Lola Headphones Review: Ear Candy
Ben Sheene / Feb 19th, 2016 2 Comments
Blue Microphones has made a point to edge itself into the gaming market in the past year. Considering gaming’s wide audience, it’s a tough one to crack. The company’s focus on high quality microphones hasn’t gone unnoticed by musicians and vocal performers, so it only makes sense that streamers and content creators would be drawn to a product like the Yeti microphone.
The microphone’s abilities speak to a certain slice of gamers. In the continuing push to attract the attention of gamers, Blue has put the Lola headphones in the spotlight. Designed to get the most out of music, Lola is a product for the audiophile. And just like anyone who loves their music, many gamers thrive on quality sound. While not as feature-rich as popular gaming headsets, Lola is a high-end device that delivers amazing audio.
The purpose of any good piece of head gear is to deliver excellent sound. It needs to be rich, full, expansive and any number of sound adjectives. The recent trend for gaming headsets has been to flaunt surround sound whether simulated or 7.1. Players have the ability to instantly plug their device into a controller or audio jack or receive sound wirelessly through a dongle; it’s great and it’s convenient. Lola doesn’t make an attempt to flaunt any kind of surround sound capabilities because it doesn’t need to. Like any basic headphones, users plug into a 3.5mm jack and start listening. There are no device drivers required for setting up and no hassle.
Within seconds, the audio profile of games, songs and other applications are enhanced. Because Lola is so versatile, users will want to try it out on a breadth of devices and games. Often, I find that the best way to test the capabilities of headphones in games is with ambient noise and quieter sounds. How well does the device pick up what is hardest to hear? One of my initial outings with Lola was on Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege.
One of the most common bulletpoints for marketing on headsets is how players will be able to hear the quietest footsteps and feel the loudest explosions. Siege has that in spades. When players are defending an objective in Siege, they need to know where enemy players are — at any point, a wall can explode or a bullet can pierce cover.
Using the game’s default audio mix, Lola was able to pick up the running of opponents on the floors above me and the slow footsteps of them right around the corner. In short, it saved my life a number of times and made me aware of my impending death other times. Even cooler is the deep bass the headphones pick up when a wall is breached, whether off in the distance or as a deafening explosion from the same room.
Shooter fans will fall in love with how the chaos of the genre is represented by Lola. Bass never overpowers the audio mix even at its most thunderous, showing the power of the drivers inside the cups. To change things up, I gave The Last of Us a spin with the headphones. The eerie silence of Naughty Dog’s world is given creepy clarity. The sound of clickers around every corner is amplified to a greater degree, as are the ambient sounds created by nature and dilapidated buildings. The sweeping epic of The Witcher 3 feels even more lived in. Even the voice acting in many games takes on a new role.
Going to the Beat
Users don’t have to invest in Lola just to have an upgraded listening experience to their games. Just as important is the headphones’ ability to make songs great, considering its DNA is based in listening to music. After all, how many of us play games but never listen to music? For every day listening, Lola extracts as much as it can out of streaming services such as Spotify or Pandora and out of your phone. The headphones allow users to pick up on more detail, possibly delivering a song in a completely new way. For strict music-listening purposes, Lola gets the most mileage out of hi-res formats like FLAC and WAV.
While my personal library of high quality music is sadly lacking, a few of my favorites were massively more enjoyable. Laptop speakers or basic earbuds have never done F*ck Buttons’ “Tarot Sport,” one of my favorite albums of all time, any justice but Lola was able to evolve the layers of droning electronics to make it even better. The vintage-sounding rock of The Strokes’ “Is This It” sounded like I was at the recording booth in person. Again, gamers who spend a lot of time listening to music will find a new best friend with Lola.
Game soundtracks are just as incredible while playing. Out of curiosity, I muted all audio on Hotline Miami 2 and was treated to the best delivery of one of gaming’s greatest soundtracks. Hop in a car in Grand Theft Auto 5 and tune in to your favorite radio station. The combination of blaring horns, screeching tires, frightened civilians and the radio tosses players right into the passenger seat. The quality of Shovel Knight’s retro soundtrack made me give Mega Man 2 and Mario a test — yes, chiptunes sound just as good.
Lola’s design is striking in both its size and profile. The large earcups are branded with the Blue logo in a central location. The cups are shaped and angled like a person’s ears while the padding fits around the ears and helps trap in sound. By using a multi-jointed headband, Blue allowed the heaphones to actually adjust to the user’s head rather than expand and stretch in place. This gives the structure of the headband a minimal look rather than a thick appearance.
The plastic and metal that makes up the frame of Lola may seem flimsy due to its thin nature, but is sturdy rather than cheap. The memory foam material used for Lola’s padding is very comfortable, even after long gaming or listening sessions. Users will also be glad to know that it’s a material that doesn’t get hot and keeps mostly dry from sweat.
Because Lola plugs right in to an audio jack, it’s easy to hook the device into a DualShock 4 or Xbox One controller. The combination of Blue’s Yeti and the Lola makes for an ideal audio set up because of how versatile the microphone is. Users can talk to friends in a party or speak with an audience on a livestream while still hearing and delivering quality audio.
What will be a drawback for many is the hefty $250 price tag. This is a price many gamers have come close to with high-end headsets like Astro and Turtle Beach. One thing that Lola lacks is a built-in microphone that many gamer-specific headsets have. It’s definitely worth bringing up because not all users will already have a mic, even a simple enough one to chat with friends. But the sheer audio quality of the Lola makes it perfect for those who spend a lot of time playing solo, listen to music, or don’t need a lot of flash when it comes to a party chat solution.
I spent a lot of time testing out the Lola/Yeti combination and it works great. The only real flaw is the inability to control the mix of game and party audio. On PS4, a lot of this can be blamed on the lack of options when controlling what audio the user hears.
Hardcore gamers may want to dismiss Blue’s Lola headphones because it isn’t rooted in gaming, but the truth is that from the standpoint of pure gaming audio delivery, Lola is exceptional in every way. It may have a high asking price but it is a device that does more than just make games sound their best. Lola is an ideal way to listen to music and have all the tiny, wonderful details of your favorite songs amplified. It’s pure ear candy.
The Lola headphones were tested on a review unit provided by Blue Microphones.
tags: blue , Blue Microphones , hardware , Lola , Lola headset , Lola review