Update: EPOS have reached out to say that an upcoming firmware update will now allow you to use the mic whilst connected via the dongle.
A lot of eyebrows were raised when electronic giants EPOS and Sennheiser parted ways. “What will happen now?”, was the initial thought in a lot of people’s minds. Will we see products from both parties? Will the standard be as high as before? It was troubling, to say the least. Now though, EPOS have released the GTW 270 Hybrid, a pair of in-ear earphones that will blow your minds but at the same time disappoint. Yep, it’s a weird statement, but all will become clear as I write this review.
The EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid comes neatly packaged in a magnetically sealed box. Opening the lid reveals each individual earphone, a Bluetooth dongle, a metal carry case, charging cable, a set of replaceable rubber earbuds of varying sizes and a USB-C to USB-A extension cable. On the back of the box, “Crafted to last, designed to excite” is the first thing you see. It’s a bold motto. One that certainly raises expectations.
The EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid is high-end, and it shows in its design. The earphones themselves are moulded to the ear with expert precision to ensure maximum comfort. They fit snuggly in my ears without feeling too exposed or heavy. The earphones have an aluminum outer cover with the EPOS logo embossed, giving them a premium feel. The metal case is a necessity, not just for show or convenience. On the front of the case are five LEDs that show the charge status and also when the GTW 270 Hybrid are in pairing mode if you hold in the button underneath said LEDs. It is a simple process to pair the GTW 270 Hybrid to any Bluetooth-capable device. On the left earbud, there is a small button; this is a multifunctional button that can be used to pause or play whatever music you’re listening to, skip to next or previous tracks with a double or triple press, respectively, or answer an incoming call. The inclusion of this button feels strange. It takes away some of the high-end feelings that this device gives, but it also goes in its favour as tapping the earphones, like seen with the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless, can be very finnicky, especially when you’re walking or running.
Pairing the EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid to a gaming device, such as a console or PC, is as easy as plugging in the included dongle. It comes already paired to the earphones, so it is literally plug in and play. It is best to attach to a PC first so that you can update the earphones using the free EPOS Gaming Suite app and also use it to optimise the settings to your liking. Once it is done, you’re ready to play. Now, I’m not sure if it was just me, but no matter what settings I used with the Gaming Suite app, whether I turned up the treble or bass, I could not get the bass volume to increase. This caused the sound coming from the GTW 270 Hybrid to be quite tinny. Even the most explosive of games, such as Call of Duty or Gears 5, just didn’t sound as good as they would if I used a headset. It is a big comparison considering the GTW 270 Hybrid is a discreet in-ear earphone. But they are high-end. I wanted big booms and high hisses. What I can sing about with the GTW 270 Hybrid is the clarity. These are able to present every single sound from every angle. From a rain drop to a shell casing hitting the ground, everything can be heard here, nothing is drowned out. It is seriously impressive for such a small device.
Attaching the GTW 270 Hybrid to a device using the dongle changes the device dramatically. They become nothing more than a pair of earphones in their purest form. The multifunctional button becomes dormant and useless, meaning all control must come from whatever device you’re using, and the biggest shocker is that the microphone can no longer be used. Yep, that means you cannot use voice chat in-game. This is ludicrous considering most people who buy this product will be looking for that very feature, and if you are one of those people, be prepared to be disappointed.
As with all True Wireless earphones, one other thing is at the forefront of every buyer’s mind: battery life. How long does the GTW 270 Hybrid last in a single charge? Well, EPOS themselves say they can last up to 5 hours on a single charge, and I’m happy to say that they have got it on the money here. A lot of companies tend to overexaggerate to bring in the clientele, but EPOS don’t give you no hairs or graces, and for me 5 hours is more than enough time. Most transports have USB power sockets now, anyway.
Now, the technical bits. The EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid supports Bluetooth 5.1 and has SBC and aptX codecs, the latter of which goes hand-in-hand with any Android device, giving you the full capabilities of the earphones, whereas Apple device users will have a lesser experience due to its lack of support. Thanks to the aptX codec, the low-latency feature shines through during gaming. Some low-end earphones suffer badly from audio-visual lag, and it can be crippling during competitive gaming, but there’s practically none present here. The GTW 270 Hybrid is quite the beast in that regard, handling every in-game situation beautifully, whether it be the hectic hills of Caldera in Call of Duty: Warzone or swinging through the streets of the Big Apple in Marvel’s Spider-Man; every swish and swoosh is heard in real-time. The GTW 270 Hybrid aren’t noise cancelling though, so be aware of that.
So, there is a lot of reason to pick up EPOS’s first solo-outing in the True Wireless market. The impressive battery life, crystal clear sound, discreet yet stylish ergonomic design and multi-purpose utility make it extremely easy for me to recommend. However, if you want to chat whilst gaming or want big bass, you may need to look elsewhere. For me though, they are my new go-to. Well done, EPOS.