A major frustration while traveling or commuting is the loud noises of planes or subway cars drowning out the audio from your headphones. Some devices just don’t put out enough volume. Audio-device manufacturer LucidSound has a way of handling that.
The LucidSound LS20 gaming headset is a wired headset with a built-in powered amplifier. This enables you to get bright, clear audio whether you’re playing on a PC or trying to hear the notoriously quiet Nintendo Switch. The LS20 is available now for $100, and it combines some of LucidSound’s best design sensibilities while offering up powered audio without having to go wireless.
What you’ll like
Sharp, loud sound
The LS20 works with anything with a 3.5mm headphone jack. It does both audio and mic support for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, mobile, and PC, but I want to focus on its usefulness with the Switch. When LucidSound pitched this headset to us, it mentioned that it’s ideal for the new Nintendo console. But I ignored that at first. I assumed that was just a way to tie a product to a hot new release that has consumers excited and ready to spend money.
But the reality of the Switch is that its 3.5mm headphone jack doesn’t output volume very well. If you’re using a standard pair of earphones, you could find yourself struggling to hear the game in busy environments even at maximum volume.
The LS20 solves that. Its built in amplifier takes that signal and boosts it to more audible levels. It also maintains a sharp clarity regardless of how loud you have it, which ensures distinct mid tones and piercing highs. Naturally, the amp and the 40mm drivers give a lot more life to the bass as well.
I’ve used other amplified headphones, but most of those are wireless. Having this feature in a less expensive, wired option makes it an easier choice for a lot of people who don’t want to jump to spending $150 to $200 on a headset.
I said this in my LS40 review, but I’ll repeat it: LucidSound is really smart. It does nearly everything right when it comes to headset design. Its cables are generic and easily replaceable, so you don’t have to throw away the LS20 if the cable fails. Its boom microphone is detachable, and it has a built-in one as a backup if you need it. The play, volume, power, and every other control is on the headphone unit. For example, you can pause by tapping the giant outer panel of the left earcup. This is great because it’s easy to use and, again, it keeps the cable simple and cheap to replace.
It’s also extremely comfortable. You can wear it on the go, on the couch, or at your desk without ever having to worry about it falling out of place. It is an on-ear design, and the pads are cushy enough that it shouldn’t cause any irritation.
It’s just an all-around great design that makes me want to recommend LucidSound devices before its competitors.
Here’s a playlist that compares the LS20 to other headset microphones:
What you won’t like
Mic doesn’t retract
My only real issue with the LS20 is that the boom microphone isn’t retractable. Now, it does still have a built in microphone, so you can use it for answering calls when out of the house. But I’m nitpicking here, and that’s the only thing I would change.
The LS20 is going to pair well with any gaming device you can imagine. I’ve used it on the PC and Switch, and it’s done well both as a communications and audio device. Even if it didn’t have the amplified option, I’d still love this headset thanks to its design, controls, and comfort. But LucidSound has gone the extra mile to give you a headset that can outclass just about any other 3.5mm-based headset in its price range.
LucidSound provided GamesBeat with a sample unit for the purposes of this review.