Mobile gaming has seen a substantial rise in popularity over the years, reaching over 2.5 Billion users in 2020. That’s why it’s not surprising how major gaming headphones providers jumped on the rising need for earbuds for on-the-go gaming. And one of those is Turtle Beach with their Battle Buds in-ear gaming headset.
Unlike the typical over-ear gaming headphones, the Turtle Beach Battle Buds’ in-ear design promises great portability at a relatively affordable price. But what makes them stand out from regular earbuds is their detachable boom microphone.
I’ve been very interested to see for myself if these in-ear gaming earbuds hold up to their vast competition of large, overhead, flashy headsets. Are they worth the switch from the usual type of gaming headphones? Find out in this in-depth review!
About Turtle Beach
Turtle Beach Corporation is no doubt a famous name among gaming accessories. For decades, it has supplied gamers with award-winning equipment. This includes keyboards, mice, headsets, mousepads, and many other PC accessories.
The company was first founded by Roy Smith and Robert Hoke in 1975. Named after the street his parents lived in (the Turtle Beach Road along the Florida coastline), its unique name holds a piece of sentimental value for Roy.
Decades later, Turtle Beach is now one of the world’s leading gaming accessory providers. As a pioneer in innovative gear for all types of gamers, it’s plain to see why it is a fan-favorite brand. It has also been an industry market leader in console gaming audio for a while now, gathering a plethora of awards.
In 2017, the London MCV Awards awarded Turtle Beach the “Best Peripherals and Accessories Brand” title in the gaming industry. This made it their fourth year in a row to be recognized for that category. They received the same award in 2012.
One key feature is the products’ multi-compatibility. Turtle Beach has several different accessories that can be used on consoles such as Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, and even for PC, Mac, and mobile/tablet devices. Their products can be found all over the world in America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, and Asia.
- Headphone Design: In-Ear
- Microphone Types: Removable Unidirectional Boom Microphone
- Built-In Inline Microphone
- Inline Controls: Master Volume Wheel, Mic Mute, and Multifunction Button (on supported devices)
- Speaker Size: 10mm with Neodymium Magnets
- Speaker Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
- Audio Jack: 3.5mm TRRS
- Compatible with: Phones with 3.5mm jack, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox, PC
The Turtle Beach Battle Buds come in a small, gray, lightweight box made of cardboard. But, to put it simply, there’s really nothing too special about it.
I have to say for a box this small, there’s definitely a lot going on. It’s not exactly jarring to look at, but, given its size, the text on the box is quite small. Due to this, it’s possible to overlook some information, especially for viewers like me who are not blessed with good eyesight.
The box’s opening was sealed tight with tape, and it took me quite a few tries to get it off without scissors. Inside is an easy pull-out plastic container with cut-outs molded perfectly to the shape of its contents.
On top of it is the user manual, also enclosed in a plastic bag and a pouch of silica gel.
It’s not as exciting as unboxing a lavish pair of expensive gaming headphones, especially those with fancy packaging and special add-ons. But given its price and its whole ‘portability’ feature, I suppose it’s not too surprising.
I can’t say I’ve ever seen gaming headphones come with a bag of silica gel, but it’s a nice little safety precaution. However, it makes me wonder if it indicates that they are prone to moisture or condensation.
In the box
- Turtle Beach IEMs x1
- Pairs of stabilizer wings x3
- Extra pairs of ear tips x3
- Detachable boom mic
- Travel pouch
- User manual and stickers
- Silica gel packet
Opening the box, you’re greeted with the Battle Buds themselves right off the bat, with the wire neatly tied around itself. Beside it is the removable microphone. You’ll also see the carrying pouch, in which the extra ear tips and stabilizer wings are contained.
Having the extra pair of ear tips along with stabilizer wings leaves a good impression. These little ‘freebies’ feel like Turtle Beach values their customers and the experience, even with the considerably low price.
Battle Buds come in two available colorways. One is a standard black overtone with subtle silver accents. While the other is a more distinct palette, with a white and teal combination that jumps out. For this review, I got the black option.
The outer casing of the earpieces is in a unique triangular shape. I couldn’t help but notice that these seem to be designed to look like a shield. The name and the Turtle Beach logo that looks like an insignia supports this theory of mine. I find this to be a really nice touch, sort of like an easter egg.
For a pair of earbuds in a compact box, the Battle Buds are huge, to say the least. I assume this is because of the 10mm drivers. This is pretty typical in most IEMs these days.
The design is clean and simple. They can easily come off as regular earbuds for general use.
The microphone choice is surprising, though. You don’t usually see boom mics on IEMs, so I assume this design choice was meant as a gaming aid. This is quite odd since inline microphones will usually work just fine in gaming (and one is included with the Battle Buds). Plus, the subtlety of the Battle Buds is kind of nullified once the big, hanging boom mic comes into play.
The cable is covered in hard rubber that feels pretty thick, at least compared to the ones I’ve seen on your run-of-the-mill earbuds. The great thing is, I haven’t noticed many instances of the cord getting tangled, even after I’d carelessly tucked them into bags and pockets without the pouch.
The length is just right. It’s not too long to become inconvenient but not too short that you can’t move around while gaming. This works great for playing while on the go.
Overall, I’ve got to say it doesn’t feel like cheap material, but most gaming headphones use braided nylon cables since they’re less prone to wear and tear. Though the material on the Battle Buds’ cord is thick, I can’t say that it will stand the test of time. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it starts to peel soon.
Moreover, the in-line volume control is pretty standard and basic. On the front is the master volume control. Below that is the mute switch.
The inline microphone is automatically activated once you disconnect the boom mic.
On the back is the multifunction button that works on select supported devices. For some reason, I couldn’t find any sources for which devices it worked on exactly, so using this function with your device will basically be touch and go. However, having these controls at the touch of my fingertips is a fantastic design choice when using them on both portable and desktop devices.
I never actually had to use this button, but from what I’ve seen, it can only be used to answer calls. So calling it a ‘multifunction button’ is quite misleading.
It’s easy to access, use, and even move out of the way if I don’t need it – definitely a great factor in gaming. There won’t be a problem when you have to switch your mic on and off constantly or when you have to tinker with the volume during an intense match.
The jack is your standard 3.5 TRRS plug, which means they can work with any device with this standard jack. However, they don’t come with a Y-Cable splitter, as most gaming headphones do.
Without a splitter cord, you can’t use them properly on your PC or laptop with a separate input for mic and audio.
This still makes it quite a versatile headset. There are hundreds of available mobile games out there that you can easily use the Battle Buds on.
Upon first look, it seems sturdy compared to your ordinary in-ear headphones. Surprisingly, it even has some weight to it. The ear tips seem to be made of the same rubber as the cable, which I find to be another interesting build choice. Moreover, the detachable microphone is easy to take in and out. And though there’s nothing special about it, it doesn’t seem like it’ll wear out too quickly from constant use.
As you can see from the picture, the Battle Buds stick out of my ears, and the stabilizer wings don’t quite fall into place either. It’s not surprising how within just a few minutes, they started to feel uncomfortable already.
Note, however, that this was straight out of the box without making any adjustments.
I suppose the impractical size of the earbuds is an attempt to get a noise-canceling effect – a feature that isn’t active with the Battle Buds.
Also, I found myself having to push the buds further inside just so that they could seal my ears completely. Inevitably, it felt rather painful, even after changing the stabilizer wings and ear tips to their smallest size.
I’m not sure if this will be the case for everyone, but this was only an issue that occurred in my right ear. My left ear was relatively more comfortable the whole time, even though that’s where the mic is connected.
If you’re going to use the Battle Buds straight out of the box, I would suggest that you try out the extra ear tips and stabilizers first. I myself wasn’t lucky enough to find the perfect combination for my ears, but that’s not to say that it will be the same for others.
Going in, I honestly did not have high expectations for the Battle Buds. After all, there’s no sign of Surround Sound, noise cancellation, or anything of the sort. But to my surprise, things are not as bad as I thought they would be.
Even though they are meant for gaming, they lack the typical Surround Sound feature found on most gaming headphones. I do detect a sort of spatial sound going on, though, as I’m able to hear where certain noises or sounds come from. For a pair of earphones with no special technology present, I’m quite impressed.
The bass is surprisingly punchy. It allowed me to easily separate the sound of footsteps and gunfire. I used this in Fortnite, and I had no trouble at all with taking down my opponents, as, thanks to the bass, I knew where to expect them.
Other sound effects, such as explosions or thunder roars, sounded decent as well. I’m surprised they sounded as realistic as they did. Safe to say, I had no problem with gaming in this area.
Moreover, the mids on these earphones are not too thin. I would even go as far as saying that they’re pretty crisp.
First of all, they make the voices of characters or my teammates come out incredibly clear on Discord or in-game voice chat. They also make for great sound effects on Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. My favorite would have to be the gusts of wind that hit my ears as if they were real.
The treble is also alright. When I was playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on my Switch, I felt completely immersed in the game. The sound effects were very vivid and clear. Even the enemies’ attacks sounded great. I loved the sound when a Guardian attacked with a beam or when the arrows flew by on either side of my character.
I really came to appreciate the treble of the Battle Buds in this game, as it added an extra layer of reality in terms of environment ambiance. When you hear the air blowing in the forest, and the birds and insects make their signature sounds, it definitely gives everything so much more life.
For this review, I focused on testing out the detachable boom mic, as removable microphones can be quite tricky to work with.
Detachable mics have a reputation for lowering the response time of the voice input. But from what I experienced, nothing like that occurred, at least not too drastically. I didn’t receive any complaints from my teammates on the other end, so I assume they had no problems understanding or hearing me.
If it’s placed too close to my mouth or nose, it will pick up the sound of my breathing. I believe it’s especially sensitive to the noise of moving air, such as the sound of my electric fan. In fact, I noticed that it didn’t really pick up the sound of my mechanical keyboard as I typed.
This little tic didn’t set me back too much in terms of playing, but I imagine it might get annoying in the long run for my teammates.
I’ve read about microphone issues with those who’ve tried it out on the Xbox Controller, particularly about hearing a constant echo. I myself have used this on my phone, Nintendo Switch, and laptop, and I’m disappointed to say that I did experience echos as well. You can hear them below in the audio samples.
When it comes to a headset with an overall similar design, the HP Gaming Earbuds are worth a mention. Interestingly enough, this pair specifically singles out its special Deep Bass feature.
Other than that, the HP Gaming Earbuds and the Battle Buds are chock full of similarities. To name a few, they have similar drivers, the same in-line control design, and the same range of compatibility. They both come with a 3.5mm jack, and they’re mostly rubber in their material.
And much like the Battle Buds, the HP Gaming Earbuds also sport a high-sensitivity removable boom mic that you can easily plug in or out as needed.
As far as I’ve observed, most users have had no issues with their sound or quality. This is quite interesting, as they’re priced cheaper than the Battle Buds, and don’t even come with their own protective case or pouch.
Another pair of gaming earbuds meant specifically for mobile gaming is the ever-popular Kingston HyperX Cloud Buds.
For many, HyperX is the go-to brand for gaming accessories. So their decision to release gaming headphones in the style of in-ear buds was probably a much safer gamble. They’re more well-known and, naturally, more trusted. Given the higher price point, they are presumably better quality as well.
Besides the basic concept of a wired in-ear gaming headset, the Battle Buds are not too strikingly similar to the Cloud Buds.
To start off, the Cloud Buds’ casing is smaller and sports the brand’s signature color palette of red and black. The material consists of silicone and rubber, and they come in a zipper case rather than a pouch.
In terms of sound quality, general reviews are divided. I am surprised to find a lot of users report poor sound isolation with the Cloud Buds. HyperX is usually quite revered for its attention to sound quality. I suppose the whole convention of gaming earbuds is something truly tricky to master.
Where to Buy
- Official Store
- Great portability
- Detachable boom mic
- Cable doesn’t tangle easily
- Comes with a travel pouch
- Clear sound quality
- Compatible with most major gaming platforms
- Mic is too sensitive
- Comfort isn’t guaranteed
- No Y-cable splitter included
- Wire isn’t braided and might be prone to peeling
- A bit heavy for a portable headset
- The earpieces protrude due to their size
If we only consider portability, compatibility, and decent sound quality, the Turtle Beach Battle Buds are a great choice. However, I don’t think they’re worth the switch from regular over-ear headsets yet. They lack a lot of key features for gaming, such as the comfort of plush ear cups or an impressive Surround Sound feature.
The detachable boom mic also didn’t reach my expectations. Although unique in design, the microphone sensitivity needs some tweaking, especially if you’re gaming in quite a noisy environment.
So, if you’re looking for something a little more standard and reliable, then you should probably stick to the usual gaming headphones. But, if you just need something that will perform the basic necessities, plus the convenient portability, then the Battle Buds are the way to go.