The LucidSound LS41 Surround Sound Gaming Headset is unlike most gaming headsets I’ve used. From the moment I took it out of the box, next to a small collection of wires (which was a bit odd for a wireless headset), I knew I was in for something different. I just wasn’t prepared for how amazing and weirdly complicated it could be.
LucidSound LS41 Gaming Headset Specifications
Inside the box are the LS41 headset, wireless USB dongle, detachable boom mic, micro USB charging cable, optical audio cable, 3.5mm audio cable, small cover for the microphone jack (which is almost certain to be lost one day), and a large soft interior pocket to hold everything.
Sporting a metal headband and leather-covered padding, the LS41 weighs around 12.5 oz (355 g), which is heavier than I’m used to. Holding it, there is no doubt that the LS41 is a high-end helmet. But surprisingly, I didn’t notice the weight once I put it on.
The large ear cups feature 50mm drivers, can be rotated 90 degrees, and there’s plenty of space between them, allowing the headphones to rest comfortably around my neck. The ear cups also feature gel-cooled memory foam padding, keeping them comfortable even after hours of marathon gaming. Volume buttons for the speakers and microphone are built into the outer edge of the ear cups while their centers are large buttons to mute the mic or turn mic monitoring on or off (so you can hear the sound from your voice).
This 7.1 surround sound headset is also nearly universal, compatible with PC, Xbox, PlayStation and mobile devices – which explains all the cables. However, it must be plugged into mobile devices using the 3.5mm cable and can only be used in stereo off mode. I consider this kind of cheating, but it technically works.
Additionally, the LS41 includes a built-in microphone that works without the detachable boom mic. Plugging in the accessory puts the mic in front of your mouth for better communication while adding an LED light to indicate when it’s muted. Enabling microphone monitoring whether the boom mic is on or off is also a quick way to turn this closed-back headset into a virtual open back for a better understanding of what’s going on in the room.
LucidSound’s headset also has several built-in EQ modes that can be changed with the push of a button. They include the default gaming surround sound and an amplified surround sound mode that enhances high and low frequencies for movies and music. Then there are three stereo modes: standard stereo, Super Stereo Wide and Super Stereo Front. Stereo Wide expands the stereo channels so you feel like you’re in a room with speakers spread wide apart while Stereo Front makes everything seem like it’s coming from in front of you.
Universally compatible, rugged, and wireless, the LucidSound LS41 offers all the versatility one would expect from a high-end gaming headset, except that getting it to work on the PC proved to be a huge hassle.
LucidSound LS41 Wireless Headset Setup
Technically, setup can be as simple as plugging in the USB dongle and turning on the headphones to automatically sync them, giving you clear stereo sound. You can turn on Windows Sonic or Dolby Atmos for virtual surround sound, which works well, but then it wouldn’t make sense to spend $200 on a 7.1 surround sound headset. Using the dongle alone also has the odd effect of switching the left and right volume buttons with each other.
You’ll have to do a bit of extra work to get better sound on PCs, but setting it up takes time and isn’t exactly intuitive.
LucidSound uses a system that I’ve never seen on any other gaming headset. After plugging the wireless dongle into a USB port, I had to plug the optical cable into my sound card, with the other end plugging into the side of the dongle.
Next, I had to go into Windows Sound Settings to set my optical audio output (not LucidSound) as the primary device, with LucidSound Transmitter set as the default communication device. Apparently the sound card delivers the main audio via the optical output while the dongle harnesses the discrete surround sound.
All in all, that’s more work than a gaming headset should reasonably need, and LucidSound is pretty presumptuous about setting it up. Full 7.1 surround sound only works if your sound card software supports Dolby Digital Live through the optical port, which mine does not. So surround sound capabilities are wasted unless you have the right sound card. At the very least, getting true 7.1 surround sound with this headset would require more tinkering, hacks, and/or upgrades than it’s worth.
But even if the true 7.1 surround sound mode didn’t work, the enhanced stereo EQ modes somehow worked after connecting the optical cable. The trick is that the enhanced stereo modes only worked with the optical cable plugged in. Using the dongle alone gave the same sound to all stereo EQ modes.
As a side note, the dongle gets noticeably warm, even when plugged in but not in use. While this hasn’t yet seemed to impact wireless signal or sound quality, it’s still a concerning issue.
With all of that in mind, there are two things I can say with certainty about the LucidSound LS41: (1) The setup is a little tacky. The black dongle protruded from the front of my PC with a bright white LED light strip on it and a thin optical cable leading from it to the back of my desk. (2) Even without full 7.1 surround sound, these headphones sound amazing.
The Super Wide audio on its own was enough to bring a huge feeling of richness to whatever I listened to, which made the terrible setup worthwhile.
For comparison, I tested the LS41 with my PlayStation 4. It also uses the optical/USB setup, but setting it up was a breeze. I was up and running in less than five minutes, playing games and watching movies using the surround sound EQ modes. As expected, everything sounded fantastic. So while the LS41 technically works on PC, it’s clear that it was primarily developed with the PlayStation 4 in mind. This is further evidenced by how the dongle’s bright white LED strip matches that of the console.
While the effort of setting up the LucidSound LS41 is a pain, it’s hard to overstate how fantastic things sound on these headphones, even without the full 7.1 experience. In some cases, it was almost like I was hearing some of these songs and some of these movies for the first time.
In most cases, the Super Wide setting was enough to make up for the lack of true 7.1 surround sound. Music in games such as Tetris effect is high. play through ControlI could make out every creepy moan and uninterrupted chant as I walked through the giant building filled with interdimensional invaders.
Other benefits include a battery that lasts around 20 hours and incredible battery life. It’s rated at 30 feet and I was able to get a clear signal over 20 feet away, even with a wall in the way. The boom mic is also nice and clear. My teammates had no trouble hearing me.
So the LS41 certainly needs a lot of thought before it’s considered. It’s worth it if you intend to use it primarily with the PlayStation 4, but its value diminishes with other platforms. This is a significant issue, given the relatively high cost of the headset. Gaming laptop users are twice overlooked, as most systems lack optical output ports.
I was deeply impressed with the performance of the LucidSound LS41 – so much so that it almost became my new favorite headset – but it’s hard to recommend it to PC gamers given its configuration requirements and price point. $200 retail. There are plenty of other 7.1 surround sound wireless gaming headsets that are comparably priced and don’t require absurd setup or requirements regarding PC compatibility.
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