There are high-end gaming headsets that can replicate 7.1 surround sound, or even vibrate from specific sound triggers, but depending on your budget or what you value in a new headset, those may not always be the best choiceâ€”and that's fine, because 'best' doesn't always mean the most expensive. Anything under $100 that offers superb stereo sound, no-fuss connectivity, crystal-clear mic, and a comfortable fit is a great value in my book. LucidSound's LS25 esports gaming headset checks all those boxes.
Impedance: 70mW 32ohm per channel
Frequency response: 20Hz-20kHz
Design style: Over-ear
Microphone: Removable boom mic and built-in mic
Connectivity: 3.5mm to single combined headphone jack or 3.5mm mic/headphone splitter
At 318g, it's lighter than some of the best gaming headsets. Like the LS41, this model offers the same signature comfort with forward and backward rotating earcups and memory foam ear cushions. (Glasses wearers and people with cartilage piercings take note: this headset may be the most comfortable you will ever wear.) The cushions also pop off on this model, if you want to upgrade to cooling gel and cloth fabric, although it looks like they are only available in dark gray. If you're the kind of person who has to match colors, you might be out of luck, but the all-leatherette cushions that come standard with the LS25 aren't totally suffocating.
Where the boom mic on the LS41 was outstanding, the boom mic on the LS25 headset wasn't as sensitive. It's still super effective at noise-cancelling, and your voice will sound clear on the other side, but you have to place it close to your mouth and tweak the microphone boost in the sound control panel for it to pick up your voice. You might also need to check mic levels in individual applications like Discord or in your in-game settings. I didn't need to do this with the LS41, but if you don't mind taking the time to get the levels right this isn't a huge issue. This is the only thing the LS25 doesn't have over my SteelSeries Arctis 3, but you can pair it with a stand-alone mic, like the Blue Yeti, and get the best of both worlds.
(Image credit: Future)
Like other headsets in the same price bracket, the LS25 does not come with dual game and chat volume controls. There's an all encompassing volume control wheel on the left earcup, and a push-to-mute button for the mic on the right earcup. That's it. The LS41 spoiled me a bit, but if you're used to setting game and chat levels the old fashioned way, the LS25 has all the usual creature comforts when it comes to communicating with your teammates. However, depending on the game, you might not be able to perfectly balance both volumes.
I did have some issues getting my PC front I/O panel to recognize mic and headphone input, though, which persisted when I tried plugging in the LS25 into two other rigs. My Realtek HD Audio Manager would recognize the headset, but it would not show up in my sound control panel. However, plugging into the back I/O worked perfectly; the 3.5mm splitter cable is super long, so it can reach anywhere you have your desktop set up.
This gaming headset is specifically designed with Dolby Atmos in mind, too. Combined with fantastic sound isolation, the LS25 is great not just for PC gaming or listening in general, but also for esports, as its name suggests. With minimal adjustment, I can hear the crisp click and clacks of shoes hitting the pavement as someone runs up behind me in a game. The bass is weighty without rattle, and the treble is never piercing. Listening to an ASMR video nearly made me fall asleep at my desk. It's the Dolby Atmos that gives this gaming headset an extra edge over something like my SteelSeries Arctis 3, but even in regular stereo mode the frequency spreads over 20Hz-20kHz without any flatness.
(Image credit: Future)
However, Dolby Atmos doesn't come with Windows 10 (only Windows Sonic), so you'll have to purchase it from the Windows store for $14.99 if you want that extra dynamism, but the difference it makes is worth the investment. Even without a spatial sound profile enabled, the directional stereo sound quality is so on-point there is no question which direction a sound is coming from, even with your eyes closed. You can try it out for yourself free for 30 days if you are unsure about that kind of investment.
If you're looking to get away from the usual line-up of brands like SteelSeries and HyperX, LucidSound's LS25 is worth checking out. It doesn't have the convenience of dual game and chat controls built into the headset (then again, most headsets under $100 don't), and the mic won't pick up your voice easily without some adjustment, but for the price you're getting better comfort and better or equal sound quality compared to other similar headsets.