Gaming headsets don't generally do elegant. They do bright and flashy, looking either as loud as they sound or like something out of a science fiction movie. LucidSound's LS30 wireless gaming headset does elegant with a little bit of innovative on the side.
LucidSound is a new name in gaming audio, but the folks behind the brand have been in the business for ages. The company's founders hail from Tritton, the gaming audio company that was purchased by Mad Catz back in 2010.
Now the Tritton brand is busy making headsets that look like this:
While the LucidSound folks are going for a slightly less killer robot aesthetic:
I don't mind garish when it comes to equipment I use in the privacy of my own home, but if I'm going out for a walk (earbuds and I do not see ear-to-ear) or playing Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X on my Vita while sitting in a mall somewhere (it's so good, by the way) I want a headset that's attractive, but not so bright and colourful as to attract thieves or mating birds.
The black version is nice and subdued, with soft silver accents and a pleasing concentric circle pattern on the ear cups. I've been using these for weeks while out and about and not one bird has attempted to mate with my skull. Granted no bird has ever attempted this (I'm no Fabio,) but I can still be specifically pleased.
While the black is nice, the gold reminds me of my mother's old Lexus, and probably would have been much more eye-catching atop this review. Those outer discs are functional as well as ornamental. One side controls the mic volume, the other the headset volume. Muting either is as easy as pushing the side of the cup. The leather ear cups are soft and cushioned enough that it doesn't feel like you're tapping your head to get it done.
The LS30 is incredibly comfortable, thanks to those ear cups and that quilted padded head pad. I briefly lost track of the headset while attempting to take the picture atop the review, only to discover they were sitting on top of my head. Maybe that's more me being scatterbrained, but it did happen.
How the LS30 sounds depends on what you plug it into. At its most basic it's a passable passive mobile headset. Using the included 10cm audio cable the unit can be connected to things that have one of those as well -- phones, portable gaming devices, aeroplane armrests.
You can probably handle the specs. But if you're using the LS30 in passive mode exclusively you aren't getting your $US150 ($196) worth. The LS30 is built to connect wirelessly to the things that need a wireless connection the most -- video game consoles. The unit supports the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One, with an controller adaptor included in case your Xbox One is rocking the old style controllers.
The LS30 can also connect to the PC -- I've got mine connected to the PC right now -- but it's not officially supported. Using it's as easy as plugging in the USB base station and selecting it as your default audio device. On the consoles it gets a little more complicated.
To connect with the PlayStation 4, for example, the USB base station must be plugged into a USB port on the front of the console. Then you have to plug in the supplied optical audio cable and, since the PS4 doesn't have a rear USB port, perform the old optical reach-around to tap that audio jack. It's a little bit on the inelegant side.
Audio is then pumped from your PlayStation 4 to the LS30 via the magic of 2.4GHz uncompressed wireless technology, and it's beautiful. Crisp and clear, you'll never want to use the headset in passive mode again. There's a little distortion in bass at high volumes, especially with the bass boost mode active, but dialling it down to a level that won't make your head explode clears it right up.
I lost the rubber port cover for the detachable mic, because I am a monster. Powered mode is where it is at, and in powered mode the ear cups are where the controls are at. The volume controls and mute options are active, plus there's an EQ button that let's you toggle between normal, bass boost and an unpleasant treble setting you're better off skipping.
Since this is a gaming headset and not just gaming headphones, there is of course a microphone for the LS30. Two, in fact. One is built in to the headset and lets you talk to people without looking like the operator from the ads in the back of old comic books. The other is a detachable boom that makes you look exactly like that, but you'll sound much better.
But maybe keep the boom in if you want to talk to seriously talk to anyone.
The most outstanding thing about the LucidSound LS30 wireless headset is how non-outstanding it appears. No coloured LEDs or flashing lights. No strange headband apparatus. No clunky buttons cluttering up its clean lines, while maintaining easy access to all of the controls someone playing a game with a headset on could need.
I've fooled around with plenty of console headsets, from the elaborate mechanical monsters of the early Xbox 360 years with their clever blinking ways of bypassing Microsoft's fierce protection of its wireless tech, to the slightly more muted cans of the current console age. LucidSound's LS30 is the first gaming headset I've reviewed that I wouldn't laugh at my mother for wearing.
And this is why I am never a box quote.