LucidSound doesn’t make all that many headsets, but when one comes out, they generally sound great and look even better. That’s the case with the LucidSound LS35X ($180), a wireless peripheral that aims to give Xbox One gamers a premium experience without looking like something a futuristic cyborg might wear.
Everything about the LS35X is simple, which works to its advantage. It looks like a regular pair of headphones, it connects to the Xbox One with a single button press, and you can control the entire apparatus with two dials built right into the ear cups. When you get right down to it, the LS35X doesn’t offer a ton of extra bells and whistles, but it does provide high-quality sound, a comfortable fit and perfect wireless fidelity.
Granted, $180 is a bit on the expensive side, especially considering the hoops you have to jump through to connect it to a PC. And while the LS35X is comfortable, other headsets have figured out better, more nuanced ways of getting a perfect fit. Still, if you’ve got the money to spend and want one of the sleekest, most functional Xbox headsets on the market, the LS35X is the way to go.
What sets LucidSound’s cans apart from most other gaming headsets is that they’re designed to be as unobtrusive as possible. The LS35X doesn’t have any harsh angles, distracting lighting or comically large ear cups; it looks more or less like a large pair of music headphones. Additionally, the LS35X represents the first time LucidSound has ever produced a peripheral with an unobtrusive black chassis; previous models have been silver with black highlights.
The device has a metal chassis with a padded headband, two large foam ear cups and not much else: a power button, charging port, 3.5-millimeter audio port and removable boom mic on the left ear cup and a pairing button on the right. You can turn the left ear cup itself to control volume levels and press it like a button to mute or unmute whatever you’re listening to. Likewise, turning the right ear cup controls the game audio/chat balance, and pressing it in will mute or unmute the mic.
The LS35X doesn’t have any harsh angles, distracting lighting or comically large ear cups; it looks more or less like a large pair of music headphones.
Using the ear cups themselves as controls has long been one of my favorite aspects of LS headsets, because you won’t have to go hunting for tiny volume dials — and because you won’t deafen yourself when you lean back in your chair and accidentally turn said tiny dial all the way up.
The removable boom mic is probably going to be divisive as well, since retractable mics are generally a little more elegant — and a lot harder to lose. But the LS35X does come with a foam carrying case (the box advertises that this is a limited-time offer, but we’ll see) with a Velcro pouch inside to store the mic and extra cables. It’s a convenient way to transport the headset and all of its assorted paraphernalia.
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Even then, the LS35X has a secondary, built-in mic that kicks in when you disconnect the boom. The mic’s quality is not great (more on that later), but being able to plug the headset into your phone — using it for everything from listening to music to taking phone calls — is a huge plus.
With big, cooling-gel infused-foam ear cups and a large, padded headband, the LS35X is easy to wear for hours at a time. Even while wearing glasses, I never felt pain or uncomfortable amounts of pressure — although the fit started to feel a bit tight after a few hours.
My only complaint is that finding the perfect fit isn’t that easy, since you have to rely on rigid notches in the expandable headband. Headsets from competitors like SteelSeries and Razer have used fitting tools like elastic headbands or small rulers, and these have generally made the fitting process much less of a chore. In fact, you’ll have to adjust the headset over and over, since you need to make it as small as possible in order to fit into its carrying case.
With big, cooling-gel infused-foam ear cups and a large, padded headband, the LS35X is easy to wear for hours at a time.
I handed off the LS35X to a co-worker, who agreed that it was comfortable — and felt surprisingly light, considering its size.
I hooked up the LS35X to an Xbox One in order to test out its in-game performance. The process took approximately 10 seconds, since all I had to do was press the pairing button on the console, then press the pairing button on the headset. (There are only a handful of headsets that connect natively with the Xbox One, including the Turtle Beach Stealth 700 and Plantronics Rig 800LX.) If you know how to pair a controller, pairing the LS35X is exactly as easy.
From there, I was impressed with how it handled every genre I could throw at it. Shots ricocheted and alien battle cries resounded in Halo 5: Guardians, while atmospheric music dominated the soundscape in Dead Cells. In cinematic games, like Middle-earth: Shadow of War and the story mode in Injustice 2, dialogue came through loud and clear, with plenty of orchestral oomph in the background.
Shots ricocheted and alien battle cries resounded in Halo 5: Guardians, while atmospheric music dominated the soundscape in Dead Cells.
One of the LS35X’s best qualities is that it has an extremely balanced bass profile. Lower frequencies are neither neglected nor overly aggressive. Explosions sound percussive, and music sounds rich, but not enough to rattle your teeth.
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Furthermore, the audio/chat balance dial is a boon for competitive games, and the boom mic helped my voice come through loud and clear. Just be aware that if you use the mic to issue Cortana commands on an Xbox, Cortana is still, charitably speaking, not very good at parsing what you have to say.
The LS35X doesn’t have many special features beyond “works wirelessly out of the box with an Xbox One.” You can use Windows Sonic, which gives you virtual surround sound, on either the Xbox One or a PC. There’s also the secondary mic, which sounds pretty fuzzy in practice but beats having to dig your phone out of your pocket if you’re in the middle of something. Overall, neither one makes or breaks the device.
One feature that creates as many problems as it solves is the ability to hook up the LS35X to a PC wirelessly. Because the device uses Xbox One protocols, you need an Xbox One Wireless Adapter accessory in order to do so. Assuming you have one, it’s not that hard to connect, although you do have to jump through a few additional hoops to set the correct microphone.
The big problem with this approach is that for most people, having an Xbox One Wireless Adapter ($25) isn’t necessary anymore. Newer Xbox One controllers can connect to PC via Bluetooth, so the only benefit to buying the adapter is if you have an old controller, or an old computer, or both.
This isn’t really a problem with the LS35X so much as a problem with the Xbox One, but it’s frustrating to know that most PC wireless headsets work out of the- box with PS4, while wireless Xbox headsets won’t work on a PC without extra frustration — and extra money. Considering how much Microsoft has made of its “Play Anywhere” initiative for parity between the Xbox and the PC, it’s a drawback at least worth thinking about.
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At least you can connect to any system you want via 3.5-mm audio cable. It’s not quite as elegant as having a peripheral that can connect wirelessly to any system out of the box, but you can indeed use the LS35X with a PC, PS4 or mobile device as long as you’re willing to tether yourself to the system.
One thing that impressed me about the LS35X was just how well it handled music. I listened to tracks from Flogging Molly, Old Crow Medicine Show, The Rolling Stones and G.F. Handel, via both wireless connection and 3.5-mm audio jack, and the sound quality was excellent all around. Every piece had a balanced, nuanced feel, which kept treble and vocals front and center while giving bass just enough attention to make it feel present.
Another advantage to the LS35X is that while it’s a bit on the large side, it’s also low-key and stylish. If you want to make the LS35X your everyday accessory for the subway, bus or plane, no one would bat an eyelash — and you’d still get the same kind of quality you could expect from a comparably priced dedicated pair of music headphones.
LucidSound has a well-earned reputation for making high-quality gaming peripherals that don’t look like gaming peripherals at all. The LS35X lives up to the company’s high standards by providing beautiful sound, a comfortable fit and an attractive design. Dead-simple wireless connectivity with the Xbox One doesn’t hurt, either.
Granted, $180 is a bit steep, since you can get the very goodTurtle Beach Stealth 700 orPlantronics Rig 800LX for $30 less. Of course, neither one is as gorgeous as the LS35X, and neither one can offer quite the same sound quality. In the long run, the LS35X may very well be worth the premium — particularly if LucidSound keeps offering the carrying case.