We know that in today’s tech environment, convenience is the gold standard, but some things are worth the extra effort, and enjoying your gaming audio is definitely one of those things. We sat idly by while people muted their Game Boy Advances on the bus to school, or listened to the Sonic Mania soundtrack at 240p on YouTube, but no more. You’ve pushed us over the edge. Please, don’t just use the earbuds that came with your phone to play games. Please.
Ok, we’ll try and convince you not to. First, there’s the obvious reason, that they just won’t sound as good. If they’re being bundled in with a new device, they’re clearly not the focus of the purchase and are likely made from mediocre components (or plastics, we’ll get to that). That means you’re not really going to get decent noise out of them. Plugging those cheapo earbuds into your PS4 controller is pretty much a sin when you consider the amazing, orchestral soundtracks that some games deliver.
Most earbuds have incredibly tiny drivers in them, to keep them light and small. Unless the manufacturer invested some significant R&D and acoustic engineering to counteract that, most of these bundled earbuds are simply supposed to fit in your ear. This “form-factor first” design is most apparent in the dynamic range of these earbuds, which is typically squashed and limited compared to larger over-ear headphones such as the Cloud Stinger. However, you don’t have to get bigger headphones for a better experience.
We know that earbuds are great for chucking in your pocket when you leave the house (and then spend 10 minutes untangling when you want to listen to something). And if you want something with that same portability then there are earbuds better designed with gaming in mind, such as the Cloud Earbuds. First off, that flat cable is designed to be nigh untanglable, so you won’t have to fight with a squid to start listening to something on your phone.
But more importantly, silicone ear tips will gently fill your ear, enhancing the sound from the buds without you having to crank the volume to 11. Most earbuds that come free with smartphones are hard plastic. Sounds are vibrations, and let’s face it, mini jackhammers vibrating up against your ears is going to hurt if you’re listening for any length of time. That’s not even counting if you wear a hat or sweatband over them which will drive that plastic into your poor, poor ear cartilage.
What you also don’t get with free earbuds are decent in-line microphones. Many games on mobile or Switch will utilize the in-line mic of earbuds to use in-game voice chat, but no one wants to be the person on in team chat that sounds like they’re a tin robot yelling through a wind tunnel.
Decent in-line mic quality can make a world of difference if you’re playing multiplayer games with friends, so please don’t subject them (or yourself) to subpar sound quality. Upgrade from those thrown-in earbuds and give both you and your pals a nice treat.