Back in the before times, when my obsession with headphones and headsets wasn’t causing irrevocable damage to my bank account, my very first headset review was for a brand-new manufacturer called LucidSound. Founded in 2016, the company immediately impressed with the detail and design smarts that they put into their early products, and it’s been fascinating to see them iterating and evolving on those original designs. The LS50X bears all the hallmarks of LucidSound’s eye for detail, with an array of modern features that should make it a sure-fire hit with Xbox gamers everywhere.
That X at the end of the name lets you know that this is a headset designed for the Xbox family of consoles, and whether you’ve got some kind of One or some kind of Series, set up is as simple as popping the wireless USB dongle into a USB slot on your console and turning the headset on. It connects immediately, and pairs to the active user.
That’s far from everything though, and as we’re starting to see more often from modern gaming headsets it will also simultaneously hook up to a Bluetooth connection, letting you listen to music via your phone, take a call midway through a hike across Skyrim’s snow-topped mountains, or opt to chat with your friends on Discord instead of on Xbox. Besides that there’s the expected PC and Mac compatibility, and it’ll even give those wired 3.5mm fans a bit of love as well. This is a headset that will do it all.
Visually, not a great deal has changed for LucidSound, and the sweeping metallic curves that surround each earpiece look as smart and stylish as they did a few years ago. Understated logos on each earpiece match pleasingly with the DJ-friendly branding emblazoned across the plush, stitched headband. Opting for black, grey and metallic highlights, the LS50X looks fantastic, a feeling that’s only matched by the well-crafted sensation they give you when held in the hand.
This is not the lightest headset, or the smallest, but then they were never likely to be when they’re packing in all of the hardware that they do. The soft underside cushioning of the headband, coupled with the exceedingly plump cushions surrounding each ear help to balance the weight out, and while they don’t have the effortless feel of SteelSeries Arctis range, they sit alongside offerings like the Astro A50 and Audeze Penrose as a headset that you can wear for hours without pain or fatigue.
I firmly hold with the idea that LucidSound got the looks right at the outset, forgoing the gamer aesthetic of the olden days and embracing premium headphone looks that continue to serve them well. You can absolutely wear them outside your home, though it’s worth bearing in mind that their size makes them a serious statement compared with the svelte curves of premium headphones from Sony or Bose.
Given all of the technology wedged inside the LS50X, it’s exceedingly handy that LucidSound has included a voiced assistant to tell you what on earth you’re doing when you start hitting all the buttons. She’ll tell you whether the headset is paired, what EQ mode you’re in, and let you know whether you’re in Bluetooth or Gaming mode if you’re unsure – it all makes interacting with the headset a lot simpler. There are still times where you might become a little lost – just remember that the left earpiece controls overall volume while the right controls the game/chat mix – but overall the LS50X is a pleasure to interact with.
It also boasts my favourite feature on a gaming headset: a removable microphone arm. It really ramps up their real-world usefulness for when you don’t want to look like a call-centre flunkey that’s got lost on the way back from a break, and while that can sometimes lead to a case of lost-mic-arm syndrome, there’s an on-board microphone that does a decent enough job as a fallback. The mic at the end of the arm is good quality, if a little keen on the higher frequencies, but that does mean your words will be easy to pick up amongst a cacophony of gunfire and booming explosions. Thanks to its noise-cancelling and mic-monitoring, no one should suffer at the hands (voice) of your overly-enthusiastic outbursts.
The LS50X provides the powerful audio experience you’d expect from a headset in this premium £200+ price range, enhanced all the more by the easily accessed EQ options. With Signature Sound enabled, games come to life in a gratifying way, putting you firmly in the middle of the action. I tested the LS50X out with Outriders, and its bombastic soundtrack thumped away in the background while gunfire and those all-important explosive outbursts rang home above them. Hopping into Movie mode then proved to be perfect for watching blockbusters like Avengers Infinity War as well as energetic shows like Hunter X Hunter.
There’s plenty of bass to be found if that’s your thing, but it’s controlled well through the standard setting. Hop into the Bass Boost EQ mode and you can feel audio massaging the bottom of your brain, with the 50mm custom-tuned drivers capable of some impressive heft. That doesn’t drown out the top end, and whether you stick with Bass Boost, or head off into Movie, Music or Flat EQ settings the LS50X does a great job of delivering each and every detail to you.
Battery life comes in at over 20 hours, and through our testing it felt exceptionally rare to be reaching for the charging cable; fans of modern cables will be happy to see a USB-C socket for charging. In fact, if you’re only going to use it in Bluetooth mode it’ll last even longer, making it a great choice for travellers (once you’re allowed to go to other places of course). With the 3.5mm backup, you’ll barely have to remove them from your head.
With an RRP of £239.99 the LS50X is LucidSound’s flagship headset, and they’re going up against some stiff competition from the likes of the Astro A50 and the Audeze’ Penrose. Thankfully, they’ve packed some fantastic technology in here with every connection option under the sun, and the clear on-board EQ control is a function that every headset should have. The Penrose has the edge on audio detail, while the A50 is a touch comfier, but as an overall package the LS50X does more than enough to justify this price bracket.