With so many gaming headsets on the market these days, sound quality sometimes wins out over comfort, but the best sound quality in the world won't matter if you can't wear a headset for more than five minutes. The ideal sweet-spot for the best gaming headset is something that's not only super comfortable, but also something that can make a game more immersive by providing surround sound capabilities. LucidSound's LS41 wireless gaming headset is one of those headsets, a great combination of sound quality, comfort, and innovation—but compared to similar headsets that feature 7.1 surround sound, it gets complicated.
Battery life: up to 20 hours
Impedance: 70mW 32ohm per channel
Frequency response: 20Hz-20kHz
Design style: Over-ear
Microphone: Removable boom mic and built-in mic
Connectivity: USB, optical cable
Ergonomically, the LS41 is heavier than some of the other gaming headsets we like at 335g, but it felt just as light around my ears and head compared to my SteelSeries Arctis. The layer of cooling gel on top of the memory foam, all under a layer of breathable cloth, makes enough of a difference to keep the temperature of your skin down a few degrees. But if that's not enough for you, the cushions pop off so they can be easily replaced or cleaned if they get too grimy with sweat.
If you wear glasses like I do, then you know how some headsets can dig the temple tips into the side of your head. The LS41 rotates backward and forward a few degrees, so I can adjust them to take the pressure of the temple tips, letting me wear this headset for hours longer than any other headset I've tried, and it doesn't press my industrial piercing into my cartilage, either. However, the memory foam is thick, and combined with the rest of the earcup can overwhelm anyone with a small face/head like mine; I feel like a sportscaster or an air traffic controller.
The LS41's volume controls are much more efficient and intuitive than the usual scroll wheels or tiny buttons attached to the headset cable. While in-game, you control game volume with the outer dial on the left, and you control the chat volume with the outer dial on the right. No adjusting the volume separately in the setting menu. No external mixer. Just two convenient controls that blend seamlessly into the headset itself. You can also easily mute the game and chat audio by pressing the center of the left earcup, and mute your mic by pressing the same spot on the right—and a red light turns on at the tip of the mic if you have it muted.
One minor, quirky thing about these controls is that can sometimes disable any other device attached to your computer that allows you to control the volume—even directly through the Windows taskbar. Another quirky thing is that the volume controls only seem to work as described with in-game chat. If you want to use a chat program like Discord or voice chat with someone in the Battle.net app, you have to go into the audio manager software that comes with your motherboard and manually set it, if you have that ability.
The LS41 has both an internal mic and a boom mic. The internal will pick up any and all background noises like fans, people, or cars passing by on a busy street, but will still transmit your voice clearly. It's decent, but you won't get a crisp, echoless sound without the detachable boom mic. You sound a little more muted with the LS41 boom mic compared to the SteelSeries Arctis or Blue Yeti, but you barely pick up any background noise. It's still of professional quality, and way more than adequate for streaming or chatting with friends.
I should mention that I sometimes had issues getting my computer to recognize the boom mic, especially if I was trying to chat over Google Hangouts or something similar. While the headset mic appeared in my sound control panel and in the settings of various chat programs, it would not pick up my voice. I had to restart my computer, sometimes twice, to get it to work.
Running a few sound tests here, the LS41's frequency response range is the same as what LucidSound specifies. The bass extension goes as low as 20Hz, and the treble reaches as high as 20kHz. The binaural test from the same website didn't seem to work all that well; I could hear door knocking in both ears equally. But when I threw on an ASMR video that featured binaural sounds, the isolation was a lot better. Overall, the directional sound quality is fantastic for games, movies, and music alike, however, if you like a heavier bass you'll need to manually adjust levels. The treble can be a little bright or the bass a little muddy in any of the stereo modes, depending on what you're listening to.
I wish I could tell you what the 7.1 surround sound is like with the LS41 on PC, but it turns out that you need a Dolby Digital-supported sound card and, like a lot of PC gamers, I don't have one. (Note that some high-end motherboards also include the necessary hardware.) The closest I was able to get was 5.1 surround sound on my PS4 with Dolby Digital, as 7.1 isn't supported on the PS4 and neither is DTS, which is odd since the LS41 advertised as a DTS Headphone:X Surround Sound headset. (For reference, Dolby Digital and DTS use different bitstreams.)
On PC, I assume it would work with something like DTS Sound Unbound, since it lists LucidSound as one of the compatible headset manufacturers, but you need Windows 10 version 18898.0 or higher to use DTS Sound Unbound—which you can only get right now if you join the Windows Insider Program, and even then it's only a trial version. So, I was unable to see if it actually works with the LS41.
But for what it's worth, 5.1 surround on the PS4 brings an entirely new dynamic to games. God of War 4 and Bound sound incredible with this headset, so I'd imagine that 7.1 would sound even better on PC.
As an alternative, you can opt for Dolby Atmos from the Microsoft Store to get surround sound, but it costs $14.99 after a free 30-day trial, and you still wouldn't be able to access the LS41's gaming surround mode and boosted surround mode. However, with it enabled, the treble and bass are evened out a lot more in stereo mode—but I'm still unable to see if 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound is enabled; the LS41 doesn't register in my Realtek HD Audio Manager.
For a $200 headset, 7.1 surround sound should work right out of the box to be competitive with other similar headsets on the market. The overall look and design is by far my favorite of any headset I've ever tried and the most comfortable, even with the large earcups. But if you don't already have a sound card or don't want to buy one for your PC, the LS41 is a less-than-desirable option.