Back at E3, I got a first-hand look at ASTRO’s newest headset – the A50s. While I only spent about 10 minutes actually using them, they were impressive. I knew I’d eventually get to spend more time with them once they were released, and I know that many of Gaming Irresponsibly’s readers have been waiting for our thoughts on them as well. Wait no longer!
With any ASTRO product, the first place to start is presentation. The A50s are ready to go right out of the box. All you’ll need to do is plug in your USB (for PC) or TOSLINK connection (for everything else) and you’re ready to get rocking with the headset. Everything you need is already included, and the mixamp actually sits perfectly on the base of the headphone stand. This headset is not cheap. At $299.99 it is more expensive than a console, so you’d better treat them with the respect they deserve by putting them on that stand. The headset looks amazing as well, utilizing a full black design with a few red accents. With its durable metal chassis, the A50s can take some considerable abuse.
Comfort? You’d like to know if this headset is comfortable? Personally, I’ve reviewed a plethora of headsets (each with their own varying levels of comfort) and the A50 headset takes those levels of comfort and obliterates them! The headset has a soft foam strip above the head, which rests gently across the top of your head while helping to support the weight of the headset evenly, to reduce strain on your neck and shoulders. The ear pieces did not put any pressure on my ears or head, while managing to rest snugly in place over my ears. This means that no matter how long I wore the A50s, I never experienced any discomfort while wearing them, even during marathon gaming sessions. To expand upon that, I actually used the headset consistently for over 10 hours. During that stretch, I never even had to take them off – not even for a few minutes. They were so comfortable that I was guilty of wearing them around the house while doing non-gaming tasks as well. I’m pretty sure that my wife now thinks I am crazier than ever before.
Some of you may be saying “But Josh, that headset is wireless! There is no way that it can complete with a wired headset!” Shut your face with that tired argument! Not only was I pleasantly surprised at how well the headset worked, I was also pleased by the strength and ability of the unit. As I pointed out earlier, the ASTRO A50 headset has three audio modes for however you’d like to use it. The first mode is the media mode, with a concentration on bass and mids. I used this when listening to music or watching a movie. Core mode is the second mode, which is balanced for gaming. I spent more time in this mode than anything else. Core mode works best for immersive audio when playing a game like Dishonored or League of Legends. Pro mode is useful for games where audio cues are more important. High-velocity, fast-paced, shooters like Modern Warfare 3 or Medal of Honor: Warfighter were vastly improved using this setting because I could hear my enemies before they ever got close; meanwhile games where sound is used to help flesh out the environment, like Dishonored, spring to life in ways you can’t even imagine until you hear them yourself.
Now, I know that sounds great and all, but does the wireless effect any of this at all? No, not really! I used the headset in many different environments and even walked away from the mixamp, into other rooms, the garage and even the end of the driveway with little to no effect on audio. Face it, this headset is badass.
Even though the headset is limited to one device at a time, it was amazingly simple to hook in into any other device. It’s about as plug and play as it gets, and even though I’ve already needed to perform a firmware update, I have no complaints at all with the performance of the headset. One of the best features that the A50 has definitely has to be the mute function. Need to get up and take care of something without letting everyone listen to what’s going on? Flip that boom mic up and the headset automatically cuts the audio input. No toggles, switches, buttons or anything else you might forget to activate! While I used the ASTRO A50 headset for use on the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, I also used it for live streaming and also for recording podcasts. The audio quality sounded great, though obviously not as amazingly awesome as a studio microphone setup, it did the job better than the other headsets I’ve used in the past. This just goes to show that the A50s are as versatile as they are awesome. They may not fit every application, but their flexibility is what makes the A50s so great. That’s keeping it simple.
In the spirit of keeping things simple: The ASTRO A50 headset is very comfortable and can be used for long periods of time with little to no fatigue. The battery lasts 10-12 hours in between charges and only takes a fraction of that time to charge back to full. The audio options work amazingly well for all ranges of use. The A50s are easily capable of going from gaming to music, from recording to pwning. The A50 is an incredibly easy to set up system that’s not overcomplicated by incorporating a ton of buttons on the headset.
I have to say I like the ASTRO A50 headset. A lot. Although a little pricey at $299.99, in this case you get what you pay for. The headset is one of the best that I’ve used and one of the finest pieces of gaming hardware that I have had the opportunity of crossing paths with.
We give the ASTRO A50 headset a 5/5. This is a damn fine headset, and it’s an experience truly worth the price of admission