I’m not going to patronize you or waste your time. The Astro A50 Wireless Gaming Headset is almost cost-prohibitive. It retails for $299 and not every gamer can afford to make a purchase of that size. However, if you have the income and are in the market for a wireless headset, there’s nothing that beats the Astro A50.
I’m a bit of an audiophile. I produce music as a hobby, and sound quality is a big deal to me. Despite being a wireless headset designed for gaming, the Astro A50 performs as well as a set of studio cans. The sound is full-bodied and warm, with clarity even at ear-splitting volumes.
The 7.1 Surround Sound is simulated but performs admirably. Sounds come in from the back and sides clearly and crisply, without the muddiness that you hear in lower-quality headsets. The set includes 3 presets, but honestly preset 1 and 2 are useless. The third preset, dubbed “Astro,” provides the best mix of booming lows and clear highs for anything you can hook up to the included wireless MixAmp.
Speaking of the MixAmp, it has a small footprint and is easy to set up. It only accepts optical and auxiliary connections (most likely in an effort to save space), but the setup is as simple as connecting power via USB and plugging in the included optical cable. My only qualm is that I wish Astro offered the ability to purchase multiple MixAmps, as I would like to have one hooked up to all of my media devices, instead of having to disconnect and reconnect each time.
The headset itself feels high-quality, despite being made primarily of plastic. The headset is heavy but feels light due to the way it sits on your head. The lightweight foam on the earpieces does a good job keeping sound in while keeping heat out. The fatigue I feel wearing other headsets or headphones doesn’t come into play here, and the heat that accumulates inside the earpiece is slight, opposed to headsets with leather cups.
The controls on the right earpiece are nice and clicky, but they’re a little strange. There’s a volume control slider behind the right ear as well as separate voice and game controls which are advertised to work independently from each other, but that I mostly used to raise or lower the volume for games. It wasn’t until I did more research on the headset that I learned about the separate volume control and what it does, but it works nonetheless. There’s also not a mute button on the headset, which seems like a bit of an oversight.
The included microphone is nice. It provides a good, clear sound without any distortion or thinness. I discovered a slight issue where the sound unnaturally lowered or “ducked” at the end of sentences. It appears there is some auto-leveling involved with the microphone, and there were no settings to change it. Muting the microphone is as simple as rotating it up to a vertical position.
One last random note is that the power-off beep from the headset projects into the headset in a way that is uncomfortably loud. The first time it happened the sound almost immediately gave me a headache.
If you have the disposable income, the Astro A50 is a no-brainer. If you struggle from paycheck to paycheck, however, the Astro A50 headset is a tougher sell. Sure, if you’re in a situation where you’ll get a lot of use out of it (such as extended Call of Duty multiplayer sessions), the Astro A50 is a wonderful purchase (and could actually improve your performance in-game). If you live in an apartment or have a young child (as I do) and don’t want to annoy people with the booming sounds of your movies, games, and television, the Astro A50 is the best headset in its class. That being said, the price tag is hefty, and could drive many users away. This is one case, though, where gamers get their money’s worth in spades.