Astro A50 Wireless Gaming Headset

The Astro A50 headphones aren't cheap, but they do give some of the best sound we've heard, and in a nicely designed and very comfortable package.


9.0
CNET Rating
7.0
User Rating

About The Author

CNET Editor

Nic Healey can usually be found on a couch muttering about aspect ratios and 7.1 channel sound - which is helpful given that he's the home entertainment guy at CNET.


Gaming headsets run the full gamut of prices and quality, from no-frills headphones, that just happen to have a mic attached, through to, well, gear like the Astro A50.

The Astro A50 Wireless Gaming Headset — to give it its full name — is a set of wireless cans that have a noise cancelling mic and work in conjunction with the Astro MixAmp 5.8 for a Dolby 7.1 (and 5.1) surround sound experience.

Designed for consoles and PC, set-up was refreshingly simple. Simply plug the optical cable from your PC, PlayStation 3 or Xbox into the MixAmp, which then hooks into your device via USB, which is all the power it requires. Once the headphones are charged up — also USB power, thanks to the in-built rechargeable battery — just turn them on. The headset and the amp are pre-paired, so all you need to do is possibly tweak some settings on the PC or console, and you're up and gaming.

Features and design

We liked the build on the headphones a great deal — these are solid, well made cans that still feel comfortable, even when worn for a long time. The right ear-cup has the volume wheel at the back, in a perfect position for thumb access when worn. Above that is the power button and the switch for the pre-sets. The whole outside of the right cup is a giant toggle switch for voice/game balance — it's nice, but we occasionally accidently adjusted the balance while just trying to re-seat the headphones on our ears.

What is less impressive is the self-assembly stand. A stand to hang the headphones on is a nice idea — one we liked with the Turtle Beach headset. But compared to the rest of the hardware in the A50 pack, the stand is a little plasticy and tacky feeling.

Performance

Performance-wise, the A50's were stunning. The wireless technology used is the KleerNet 5.8GHz, which gives a little better range and clarity with less interference — not so much of an issue for the PC gamer, who's likely to have little distance between headset and amp, but good news for the console users who might find themselves on opposite ends of the lounge room from where the A50 amp is plugged in.

We mentioned the pre-set switch before — there are three built in modes: Media, Core and Pro. The first is for movies and music, the second for standard games and the third is aimed at the "professional shooters". In reality, what you game with is up to you. We used the Pro mode for a few MMOs, as we liked the sharpness on some of the effects that the additional treble provided.

Some other touches we enjoyed included the noise cancelling mic — very crisp pick-up — and pushing the mic boom up all the way engages the mute. The MixAmp also has optical pass-through, so you can still use an existing amp/speaker set up, without swapping cables. We were also impressed with the cables themselves — the A50s ship with USB, optical, and even the attachment cable for Xbox voice chat.

In all, this is a seriously excellent device for any gamer, with one big caveat — the price. At $350, you can buy a whole new console for the cost of the Astro A50. However, the fact that they work on PS3, Xbox and PC, and can even be a set of excellent cans for movie watching with the right set-up, we think the price is worth it. If you have the money, you'll be hard pressed to find a nicer headset.

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Garrick86
5
Rating
 

"Save your cash and don't buy this, It's like playing Russian Roulette with a half loaded revolver."

Garrick86 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Exceptional Audio Quality, Comfortable, Wireless, Great Build Quality.

The Bad:Battery life Halves after a few months, Quality slowly deteriorates as months pass by. Mic is definitely not "Noise Cancelling".

They can be a Great Headset. But getting a pair that is actually built properly seems to be a rare thing. It's almost as if Monkeys build 25% of these. Not to mention if you aren't from America, Astro charges you 110 dollars shipping for anything. They wanted me to pay 120 dollars for a 3m Cable.

 

JeffreyY1 posted a reply   

http://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees/consumer-guarantees

RogerC Facebook
9
Rating
 

"Save your cash and buy this"

RogerC posted a review   

The Good:exceptional build quality, comfortable, great sound

The Bad:nothing really

I own these, and although expensive, they are truly worth it.
the sound is amazing whether listening to music or playing games or watching 7.1 movies. i advise watching a movie like star trek or avatar on bluray, because the headset really makes the movie come to life. Its fantastic for gaming too. the balance between the highs and lows is very good... especially the lows.. my god the bass is phenomenal!

 

EesK posted a comment   
Australia

Ps: for someone interested in 7.1, why did you not mention this in your article?They have true 7.1 via the optical cable. You can also use them for your TV and Sound System.

 

plmkoh posted a reply   
Australia

Because it's impossible to get 'true 7.1 via the optical cable'.

 

EesK posted a reply   
Australia

Not true.

 

plmkoh posted a reply   
Australia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spdif

"This only supports stereo sound, unless the personal computer supports a surround sound encoding such as Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect."

Both DD and DTS are 5.1, unless you use something like DD ex which takes the 5.1 signal and adds 2 extra matrixed channels for 7.1, in any case this is not 'true 7.1'.

 

EesK posted a reply   
Australia

THE PS3 does support Dolby as do the A50's and you can switch up to 7.1 on the PS3 via the XMB :)

 

RogerC posted a reply   

referencing wikipedia is as reputable as asking a monkey

 

RogerC posted a reply   

its emulated 7.1. true 7.1 requires 8 drivers. this has 2

 

EesK posted a comment   
Australia

I have a set of these for my PS3, I pre-order them through ASTRO Gaming. I also opted for the 6ft Optical cable & PS3 power cable you can plug into your PS3 via one of your USB ports like the controller cable. This allows you to charge your A50's direct from the PS3 ingame.There is also the customisable option where you can connect to your account at ASTRO Gaming and change the sound settings on Pro etc and receive firm ware updates. There is already on available. This is all done via your PC and connecting the A50's to your PC, very simple.As a Pro Gamer, I cannot fault these over the A40's. The flexible boom Mic to mute is a great addition. They are, as stated very comfortable even after 8 hours of MW3 or KILLZONE.The stand is such a minor quibble I don't know why you mention it. After it's all set up and done it feels very solid, especially when the A50s are resting on them.Truly they are worth the money just for ASTRO Gaming's after sales service. Which is way above par.




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User Reviews / Comments  Astro A50 Wireless Gaming Headset

  • Garrick86

    Garrick86

    Rating5

    "They can be a Great Headset. But getting a pair that is actually built properly seems to be a rare thing. It's almost as if Monkeys build 25% of these. Not to mention if you aren't from America, As..."

  • RogerC

    RogerC

    Rating9

    "I own these, and although expensive, they are truly worth it.
    the sound is amazing whether listening to music or playing games or watching 7.1 movies. i advise watching a movie like star trek..."

  • EesK

    EesK

    "Ps: for someone interested in 7.1, why did you not mention this in your article?They have true 7.1 via the optical cable. You can also use them for your TV and Sound System."

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