• Undeniably one of the best designed gaming headsets
• Amazing comfort on long runs
• A high-end wireless headset
• The Base Station is simple yet efficient
• Great sound quality
• Easier to setup and use
• The price tag might still be steep for most
• No customization options in comparison to the A40
• Battery supposedly last 15 hours but I barely reached the 10 hour mark
Roughly a year after my review of the Astro Gaming A50 Wireless Headset, the San Francisco based company revealed their newer and fourth generation model in late 2016, with very close core features to the previous edition but with an upgrade base station and cutting a lot on the cords especially for the Xbox One users. But is it really worth the upgrade if you have last year’s model or even the amazing Astro Gaming A40 TR Headset? Or is it worth it to start with for newcomers?
Like its predecessor, the 2016 Astro Gaming A50 comes in its easy and intuitive storage: you can easily open the box, with the wireless base station on one side, the headset on the other, fitted perfectly in protective plastic fitting with its traditional Astro comics in the back. in passing, and we find our helmet. Other than that, you’ll have everything needed to plug your device, including an optical audio cable and a USB cable to power the base station and that’s all. Yes, that’s all the cables you need, and that’s a great thing considering the cabling galore that was in the previous generation, between the wires needs to power the wireless station, recharge the headset and plug into the Xbox One controller, the “wireless” design was too wired for its own good.
When it comes to design, the Astro Gaming brand is unquestionably a favorite from all the gaming headsets I’ve owned or reviewed in the past. It happens to be at once simple, slick but oozing a feel of high-end product in finishing touches. Despite the majority the headset being black, the team have opt like its predecessor for a matte finishing to reduce fingerprints and smudges, thus keeping an impeccably clean helmet at all time. The small touches of green on the side edges make it also an elegant way to sport the colors of the Redmond firm (Xbox One) in my review unit, turning into blue if you get the PlayStation 4 version.
To the side of the headset, you will find the same modular branches that slide by the arch. But compared to some other head gears, the tension is nicely disposed to set in place and adjust to your head without that much effort. Like its predecessor the 2016 Astro Gaming A50 is extremely comfortable and that is not a surprise. The manufacturer is renowned for offering accessories that stay put without any discomfort and this was already the case on the previous A50 but also the newer Astro Gaming A40 TR. On the scale, the headset is roughly 360 grams and while that might read like a lot, you can hardly feel the weight as the whole is nicely distributed between the arch and the sides (which have the batteries and drivers).
The 2016 Astro Gaming A50 has several buttons on the right flank, offering all the same functions of the 3rd generation version including mixing voice chat and audio and a volume dial, but also new features that were on the old mixamp such as the on/off button and the Dolby Surround Digital button.
On the point of noise isolation, the ear cups equipped are made with the same fabric that comes in the original Astro Gaming A40 and previous A50. Foam might not be perfect for noise isolation, but I prefer it from leather materials as it doesn’t heat your ears (or keep them cold in winter). The change though now is that the ear cups can be upgraded like the Astro Gaming A40 TR with a TR (Tournament Ready) Mod Kit, replacing the foam texture with synthetic leather, more noise canceling texture, as well as an upgrade to the arc support of the headset.
The great innovation here for the 2016 Astro Gaming A50 is of course the better version of its accompanying station. Back in the previous version, the Astro Gaming A50 came with a smaller version of a MixAmp that needed so many wires hooked to it, including one USB to power the unit, one USB to charge the headset, a connector from the headset to the controller, and finally the Optical Audio for the sound channel. The new station, simply called Base Station is quite different, and acts as a resting area for your headset, which keeps it in place thanks to 2 small magnets under each ear cup. As a result, the base simply plugs into your console (or PC), powered by one USB, channeling game and voice chat sound via the optical audio and that’s about it.
The Base Station also has an upgraded range in comparison to the older model (called TX Transmitter), now reaching almost 1 meter. While that might not seem like much, it’s enough for any player sitting in your normal living room environment, and the 5GHZ helps with the local house wireless interference (usually household devices are on the 2.4GHZ frequency). Design wise, the base station is quite bigger than the previous model, but since it acts as a wireless and magnetic charging cradle, as well as having new LED status display, it does the job well.
The sound quality is very good and whether it is at the level of the voices or ambient sounds, the manufacturer can boast to give excellent audio performances. This upgraded model also allows you to pair with the Astro Command Center (via a PC program) and go through deep customization of the equalizer and other notable sound dials. In-game, everything is balanced and only the true audiophiles might not like the mixing when it comes to music, but that can be easily fixed by turning off the Digital Dolby Surround effect. Once final note is that while the 2016 Astro Gaming A50 Wireless Headset boast a 15 hours battery life, in my testing time I barely reached the 10 hour mark, but it’s still a very good benchmark for a wireless headset.
The 2016 Astro Gaming A50 Wireless Headset and Base Station was reviewed using a review unit provided by Astro Gaming. The headset is available in two different colors, and compatible with PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and numerous audio systems. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.