If it was all about the sound I would be tripping over myself to recommend you stick Audeze's Euclid earbuds into your soundholes. The sound is delicious. Because when you're trying to describe audio quality it's important to keep using different adjectives, and because whenever I stick some high-res audio files through the Euclid buds I always end up going 'Nom, nom, nom, nom.'
But how do you, in all good faith, recommend someone spend $1,300 on a set of earbuds? I'll wait for you to crank your jaw up off the deck… yes, the Audeze Euclid (opens in new tab) buds really do cost that much. And if you want to go down the wireless Bluetooth 5.0 route then you need a $130 adapter wrapped around your neck.
Which makes them suitable only for the most miniscule of audiophile niches, if I'm being honest. Generally, if you want that high-end audio experience you spend big on a pair of over-ear audiophile headphones (opens in new tab), potentially open-backed ones that will only really do the full aural business when you're sat on your own in a quiet room blasting The War on Drugs or Rage Against the Machine directly at your own ear drums.
I've not heard much call for in-ear headphones with a genuine predilection for high-end audio.
Which is why, when I heard Audeze was taking its experience in planar magnetic (PM) drivers and distilling that down to an earbud, I had to give it a go. I love the soon-to-be-retired LCD-1 over-ear PM headphones, and the 18mm Euclid drivers somehow still manage to deliver much of the characteristically detailed audio of the technology.
Drivers: 18mm planar magnetic
Frequency response: 10Hz – 50,000Hz
Weight: 0.53oz | 15g
Connection: Wired or Bluetooth 5.0 w/adapter
Battery life: 8 hours
Price: $1,300 (+$129 for the BT adapter) (opens in new tab)
Unfortunately, perhaps due to their size, they lack some of the warmth you get from a well-worn set of larger planar magnetic drivers. My experience with over-ear PM headphones has been that you really need to drive them over an extended period of time to wear them in and get around the too-sharp detailed audio that you get fresh out of the box.
I'm a long time into my testing of the Euclid's and they've yet to hit that level and have remained a little spikey in the high tones to this day. Despite the flat EQ they offer you do still get good, detailed bass response, however, and the tonal separation is outstanding. You can hear the reverb and movement of Ludovico Einaudi's piano, and not just the actual notes, for example.
But while that may be great for mastering a track, it doesn't make for a particularly comfortable long-term music listening experience.
It is a different thing when it comes to gaming, however, as that detail and tonal separation really helps make a gameworld come to life. And can give you spatial cues that will help tell where the bad guys or the gunfire is coming from.
In OlliOlli World on the Steam Deck (opens in new tab) the rattling of my board's wheels sits completely apart from the chilling jazz-hop soundtrack, and in Hitman 3 I can navigate around curious security guards from listening to their footfalls alone.
And, despite initial concerns the Bluetooth 5.0 implementation wouldn't have the speed of connection to live with the lag-free wireless audio you really need for twitch gaming, the Euclid Bluetooth adapter is lightning fast.
Which all makes them actually an excellent set of earbuds for gaming. But you don't need a set of buds at this price level to get a very close approximation of this audio quality from a particular game. The Creative Outlier Pro buds deliver an impressive aural experience for a fraction of the price, and the JBL Quantum TWS (opens in new tab) have the ease of use to make them both an easy Steam Deck accessory you barely have to think about.
The Euclid's on the other hand, even ignoring the pricey elephant in the room, have too many real-world sticking points to make them a reasonable recommendation.
The eight hour battery life of the Bluetooth adapter is an issue, though you could, of course, quickly switch to a wired connection when you run out of power. But, even if the power thing isn't an issue, you're still having to deal with the adapter cabling between the two buds which I found either weighed down too much if worn around the front of your neck, or tangled with any collars on my clothing, putting pressure on the buds' fitting if worn around the back.
And I struggled with that fitting in general anyways. None of the other wireless buds I've tested were much of a struggle to comfortably sit in my, admittedly small, ears, but I found with the Euclids—even with three different silicone tips, and a pair of premium Comply foam tips—long term comfort was difficult to find.
I feel that is a personal issue, however, as colleagues with the same earbuds have had no such problem with the fit on their sets.
I'm always going to come back to the price, though. For the cost of a good gaming PC (opens in new tab) or gaming laptop (opens in new tab), or even a pair of Steam Decks, the Audeze Euclid's excellent audio is not enough to overcome the practical issues they represent. Honestly, if I want to go wired, the $400 LCD-1 over-ears have my heart, and for a wireless earbud experience either the JBL or Creative buds get my vote.