According to the advertising, the Astro A50 was co-developed by “professional gamers, streamers and designers” to meet the maximum audiophile demands of gamers. But does the Astro A50 worth $300? Let’s take a closer look at this Astro A50 review.
Visually, it’s simply a treat, plus interchangeable ear cups and a high level of wearing comfort. Unfortunately, your ears like to get warmer, and the controls are only useful for gamers. The Performance of the microphone and headband are also very high quality, but we would have liked something more robust for the price.
The sound (no matter where) is then the brute argument for the headset. There is a point deduction for the microphone because it sometimes sounds a bit thin in quiet environments. Nevertheless, it is an excellent microphone!
Yes, 300 Dollars can make you swallow at first, so there was also a deduction in the price performance. However, the features such as the software and full DTS support make up for it.
The cables seem simple and are a bit too short; the manufacturer could have dug a bit deeper in the warehouse. The battery life of about 12 hours is also great, but unfortunately, you cannot replace them. All in all, a super wireless headset, but unfortunately very expensive.
- Comfortable fit
- Good microphone
- Insanely good sound
- Full DTS support (no emulation)
- Software clear and easy to understand
- Radio transmission is clean and free of interference
- Extremely expensive
- Accessories expensive
- PS4 requires a PC for setup
- Only stereo available on PS4
- Microphone cannot be removed
Features & Performance
Before we test the headset for bass and highs, discuss the microphone and check the levels. Here is the technical data as usual.
Astro A50 Gaming Headset: Important features at a glance
- Type: Wireless, Closed-Back, Over-Ear
- Speaker driver: 40 mm
- Frequency range headphones: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
- Wireless range: 12m
- Battery life: approx. 13h, charging time 6 hrs
- Microphone polar pattern: unidirectional, noise-cancelling
- Total weight: 360g
- Guarantee: 2 years
- Media control: volume, game/voice balance, DTS 7.1 switching, equalizer selection, on / off, microphone muting via flip
- Connections : USB (charge), optical input, optical output, AUX in / out, mini USB (charge)
- Dimensions: base station: 21.6cm x 10.8cm x 2.9cm, headphones: 20.3cm x 19.8cm x 9.5cm
- Delay: 39ms
The cardboard box is massive. A large, glossy printed box lies before us. Inside this box, you will find another cardboard box that is luxuriously opened. The tidiness inside seems almost sterile. Plastic containers pack the headset and the accessories. Everything seems precisely coordinated and purposefully placed. Astro, a Logitech brand, obviously wants to serve the demanding gamer.
Connecting the headset is very simple. We free the charging station and the headset from the plastic and then have the option of connecting the station to our PC via USB or optical cable—alternatively, the Playstation or Xbox.
However, we immediately notice that the cables are not as high-quality as the price suggests. Moulded ends and thin cables without much shielding spoil the overall picture.
The charging station itself appears solid. Matte and glossy plastic alternate, and the shell itself doesn’t look too clumsy either. The nice thing about it is that our headset does not simply lie on the table during the charging process. The shell gives us a visually appealing stand for our premium headset.
The headset itself is pretty sturdy. You get velour covers for the ear cups in factory condition. Of course, Astro doesn’t skimp on this and offers more in their store. However, the price is also quite high.
Moreover, ear cups are clean, especially since the plastic used here feels high-quality and can easily withstand a few accidental drops without much damage.
Moreover, the hinges on the rim are sturdy and made of metal, which contributes to the Astro A50’s durability. The headband is slightly open and a bit hollow to make the headphones lighter, with only a plastic centre section resting on the head. While it is flexible, it doesn’t feel as durable as a regular headpiece. Still, you get velour padding with the centre section as well.
The controls on the ear cups (buttons) are also very well made. Nothing wobbles, and everything works as it should. Furthermore, the size adjustment through a hinge is also good and engages directly and adequately. The microphone, which is muted by an integrated flip switch, gives slight but noticeable feedback when pressed. The headset thus makes a very high-quality impression and easily leaves clear opponents like Roccat Elo 7.1 Air or Razer behind.
However, the included accessories instead correspond to a simple headset from smaller price regions. The previously mentioned USB cable and the optical cable come with a cable length of just one meter in the box. That might be quite practical on the console, but it can quickly lead to problems on the PC with larger setups or desks.
We also miss a driver CD here. The quick start guide also doesn’t give us a hint about Astro’s software. You can use it to update your headset and configure the equalizer. That’s a shame, as you would have expected from a premium product.
Design and Comfort
The Astro 50 looks massive, with almost aggressive edges highlighted with glossy plastic and matte add-ons.
The base station with the discreet LED lights for sound mode, channel selection and the charging status is also presented in a restrained but high-quality manner.
However, you will have to do without RGB lighting or similar. Astro has kept the entire set in black, the LEDs in light white tones and does not want to belong to the new “everything has to be colourful! Trend.
So we charged the excellent piece, installed the software, updated the firmware and put it on our heads. Despite the high weight, it is extraordinarily comfortable. The ear cups don’t press too hard on your head, and we have a pleasant contact pressure from the headrest. In addition, the ear cups are nice and big, so your ears are perfectly covered, and there is no unnecessary pressure. Very pleasant!
Even faster movements hardly make the headset slip or seem uncomfortable. However, the weight is quite high, which might be bothersome. Nevertheless, this did not bother our Sebastian after three hours of music, movies and gaming.
As usual, the thick velour ear pads are good to wear and distribute the pressure evenly. If you want to switch to synthetic leather, you have to order them separately. However, the replacement is very easy. You don’t have to fiddly pull on a narrow rubber ring on the frame.
A magnetic click system to which the ear cup protectors are attached does the job for you. You can change the ear cups within seconds, without much effort. This is a very pleasant addition.
Noise attenuation from the outside is excellent. It is not so tightly “shielded” that you have to be called three times. But sufficient isolation from light and medium-loud external noise is present here.
By the way, the velour padding makes the Astro A50 relatively breathable so that you won’t get warm or sweaty ears as quickly. Nevertheless, your ears will get quite warm during longer gaming sessions and farm interludes.
The microphone can be folded up when it is no longer in use. This way, it can be muted at the same time. For the necessary distance to the mouth, the arm is on a flexible base and can thus be varied. However, neither on the charging station nor on the headphones a light signal or something similar, whether our microphone is now active.
Connection, Technology & Software
While we’re on the subject of the microphone, let’s take a closer look at the technical details, especially the software.
Connection & Technology
As usual, we run the headset through various scenarios. Since every user has their own “favourite topics” and areas, we tried to cover as many topics as possible. We connected the headset to the PC and PS4 via optical cable.
On the PC, the test was completed after installing the corresponding software from Astro. Unfortunately, the PS4 could not use it. However, according to Astro, the software can be installed on the Xbox One, which is a disadvantage for Sony. However, we can save the setups on the headphones in 3 profiles, which can be selected on the headphones. So, if we want to enjoy the luxury of the profiles on the PS4 as well, it is mandatory that a PC, MAC or Xbox One helps out.
The headset is automatically paired with the Setup Station after connecting and charging, but not via Bluetooth. Astro opted for a 5 GHz wireless technology, which is increasingly used in the Wi-Fi sector instead of the standard 2.4 GHz technology.
You can imagine radio frequencies like a road. Let’s assume that 2.4 GHz technology is a three-lane road. Then three devices can always travel in each lane without interfering with each other. However, it is the case that more and more households operate devices on this frequency band. This can result in so-called “overlaps”.
The result for your headphones is fatal: High latencies in playback and recording up to short disconnects. The 5 GHz roads are now a 6-lane road. So we can use more devices without errors.
For example, cell phones, mice, keyboards, refrigerators or your Amazon dots now operate on these frequency ranges. So it is recommended to use a 5Ghz technology for many devices. Regardless of whether they are end devices such as cell phones, televisions, or your wireless router.
We tested a range of about 6 meters, separated by two doors and plasterboard walls. Important: Plasterboard, in particular, is an interference problem on these frequencies due to its composition. However, we could not determine any impairment here.
Also, placing a cell phone directly at the station and the transmitting station of the Roccat-Leader did not create any interference on any device.
Now that we have the technical principle, the headset is connected and ready. Let’s take a look at the heart of the matter.
Astro A50 Apps
The software is quick to download at snake about 200 MB and just as quick to install.
After the installation, the headset is quickly placed on the station. The current firmware is loaded, and then we can dive into the setup. The setup is very clear and streamlined. We don’t have any elaborate graphics or nonsensical settings, but everything is a bit too “black” for us here.
We get the option to create three profiles in the equalizer settings. These can be adjusted to our preferences at different frequencies. However, this is where it gets interesting for real audio aficionados.
The “Advanced” button under the simple equalizer takes us to an extra menu. Already during the dial-up, we were informed that the settings there are very sensitive. And that’s where it gets down to the nitty-gritty:
- Center frequencies can be adjusted directly in Hz
- Sound pressure level can be optimized in dB ranges
- and bandwidths can be set.
You should only go in here if you know what you want. Otherwise, the sound experience will quickly turn into a scary excursion.
The respective profiles can be saved in triplicate, and switching to the desired profile is done via a switch on the headphones themselves. An excellent addition: so that we know which profile is currently active, the charging station indicates which one you have selected with 1 to 3.
What is also very pleasant: You can select the respective signal if you have a connected PC and console (the station offers the possibilities thanks to numerous connections). Again, this is done via a switch on the headset. And again, the corresponding icon on the charging station will show you which device is active.
Next, we come to the microphone settings. There are presets like “Streaming, Night or Tournament”. The advantage is quickly apparent via the tooltip: These profiles are aimed at certain areas of use. Alternatively, you can also adjust the microphone volume, levels and background recordings. Unfortunately, there are no refined settings regarding frequencies here, but this is due to the microphone’s characteristics.
The next menu is the so-called “stream port” aimed at consoles because voice chat and game sound run over the same audio channel in consoles. The software allows you to separate the volume between the voice channel and the game channel and adjust it differently. But here’s an interesting aspect: If you stream with your console, you can set the voice channel for your stream louder or quieter this way.
Astro A50 Microphone review
Now that we’ve configured the headset, the settings are saved, and we’re sitting down, let’s take a closer look. For this, we set the microphone for the cleanest environment in order to test a direct, clear and undistorted recording.
Please note here the correct positioning of the microphone. Astro has not installed so-called pop protection, which means that strong S sounds can lead to overmodulation and be very unpleasant for your gaming colleagues or your stream.
However, as you can hear from our review, we got a clear and structured sound. Sure, a cardioid microphone driven by a mixer or audio interface can’t be topped. But Astro doesn’t want that with this headset either.
However, we were immediately impressed: We got audio monitoring. Do you know this? Don’t you know how loud you are compared to the game you are streaming? The Astro A50 gives you your microphone signal directly to your ears if necessary. And that without any delay. This is incredibly convenient for streaming.
Sound Image & Base Station
But now, let’s get to the listening pleasure with the Astro A50. At such an exclusive price segment, remember it’s $300 we’re holding here. We expect more than just the features already mentioned. As is so often the case in this range of headsets, we have installed 40mm, neodymium-magnet drivers again.
We played Rainbow Six: Siege (PC), Starcraft 2 (PC), Final Fantasy 14 (PC), Hotline Miami (PC), Horizon: Zero Dawn (PS4) and The Last of Us Remastered (PS4).
We also set the Dolby mode and configured the profile as in the screenshot above.
However, the Dolby mode could directly convince us, and the sound reproduction was also very warm.
The massive soundtrack of Hotline Miami was one of the most fun. The Astro A50 gave us a furious sound. It wasn’t unusual for us to just stand in the game and listen to music.
In Rainbow Six: Siege, we had another “use case”. Here, there was no loud music to enhance the game. Exact localization of sounds is required here, clear background noise sound and clear differentiation of TeamSpeak and in-game sounds.
Regardless of footsteps, gunshots or ambient sounds, the sound image was more than good. We especially liked the trebles and clean mids here.
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StarCraft 2 and Final Fantasy also clearly benefit from the high-quality drivers here. Especially the very epochal soundtracks could inspire. Hotline Miami did not have a hard time convincing us with its catchy soundtrack.
We used the current SLIM revision on the PlayStation 4. Directly confronted with a problem: It does not have an optical output for the sound. We also missed a 3.5 mm jack. So, the base station is connected to the console via USB.
Here, however, a problem emerges that is not the case on the PC and was also unfortunately confirmed by Astro when asked:
Yes, should the headset’s base station use the PS4’s USB ports, it will recognize the PS4. Thus, we can use the full range of the headset. Also, the respective equalizer profiles, which we have previously set on the PC.
But the sound is only transmitted in stereo. It is clean and full-sounding, but the DTS range is completely cut off. That puts pressure on the rating and is disappointing for this price range. Otherwise, our test console recognized the headset right away and assigned it correctly.
Movies & music
After that, we went to the movies and VODs. We left the Dolby profile active with our settings to avoid distorting the result. For this, we chose extra VODs that had a DTS soundtrack, for example. As an example, a regular YouTube video is mixed as simple sound in 9 out of 10 cases. However, for us to test straight DTS support, we needed actual footage. For this purpose, we took various clips directly from the DTS site.
Since there is a small loss potential (due to the transmission and overlay of the codec), we directly took raw material.
We took the following ones for this purpose: DTS:X Out of the Box (Long), SFX Long (Lossless) and Living World of Audio 2 Long (Lossless).
And here, the Astro A50 shows that it is not only an excellent gamer headset. The mixes of the different pitches, the music, the bass and treble – we have a solid cinematic atmosphere here that caught us right away and blew us away. We have not been able to experience a gaming headset of such quality so far. Yes, even headphones like the Beyerdynamic DT 770 will reach their limits here, which we took as a direct comparison. Especially in higher volumes, the advantages are quite clear.
You can take a robust home theatre system as a comparison here. Of course, the volume range in a headset is much smaller, but the audio quality of the Astro A50 is enormous and thrilling.
The base station of the Astro A50
But where does this sound quality come from? How can it all be in this headset? The background is a simple one and also another reason why it drives the price up.
Regular or basic headsets get their sound quality from a simple sound chip. This taps into your sound card and thus uses those frequencies. The Astro A50 and the charging station do the same, but what if your sound card doesn’t support DTS?
As mentioned, the base station can register which channel the sound is on, despite multiple inputs. The solution is very simple: An extra sound chip has been installed to deliver the full DTS quality. Your PC controls this on its own without installing any drivers. And that also explains why the software was designed so extensively. A move that you will definitely notice in the sound. Not without reason do sound card owners rave about the excellent quality, in contrast to simple sound chips that are stored on-board on your motherboard. And consoles also get their money’s worth here because the chip’s support is rigorously noticeable.
The Astro A50 has an excellent base station that offers dock charging and multiple ports. In addition to the front-mounted status LEDs, there are ports on the back.
When connected to your PC or corresponding console, the base has a standard audio input jack, an optical input, and audio via the USB cable. Unfortunately, the A50’s base station is only compatible with either PS4 or Xbox One (depending on which model you buy), but the headset can connect to both base variants. Still, you can use an Xbox One station on the PS4 by connecting the optical cable and using PC mode.
What is the difference between 3rd & 4rth generation?
If you’re considering upgrading from the 3rd generation Astro A50 to the 4th generation or wondering if it’s worth spending the extra $150, we’ve listed the differences between the 4th generation for you here:
- Design differences: colour (ear pads and frame) now mainly black, before that green or blue accents
- Base station: ports now on the back, LED display in front (didn’t exist before)
- Two years of Dolby Atmos included with Generation 4
- Improved audio
- Buttons on-ear cup to focus sound on voice or in-game sound (was previously on the bottom of cup)
Is it worth upgrading from the A50 Gen 3 to the Gen 4? Absolutely not. Is it worth spending the $150 for the new Astro A50 Gen 4? It might be. If you prefer all-black colours and Dolby Atmos, then yes. Otherwise, save the money and get the 3rd generation.
Conclusion to the Astro A50 Review
Rarely are we immediately enthusiastic about a product. You’re often sceptical, especially with “gaming headsets”, which always have a terrible aftertaste. So caution is better than indulgence.
Visually, the Astro A50 is discreet, not too bulky, and the Performance is excellent. The only drawbacks are the supplied cables and the lack of leatherette covers as an alternative, which can be ordered at a high price. No “fancy” features like interchangeable cover plates for the ear cups help here, either. But it still looks high-quality, especially in combination with the charging station. It is an eye-catcher.
The software is extensive, and it also offers settings that will excite even audio professionals. Because here, it was clearly aimed at more than just the “average gamer”.
The headset is thus definitely aimed at the enthusiast. Someone who is happy to spend $300 but wants a distinctive and genuine DTS audio experience in his games, music and movies. Hope this Astro A50 review help you to decide.
An insanely good headset, even if the price is a deterrent. But it can inspire with quality. So, if you have $300 lying around…
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