LOS ANGELES – Companies launch a lot of new gaming headsets at E3. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Some are good, some are bad, but most follow pretty much the same pattern: a headband, two earcups and a boom mic. LucidSound’s LS15, on the other hand, is a very different type of gaming headset: a speaker you wear around your neck that gives you a personalized listening experience without taking you out of the real world.
I saw the LS15 (as well as the rest of LucidSound’s new lineup) at E3 2017, and it was one of the more creative peripherals I’ve encountered in a while. The device is a semicircular piece of plastic that you wear like a necklace. The LS15 delivers both in-game and chat audio, and you can control the mix between the two with small sliders. The device also includes a set of detachable earbuds in case you want to completely privatize your experience, and it connects wirelessly to the Xbox One without requiring a dongle or adapter.
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That’s really all there is to the $100 LS15; it’s as simple as it sounds. What makes it stand out is that there’s never been a gaming headset that’s functioned quite the same way before. The philosophy behind the design is that while traditional gaming headsets are great at immersing players, immersion is a luxury that not every gamer can afford all the time. If you have a roommate, a spouse or a child with whom you share the living room, you need to keep an ear out, even if you don’t want to bother them with your game and chat audio. When the room quiets down, you an always pop the earbuds in for a more personal experience.
LucidSound announced two other headsets at E3, although they’re of a much more traditional variety. The LS35X ($180) is an enhanced edition of the LS30, designed specifically for wireless compatibility with the Xbox One. The LS25 ($80) is a wired PC headset that eschews some of LucidSound’s more elaborate features in favor of a simple, straightforward headset that’s suitable for the competitive PC gaming crowd. All three headsets will be out later this year; the LS25 in September, and the other two later on.
For a relatively new company, LucidSound has made an incredibly favorable impression among both fans and critics for its high-quality gaming headsets that are stylish enough for everyday wear. The LS15 is its first major departure from a tried-and-true headset design, and we’ll have to wait for a full release before we can tell whether the experiment will pay off.