Gaming headsets have become increasingly popular in the gaming world. Not only do they enhance gameplay, but they give you a competitive advantage as well as enabling you to enjoy the social experience and chat with your friends. At £250 we’re expecting big things from this Astro headset.
Like all other Astro Gaming headsets the body is manufactured from plastic with a matte black finish. This is far better than a glossy finish as it doesn’t attract the dust and fingerprints. Despite being quite a large headset it’s very comfortable to wear, even for extended periods of time. The ear cups and headband are both covered in a soft cushioned felt and these definitely make the headset as comfortable as it is.
The colour of the headset is all black with contrasting red spiral wires connecting the speakers in the ear cups. This contrast gives it a very stealthy look, something that is much appreciated. In terms of adjustment, you can slide both ear cups to set the height although there are no markers, so you’ll have to line them up by eye. Its worth mentioning that the height adjustable poles are metal on the A50’s unlike those found on the A40’s.
On the side of the left ear cup you’ll find the rubber covered microphone. The rubber adds extra durability and once you’ve bent it into position this ensures it stays there. Unlike the A40’s the microphone is not removable meaning you cannot switch it to the right ear cup. This also removes the capability of adding custom tags to your ear cups. Making up for this is a great new feature! When you rotate the microphone so that it points upwards it will lock into place but also mute it. This is very convenient especially as you have no cable with an inline mute switch.
You’ll notice that on the base station there are just two small buttons: one for power and the other for Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound. Now you’re probably thinking, how can I adjust the game/voice audio and master volume? Well, thankfully Astro have managed to squeeze these controls onto the headset itself. This way the controls are kept in close proximity and there is no web of cables to rummage through.
Master volume is taken care of via a small spin-wheel on the back of the right ear cup. Just above this dial you’ll find the very small power button and a switch to toggle through three presets. The entire face of the right ear cup has been transformed into the game/voice balancing controls. I found using this system much easier than that of the mix-amp.
On the left ear cup you’ll find a jack for the cable between the Xbox 360/One controller and a micro-USB port used to charge the headset.
Setting up the system is very easy to do. As well as the headset, in the box you’ll also receive the transmitter box. This houses all of the connections including optical input and output, an auxiliary 3.5mm jack and a USB port for power and connection to the PC. Any audio system or device that supports these connections can be easily hooked up to the transmitter.
To pair your headset with the transmitter box, simply hold down the power button which will initiate the pairing mode. Up to a maximum of four A50 headsets can be paired with a single transmitter. This is great news as each headset will receive simultaneous audio. A straight to the point instruction booklet is included in the box which details the cables you’ll need for different devices.
The wireless connectivity was very good and throughout all of our testing we experienced absolutely no dropouts. The 5.8GHz KleerNet technology that is used, is regularly found in other high-end audio equipment such as home theater systems, soundbars and sub-woofers. We were able to walk freely around the house while leaving our phone connected to the transmitter in the kitchen.
A full charge of the headset will take around two hours, but on this the headset will continue to work for around eleven hours. If you’re about to run out of charge during play you can simply plug in the micro-USB cable to your console or PC and continue gaming.
Possibly the most important part of a gaming headset or headphones in general is the quality of the audio they produce – and the A50’s do not disappoint. They pack custom 40mm drivers which deliver crisp audio with a lot of power. The bass is powerful which gives the added effect when coupled with on-screen explosions and bullet fire. The highs are crisp and footsteps can be heard clearly so you can pinpoint the enemies position easily as well.
The three sound presets will also help to set the environment when playing games or watching movies. The first preset is “Flat” which doesn’t do anything and leaves the audio untouched. The second “Astro” is for gaming, whilst the third, “Media” is pretty self explanatory.
The Astro A50 wireless headset is a top quality gaming accessory. At £250 the price tag is quite large but they’re definitely worth every penny of it. With the help of the Dolby 7.1 simulated surround sound, games take on a new dimension and become even more immersive. This level of detail in the audio is just brilliant, and to have it beamed wirelessly to the headset is a massive help with removing the cables that surround our games consoles today.
If you don’t already own a gaming headset the A50 is definitely a good choice. If however you already own a pair of A40’s we’re not convinced the upgrade to the A50’s is something that’s necessary.Order from Amazon