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Headphones

LucidSound's new LS20 gaming headset is surprisingly stylish (hands-on)

It's just a shame the LS20 isn't wireless like the company's flagship model.

You've probably never heard of LucidSound, but its products might make you curious. They're gaming headsets that don't look like gaming headsets -- but are still packed with features.

Last year, we checked out the company's debut product, the LS30, a universal gaming headset with the volume dials and buttons neatly integrated into the earpieces, and which we found offered clear, rich audio and comfortable padding. Plus, it comes with a wireless adapter to easily beam audio from an Xbox One or PlayStation 4.

The LS30 costs about $150. But this November, a new model, the LucidSound LS20, will cost $100 (roughly £80 or AU$135) -- and it's even smaller.

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The LucidSound LS20

Sean Hollister/CNET

For the money, you'll still get LucidSound's stylish design, comfortable memory foam liner and universal compatibility, as well as the spiffy integrated volume dial and a hidden Play/Pause button to control audio from your smartphone. You can even pop off the boom mic and still make calls with a second mic underneath.

There's also a rechargeable battery inside the headphones to amp up the sound and give it a bass boost if needed.

Still, you're giving up a lot for the $50 savings. When LucidSound says the LS20 is "universal," that doesn't mean wireless. You'll have to plug these headphones into everything manually with the included 3.5mm headphone jack.

And, at least in the LS20 prototype I tried at the Electronic Entertainment Expo this year, the audio wasn't quite as clear as the LS30's. LucidSound suggested it could be due to the 40mm audio drivers used in the LS20, compared with the 50mm drivers in the LS30, but the company said it also had some more tuning to do.

The LucidSound LS40

Sean Hollister/CNET

If you're looking to pay even more than the LS30's $150 asking price, there will be an even higher-end model soon -- the LS40, an upgraded LS30 with surround-sound capabilities for $200 (£155, AU$270). While I haven't spent a lot of time with wireless surround headsets recently, it sounded pretty convincing in a quick game of Call of Duty. No matter which way I turned, I could tell where the explosions were coming from.

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