Small in size, vast in value, these earbuds are a real steal
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EKSA is known for a wide range of budget gaming peripherals, and we’ve recently reviewed their EKSA E900 Wired Gaming Headset. Now they have their sights set on the TWS (true wireless stereo) product space, alongside other popular options like Apple’s AirPods, with the GT1 Cobra True Wireless Gaming Earbuds. Priced at a tempting $49.99 at the time of writing, these earbuds sport the most aggressive looks we’ve seen in a TWS, and are also equipped with a dedicated gaming mode. Let’s see how EKSA fairs in their first outing in this highly-contested product category.
36 hours per case charge
36 hours per case charge
20 – 20000Hz
Impressive case build quality
Sleek gamer aesthetic
Poor sound quality
Substandard earbuds build quality
The box is a step up from EKSA’s normal offering, which is souped up with a magnetically clasping box, which opens to reveal the charging case nestled in a cardboard housing.
Connecting the GT1 earbuds to your Bluetooth device of choice is a streamlined and simple process, it takes no longer than around 10 seconds. Just open the case, grab one of the earbuds and open the Bluetooth menu on your device, and press “GT1”. That’s it, that’s the extent of the work required to connect them. If you need to clear the saved devices from the earbuds themselves, just hold the textured section of the earbud for ten seconds and repeat the pairing process. It’s uncomplicated and works just as you’d expect it to, which can’t be said for every device we’ve tested.
The EKSA GT1 Cobra’s design is an example of true commitment to a chosen aesthetic. As the name might hint, the GT1s are all about snakes. The charging case resembles a robotic cobra head with light-up teeth to indicate the charge level of the case. Totally radical, dude. Opening the mouth reveals the earbuds, each taking the form of a little baby robot cobra proudly standing up, this time with laser eyes to indicate communication status. Who doesn’t want laser eyes telling them what the battery status is?!
Sneaking functionality into the aesthetic isn’t easy and EKSA has done well here. Additionally, the touch controls are well designed and intuitive. However, there is significant lag between tapping to pause/play and having it actually pause, which can be infuriating. The touch controls use simple, easy-to-remember patterns, however, they can be a little finicky and take a while to master.
The design is punchy and unapologetically capital-G Gamer, with plenty of lights and sharp angles. Those looking for an innocuous set of earbuds should steer well clear. Those who love the ‘gamer’ look and edge, read on.
EKSA impressed us with the build and the case feels pretty solid considering the cheap-feeling plastic from which it’s constructed. There is a slight rattle present but nothing that makes us question how it’s built since they’re functionally fine. The lid flips open and snaps closed in a satisfying and secure feeling way due to the fairly strong neodymium magnet hidden in the hinge. The case quality falls short of the venerable AirPods but considering the $50 price, it’s better value for money by a large margin.
The earbuds themselves are less impressive. Lightness is good for comfort, but these are almost completely weightless, which casts doubt over their safety when outside of the case. In addition to this, the shiny plastic which makes up the bulk of their construction feels substandard in contrast to the far nicer material used in the case. The build quality of the case is impressive, but the earbuds are disappointing.
Small form-factor earbuds are not typically known for their vast audio range or powerful bass and unfortunately, the GT1s are no exception. The bass is essentially non-existent and the highs are exceptionally tinny. The mids are impressive by comparison, which isn’t saying much. For use on a phone call, they are fine, but if you’re a music fan it’s recommended that you try to stretch your budget just a little further to get a better pair, they are perfectly serviceable for a $49 price point, but are far from audiophile quality. The headphones do get fairly loud, but maxing it out degrades the sound quality even further, which is something to be aware of if you’re considering these for a loud commute or exercise in a busy gym.
One of the selling points of the GT1s is the “gaming mode”. Toggling between music and gaming mode is done by a quick double-tap of either earbud. During testing the difference between these two modes was found to be minute. A slight boost to the bass was the only noticeable difference. We’re not quite sure how slightly boosting up bass means it’s for gaming, but that’s how they’ve chosen to denote it. It’s also worth noting that these are not compatible with the PS5 or Xbox Series S or X family of consoles as they all do not currently support Bluetooth audio. Thanks to a recent firmware update, you should be able to use these on Nintendo Switch without a hitch, however.
The GT1s fitted us like a dream and EKSA has included three different sizes of rubber earcaps for you to choose from. Once you’ve figured out what suits you best, they should fit comfortably and you can be forgiven for forgetting they’re even there after a few minutes. This is a double-edged sword, as a little more weight would make it easier to notice if you’ve lost one which is a potential problem. One issue is that for us the fitting was slightly loose, and so we can’t recommend these if you’re planning on using them for a rigorous workout session. However, your mileage may vary if you’d want to use aftermarket ear tips. The physical earbuds themselves are balanced very well and don’t press or rub on any particular part of the ear.
The EKSA GT1 earbuds impressed us with the above-par build quality and an effortless setup process. The sound quality leaves a bit to be desired but is far from the worst we’ve seen from this category of products – especially at this price point. At $49, these are priced competitively for the TWS market and make a good value-for-money proposition. If you enjoy the extremely bold aesthetic, the EKSA GT1s are the earbuds for you.
36 hours per case charge
Boasting impressive build quality and functionality, the EKSA GT1 True Wireless Gaming Earbuds offer excellent value for money. The design is aggressive and fearless, laser-targeting the gamer audience with success. The build quality of the case is a treat for the $49.99 price point, though the earbuds themselves leave something to be desired in that respect. They are annoyingly marred by lacklustre audio quality and laggy responsivity to the touch gesture controls.
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