Astro A50 Headset Review
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Gamers know about Astro: they make headsets that are bleeding edge in terms of quality, and their A50 set is no different. They've removed all of the hassle of wires and made something that's an absolute joy to game with. Hell, I don't think O could play a game without one.
- Stunning sound quality
- 10-hour battery life
- Wireless, wireless, wireless
- Dependency on optical for audio
In a world where gaming headsets are readily available, the people at Astro have made their name synonymous with quality. The Astro A40 headsets have been adopted by Major League Gaming, they're all over events like PAX, and they can even be found in quite a few houses. With their new wireless venture, the A50s, Astro hopes to change the headset game, set another quality bar, and, let's face it, sell a couple trucks full of their premiere headset.
The first thing you notice is the cushions, which could quite possibly be made of clouds, sitting on your head. Putting the A50s on feels like you’re wearing nothing, and there is absolutely zero problem wearing them for multiple gaming sessions. The over-the-ear design of the cans also packs plenty of padding too, but didn’t make my ears sweaty, even with six-hour gaming bouts. Speaking of time, while I can’t give you the exact MAh of the battery, from personal experience you can get just over ten hours on a single charge, which is more than anyone could ask for.
The sound pumping through the massive A50 drivers is deep and rich, while still maintaining the crisp nature of higher pitched music and sound effects. Saying the headset is comparable to a 5.1 surround sound system is selling it short. Having the speakers that close to your ear adds a sense of immersion like no other, and the feeling of being in the action is pure joy. Between the cushion and over-the-ear set, the combination keeps sound in, but, more importantly, keeps most outside sound out. In fact, with this headset, Astro has invented the easiest way to be scared by friends 100% of the time.
For anyone worried about sound dropping or latency, Astro has really put forth the effort to make sure this doesn’t happen. The set uses a 5.8GHz frequency to wireless send audio to the set, and with that frequency it gives you really good range, which is enough to cover any large room. Being latency free, the set also works tremendously well with multiplayer games, so you’ll never miss that grenade ping in Call of Duty.
Astro has taken measures to make sure this headset will work with multiplayer. It utilizes the 5.8GHz frequency to wirelessly send audio to the set. With that frequency, it gives the set a fantastic range, which will cover any large room without problem. It’s also latency free. No ifs, ands, or buts about it: the exact moment something happens on-screen, you hear it. So, Call of Duty players, don’t fret: this will work perfectly for you as well.
Since it has to work well in multiplayer, it has to deliver in the single-player front. To help that, Astro has implemented three different equalizer settings with a switch can be found on the right ear can. The first setting is for your basic movie watching, but the other two are a bit more interesting. Setting two is for single player, and it has a nice mix of bassy undertones and high peaks which really help deliver that campaign experience. The third setting for multiplayer takes out a lot of the bass, but keep the highs. It makes hearing hearing grenades, bullets, and even footsteps easy, giving you the edge over your competition.
Astro has taken the hassle of having a headset and thrown it out the window: wires are gone, the mixamp that controls the amount of volume you get between the game and voice chat is built into the set, and it’s more than comfortable to wear for hours on end. For those who want a little voice chat in their multiplayer games, the A50s uses their TxD wireless transmitter which connects through USB to your console to pull off voice chat, too and from. What if someone barges into your room, and you don’t want people on the other end to hear your conversation? Just life the boom mic up and you’re muted. It’s a feature that I didn't expect to add a bunch to the headset, but it has been more than helpful anytime someone has walked into my room.
With the next generation of consoles looming around the corner, if they don’t have any option for optical audio out, like the Wii U, then the Astro A50s are dead in the water in terms of future proofing. I did reach out to Astro on this issue, and this was their response, “We will always strive to support next gen consoles either by updating or tweaking our products to accommodate customers' needs.” So hopefully that means in the future there could be a wireless transmitter that uses HDMI instead of optical.
Astro has delivered a top quality headset at a top quality price. At $299 it’s a lot to ask for, but they deliver on absolutely everything. Wireless works with zero problem, the battery is more than ample, and pairing up with the PlayStation 3 is quick and easy. Oh yeah, it sounds amazing! I’ve been spoiled by the A50s to the point where I don’t want to play games without this headset on.