In many ways the LucidSound LS20 Powered Gaming Headset is what the gaming headset market has been crying out for for years. That's because not only does it offer good audio reproduction and build quality, but it does so without looking like a 14-year-old boy's doodle of an alien warlord's battle helm.
No, there are no garish colours, radical angles and flat out lack of taste here, only sleek, cold metal and a mature and minimalist design that, in terms of aesthetics alone, allows the headset to break out of the gaming headset market and into the rarefied air of the premium headphone one. Indeed, the LS20 look so good in our opinion that they would not be considered out of place in terms of sets from Bose and Sennheiser. Despite all this, amazingly, there's also no eye watering price point either.
Quick, someone slap us, we think we're dreaming.
Of course, almost inevitably, there are some minor issues with the LucidSound LS20s, and we will get to those shortly, however if you just want an immediate takeaway from this review then consider this it - if you've got under £70 to spend on a gaming headset and want something that ticks almost every box and doesn't look like Admiral Zarg's headdress, then go out an buy a pair of LS20s right now.
For those who want more details then read on.
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LucidSound LS20 - Build quality and design
LucidSound states "Who cares how you look in the living room? We do" on its website and, after taking one glance at the LS20's design, it is obvious that this is no hyperbole. The LS20 look absolutely dynamite for a gaming headset, with sleek machined steel, soft stitched padding and restrained plastic composite combining to great effect.
The headband, which sports "LucidSound" on the top and the aforementioned criss-cross stitched padding on the bottom, looks and feels premium to the touch, and does a fantastic job considering the set's snug fit to cushion the skull. Below and to either side of the headband is the steel frame and slide mechanisms, which not only have a pleasing amount of resistance vertically, but also rotationally, with the cups twistable either way off centre.
The LS20 sliders fork at either end where they connect with the headset's earcups, which are circular and boast a slightly shiny matte black finish. A small selection of buttons are present on each earcup, as well as a wired headphone jack and mic port on the left hand cup. Connected to the cups are synthetic leather earpads which, in all honesty, we did not like, with the appearance and feel, while not actively bad, looking letting down the rest of the set.
The whole headset weighs in at a pleasingly solid 255 grams.
LucidSound LS20 - Audio reproduction and mic
Here comes the specs. Speaker size sits at 40mm, frequency response at 20 - 20,000 Hz, and characteristic sound pressure level at 97 +/-3dB. The LS20's created sound space is amplified stereo and it offers two EQ modes, normal and bass boost. In layman terms this means that the headset grants clear, well-rounded audio that, while not delivering surround sound, does deliver across bass, mid-tone and treble consistently.
Use the EQ button on the right ear cup to enable bass boost and that audio balance is tilted towards the low-end, which comes into its own when playing explosion-heavy titles such as Titanfall 2. If we're being honest, however, we found the balance just fine in normal mode in every title we played with the LS20s on, which for those who want to know, included Mass Effect: Andromeda, Dishonored 2, Titanfall 2, Hitman, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X, Fifa 17 and Driveclub.
From significant playtime with these titles we are happy to report that the LS20s delivered well, with music, sound effects and speech reproduced clearly and with genuine warmth. Even in passive mode, which is the mode the headset defaults to when its internal batteries run dry and you no longer have active amplification, the performance was OK considering. However, there is no doubt that you'll always want to use these if possible with the battery fully charged, which is something you're going to have to get used to maintaining if you ring these up.
LucidSound LS20 - Connectivity and features
The LS20 is compatible with PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch and more, however the three main equalization profiles are PC, Xbox One and PS4. These are selected by holding down the power button on the headset, which cycle through via coloured LED (red, purple and blue respectively). Depending on which system is selected, the LS20s then automatically configure to optimal sound settings for the device in use, delivering better, more dynamic sound than if no profile was selected. The in-line and boom mics are also regulated by this setting too.
Volume is controlled by simply rotating a dial on the exterior of the left earcup, while in-game audio and chat can be muted by clicking in the centre button on same cup also. To mute the headset's mic you have to click in the right earcup's central button, with an LED light on the tip of the boom mic indicating when mute has been activated. Neither the boom or in-line mic are anything to write home about, however, they do the job and - in the case of the protruding boom - retain the headset's understated, streamlined aesthetic.
LucidSound rate the LS20's battery life at up to 20 hours, with the rechargeable battery receiving juice via Micro USB. From our testing, the real life usage scenario with the LS20 would never lead you to a situation of zero juice though, with a simple one-plug-in action after any use returning the headset to full power for your next session. As the LS20s don't come with a charging dock like more expensive gaming headsets, we ended up slotting the LS20s over the top of T3's PS4 Pro while on charge.
LucidSound LS20 - Verdict
We really like the LucidSound LS20 Powered Gaming Headset here at T3 Towers. The headset isn't perfect, with earpads, boom mic and lack of dock slightly letting down the package. However, if you are a grown adult who enjoys playing a few video games in your spare time, then the LucidSound LS20 Powered Gaming Headset is an excellent choice for you. As well as delivering on the audio and features front, the LS20s also deliver something that few other gaming headsets manage, a sense of style and maturity that legitimizes their use away from a gaming console and very much in the public sphere.
Many of the best gaming headsets in the world right now deliver top tier audio but at the expense of aesthetics and versatility, with anyone but fans of Jamiroquai never even dreaming of wearing them out and about on their commute or in a public space. The LS20s break this mold though and, somehow, they do so for a price that is incredibly attractive.
The fact that the LS20s rank in at the bottom of LucidSound's gaming headset offering too, with the untested LS30s and flagship LS40s also available, the latter throwing 7.1 surround sound into the mix as well, and it's hard not to think that we could be seeing a lot more of LucidSound in the future.