For years, I would scoff at the idea of spending more than $20 on any kind of headset or earbuds. I would happily make do with any fragile basic earcans I could buy online, and then replace them every year when they would inevitably break down. Eventually, though, it felt like it was time to treat my ears better and upgrade to a more deluxe audio experience. If you’re in a similar situation and have decided that it’s time to invest in a killer pair of high-end headphones, you’d struggle to do better than the heavy-hitting and beautifully designed LucidSound LS41.
Right out of the box, the LS41 surprised me with how sleek and simple of a design it had. In a world full of gaming headsets with bright neon colors and wild twisty frames and all sorts of extreme nonsense, LucidSound rocks an unassuming yet undoubtedly premium look that stands out from the crowd. Large black earcans and a matching matte headband are connected by a sleek metal frame that seamlessly twists around the earpieces and connects the entire set together beautifully. The discreet LucidSound branding and various shades of black that complement the design make this a headset that you could easily rock outside of the house and on your daily commute.
The versatility of the LS41 is also made possible by the incredible modularity of the headset. Upon opening the sleek carrying bag that the headset comes with, you’re presented with a variety of cables and dongles that might seem a little overwhelming at first. Your main tools of interest are the wireless USB dongle and the classic 3.5mm cable for wired action. You also receive an optical cable you can hook up to enable crisp 7.1 surround sound, as well as a convenient mic-hole cap to cover up the insertion area of the removable mic arm.
First time set up of the LS41 is a little complicated, but well worth it. After plugging your wireless USB dongle in, you’re meant to then connect the optical cable between the optical port on your PC or console and the matching port on the dongle. After doing that and activating a handful of specific audio settings on your gaming device of choice, you’re good to go. The benefits of the optical cable are made obvious almost immediately.
The artificial surround-sound offered by some premium headsets is outdone by the crisp 7.1 audio of the LS41, making ambient sounds in shooters sharper and amplifying otherwise unnoticeable environmental details in massive games like Monster Hunter World or Spider-Man. The battery life on the LS41 ensured that I could be rocking them in wireless USB mode for hours on end, and I often went full days of regular use without having to charge them at all. You can easily expect well over a dozen hours of life off of a single charge.
As someone who switches between PC and PS4 and a bevy of other consoles regularly, though, having to move the optical cable back and forth between these devices can get a little cumbersome. Thankfully, simply using the USB dongle on any platform still offers full and fluid stereo audio quality, and doesn’t lock you out of using any of the incredible on-ear audio controls that the LS41 provides. Twisting the left or right earcans controls the volume of your microphone or game audio, while discreet buttons on both earpieces let you mute mic-monitoring, enable EQ profiles, and more. Having all of these options right on the headset instead of on a cumbersome wired dongle or controller makes the headsets even more convenient and accessible.
You can use the 3.5mm cable to plug your headsets into devices and use them wired instead of wirelessly, but the results here are shaky. On Nintendo Switch and PS4, as well as mobile devices, the 3.5mm cable provides crisp and clear audio, but with disabled on-ear controls. On PC, however, the 3.5mm cable method is less successful. When turned off, our review headphones only output audio to the left earpiece. When turned on, it outputs audio to both ears that is noticeably peaked, tinny and slightly garbled.
Thankfully, no matter how you use the LS41, the microphone quality is consistently stellar. The dual mic system of the LS41 provides not just a built-in pinhole microphone, but a detachable microphone arm to use for precise communication during online gaming. Whether I was recording audio on the PC or in party chat on the PS4, I was surprised by how sharp the sound was at all times. The mic monitoring also helped me gauge my own voice so I wasn’t needlessly speaking louder or having to remove my headsets anytime someone in the room tried communicating with me. Unfortunately, the sensitivity of the mic monitoring and the air conditioning running in my room led me to often mute the monitoring or remove my mic when I wasn’t in any kind of online party to avoid the constant buzz of the mic picking up my ambient environment.