The EKSA GT1 is a pair of TWS earbuds that was both designed and fine-tuned to cater to the gaming community. What I mean by that is that the manufacturer has added what it calls the Game Mode which, supposedly, should lower the latency to 38ms (relies on the SBC codec). That’s a very bold claim which, if true, will definitely make the earbuds suitable for proper competitive gaming.
Besides the potentially improved gaming latency, the EKSA GT1 look a bit different than your regular pair of TWS earbuds. We now have sharp edges and LEDs. Indeed, the GT1 have taken the whole gaming-focused look very seriously, so the charging case is a bit bulky and has some larger LEDs on the front side, which, unfortunately are not RGB (and we all know how important RGB is for FPS).
The earbuds themselves also seem taken from a Sci-Fi movie and I do like that they followed the design of the traditional-looking earbuds (minus the cable, just like the Apple Airpods). The advertised battery life is 6 hours, which makes sense for a pair of TWS earbuds using the Bluetooth 5.0 and the charging case is supposed to add up to 30 more hours of battery life. That being said, let’s put the EKSA GT1 to the test and see if these earbuds are indeed suitable for competitive gaming (which would be quite the feat on a Bluetooth connection).
Build Quality and Design
I have tested a few TWS earbuds that offered a Gaming mode (such as the Naenka Lite Pro), but none had such an aggressive design as the EKSA GT1. Indeed, the pair of TWS earbuds has a more angular look and they’re the only that I used so far that had two status LEDs on each earpiece. The manufacturer does seem to have taken some inspiration from the Transformers series and I have to say that I do like the look of the GT1 (resembles a robot cobra).
They’re also quite comfortable and that’s because EKSA has maintained that traditional earbuds look, which means that there are multiple anchor points and yes, they’re going to be more noticeable in the ear, but then again, I didn’t really understand the trend of making them as concealed as possible. I could keep the earbuds in my ear for at least 2 hours without feeling any fatigue and, since I chose the suitable silicone tip, the EKSA GT1 would not fall out of my ears (there are three sets of silicone eartips in total). Additionally, the manufacturer added a touch-sensitive area, allowing you to move through tracks without causing any irritation to your inner ear (it seems that the physical button trend is pretty much gone).
The touch-sensitive area can be found a bit underneath the LEDs – there is no obvious demarcation, so you need to move your finger somewhere near the middle of the earbud, which is not that intuitive. A single tap on any of the two earbuds will Pause / Resume a track and, in case of an incoming call, a single tap will answer it (tap once to end the call). If you want to move to the next track, double tap the right earbud, but if you want to return to the previous track, you need to double tap the left earbud. You also get the option to switch between the Music and the Game Mode by holding your finger for two seconds on the touch sensitive area of any of the two earbuds.
Unfortunately, there is no volume control and this is a feature that I have seen on other budget-friendly earbuds, so it could have been implemented here as well. I saw that the EKSA GT1 are IPX4-rated, so the earbuds will fare well with sweat and the occasional raining, but don’t submerge them under water.
You may now be wondering whether these earbuds are suitable for outdoor sports and my answer is always going to be no for devices that lack some hook-type silicone eartips or any other means to make sure that you don’t lose them. Indoors, you can do your workout sessions with the GT1 without problems.
The Charging Case
The charging case for the EKSA GT1 is a bit particular in the sense that similarly to the design of the earbuds, we’re dealing with a more aggressive look. It’s more angular and has more sharp edges than your regular charging case which may make it a bit uncomfortable if you want to put it in your pocket. The size can be an additional impediment since it measures 2.75 x 2.0 x 1.4 inches (7.0 x 5.0 x 3.5 cm), so it’s not really that compact.
But it does look really cool and it has two sets of LEDs on the front which illuminate every time you add the earbuds. They’re also for showing the remaining percentage of the GT1, right? Indeed they are (they’re not there just for the looks) and you can tell the battery life depending on the amount of LEDs that are lit (it’s in increments of 25%). On the rear side of the case there is a USB-C connector, which is some great news.
Internal Hardware and Connectivity
The EKSA GT1 use 10mm dynamic drivers which are more than decent for a pair of budget-friendly TWS earbuds and may help deliver a better sound fullness, as well as a higher volume without distortions. There is also support for Bluetooth v5.0 which is not really the latest iteration, but still very much relevant and the coverage should be roughly the same as with the v4.0: 30 feet. I do have to mention that I noticed a better battery life on earbuds that support the Bluetooth v5.2 – I think it’s more likely the chipset that is more energy efficient.
I have connected the EKSA GT1 to my phone and, after a few hours of using them, I noticed that one of the earbuds refused to play music. That was a bit odd, so I checked the connection only to find out that there were two EKSA GT1 available in the Bluetooth devices list, so the earbuds refused to inter-connect. I put both back into the charging case in the hope that it was a temporary issue, but no, they needed to be factory reset.
To do so, I took both earbuds from the case and held the touch button for a few seconds until both turned off. I then pressed and held it again for the earbuds to turn back on and to be reset. I put them back into the case, deleted the pairing info from the phone and redid all the steps again to re-pair the EKSA GT1. After that, they re-connected properly, but it’s strange that it happened.
The main selling point for the EKSA GT1 is the Game mode, so I didn’t really have that many expectations in regards to the sound quality, but it still ended up sounding decently well, considering the price tag. Sure, it’s nowhere near audiophile level, but for a casual music listener, it’s more than enough. I have run a few technical tests to check the way the drivers react to a low bass sweeping tone and the first audio file checks the driver quality. Ideally, the tone should be clean with no buzzing and, while there was some buzzing at the lower bass frequencies, the sweeping tone was relatively clean.
Next, I checked the drivers match and yes, the sound seemed like it was in the middle of my head, which is excellent. Afterwards, I wanted to see how well are these earbuds able to create a proper 3D sound stage by playing a binaural recording. And, as expected, the 3D sound stage is decently reproduced, I could tell where the singers were (although there is a small amount of vagueness for secondary voices) and the instrument differentiation seemed fie, but something was slightly off, so I went ahead and listened to Bowels by Caribou.
This song revealed that there is a bit of vagueness with instruments as well, so the sound is not perfectly clean and a bit busy at times, especially with the treble.
After that’s done, I decided to listen to some songs that use a lot of low bass (such as ‘Zhu – Faded’) and I found the low bass to be slightly subdued and not as punchy as I would have liked. The mid bass sounded far more dominating and punchier. I also checked the song To The Hills from Laurel and the violins sounded slightly dramatic, with the mid bass fairly differentiated from the mids, but still dominating the low bass. The mid-range-focused songs sound really good, so most commercial songs will be decently reproduced, but the treble is a bit more complicated. If there are multiple instruments and the singer sings higher notes (Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine), the sound gets very busy and not that fun to listen to. Lastly, I had to check the sibilance by listening to ‘Empire Of The Sun – Alive’ and, surprisingly, there is not that much sibilance, but the song again sounds a bit busy.
Game Mode and Latency Test
The Game Mode supposedly should lower the latency down to 38ms which, as I said in the intro, is a very bold claim, while the expected performance is somewhere around 300ms using the AAC codec. I made sure that the EKSA GT1 was connected with the AAC codec – the Pixel 2 XL confirmed that was indeed the case – and then I installed and played PUBG mobile. This way, I could check the delay between me tapping the screen and the moment the sound is reproduced on the speaker. After setting up the baseline, I kept the EKSA GT1 in Music Mode and checked the latency. I measured an average of 545ms which is not good for a competitive game, but surprisingly average for a pair of budget-friendly Bluetooth earbuds.
Be aware that there are a few gimmicks in place if you were to check some YouTube videos because these seem to be delayed on purpose to match with your TWS earbuds. In any case, I switched to the Game Mode and there was indeed a noticeable improvement because the latency was now around 329ms. This is not bad at all for TWS earbuds, but not really close to the spectacular 38ms. Perhaps they checked it in lab conditions or with special devices, but in my real-life tests, the results were around 300ms, as I already anticipated.
The call quality is not always a priority for the manufacturers of TWS earbuds and it should be since a lot of people will answer a call while wearing them. I have had the chance to test some earbuds that had a very good call quality, the SuperEQ Q2 Pro, so I had high hopes that the EKSA GT1 would also perform well.
After answering a call, the caller said that my voice was fairly decent, but there was some echoing and the sound was slightly muffled. The ambient noise, even if it was very loud seemed to have little impact on the audio quality. I have to mention that I could hear the other person very well.
The promised battery life using the EKSA GT1 on what I assume is the default mode (Music Mode) is 6 hours and in my tests, I saw that the battery of the earbuds got completely depleted after about 5 hours and 15 minutes with the volume set at 70 percent (which is fairly close the advertised amount).
The EKSA GT1 was developed to cater to the gaming community and yes, its design will definitely differentiate them from the competition. While wearing the earbuds, I found them comfortable and, while there has been an initial pairing issue, the problem did not re-appear so far. The better latency mode (Game Mode) is not really at the level that was advertised, not in my tests any way. It’s definitely a working feature and there is visible improvement, but I don’t think we’re yet at the point when budget-friendly Bluetooth earbuds are suitable for proper competitive gaming. That being said, the EKSA GT1 do perform better than other earbuds in this regard and the sound quality is alright, so it’s worth checking them out if you want to get out of the design monotony offered by other brands.
- The charging case looks cool
- The earbuds are fairly comfortable to wear
- The Gaming Mode does indeed lower the latency
- Good battery life
- The touch-sensitive area is a bit awkwardly placed
- In my tests, I could not get close to the advertised 38ms latency
- There has been an instance when I had to reset the earbuds to the factory settings