LucidSound LS31 wireless headset review: Excellent gaming audio for around $100
LucidSound raises the audio bar for wireless headsets with the impeccable LS31, but it's not perfect.
LucidSound has been on a bit of roll during the past year, releasing a new generation of its headsets. Gone are the firmware issues and software problems of the previous lineup; all we have now are supremely polished, great-sounding, and highly-comfortable products. The new LS31 continues the trend, with a sleek, professional gray design, light, but robust construction, and great audio.
Rock-solid wireless sound
LucidSound LS31 headset
Bottom line: The LS31 wireless headset is an excellent product for PC and Xbox gaming, with quality materials, great comfort, and solid audio.
- Awesome design.
- Great construction and comfort.
- Solid sound.
- Strong wireless signal.
- Mic monitoring is a bit quiet, and can't be altered.
- The mic quality is surprisingly bad.
What you'll love about the LucidSound LS31
The LucidSound LS31 follows the same design sensibilities as other current-gen LucidSound headsets, with premium materials, metallic framework, and generous cushioning. While the cooling gel present in the LS35X isn't present, it's still comfortable to wear, with oval over-ear cups and quality memory foam, leatherette cushions.
|Frequency response||20 Hz to 20,000 Hz|
|Speakers||50 mm neodymium|
|Connectivity||Wireless USB dongle|
SPDIF optical cable for PS4 and Xbox One audio
3.5mm for mobile devices
Bass boost, treble boost
The earcups carry all of the controls, as seen in other wireless LucidSound headsets, with large dials on each cup to control game volume and chat volume independently. You can press down on each cup to mute your game sound or your microphone, which also comes with a red LED to inform you visually that you're muted. The headset is easily charged with a micro-USB cable, and it carries around 15 hours of playback time.
On sound quality, the LS31 largely delivers, with beefy 50-mm neodymium speakers. There's no 7.1 surround experience, but you can claw some of it back with Windows Sonic or Dolby Atmos software solutions on Windows 10 or Xbox One.
Tuned for game audio, the LucidSound LS31 offers a decent soundscape with pronounced highs for tactical play, separating out footsteps, reloads, and other audio cues that give you an edge. Using Dolby Atmos, the LS31 performed well in go-to multiplayer titles like Battlefield V and Call of Duty, creating an immersive sound stage with little distortion. The max volume is also quite generous if you prefer things louder. While there are wired headsets in this price range that perform a little better in terms of sound quality, you won't get the wireless signal thrown in.
Speaking of which, rather than enlist Bluetooth or Xbox Wireless for the LS31, LucidSound is leveraging its own channel-hopping 2.5GHz USB dongle for the LS31, and we found it to be rock solid even in extremely congested 2.5GHz conditions. The range is also quite impressive, and it should serve users well even in very large home theater setups.
The LS31 is by no means perfect, however.
What you'll dislike about the LucidSound LS31
Surprisingly, the LS31's microphone is shockingly poor, which is odd, considering how well its LS35X cousin nailed this basic functionality. The sound across every app we tested and recorded in was muffled, and the sidetone mic-monitoring is also a little quiet, with no way of altering it. While the mic experience overall is passable for gaming with friends, it's among the worst we've tested in this price range. You likely won't be streaming or creating content with this thing.
Speaking of streaming, I think LucidSound missed a trick with its USB dongle. It had an opportunity to offer similar functionality to that of the Astro MixAmp, which allows users to feed Xbox audio in using the optical cable, while using the USB connectivity for voice chat. Sadly, the LucidSound LS31 doesn't allow for platform-combining in this way. Additionally, it requires an extra cable to utilize voice chat on Xbox One, which defeats the point of it being wireless, to some degree. While this is more of an Xbox problem than a LucidSound problem (Microsoft requires manufacturers to license its security chips to bypass the 3.5 mm mic connectivity), it's something to be aware of. If you want something truly wireless for Xbox One, you'll want the pricier LS35X.
Finally, I find that the LS31's bass and treble boost sounds are a little redundant. The bass boost introduces distortion into the mix in my experience, which simply doesn't sound good in either games or music. Perhaps it's subjective, but I'm not sure what the point of treble boost is, either. It can exaggerate vocals a bit better, but it sounds off in almost every situation you might find yourself using this headset.
Should you buy the LucidSound LS31 headset?
The LucidSound LS31 continues the company's record of attention to quality, with solid materials and prioritized comfort. The audio experience is excellent overall, and while the microphone is a bit disappointing, it's passable for general use.
Where I'd love to see LucidSound improve is in its PC software, or well, lack thereof. It'd be nice to gain the ability to control how loud the sidetone is without lobbying for a firmware update, and the EQ boosting features feel a little redundant. Overall, though, if you want something in this price range that can function across Xbox, PC, and PlayStation 4, this is a great product that won't disappoint.
Cable free ... mostly
A solid sound experience, even if the mic is a bit bad.
The LucidSound LS31 headset is a quality offering overall, with great audio and a comfortable design. The mic is a bit of a letdown, but the LS31 is still a great product for platform-agnostic gamers.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!