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LucidSound LS41 gaming headset reader’s review – Reader’s Feature – Metro.co.uk

LucidSound LS41 – a sound investment

A reader gives his verdict on LucidSound’s latest gaming headphones and what could be the best headset of the generation.

Before I get into this review I need to update my previous one for the LucidSound LS35X which suffered some performance issues. Not long after the review a firmware update was released which resolved the problems. Revised rating: 8/10.

Now onto LucidSound’s latest headset, their new flagship model, the LS41 which replaces its predecessor the LS40. Already a very accomplished headset, has LucidSound managed to improve upon those high standards, and more importantly, avoid a troublesome launch similar to the LS35X? Spoiler alert: this is a far easier review to write.

Design & build quality:
Those who owned a LS40 will be familiar with the excellent build quality LucidSound offer. It is essentially the same headset as the LS35X with some minor differences. First off it is 41g lighter in weight (355g), which though not a significant reduction, can be felt slightly in the headband which alleviates some pressure. I can only surmise the Xbox direct connect capabilities are responsible for the added weight of the LS35X. Other than aesthetic changes in colour, it’s the same design with coolant-gel infused oval ear cushions (removable) and a metallic structure that’s part of LucidSound’s signature style. You certainly don’t feel short-changed by the cost of materials or how it looks worn.

Features & set-up:
The LS41 is a multiformat headset foremost: it’s wireless on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, with some variations on how it is implemented. Advertised on the box as being best with PlayStation 4 (it’s completely wireless on Sony’s console) on other platforms the compromises are minimal. For instance, on Xbox One game audio works wirelessly just the same as on PlayStation 4 via the optical cable (there’s a workaround for PS4 Slim) but chat audio is delivered via the supplied 3.5mm audio cable to the controller. On Switch I believe it will work wirelessly like the LS40 when docked (not tested), or it can be used in passive mode (no power) when connected directly to the portable console.

The supplied dongle which transmits the wireless signal has seen some modifications, which is now attached to a small extender cable and is more PS4 Pro friendly (the LS40 dongle struggled to fit). I don’t understand why the extender aspect is integrated and not a separate attachment, which is now a less elegant design for other formats.

Other than some minor alterations it’s familiar territory for LucidSound’s customers. There is no additional features of any note, the progress made is more a case of refinement. The same intuitive controls on the ear cups are present, which even if you’re not familiar with the set-up are easy to become accustomed to.

Audio performance:
This is the main difference between the latest model and its predecessor. It would be disingenuous of me to describe the audio experience as a huge improvement over the LS40 (or LS35X) because those headsets already sound great. But there is something about the audio performance which is revelatory, an experience which redefines my expectations of what good audio should sound like.

That may seem like hyperbole, but I was genuinely taken aback on occasions. Previously the benchmark was set by the Arctis Pro Wireless which has sublime definition, only hindered by a relatively thin bass. The LS41 sound signature is almost an equal for clarity but overtakes it for overall balance. It’s like the best parts of all the headsets I’ve encountered have been amalgamated into the LS41.

I must stress audio can be subjective, though I don’t anticipate many complaints. It’s a fun sound for gaming, without appearing over-processed or artificial. Pin sharp without piercing highs or distorted lows, there’s good separation across the range and I couldn’t find any obvious flaws or inconsistencies. The LS40 could suffer some distortion at maximum volume, but there is no sign of stress whatsoever. Audio is rock solid in terms of stability and extremely loud if you can tolerate it on maximum volume, which benefits immersion.

To put the headset through its paces I selected a variety of games, from the orchestral highs of Kingdom Hearts III to the unnerving moans of a zombie-filled police station in Resident Evil 2. Even much unloved Battlefield V reminded me DICE can get one aspect right at least. Whether it was being forewarned Mr. X is on the prowl or the trigger of a magazine reload in Blackout giving away an enemy position, the level of detail never failed to impress.

No demo would be complete without the Star Wars theme goosebump test, and I wasn’t disappointed. Occasionally the trailers can be better than the games, so searching through the Xbox store I came across Star Wars: Battlefront, Forza Horizon 4 (Bond car DLC), and the Metro Exodus ‘Massive Attack’ trailer; on each occasion I was suitably impressed. Don’t browse the game store wearing a decent headset, you could end up spending more than you intended. As for movies I only required one test: Gladiator 4K, and yes, I was entertained!

Surround Sound:
LucidSound utilises DTS headphone X for its surround sound profile, though you have further options to refine. There are a number of equalizer (EQ) settings to choose from: Gaming Surround, Boosted Surround, and Stereo. Feed the headset stereo-only and the following options arise: Super Stereo Wide and Super Stereo Front. It is worth noting that when playing on Xbox you have further options. With stereo selected on the headset, navigate to the Xbox display and sound settings and select ‘using HDMI or optical audio headset’, then choose from Windows Sonic or Dolby Atmos (subscription required). Each simulated surround technology has its merits, and results can vary from game-to-game – particularly when Dolby Atmos is specifically supported.

All considered, I prefer the 7.1 surround capability of DTS headphone X for most games I’ve tried. I find sound imaging to be more clearly defined, and environmental details also seem more spacious using the DTS variant. Simulated surround sound can split the crowd, with some gamers preferring standard stereo to increase situational awareness. Gaining a tactical edge can be the deciding factor for competitive play.

Microphone quality:
I don’t recognise any significant differences in this category, there are two microphones – one is internal, the other detachable. The latter has good pick up and comes through clearly. The mic monitoring seems improved however, which adapts to your game volume. Other than that it’s very much a case of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Conclusion:
With around 18 months to two years of the current gen remaining, investing in a gaming headset may seem a bit late in the day for some. Focusing upon the negative aspects for a moment, the current pricing on Amazon UK is a major deterrent. Pre-orders are available for a whopping £219.99 (release date 14th Feb) which I would completely ignore. The LS35X was priced at £199.99 at launch and is now generally available for £150, and still probably the better option for Xbox owners. I purchased the LS41 from Amazon US which came to around £180 after import fees, which is the maximum I would pay and I suggest closer to what Amazon UK will eventually sell it for.

Looking to the future, I don’t think it would be much to expect headsets that work seamlessly across all formats. No convoluted configurations or compromises, just a straightforward set-up with no proprietary technologies to contend with. Bluetooth being an obvious omission in this instance, it would expand any headset’s versatility, and I also suspect USB-C fast charging will feature heavily next gen.

In short:
In a relatively short space of time LucidSound has established itself as being amongst the premier headset manufacturers, and in the LS41 they’ve reached their pinnacle for this generation. If the goal was to improve upon the LS40, they’ve succeeded, even if the improvements are minimal.

I’m reluctant to declare it the best wireless gaming headset, but having tried all of the main contenders, it’s certainly competitive. How it stacks up against other elite headsets depends upon what you prioritise most. There are more comfortable headsets available, others which have more features, though only a select few which can match or arguably beat the LS41 for audio. But it’s the great all-rounders which are rarest of all.

Pros:
Outstanding audio
Lossless wireless performance
Excellent surround sound capabilities
Stylish, robust design
Comfortable to wear for long periods
Generous 20+ hour battery life per charge
Clear microphone

Cons:
No Bluetooth support or added features
Current UK price is expensive
Wired chat for Xbox One

Score: 9/10

By reader Up4Banter

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

You can submit your own 500 to 600-word reader feature at any time, which if used will be published in the next appropriate weekend slot. As always, email gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk and follow us on Twitter.


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