putting down $199 for a gaming audio product, you really expect quite a lot out of the product. EPOS has released the Hybrid's, which are equipped with all the bells and whistles. The Hybrids do feel premium when you are holding them, and EPOS claims they have a unique ergonomic shape, and I certainly agree; the shape is unique. At first, I thought that the size of the earbuds were too big, but the way the earbud sits in your ear is very, very comfortable.
Throughout my time testing the earbuds, I never had any problems with comfortability, and I wore the earbuds for more than five hours in one sitting. The ergonomic design is also very snug, which provides the noise-isolating experience that I will get more into in the performance side of the review. The left earbud has a singular button on it that skips music when pressed twice in quick succession. When pressed once, it pauses the music. I had a few issues with the button as sometimes it wouldn't register that I pressed it twice. I would say out of ten attempts of trying to skip a song, the button would skip correctly seven times.
Everything about the Hybrids is straightforward. You plug the dongle into the device you want to connect to or connect via Bluetooth 5.1 through the case. The USB-C dongle connects to Android devices, PCs, and the Nintendo Switch. Additionally, I'm happy to report that the Hyrbid's easily connect to iPhones as well. Holding the middle button on the case until the light starts changing colors initiates Bluetooth pairing, which is quite standard for wireless earbuds.
The comfort of the earbuds can entirely be completed by the shape of the earbuds, which are surprisingly more comfortable than some gaming headsets I have reviewed. As for charging, I'm happy to report that all the EPOS made about charging lined up with my experience.
Hybrid's design is very sleek, minimalistic, simple, and straightforward, but it does everything it needs to do flawlessly. Fantastic work here, EPOS.
The software for the Hybrids use on PC is the EPOS Gaming Suite, and there really aren't that many options for customization.
When you download and connect to the EPOS Gaming Suite with the Hyrbid's, you will be presented with this above screen. I encountered a bug in the software where I couldn't download the firmware update that was available.
The only other side of the software that is available is the 'playback side', which allows users to enable virtual surround sound and tweak EQ.
The microphone side of the earbuds that can be seen grayed out in between the 'headset' symbol and the 'settings' symbol at the bottom of the window. I couldn't find a way to access this side of the software, which is disappointing considering the Hybrid earbuds do feature dual microphones.
Performance & Microphone
As with all of my gaming audio product reviews, I like to use the product for anywhere between 20 - 30 hours, as I believe that in between this time frame, I can develop a good understanding of the product's sound signature. Now, going into the Hybrid testing, I was quite skeptical about what I was going to hear, as I have never tested a gaming earbud before.
I launched up Apex Legends and started playing. The Hybrid design was very comfortable, and I immediately noticed how much background noise was canceled out. In short, I was very impressed with my first experience. Since the design of the earbud fits so perfectly in your ear, you are unable to hear anything else but the game, which made me feel like I was really locked in.
Going into the testing, I assumed that the bass would be lackluster, as I own a pair of JBL earbuds that suffer from this issue. The Hybrids did not disappoint with the bass, and I again attribute most of this sound quality to the way the earbud sits in your ear. When you place some other earbuds in your ear, they leave gaps between the ear hole and the bud. These spaces allow sound to escape, which influences how the bass sounds.
The first game I jumped into was Apex Legends on PC, and I was immediately impressed with what I was hearing. For my first tests, I played on standard stereo mode, and what I found was that all of the in-game sounds were clean and crisp. All of the guns sounded amazing, and the spatial audio was fantastic. I had absolutely zero problems zeroing in on my enemies by listening for footsteps.
To put it in short, the in-game audio sounds like a premium gaming headset, but just in earbud form. I also jumped into Cyberpunk 2077 to do a few missions, and the Hybrid's didn't drop the ball there either. I felt like I was immersed in Night City with the Hyrbid's, the voices of characters were crystal clear, cars sounded fantastic, and the guns sounded even better.
I then went and used the Hyrbids with my Nintendo Switch, and the sound was equally as good. I played many hours of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and had a smile on my face the entire time from what I was hearing. I would recommend any gamer trying out the GTW 270 Hybrid's in-game. It will surprise you at how good they sound.
I decided to take the Hyrbid's to the gym to see how they did for music listening. I played Led Zeppelin, Rage Against The Machine, System of a Down, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Eminem, and more. The Hybrid's sounded better than my JBL music earbuds, which are priced equally at $199.
The Hybrids sounded fantastic - everything you want out of your earbuds and more.
The Hybrids feature dual microphones, and when I connected the earbuds to my phone and someone called, they worked perfectly. I tested the microphone quality via a phone call because, at the time of testing, the microphone option was grayed out on my PC. The microphone quality that I heard through my iPhone was quite standard and slightly disappointing.
I would have really liked to test the microphone through my PC to see how it would go up against some gaming headsets at a similar price point.
The best parts of the Hybrid's are the incredible sound quality in both music listening and in-game. The sound that the Hybrid's produce is very premium, and I believe that any gamer would be satisfied with what they would be hearing if they played with them.
The worst parts of the Hybrids are in its design and software. The problems in the design are very small and are specifically on PC where the earbuds would be used least. But, there were a few connectivity issues I ran into when it came to getting the Hybrids to work on PC. Sometimes only one earbud would work, and I would have to reset the connection, and sometimes the connection would just drop out entirely.
The software on PC also has some issues as I couldn't update the firmware, and the microphone side wasn't accessible.
So, is EPOS's first EPOS-only branded product good? Well, it depends, as always, on your use case and price.
Firstly, if you are predominately a PC gamer, I wouldn't recommend you the GTW 270 Hybrid, as you can get an even better gaming audio experience through a very good gaming headset for the same price. However, if you are an on-the-go gamer that doesn't want to wear a headset or headphones, plays s Nintendo Switch, has a PC, and mobile, I would recommend the Hybrids if you are hunting a premium all-round gaming experience.
The Hybrids are designed for gamers who want to take premium audio on the go and want some quality music listening earbuds. So, if you play games on the go and really don't mind cashing out on a premium pair of earbuds because you are also a big music listener and have multiple gaming platforms, then I can say your ears will be blessed with not only comfort but incredible sound if you purchase the EPOS's GTW 270 Hybrid.
The Bottom Line
EPOS's GTW 270 Hybrid are for gamers that want to carry around a premium gaming audio experience in their pocket. For $199, you get a premium gaming headset experience in an earbud that can connect to anything.
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