When it comes to looking for a new gaming headset, there isn’t a topic more popular than 7.1 surround. However, with multiple options and brands to choose from, it can get a little daunting if you don’t know what to look for. Thankfully, it’s easy to narrow the selection down to some of the top-performing brands. One of which, we get to cover today.
We have been testing out the LS41 Wireless Surround Sound Gaming Headset by LucidSound, mapping out its strengths and weaknesses to figure out where it belongs in the mix. Ultimately finding that it pairs well against similar companies like SteelSeries, and results in many hours of intense gameplay.
Not only is it priced within the same category as their competition, but it seems to be neck to neck in performance and features while having a mostly solid build.
The headphones feature a bit of a bulky design to them, but in a positive bulky kind of way. By this, I mean that they seem to have a durable construction to them and look a bit hardcore on the head. This includes a very durable headband that can flex quite a bit while maintaining a strong connection at every part that slides or swivels.
The build consists mostly of strong plastic and aluminum and a two color-tone theme of black and gunmetal gray.
There is a bit of weight to them, although not overwhelming by any means. Feels more so thanks to the durable materials than anything else, so it is hard to complain. This doesn’t lead to any discomfort after long sessions of use. You might find that due to the durability of the materials, and the tight connection points where they can shape to the head, there might be some slight compression. This can usually be solved by carefully breaking them in by slightly stretching them around a box and leaving them there for a day or two. Maybe work your way up to a larger box (small increments so that you don’t over-do it and cause them to become too loose). This may not be necessary for most users, but those who are dedicated to perfection will find their ways of making things just right.
The ear cushions are removable so that you can clean or replace them, and it is quite easy to do so as they simply just pop off with little effort and snap back into place. They won’t fall off on their own or anything, but little effort is required to remove them. So if you are one who likes to clean the cushions and mesh of there headphones frequently, this is by far one of the easiest.
The headband also features a soft cushion that is re-enforced by threading that offers a fun design to it and feels good around the head.
Controls are located on both muffs, with the right one only having a button that allows you to select between EQ modes (various stereo and surround options). The left muff contains everything else, including a status LED, power button, micro-USB port for charging them with, 3.5mm aux input for taking them wired to a device, and a 3.5mm microphone input.
You can’t get the two 3.5mm inputs mixed up as it is more than clear which one is which.
The sides of each muff offer a giant button that can be pressed down. For the most part, this allows you to control the muting of music (left ear) or the muting of the microphone (right ear). In the image above, the button consists of the entire surface that kind of looks like a vinyl record.
Running around the large button is a ring of plastic that spins around the muff, and control the volume for music/audio coming in (left ear) and the chat volume (right ear). With these controls being so large, it is easy to make quick adjustments without searching for them, allowing you to keep your focus on your game.
The microphone is a detachable boom mic style, that is marked with orange (as is the 3.5mm recessed input on the headphones) to show where it slides into on the headphones. The boom is easy to flex and keeps its shape nicely.
It comes with a USB transmitter (“base station”) that is used to deliver audio to the headphones with (they do not support Bluetooth, thus do require this to function wirelessly). The transmitter has a 3.5mm version of an optical input on the side (not for the 3.5mm aux cable!). This is used to deliver surround to the headphones with, as without the optical cable, all you will get is stereo.
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You have a micro-USB cable for charging the headphones, the 3.5mm cable for taking them wired, and a small cover for the headphone port, if you aren’t making use of the headphone (its use is completely optional).
An impressive travel bag is included that helps to keep them safe while not in use. It features a good amount of cushion to it, is felt lines, and allows you to store the complete kit (headphones and accessories) on it.
The LS41 headset features DTS Headphone:X and of course, supports everything else surround that you throw at it (Sonic, Dolby Atmos, etc). It all comes down to whatever is driving the headphones. Giving you up to 7.1 channels of virtual surround, or basic stereo if you chose to keep things simple. This also depends on the device you connect it to as not everything (device) supports surround.
DTS Headphone:X, like Dolby Atmos, is a format of delivering an object-based sound stage that is a little more in depth than your typical multi-channel approach, resulting in a more immersive sound experience. It allows developers to deliver a single soundtrack, regardless of how many channels/speakers a user has in their setup (virtually, or physically).
In terms of the range of sound, these offer decent coverage. They aren’t audiophile quality of course, but what they do deliver is impressive. The highs and mid-range is crisp and deliver a lot of “umph” while the lows are variable but well delivered. We found that the lows performed differently depending on what was feeding the headphones. In most cases, we found the lows to be a bit average, but not in a bad way (they just don’t always hit really low).
In certain cases, volume adjustment can be a little limited. For some devices, you get plenty of play (like an Xbox One or PS4). However, others, you can only go so low before it seems to cut out to zero. Kind of like dimming down a generic or older LED dimmable light bulb (where you go from 100%-20% and then straight to off). So you can’t always get real low (there is a lot of play in the volume wheel past the point the audio cuts out) with the volume. This happened when connecting it wired to a PC.
The volume wheels are a touch scratchy in the way that you can hear the plastic rubbing as it turns (in your ears while wearing the headset). Not a show stopper but it does take away from the quality experience a little that the headphones seem to offer everywhere else.
The microphone sounds great, and you don’t find yourself accidentally yelling as it has mic-monitoring that allows you to hear yourself (works with both the boom mic and the tiny built-in microphone). This can, of course, be turned off if you are just using these to listen to music or movies (by holding the mic mute button on the right muff down for about 3 seconds). The highs from the mic could be a tad crisper for voice to shine through better but sounds great nonetheless.
The microphone does, however, need a windscreen in the box depending on how you position it. Everyone does it differently, but those who like it anywhere near and get excited when they talk, are going to create some wind noise here and there. If it came with a small optional windscreen, this wouldn’t be a problem.
Battery life is fantastic with these headphones, as you get up to or even over 20 hours of use before having to recharge them again. It’s too bad the headphones don’t make use of a Type-C connection to help move everything into a modern age of connectivity, but at least you won’t be charging them as frequently.
This headset can be used with just about any device. Which device you want to use it with, depends on how it will connect and if it will include surround or just stereo sound.
You can connect to any smartphone, tablet, PC or anything else that supports a normal 3.5mm aux headphone cable. By taking the headphones wired, you do limit yourself to stereo sound, but it is also one of the easiest plug-n-play scenarios. So this is great for music listening.
Flipping between the three stereo options (using the EQ button) didn’t result in any difference in what we were listening to when connected via stereo (when in stereo mode, the EQ button only allows you to select from stereo settings).
Connecting to a PC or Mac, you can (as mentioned) go analog stereo with the 3.5mm cable, or use the USB transmitter (base station). We tested it against a few PC’s for surround, and it does take a little play to get working. It was a little buggy for us in one situation, where had a hard time initially trying to get the playback device to properly make use of the Gaming Audio device. Eventually, we had to reboot the test system and then it worked properly.
You do need an optical out from your computer into the USB transmitter in order to get surround to work, and Dolby software loaded/enabled. So you will need Windows 10 and Dolby Atmos app enabled in most cases. Most likely, anything that supports virtual surround as a profile option in sound properties for connected devices. We stuck to Dolby Atmos. You may also be able to use Window’s Sonic profile.
For console gaming, you also need to connect the optical cable from the console (or from the TV) to the USB transmitter while the transmitter is plugged into the USB port of the console (for power). This will break it into surround, else you will be just stereo if using only the transmitter.
We found on the Xbox One, that once you have set the Xbox’s settings to work with surround via headphones, you may have to restart the Xbox (full restart) for it to start sending audio to the headphones. It also asks you to download Dolby Atmos’ app to work, however, Xbox One also features the same Sonic profile as Windows 10, which may also work. In addition to this, since you are using the optical-out for surround, you can skip headphone setup and simply set the Xbox to send Dolby Digital Live via optical (just as you would if sending optical to an AVR/receiver).
Also, when using these with an Xbox One, you do need to connect the headphones wired to the controller if you want both game audio and chat. Game audio does send wirelessly from the console via the transmitter, but like any headset on the Xbox, the chat audio is sent via the controller. If your controller features the normal 3.5mm aux input, then you can plug the headphones directly into the remote for chat audio. However, if you have one of the remotes that require the Xbox One Audio Adapter to use normal headsets, then you will need the adapter for chat audio to work (or at least to make the connection via the 3.5mm cable).
Distance from the transmitter is a little basic, but this shouldn’t be an issue as if you are using them for surround, you are more than likely going to be pretty close to the screen anyway. However, if you are using them to listen to music, you might just want to connect them wired to your phone as you can only get about 25-30 ft away before it starts to cut out.
These headphones sound absolutely fantastic. They have a great range to them and you can rack up hours and hours of gameplay before having to worry about recharging them (up to or over 20 hours). They can be connected to just about any device, allowing you to use them with any modern console or computer, and even mobile devices. Of course, not everything supports surround, but they do support a wired 3.5mm connection, so being able to use them in general, isn’t going to be an issue. Their build quality is fantastic for the most part and so is the ability to easily remove the cushions for cleaning/replacement. The volume wheels. Setting them up to work with support for the 7.1 surround may be a little touchy at first (you may find yourself having to completely restart your computer or gaming console), but when you get them going they sound great.
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*Average price is based on the time this article was published
DTS Headphone:X 7.1 Surround Sound
Stereo, Super Stereo Front, Super Stereo Wide, Gaming Surround, Boosted Surround
70mW 32ohm per channel
20 – 20,000 Hz
*Depending on which XBOX ONE controller is used, the XBOX ONE audio adapter may be required and is sold separately.
**USB audio for stereo use. Optical connection with Dolby Live is required for surround sound.
Console Game Audio:
Console Chat Audio:
PS4 = USB
XBOX ONE* / 360 = Wired to Controller
3.5mm Analog, USB Charging (micro USB)
Inputs [Base Station]:
3.5mm Optical in, USB Power/ Voice (USB)
Rechargeable Battery with Micro USB Charge Port
Up to 20 hours
Base Station Power:
355g / 12.5oz
Removable boom mic with LED mute indicator + built-in mic
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