LucidSound LS20 On-Ear Gaming Headset Review
Functionality and Features
Out of the box, you get the LS20, a replaceable 3.5mm cable, two boom mic port caps, a removable boom mic, a micro USB charging cable, and a quick start guide. Unlike its wireless LucidSound brethren, the LS20 receives and transmits all sound via the 3.5mm cable. The main feature of the LS20 is that is a powered headset with a built-in rechargeable battery. Being powered, the LS20 produces amplified sound and activates the onboard controls of the headset. Although, the LS20 can still work passively with your audio sources, chat and all, while powered off.
However, why do that when you can make use of the functions that are only available when the LS20 is powered on? When powered on, the LS20 has three functionality modes that can be toggled by holding the power button: Xbox One, PS4 and Mobile/PC. Let’s start with the similarly arranged Xbox One and PS4 modes…
Pressing the center button on the left ear cup mutes all audio. The dial around that same button controls the master volume of all sound coming in. The center button on the right ear cup mutes all mics. If you’re using the boom mic when you do this, the LED on the boom illuminates in blue, confirming when you are muted. Whether you’re using the boom mic or the imbedded one, mic monitoring is in play, allowing you to hear yourself when you talk and thus helping you control your speech volume. Diving deeper, when you use the left button to mute all sound, mic monitoring is still in play. This allows you to hold a quick side convo without taking off the headset.
Leaving sound, performance, and the EQ modes to the next section, the powered functions of the LS20 were convenient and easy to pick up, as they were with the LS30. Let’s cover the use cases, starting with the home consoles, Xbox One and PS4. First off, you have to use a controller with a 3.5mm jack. So if you’re using one of the older controllers of the Xbox One that lacks this jack, off you go to buy an Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter. Otherwise, you’ll initially have to manage your game and chat volumes through your prospective console interface. Once you have that settled, you’re off to the races with your on-board LS20 functions.
Mic muting and mic monitoring were as convenient as you’d expect, with the boom mic having a step up on the imbedded one, since it can actually show you when you’re muted. The left ear cup’s mute all button was nice to have, but honestly rarely used. It took time to remember that the function even existed, so I could see many people just opting to remove their headset when someone walks by for a quick chat. The simplest and handiest of the functions, right after mic-muting, was the volume control. Some games are quieter or louder than others, so having a physical dial on the headset for finagling volume was a welcome and intuitive treat.
For the most part, I rarely if ever had to play around with console interfaces for sound after the initial set up. The base sound functions and needs were covered well by the LS20 when powered.
As for the Mobile/PC mode, it was quite nice to be able to remove the boom mic and still have a size-conscience headset capable of fully handling music and calls when on-the-go. The volume dial shined in this realm as well, allowing me to adjust the volume of my music when needed, without forcing me to reach for my mobile device. The left ear cup button in this mode acts as a standard mobile media controller, allowing you to move through music tracks, play, pause, and pick up or hang up phone calls. If you have ever used a wired headset designed for mobile devices, this single button controller scheme should feel right at home for you.
I personally wasn’t sure why PC and Mobile were merged into the same mode. You wouldn’t really use the mobile media controller on the PC and the Xbox One mode settings seemed to have better applications. So I mostly found myself using the Xbox One mode with use on the PC since it gave me the more applicable MUTE ALL functionality. Not much of a knock, just odd mode categorization if you ask me.
The features of the LS20 allowed for much convenience, making it a versatile audio-enjoyment companion regardless of the listening scenario. It is as if LucidSound took the LS30, stripped away just enough to make it $99, and found a nice sweet spot to give you the now standard LucidSound collection of features. Any gaming headset that keeps you from digging into on-screen interfaces tends to be a winner in most scenarios. That indeed is the case here, with the LS20 keeping basic functions accessible and intuitive.
Now how exactly does that amplified sound play out? Let’s go find out in the next section…