Although over-the-ear headphones have been a popular gaming accessory for years, wireless earbuds is on the verge of being the next big thing. Part of that lies in the success of the Apple AirPods, which have created dozens of copycats that use a charging case and seamless connection to devices.
That low-profile look and ease of use have made them nearly ubiquitous as the old wired earbuds that came with the iPhone. Taking a cue from that, EPOS, Razer and others have come up with their versions that cater to the gaming lifestyle. They’re appealing because they can be used in the living room and on the road. Unlike traditional bulky gaming headset, they can be used as a daily driver.
AFFORDABLE WIRELESS EARBUDS All that convenience comes at a price though, wireless earbuds are often expensive, reaching upwards of $200. That’s where XRound Aero True Wireless Earbuds come in. Priced at $89.99 (though they’re on sale for $64.99 until Sept. 13), these earbuds offer players good sound for gaming on mobile devices, PC and consoles without breaking the bank.
The devices themselves connect easily via Bluetooth, and the audio quality is solid. It’s not going to blow players away like the EPOS GTW 270, but it does give players what they need. The Aero shuts out extra noise with its ear tips. The separation is good enough that it gives players sense of a basic sense of where there’s danger in a game. It pushes out big thrumming bass but at the expense of the mids and highs.
That last bit reveals one element lacking from these headsets — clarity. I feel as though there’s less definition in the audio quality. At times, the Aero can sound a little tinny. Other times, it lacks the oomph and power from other earbuds.
THE EXTRAS YOU NEEDWith that said, what the device lacks in sound quality it more than makes up for in features and value. The Aero has touch controls that let players control volume, skip tracks if they’re listening to music or switch modes. It works fairly well but it’s not perfect as the device sometimes doesn’t respond quickly to the corresponding gestures. It does have voice prompts that let users know when they reached max volume, when the earbuds are running low on power, when it’s connected to a device and when it has shifted to music or gaming modes. That’s a nice touch for a device that doesn’t have physical buttons.
If that weren’t enough, XRound even launched an iOS and Android app that helps players tune the earbuds when they’re using it on smartphones. Called the MyTune app, it works seamlessly with the headset and lets players customize the Aeros even more with features such as the TailorID hearing test that tunes the earbuds to a users’ physical dimensions. What’s more, they can tweak the EQ settings and mod the commands for each gesture.
All of these options would be intimidating, but XRound did a great job at creating an app that makes these features accessible. It’s a better companion app compared to the ones by better-known rivals.
BATTERY LIFE AND BUILD QUALITYWhen it comes to battery life, the Aero is surprisingly good. It falls short of the six-hour estimate offered by XRound, but my unit held a charge well into the fifth hour. That’s great compared to its more expensive rivals.
With the price being so affordable, players will find that XRound sacrificed elements on other parts of the Aero. The most noticeable deficiency is the build quality. The charging case is bigger and bulkier than the EPOS or the AirPods, but at the same time it provides an additional 24 hours of battery life. Unfortunately, the case itself feels flimsy and cheap though it’s not a total disaster. The earbuds themselves snap into the case thanks to built-in magnets. It’s a nice touch.
The other cost-saving measure is that the Aero doesn’t come with a Bluetooth Transmitter that promises the ultra-low latency sound transmission of 50ms. That feature costs extra whereas the EPOS GTW 270 comes with a dongle. The XT01 Bluetooth Transmitter costs an additional $49.99 (It’s $39.99 at the moment), making the total package a little below $140. It’s bulkier than its rivals making it hard to fit in some setups. The major positive for the device is that it instantly connects the Aero to a PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.
The one caveat is that users need to make sure the Aeros aren’t connected to another device previously. The earbuds have a habit of automatically hooking up to a smartphone instead of the transmitter. If that happens, users will need to cut off connection the smartphone and hit the buttons on the XT01’s side to make it connect. Again, it’s not the smoothest process.
With that said, gamers will be getting plenty of features for their money, and that makes the XRound Aero True Wireless Earbuds a device to keep an eye on as the 2021 holiday season approaches.