LOS ANGELES — A gaming headset can be a great companion during a heated match of Overwatch, but it will probably look a bit out-of-place the next morning on the subway. LucidSound, a company made up of both gaming and audio industry veterans, wants to change that. The peripheral maker has two new headsets on the way: one for console and mobile play and one for hardcore PC play, and both of them are pretty and portable enough to take with you anywhere.
I met with LucidSound at E3 2016 to test the two new headsets for myself, and did not come away disappointed. The company started by showing off the LS30: its signature wireless model, which is already out. In keeping with LucidSound’s design philosophy, the device looks like a high-end set of Sennheiser or Audio-Technica headphones, but boasts a detachable microphone and volume controls for both regular and chat audio.
The two new headsets, the LS20 and LS40, are quite similar. As the smaller and cheaper of the two, the LS20 goes for $100 and focuses on console and mobile gaming. As such, it’s smaller than the LS30, utilizing on-ear cups instead of over-the-ear, and lacks discrete chat volume and wireless functionality.
Still, the device has a lot to offer gamers. Although it works fine in a powered-down mode, users can also charge it for up to 20 hours of “amplified” sound, which (in theory) makes audio crisper and louder. It also comes with a detachable boom mic and LucidSound’s signature volume controls, which are located, intuitively, on the outer ring of the right ear cup. I played through a match of Star Wars: Battlefront with them on, and found them both comfortable and functional. In particular, the LS20 did a good job of letting me hear Snowtrooper footsteps as they advanced through the ice fields of planet Hoth.
On the other end of the spectrum, LucidSound also showed off the $200 LS40. This large, over-the-ear headset is identical to the LS30 in terms of design, but also offers DTS 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound in addition to stereo. Like the LS30, the LS40 is wireless and offers a detachable mic, but can also take phone calls and control either Siri or Google Now, depending on your phone. I played through a firefight in Call of Duty: Black Ops III with it, and while I preferred the immediacy of the faithful stereo sound, the surround sound did provide a rich soundscape that made each shot fired and each background explosion sound directional.
I need some more time with the LucidSound headsets before I can judge where they stack up to other peripherals out there, but my initial impressions were very promising. The prices are reasonable, and the aesthetic is elegant. Expect both devices to be out in September.