A good pair of headphones will change the way you play video games. The problem is finding a good pair that meets all your requirements without breaking the bank. Unfortunately, the delta between quality and price can sometimes be vast.
At £99.99, the LucidSound LS15s aren’t exactly budget. The question is, if you’re going to spend that much money, are you getting the biggest sounding bang for your buck, or are you better off picking up a £30 headset and a new game for your next-gen console?
The LS15s come in two flavours — the LS15X, for the latest generation of Xbox consoles, and the LS15P, which is what we’re looking at today. If you figured out Lucid’s cunning naming scheme, you’ll have figured out that this version is designed for PlayStation consoles, but the truth is it works with pretty much anything that has a USB port.
First things first, the LS15P looks like a nice headset. With its sleek matte black finish and its soft black faux leather earcups, it’s exactly what you’d expect and want from a pair of cans. Interestingly, despite being wireless, there are no fiddly switches that stick out from the side of the earcups, giving them a really flush feel.
It’s also great to note that the earcups swivel, not only helping you to find the perfect fit, but ensuring that the headset can lie completely flat when you’re not using it. This feature is always welcome, especially if space is at a premium where you’re living.
The earcups house pretty standard 50mm speakers and, at 272g or 285g with the flexible mic attached, the memory foam band at the top doesn’t need to do any heavy lifting. That’s fortunate because the padding isn’t the most generous I’ve seen — any heavier and you’d quickly feel the plastic pressing down on the top of your skull. Even so, when coupled with the memory foam earcups, I must say that these are pretty comfortable, even after several hours of continual use while wearing glasses.
They’re fairly snug and certainly pass the wiggle test, but not the head banging test – if I put on some Audioslave and turn the volume up, the headset is going flying.
Unfortunately, the LS15P’s sleek, space-saving design is at complete odds with the wireless dongle, which is ginormous. This is a bit of a double-edged sword for the LS15P — on one hand, you’re never going to lose it, and if it’s just stuck in the back of your PlayStation, it’s of little consequence how large it is. However, the LS15Ps also claim to be designed for PC and mobile. If you’ve ever dropped a laptop with a massive USB dongle sticking out of it, this will raise the hackles at the back of your neck.
If you’re wondering how you’re supposed to combine the USB dongle with your mobile, then well done for thinking ahead. You obviously can’t — you need a 3.5mm aux cable to plug your phone into the headset. Since this is sold separately, and stops this from being a wireless headset, we’re not going to entertain that idea.
Returning to the lack of visible controls, there are two obvious buttons that will immediately catch your eye: the power and EQ buttons. Holding either will trigger an extremely American voice prompt telling you that your headset is now on, or that you’re on either ‘signature sound’, ‘bass boost’ or ‘No EQ’ modes.
To my ear, these EQ settings did very little. Playing through Spider-Man: Miles Morales, there was clear audio through each of them, but the difference was slight. Signature sound was slightly crisper than the others, while I had to put on a song with already heavy bass and really listen to notice the bass boost.
What’s far more interesting are the controls that you can’t see. The volume and mute controls are cleverly hidden on the ear cups — the ring around the left cup rotates to change the audio volume, with the mute accessible by clicking in the plate with the LucidSound logo. Similarly, the right cup ring changes the chat volume (on PC only) and clicking in the logo mutes the mic.
It’s unfortunate that the chat volume control isn’t supported on the console that these were apparently designed for, and that the volume control doesn’t work on PC (instead, for some reason, you need to use the chat volume control). This is just a questionable design choice, making the headset needlessly complicated.
Equally, it’s a shame that when you mute the headset, the American lady loudly tells you that she’s muting stuff. It’s not the instantaneous mute you’d hope for at the push of a button.
The detachable microphone has some decent flexibility to it and doesn’t slowly spring back like you might see with some cheaper headsets. Audio comes over clearly without too much ambient noise, and the red ring that lights up when you’ve muted yourself is certainly handy. All in all, it’s a perfectly decent boom mic — it’s just a shame that the sunken port design means it’s a bit fiddly to plug in without taking the headset off.
Saving the best for last, the LS15P has excellent battery life. I went a week and a half on the initial charge, far exceeding the 15 hours’ battery life we’re told to expect. What’s even better is that I started a stopwatch when the lady living in the headphones gave me my first low-battery warning. It lasted another two and a half hours before I gave up and turned the headset off myself. If you’re put off by the idea of headphone batteries running flat, this may well be the headset for you.