Gaming headsets usually focus more on how aural experiences affect the gamer. Since sound is equally needed to fully enjoy a game, many manufacturers are now coming out with various headsets that would recreate an immersive experience – but only a few manage to stand out.
The Astro A50 is a wireless surround headset made for the Xbox One and also compatible with Windows PCs. It offers up to 7.1 channels of surround sound, perfect for all those intense games made for the console. We’re testing the Astro A50 made for the Xbox One and the PC, but a version is also available for the PlayStation 4.
Astro A50 Video Review
Design and Specifications
The Astro A50 has a design that should look as awesome as your Xbox One. It features a curved headband with green highlights including futuristic-style components and large ear cups. Design is practical for a gaming headset, with the MixAmp built into the right ear cup which can help optimize chat levels and game sounds.
The ear cups are comfortable and the entire headset is surprisingly lightweight, which allowed me to wear them for long periods of gaming, making it stand out from other headsets that usually strains the user.
Other physical controls can be found on the ear cup itself, giving you controls for the volume and equalizer. The headset also includes a feature where it will automatically mute chats when you flick the microphone stick up.
The A50 connects via the Base Station wirelessly using the 5GHz frequency for minimal interference with other wireless devices in your home. The Base Station also charges the headset, which also is the main way that you connect your Xbox One or PC to the headset.
The Base Station houses LEDs that give you the headset’s status like battery life and if the Dolby surround function is turned on.
Connecting the Base Station to the Xbox One only requires you to connect the included optical cable plus the micro USB cable (you only need the micro USB cable if you’re connecting it to a PC). You would then need to set your Xbox One to output audio in Bitstream format to enable full surround sound support on the Astro A50.
On the PC, you would need to install the Astro Command Center software to be able to tinker with all the audio settings. The choices are overwhelming, which should satisfy some users, but might also confuse others.
Astro A50 Xbox Unboxing
The Astro A50’s build quality was extremely comfortable, and I ended up using the headset for hours of gaming and not once did I feel any stress on my head.
For testing, I hooked up the Astro A50 to an Xbox One S, which currently houses most of my gaming library. I also watched Blu-ray discs encoded in 7.1 surround sound audio to test its audio output.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Titanfall 2 were one of the games I usually connect to my home theater when playing so naturally it was one of the first games I played using the Astro A50 – and I wasn’t disappointed. Bullets whizz through the front and sides of me and I can feel the aural intensity provided by the game despite wearing only a headset. It managed to envelop me in the action that only full home speaker setups can provide. Dialogues were clear, with no distortion even when I cranked up the volume higher than the normal. It excels on its surround sound capabilities, evident by the separation of tracks that you can clearly distinguish coming from all sides.
The microphone on the other hand, could be better. At first, I was told by the people playing with me that my voice sounded distant even if my mouth was next to the microphone. There was also a subtle hiss that I can’t rectify even after restarting the headphones.
Since the Astro A50 is a surround headset, it also works well when using it to play movies. I’ve sampled Star Wars: The Force Awakens and I had a blast watching it with the headphones on from beginning to end.
One thing to note about the Astro A50 is that its built-in accelerometer automatically powers down the headphone when it detects that it is not being used. This in turn make it look like the battery lasts longer than the promised 15 hour usage, something that we’re all ecstatic about.
- Astro A50 Wireless Headset
- Astro Base Station
- Micro USB
- Optical cable
Pros and Cons:
- Excellent surround sound
- Great battery life
- Microphone could be better
- Astro Command Center might be too confusing for some
- Initial problems with setup
The Astro A50 may be one of the best gaming headsets we’ve tested. It ranks up there with similar premium headsets that deliver stellar audio output – it has its flaws, but overall we’d love to recommend the Astro A50.
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