As much as I love reviewing games and coffee, one of my favourite things to do is get to grips with gaming headsets. Something tangible to really get my hands on, and more importantly, add depth to my gaming experiences by listening to what’s going on.
There are massive gaming audio brands these days. Turtle Beach, HyperX and Steel Series to name a few. So when a newcomer enters the market, they have a lot to live up to, and that’s not a position I’d envy at all.
Enter Edifier…..An audio company that I’d honestly never heard of until now.
I’ve been fortunate to have a pair of their GM3SE earbuds sent to me for review, and for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been putting them through their paces.
It’s worth pointing out, too, that earbuds for gaming aren’t that prolific. The full-on over-ear headset is par for the course, but in-ear headphones specifically for gaming are few and far between. After my review of the excellent Turtle Beach Battle Buds, I’ve been keen to try something else in the same market. The Edifier GM3SE are exactly that.
With all of my headset reviews, I like to give them a minimum of 10 hours wear-time. In that time I play games, music and TV/film on my mobile phone, Xbox, PS4 and Nintendo Switch. Time is split into short periods of dipping in and out of things, and much longer 2-3 hour stints, to get a feel for extended play comfort.
Some of my favourite testing grounds are found in the Battle Royale genre. With audio being as intrinsic to the gameplay as the controls and the environment around you. If you can’t get good clear audio, you’re at a severe disadvantage.
Does the Edifier GM3SE hold up under those brutal 1 v 99 situations?
One of my favourite things about the Edifier GM3SE is that they look so unassuming. They’re slightly chunkier than your regular in-ear headphones, but that’s to be expected when they have two drivers in them.
Chunky? Yes. Too big? Not at all. There’s something really clean and considered here. I have the black and red pair which are glossy, clean and nicely curved.
I don’t think they’re anywhere near as noticeable as you’d expect. Sleek and unassuming is the best way to describe them, and I love them for that. No massive logos, no bright colours, just clean and functional design.
What else can you say? Edifier hasn’t designed them to stand-out based on their looks. They’re functional, and they look good in a minimalistic kinda way.
Why do we buy headphones? To get the best audio experience possible, within our budget.
Now, the Edifier GM3SE are priced at around £35 so, when you consider the cost of “high-end” headsets, this is pretty cheap.
Does the equation low price = low quality apply here?
No, actually you’re getting plenty for your money.
I can’t lie and say these are the best headphones on the market, they’re not. I found that when I was in a party, talking with friends, there was a quiet hiss in the background. Annoying for a couple of seconds, and then it just faded into obscurity (always there, but you block it out).
My biggest problem was initially that I just couldn’t get enough volume out of them. I don’t play games and music so loud that it hurts or anything, but I was concerned that max volume wasn’t really enough.
That was of course until I changed the earbud elements. The ones I was using were too small. Some bigger ones made all the difference! External noise was gone and I found myself with a much more engrossing audible experience.
Suddenly, there was more bass for those grenades exploding all around me. The directional audio cues are played through them wonderfully. I found the GM3SE was actually helping me engage more and more.
Playing music was pretty good. The bridge part of “Congratulations” by Jimmy Eat World just got better and better. The drivers start to vibrate when the bass is picking up and it almost makes it a tangible listening experience. Very cool!
Similar to other products at this price point, there was quite a bit of the middle ground missing. Obvious, loud noises were apparent. Higher pitches and deeper bass were prevalent, but it always seemed to be lacking that richness, that texture that audio designers work so hard to build. I wouldn’t say it was missing, because it was there, but it just seemed to fall a little flat when compared to other over-head sets I’ve reviewed and used.
Great sound, but a little lacking. Kind of expected at the price point, though.
Detachable, flexible and robust.
What else do you need, eh?
I’ve had no complaints here at all. The mute button worked, and I struggled to be heard again for a minute, but I think that was me talking too quietly (I had the mic sensitivity down from a previous review).
Clear and understandable. Isn’t that what we all need from our raid buddies?
Admittedly, I didn’t get into any squad games playing PUBG, Blackout, Fortnite of Firestorm (Battlefield V), but doing the Whisper of the Worm quest in Destiny 2 meant a lot of communication, and the Edifier GM3SE nailed it.
The size and build of it meant that I never felt that it was too delicate or something I needed to be careful with, and that’s a very good thing.
If I’m being honest, my expectations here, were quite low. Edifier isn’t a big brand in the world of headsets, and I expected that there may be some build quality issues here.
I love being wrong about these things. The earbuds themselves are chunky and feel solid. The cable is coated in a good thickness of rubber and gives it the sturdiness you want.
Everything here feels solid and premium. Even the 3.5mm plug has had some thought put into it. Instead of just being a jack, it’s in a plug that forces it to sit parallel and closely to whatever device you’ve connected to. You’re less likely to just pull it out by accident. I was genuinely surprised here about just how much of an improvement this little jack was, for me.
The box comes with multiple earbud sizes and the little in-ear wings that help keep them in place.
Nice work here Edifier!
If audio is the most important factor, comfort is a close second. You could have the best sounding headset on the planet, but if it isn’t comfortable to wear, you’re not going to wear them, are you?
Luckily here, Edifier knows this and they have given you everything that you need to make the GM3SE suit you personally.
I found that gameplay over a few hours was as comfortable as during a 20-minute session. Honestly, you don’t notice them. Once you get past the initial weight of them (these are a little bigger than your normal headphones, don’t forget), you’re golden.
They’re not heavy, they’re not too bulky, they just fit and you forget that you have them in. What a compliment. You forget about them!
If I wasn’t actively trying to work out how my ears felt (can you normally feel your ears?) during and after listening to things, I wouldn’t have even noticed. Now, that is much better than them being too heavy or making your ears sore, isn’t it?
Edifier send these little beauties in a box, but they come with a little pouch to keep them in, too. Suddenly you’re not worrying about keeping them un-knotted in your pocket or bag. It’s been thought about.
That’s what I get from the Edifier GM3SE. Everything has been thought about. The jack, the clean and modern design, the size, the comfort.
£35 for this headset is honestly pretty reasonable.
You have a variety of options to make them fit comfortably, the build is pretty decent and the audio is solid for gaming, though you wouldn’t necessarily use them to listen to music all of the time.
You get this almost reassuring vibration when things start to pick-up. Not in a cheap and nasty kind of way, but in a comfortable extra-depth kinda way. It’s really hard to explain, but I can tell you this, I liked it.
So, yeah. Are they worth picking up? That depends on what you’re looking for in a gaming headset.
If you’re only going to use them at home, then you could probably get a better sound quality over-ear headset. Edifier makes one of those too that MaddOx reviewed, you can read it HERE. But if you’re looking for something portable, that delivers a decent overall experience no matter what device you’re using, you wouldn’t be disappointed here.
Edifier has made a solid step into the headset market here, and whilst there’s some work to be done on the audio side of things in the mid-range, you have a solid, comfortable set of earbuds that will see you right whether you’re on a train, on a plane or sat at home.
For reference, I played just over 12 hours of games wearing the Edifier GM3SE. PUBG, Fortnite (Switch and Xbox One), Battlefield V – Firestorm, Call of Duty Black Ops 4 – Blackout, Breath of the Wild (Switch, on a train) and Shadow of War. I also did a few hours in Destiny 2, in party chat to test the microphone and get some quests done!
On top of that, I watched several episodes of Bob’s Burgers on a stationary bike in a very loud gym and listened to music in the same gym. Totalling a good 4 or 5 hours in the space of a couple of weeks.
I’ve definitely tested them!
The Edifier GM3SE in-ear gaming headset is available to buy now and is currently on sale on Amazon for £34.99.
For even more hardware reviews, click right HERE.