This time, just for a change, gamers get something in their ears rather than on their ears. After all, we gamers have been out and about in the wild ever since the GameBoy was launched – although today we tend to use smartphones, tablets and Nintendo Switch. Not everyone likes having to wear a big headset on their head. Now we no longer need to look enviously at AirPods, Galaxy Buds or other in-ear systems, because EPOS has come up with something designed especially for gamers: their new true-wireless headphones the GTW 270 Hybrid.
The workmanship and design are very appealing and leave nothing to be desired. In addition to the two in-ears, the attractive packaging contains an aluminium box for transporting and charging the headphones. Also included: some exchangeable ear tips, a total of three pairs plus the built-in ones, quick instructions in different languages as well as extension and charging cables. Last but not least, the package contains a USB-C dongle including a protective rubber cover. This provides the GTW 270 with an aptX connection, i.e. low-latency audio playback. Devices such as the Switch recognise the dongle immediately, and a successful connection to the headphones is audibly confirmed.
These in-ears provide up to five hours of listening time and 20 more in combination with the charging case. It takes 1.5 hours to fully charge the headphones and around 1.75 hours to charge the case. If you need to go faster, 15 minutes of quick charging is enough to provide sound for another 60 minutes.
In terms of sound, these small in-ears immediately make a very decent impression. If bass is lacking, we recommend experimenting with the different earpieces. These come in different sizes, and the full sound potential only unfolds when the headphones fit properly. The overall sound is always very clear and balanced. Speech, music and effects are pleasantly reproduced and the all-important bass range sounds as it should.
This is great stuff, but the thick bass boom that one is used to from many over-ear gaming headsets is missing due to the design – because they are in-ears. Although the GTW 270 Hybrid are optimised for gaming, their design also makes them ideal for listening to music on the go (thanks to IPX5 they are protected against sweat and light rain), taking part in video conferences or making phone calls.
An omnidirectional microphone is built into the right earpiece. Although the sound is rather thin, speech intelligibility is nevertheless always ensured. However, this does not work with the USB dongle – more on that later.
If you want to get more sound out of the headphones, you need a Windows PC and the EPOS Gaming Suite, which can be downloaded free of charge from the manufacturer. Not only can updates be carried out and the language selection made, but also a clear number of sound settings can be made. The centrepiece is a 9-band equaliser with pre-sets for film, music and gaming, and individual settings can also be saved. All available frequencies can be adjusted by ±6 dB each. So if it sounds too balanced in “normal” operation, you can adjust the settings here.
In addition, the audio playback can be set from 2.0 to 7.1, which activates a control for sound reverberation. Virtual 7.1 can be good, but it is also often disappointing. In this case, however, EPOS demonstrates quite a deft touch, as the artificial room sounds good and you can ensure that it stays that way by adjusting the reverberation yourself. If you pull the slider to 100%, however, the overall sound becomes unattractive, inauthentic and unfortunately also unusable. The rule here is: less is more, or more realistic.
Modes of operation
But back to the dongle: with this connection type, it remains audio-only, i.e. the microphone cannot be used. This naturally disqualifies these headphones for use with all kinds of multiplayer games, where team communication is indispensable. The multifunction button on the left earpiece doesn’t function in this mode. To be able to use both, the GTW 270 must be operated with its second connection mode. In addition to the dongle mode, these in-ears also offer a standard Bluetooth wireless link and rely on the new Bluetooth standard 5.1 and the codec aptX.
A button on the charging case facilitates the initial pairing of the devices, enhanced by a flashing LED that otherwise indicate the charging status of the case. From this point on, the multifunction button on the left earpiece can be used for everything. If you can remember more than “one press of the button is start/pause”, you will end up with around seven commands that can be controlled with this button, half for music control, half for call management.
Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done about the sound characteristics of the microphone, because, as mentioned above, the dongle mode does not offer microphone functionality, and the standard Bluetooth mode does not offer access to the EPOS Gaming Suite.
Thanks to the asynchronous wireless connection, the right earpiece acts as master and the left earpiece as slave. If you want to listen to music or make calls with one ear, only the right earpiece can be used for this purpose. This makes the position of the above-mentioned multi-function button, which is located on the left earpiece, somewhat incomprehensible … wouldn’t it have been wiser to equip the right side with the multi-function button?
In our test, the Bluetooth connection proved to be very reliable, while the connection via dongle occasionally experienced small dropouts. EPOS explains this as being caused by interference. Nevertheless, the use of both options is interesting for gamers, as devices such as the Playstation 4 do not support all Bluetooth headphones, not even those made by Sony themselves. And if you can basically do without the microphone, you will surely find a new favourite in the low-latency connection. When it comes to voice communication, e.g. on a mobile phone, Bluetooth is much more useful and the dongle, despite its shape and small design, is rather a nuisance. Finally, the GTW 270 is also available without “Hybrid” in the product name (i.e. without the dongle) for about 30 euros less, if you want to use the headphones as pure Bluetooth in-ears. We asked the manufacturer and they revealed that it should be possible to upgrade to “Hybrid” at any time by purchasing the dongle later.
The EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid are not only interesting for gamers: with a great design and good sound, they make a good impression with consoles like the Switch, but are also very suitable as an all-round solution for use with console, smartphone, tablet and PC. A quick session of gaming with a dongle, taking part in a video conference on the PC via Bluetooth – and then using them as a headset for music and phone calls on a mobile phone – was all no problem for the GTW 270 Hybrid.
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
- Sound pressure level (SPL)100 dB
- Cable length150 cm
What's in the box
- 4 pairs of ear tips
- GSA 70 USB-C dongle with protective cover
- USB-C charging cable
- USB-C to USB-A extension cable
- Charging case
- BT codecs: SBC, aptX
- BT version: 5.1