It’s a new thing it seems, in-ear gaming headphones. Usually, gamers want to attach a giant set of cans to the side of their heads, that light up and flash and do all that good stuff. But there are gamers out there who want something a little more understated, and especially something they want to carry on the go with them. That’s the Roccat Syn Buds Core in-ear headphones.

There aren’t many features involved with the Roccat Syn Buds Core. They’re akin to the earbuds you get in the box of your mobile phone. They’ve got two 10mm drivers, an in-line remote which acts as a controller for volume and a built-in microphone. The entire length of the cable is around 38 centimetres, not including the two cables connecting the earbuds.

The earbuds aren’t exactly feature-rich, though do work with your PC and also games consoles including a Nintendo Switch and your mobile. I haven’t got consoles sitting next to me here, so I tested the headset with my gaming PC, and they act as a plug and play unit. There’s also no integration with Swarm, or any kind of software driver, so I just used them as stock. They went into my GoXLR mini to test the sound, and for voice, as I don’t have a console, I had to stick with my mobile for testing, playing some games on there.

The earbuds themselves are rather chunky too, which to some may be refreshing coming from using the more slight wireless earbuds of late. However, for me anyway, this came at a price. They’re heavy, which meant there were issues with them staying in my ears and caused fatigue on the bottom of my ears. I used the largest earbuds which offered a decent amount of sealing and noise isolation, but the ache I just couldn’t get over, and I couldn’t use them for long gaming stints.

In terms of performance though, especially audio, I was pleasantly surprised. The Roccat Buds offer a very nice balanced audio experience. There’s a nice mix of bass and treble in the headphones, and explosions felt nice and punchy and voice lines nicely cut through any background noise going on. However things do get a bit muddy if too many bass tones are firing out at the same time, and it becomes a little muted. Hairy moments in action games, or even something like Doom, that heavily relies on those punchy, grunty type sounds from the weapons and even the soundtrack. One thing that these earbuds don’t bode well too though is directional audio, so placing shots in a battle-royale game is nigh-on impossible.

But jumping over to a game of Stardew Valley or Two Point Hospital, where the bass is nice if it’s present to warm the soundtrack and sound effects, sits nicely with me. It’s nice that there’s a decent sounding set of earbuds that can fit in a pouch like a Nintendo Switch case, or even your pocket that don’t cost the earth.

Voice quality isn’t really anything to shout home about either. It’s what you can come to expect from an in-line remote when used on a call, but not really good enough quality to hold a Twitch stream. Your friends will hear and understand you fine in a group chat in games or in a Discord server, but you’re not going to find many enjoying the audio on a live stream. But, again it’s a £20 gaming headset.

What else can I say? The Roccat Syn Buds Core in-ear gaming headset is a nice purchase if you’re going to be gaming on the go. Like a quick hour on the train during your commute, or if you’re going on a long car ride. They’re not the most comfortable, but I’ll be honest and say that’s probably down to personal experience. The audio quality though is very good, and I was impressed at how nicely balanced and controlled the earbuds were. And they’re £20. So you can’t really ask for more at this price point. For more info, head over to the Roccat website.