|Operating Time:||Approximately 15h|
|Distance:||Approximately 50 feet|
|Headphone Frequency Response:||20Hz-20KHz|
|Microphone Frequency Response:||20Hz-20KHz|
Pros & Cons
- Mic mutes automatically when raised
- Great button layout
- Aesthetically pleasing
- No charging cable
- 7.1 surround sound isn’t great
At first glance, the Astro A50 might look a bit funky. After all, not a lot of wireless headsets come with a base station, and even fewer have base stations that are targeted to a particular console. There is a method to the madness though, namely the color scheme that accompanies its specific headset.
Aside from its unique look though, the Astro A50 is a pretty good headset, with great audio, a good mic and relatively ok 7.1 surround sound performance. Although, you can find many better 7.1 gaming headsets on the market right now. The Astro is exactly what you’d expect from a headset that costs you a few hundred bucks (or at least what you’d hope from it anyway).
Astro A50 Performance
For a peripheral that costs an arm and a leg, you’d expect the performance to be excellent . . . and you won’t be disappointed. Given the 40mm drivers, you get a ton of sound out of the Astro A50. The sound is also pretty clear, even picking up some more subtle sounds that you wouldn’t necessarily expect.
In a general sense, the bass is deep and the highs are pretty crisp, although this can change depending on what EQ or general settings you put it on.
In terms of music listening, the cans can easily handle anything you throw at them, and the Studio Mode flattens the EQ, it doesn’t have an issue dealing with any genre you throw at it. Then there’s Astro mode, which gives you a clearer base. Finally, since this is a gaming headset, there’s the Pro mode, which lowers the base and helps clarify gaming sounds such as gunshots and footsteps.
Like most headsets at this price, the Astro A50 supports 7.1 surround sound, although again, like most headsets it can’t really compete with a proper speaker setup. Unfortunately, the sound can be muffled and a bit flat with surround sound. This is a typical side-effect and therefore a feature you likely won’t be using often (or at least, something that can be done better on other pro audio headsets).
That being said it does have Dolby Pro llx compatibility, so there’s tons of EQ (as mentioned) you can manage with this headsets. Unfortunately, the microphone here is a little bit . . . well, not as great as it should be for a product with this price tag.
Don’t get me wrong, the audio quality is clear, but it certainly has issues handling plosives or other popping sounds and that could be a bit of a pain to deal with. Otherwise, it’s actually pretty sturdy and when you pull it down it pops in with a satisfying click. I mean, it’s definitely built solidly, and aside from a few issues here and there, it’s a pretty good microphone.
As for the wireless signal, it’s rated to around 30 – 35 feet, although your actual mileage might vary with a more realistic target being closer to 15-20 feet. That being said, it’s still quite a lot, and that number is taking into consideration interference from other devices and walls.
Now, we come to the battery life of the Astro A50 which is a bit hard to get a handle on given the amount of variance. Astro says that the device can go for 12 hours, but depending on your usage and volume, it can go to 10 hours, or more realistically, as low as 8 hours on one charge. That may sound a bit disappointing going from 12 to 8 hours of battery life, but 8 hours is a pretty long time for use and affords you an opportunity to take a break.
Otherwise, you can just plug the headset in and charge it while wired. But if that’s just not your thing, you better look for some other great wired headset options. One cool feature though is the headsets internal accelerometer which detects whether the headset is upright (such as when you wear it), or not. If it isn’t upright it goes on standby to preserve battery power, although it doesn’t always seem to kick in properly.
Finally, I want to discuss the base station in terms of performance and the one big issue which I find somewhat annoying. You see, the Astro comes in two variants: One for the Xbox and one for the PS4. Now, you absolutely can use the Astro with either, but only if you have the associated base stand for it, so if you bought the PS4 version, you’re going to have to buy the Xbox stand for an added $100.
I find that pretty annoying, to be honest, and while you can still get around buying the second device by using the A50 in PC mode, I don’t like the fact that you need to pay an extra $100 for the convenience of not dealing with a workaround.
One other issue is that the headsets connect to the stand magnetically and that can be finicky sometimes by not connecting properly. This means that your headset won’t necessarily be getting a charge, even if though it should. Again, this isn’t a deal-breaker, but it’s certainly annoying and not something I want to see on a high-end headset.
Astro A50 Design
The Astro A50s look can certainly be very divisive and it’s mostly hit and miss whether you like it or not. The majority of the headset is made of a plastic finished off in a black matte, with the two side pieces that hold the head strap and cans being made out of metal.
As you can probably tell from the images, the color is based off what console you purchased your unit with; green for Xbox One and blue for PS4, a pretty smart decision that helps unify the color schemes between your headset and console. A50 can also be found on our list of the best Xbox One headsets.
The top part of the headset is adjustable, so you can sort of lower and raise the headphones according to your needs and it can also be made wider. It’s actually reasonably comfortable, even in long use, and that credit mostly goes to the padded foam top that keeps things pretty soft. Actually, you can choose to change the foam padding on the top part and the headphones to something else, like leather, but that’s going to cost you a bit extra.
Thankfully, the earcups swivel at 90 degrees, which is both great for storage and for resting them on your shoulders when you want to take a break. As you can imagine with a headset like this, it does clamp down quite tightly on your head and stops any anomalous movement, and even though it’s comfortable, it can still cause you fatigue after a while.
Also, the construction of the microphone is great. The arm it’s connected to is well built and feels solid, even though it’s made of plastic, which actually makes it pretty flexible.
Finally, there’s the base station, which mirrors the design of the headset (and the console you picked it for). The headset connects through the base magnetically and it actually manages to stand on its own without any other needed support. This mechanism also allows it to charge, although as mentioned, it doesn’t always do an excellent job of that, so you might want to keep a micro-USB cable handy.
Astro A50 Pricing & Alternative
The Astro A50 is available at the whopping price of $299.99, which certainly puts it in the upper echelons of headsets. As for alternatives, the Logitech G933 Artemis Spectrum is a good option if you don’t want to pay as much and get performance which is just a tad under the Astro A50. It only costs $64.79, so it’s certainly a lot cheaper. I’ve actually done a Logitech G933 review if you want to check it out.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Astro A50 come with MixAmp?
Yes, indeed, the new Astro A50 still has the MixAmp which allows you to balance your audio the way you like it.
Does Astro A50 have surround sound?
Absolutely, up to 7.1, although like many other gaming headsets that try to tackle 7.1, it does have some teething problems.
Which is better Astro A40 or A50?
The only real difference between the A40 and the A50 is that the A40 is wired while the A50 is wireless. Other than that they are the exact same headsets with the same audio quality, same build, same everything.
Can you play and charge Astro A50?
Thankfully the answer to that is yes! Unfortunately, that means you’re going to have to go wired which kinda defeats the purpose of a wireless headset, so make sure it’s always charged up before you use it.
The Astro A50 is actually a pretty great headset, even though it’s a bit expensive and won’t make your wallet happy. I certainly like the concept of a base station although I’m not happy about having to buy two different base stations if you own two different consoles. Otherwise, it’s certainly worth the purchase if you want to buy a top-notch product.
The overall performance of the Astro A50 is absolutely great, with a lot of variability in the EQ and how you want to adjust everything. The only reason it gets a knock-down is that the 7.1 surround which isn’t that great, and quite frankly could do without just to get a lower price.
I’m more ambivalent about design than anything else with this headset and while the overall construction is great, it can be a little finicky or even clamp down a bit too hard, which is where it gets its knockdown. It also gets another knock due to the base station issue and not always connecting properly to charge.
This is where I mostly think it’s just crossing the line into overpriced, with it being a bit too expensive for what you’re getting. Of course, what really knocks the score down a lot is that you need to have a base station for each PS4 and Xbox One if you have both consoles, which granted, isn’t super likely, but still, it shouldn’t be so expensive at $100 for the extra station.
It’s a great product overall and even though it has some issues here and there, it’s certainly worth the price. Honestly, I’m a pretty tough grader, so a 4 from me is actually a pretty excellent score anywhere else.