Product Provided By: Astro
Platform : PC
Editor: Carrie Crockett
Astro's last generation, A30, was good for what it was, but we couldn't really recommend it with such a premium price point. This time around, the A50 manages to look and feel like it's the prime choice. This model sports a heavy duty mechanical look while maintaining the smooth comfort feel you'd expect from a headset of this caliber. When Astro included the optional leather mod pack for the A50, we knew we were in for a treat. Everything, from the extremely comfortable ear cups to the A50's built in mix-amp, offers a refined experience that really manages to feel more modern than the competition.
If you are not planning on using this headset on PC, but instead wish to use the A50 on the Playstation 4 or Xbox One, you have to ensure you purchase the proper model, or you may end up having to purchase another base for an extra $100. While both headsets are essentially the same, you will be unable to use the wireless chat features unless you have the correct version. Due to the intricacies of compatibility between the Xbox One and Playstation 4, the full experience of the A50 comes at a hefty price. Again, if price is not an option, the A50 is still your best bet for a premium experience across all platforms.
While the Astro A50 feels sturdy, one must take into consideration that it is made of plastic. This combined with a slightly heavier weight than some headphones could lead to potential breakage if dropped or not used carefully. That isn't to say that the materials are cheap, far From it. The materials feels very study and help keep the headset lighter than a metal frame could accomplish. We were also quite glad to receive the modification kit that is an optional add of for the A50. The kit includes synthetic leather ear cushions to help noise cancellation, as well as a padded headband. While the headband may not be for everyone, this mod kit certainly made it more comfortable for us to wear.
Now for the sound. One of the most important aspects of any headset. This is where the Astro A50 truly shines. While playing on both PS4 and PC, we found the audio to be very clear. Even the faintest sounds were heard with ease. The surround sound helped us pinpoint approaching enemies. I could hear where the metal footfalls of mechanical beast landed as I snuck through the vegetation of Horizon Zero Dawn. The soundtracks to some of our favorite RPGs, such a Persona 5, became even more impressive. It made playing far more immersive by improving sounds and cancelling out background noise. These aspects really helped us appreciate not only the A50, but the games we played just that much more.
Thankfully setup of the A50 was easier than expected. On Playstation 4 you will need to plug in the charging base to the consoles optical and USB ports. If you're playing on PC like us, all you have to do is plug the base into your computers USB. Pairing the headset to the base is very simple as well. All you have to do is place the device into the magnetic changing cradle. The charging lights will turn on once the headset is paired. The A50 is not even dock specific, so you can purchase multiple docks for one headset. The magnetic charging also greatly helps the ease of use.
Even though there is an option to use USB to charge while gaming, all one has to do when not using it is place the headset down on the charging dock. The charge lasts much longer than most wireless headsets as well, claiming to last up to 15 hours. While we didn't marathon our gaming sessions to test this out to its full extent, we can say that the A50 lasted for many hours of continuous play without ever giving a recharge warning.
Now here's where things start to stray a bit from what has so far been plug and play ease. Up until now we had the A50 marked as a perfect score, after looking at customization app titled Astro Command Center, things weren't exactly optimal. While the program managed to offer us three new separate presets, we still had to play with the large amount of options in order to get the superior experience. Sadly, the Astro Command Center is a bit overwhelming with all of the possible options. What may be a playground to some, may offer a different experience to the casual user.
This complexity for what was otherwise an extremely user friendly headset, brings our rating to a 9.5/10.
Pros: Maximized for comfort
High quality sound
Wireless charging and pairing
Great battery life
Cons: Potentially confusing control application