In the case of gaming, few issues infuriate me greater than an enemy catching me off-guard. However there’s not a lot you are able to do to stop that from occurring in case your audio gear sucks — and I’ve had sufficient. For the previous few weeks, I’ve been testing out the fourth iteration of the Astro A50 gaming headset.
Earlier than I get into it, let me preface this overview with a disclaimer: I’m hardly an audiophile, and have been utilizing average-sounding cans, earbuds, and audio system just about my total life.
I additionally used to love how Beats by Dre sounded earlier than the Apple acquisition (which my audiophile colleagues would deem a capital offense). So take that with a pinch of salt.
The nice issues
Proper off the bat, the Astro A50 is extremely snug to put on. Contemplating they’re a bit on the heavier aspect (380g), I used to be pleasantly stunned by that have. Even after carrying them for hours at a time, I by no means really feel any pressure on my head or ears.
If one thing feels off, you possibly can fine-tune the match by shifting the adjustable rods on all sides. Astro has additionally charted them to make it simpler to regulate the size equally on either side.
The design can also be refreshingly clear for a gaming headset, however that’s to not say it compromises on options (extra on that additional down).
On the left aspect, there’s a built-in microphone, whereas on the fitting aspect you’ll discover devoted bodily buttons for voice and recreation ranges, in addition to a bodily wheel for the amount. The headscarf is swappable, and so are the earpads. All that you must do is pull them away from the magnets that maintain them in place, and change them with a brand new mod equipment.
Connecting the A50 to my PC was pretty easy, and also you shouldn’t expertise any setbacks in the event you comply with the directions within the field. You’ll must hook the dock (or Base Station as Astro calls it) to your system, and make the headset your default machine (for each enter and output).
When you’ve performed that, I’d strongly advise you to obtain the Astro Command Heart — the devoted software program for the cans — to replace the firmware and cargo up your most well-liked EQ profiles. Astro additionally features a code for 2 years of free Dolby Atmos, so that you would possibly as nicely make the most of that too.
So far as the audio expertise goes, let me put it this fashion: you’re so much much less more likely to sneak up on me in CS:GO than earlier than. The sound is crisp, with thick bouncy bass, so that you shouldn’t wrestle with listening to footsteps and determining from which course you possibly can anticipate hazard.
That stated, I borrowed a pair of Sony WH-CH700N, which — at somewhat over $100 — price almost thrice lower than the A50, and the set didn’t sound a lot worse. They’re louder, and the main points had been much less refined, but it surely wasn’t all that worse. Nonetheless, I’d take the A50 over the WH-CH700N all day.
To make use of the microphone, you’ll want to drag it all the way down to your mouth. Flipping it again up robotically mutes it — a characteristic I discovered fairly helpful. I haven’t recorded myself, however my gaming compadres by no means complained about struggling to grasp me, which is sweet sufficient for me.
This jogs my memory, in the event you lay down headset in some unspecified time in the future, it would robotically flip off after a sure period of time (about 30 seconds based mostly on my guesstimation). Though the characteristic works fairly nicely, I observed that — on one event — it incorrectly turned off my headset after I bent over to tinker with a port on my PC. Anyhow, not likely a deal-breaker.
What’s significantly cool is that you would be able to management your voice and recreation volumes immediately from the bodily buttons on the fitting aspect of the headset. That method, you gained’t must waste time diving into settings when it’s a must to make changes on the fly.
There’s additionally an choice to modify between PC and consoles (both Xbox or PlayStation), however I’m not a console man so I by no means obtained to strive that. When you personal a console and a PC, although, the change is in the back of the dock.
Stuff you gained’t see within the advertising and marketing supplies
Okay, now let’s discuss what could possibly be higher.
When you’re looking for a main noise-cancelling expertise with the A50, although, you’re out of luck.
The inventory earpads provide virtually no sound isolation. You’ll be able to hear all the pieces round you, and whereas that might actually be a plus for players that wish to stay partially tuned in to their environment, you possibly can neglect about an immersive expertise in loud environments. For what it’s price, Astro by no means claims in any other case.
Astro affords earpad mod kits with enhanced noise cancellation on its web site, however these will set you again $40. The nice factor is that they’re at the moment discounted to $32, the unhealthy factor is that they’re out of inventory. I personally haven’t tried them on, however together with them within the field — together with the usual choice — would’ve been extremely appreciated.
At $300, the A50 are already an expensive set of cans and little niceties like that may actually sweeten the deal.
Whereas I’m happy with the battery life, I’ve a couple of qualms with the charging dock. For one, it solely works when plugged into my PC, which is annoyingly restrictive, since I can’t cost the headset after I’ve switched off my rig.
I attempted plugging the dock to an exterior outlet, but it surely merely gained’t cost except hooked to the PC. To keep away from operating out of juice, I’ve merely upped the time restrict earlier than my PC goes to sleep — and I’m nonetheless somewhat miffed by this workaround.
(P.S.: It’s price declaring that in case your PC has always-on USB ports, that shouldn’t be a problem for you.)
Nonetheless, I’d be prepared to miss all of those shortcomings… had it not been for the intermittent software program points I’ve been experiencing with the A50.
Even with the most recent firmware, switching between EQ presets appears to often reduce off all sound output. The A50 merely stops to look in sound settings, and even a tough reset gained’t repair it. The primary time it occurred, it took me virtually 20 minutes to resolve the difficulty. The repair? Unplugging the USB cable from the dock after which plugging it again in.
To be honest, this has solely occurred on a few events, but it surely’s sufficient to make you rage-quit if it’s in the course of a heated gaming session.
I additionally observed there are slews of threads on Reddit complaining about terribly low volume on the A50, however this doesn’t coincide with my expertise. After updating the firmware and cranking the amount all the best way up from the bodily wheel on the fitting aspect of the headset, I truly needed to flip the amount down from my system settings.
After making an attempt out Razer’s newly launched Kraken Final headset, there’s no denying it trumps the A50’s quantity. However is that a problem? Not essentially. Personally, I discover the A50 audio expertise much more delicate and polished. It additionally does encompass sound so much higher (the Kraken Final does a stable job, too, so that is extra of a praise to Astro than a dig at Razer).
Sure, the A50’s not the loudest set on the market. Ultimately, although, my ears might actually not deal with the Kraken Final at something over 60 % in quantity. So, there’s that.
Is the Astro A50 the fitting headset for me?
With the fourth iteration of the A50, there’s little doubt that Astro will get plenty of issues proper.
The headset is such a comfortable match, I might put on it in my sleep. The sound is bassy, however not intrusively so. The bodily buttons make it simpler to navigate by means of totally different settings with out having to open the devoted app. And most significantly, you’ll must be fairly hardcore to recreation by means of a full cost in a single session.
Software program glitches apart (those the place I needed to plug and unplug the dock), I by no means skilled intermittent sound cutouts with the A50 both. A lot of the kinks I encountered ought to be simply fixable with software program updates, and I hope Astro addresses them in future firmware iterations.
My solely holdback with these cans, actually, is the value. I’d be hesitant to advocate copping the A50 at its full worth of $300, however in the event you discover them at a reduction — you must completely take into account them.
When you’re after a transparent audio expertise with cautious consideration to element, and the value isn’t a problem for you, you possibly can seize the Xbox/PC model by clicking here — or the PlayStation/PC various by clicking here.
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Revealed November 27, 2019 — 15:25 UTC
ProductA50 wi-fi gaming headset by Astro