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Astro A50 Wireless Headset Review – A Work of Art
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I was in gaming heaven for more than two weeks. My guide,
the new Astro A50 wireless headset for PS4 and PC (also available for Xbox One), created by Astro Gaming. There is no other way
to describe this piece of gaming hardware genius except for calling it a work
of art. Before we get to my experience with the headset, let’s take
a look at the setup and specifications.

Setup and specifications

Setting up the headset took me roughly 10 minutes for my PS4
(excluding the charging). I had to jump through some hoops to get it working,
so for those who purchase one, I suggest following the instruction manual word
for word, instead of trying to set it up without help. The beautiful and tight package comes with two cables (Micro
USB and Optical), a “base station” for charging and of course the headset.
Charging the headset fully took roughly four hours, with the charging cable
plugged directly into my PC’s USB slot (or USB slot on PS4). For those who want to know the specific
technical details, check out the specifications below.

The specifications:

  • Drivers: 40mm Neodymium Magnet
  • USB Output: 5.0V – 200mA
  • Wireless Range: Up to 30ft
  • Weight: 0.8 LBS (380G)
  • Transducer Principle: Open Air
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz – 20,000Hz
  • Character SPL: 118dB @1kHz
  • Microphone: 6.0mm unidirectional noise
    canceling
  • Nominal Impedance: 48 ohms
  • Power Supply: USB Micro-B (USB 2.0
    compatible)
  • Ear Coupling: Over-Ear
  • Base
    Station Inputs & Outputs: Optical Pass-through, USB Power & Soundcard,
    USB Charging Port, AUX In / Mic out (TRRS 3.5mm)

The Astro A50 boasts up to 15 hours of continuous play
before a charge is needed. In my experience, the headset last 12 hours the
first time and an average of 13 and a half hours the subsequent times I
charged. If your gaming session lasts more than 13 hours, you can also charge
the headset with a USB cable while it is still wearing it. Another really cool thing about the Astro A50 is that it has
a built-in accelerometer, which means that when I took the headset off and put
it on my table on its side to make a cup of coffee, it turned off to reserve
power, which is nice…and feels futuristic. This will add to the battery life as it will not waste battery while you step away from your game. 

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The one thing I didn’t like about the headset is that the
audio seemed to cut out a couple of times (for less than a second) in my first
12 hours, and then again once almost with every subsequent charge. That being
said, it isn’t a deal breaker at all, as it might have been a bug in my setup, or even specific to my model.

The right side earcup of the headset is where all your
controls reside. A three-way EQ slider, a volume dial, Dolby button, and the
power switch with a game and voice balance option on the back. Then there is
the flip-down mic, which feels natural to use and adjust at your leisure. 

Transforming your gaming experience

The Astro A50 has given me a new outlook on gaming and what
I want from audio quality. In the past two weeks, I have tried several games
with the headset, tuned it to my liking via the Astro Command Centre (which is
a software suit that comes with a plethora of settings), and tested just about
everything the headset is capable of.

My conclusion: The Astro A50 will transform your gaming
experience on the PS4 forever.

Resident Evil 7 was the first game I tested with the
headset, and my only regret was not knowing what I was letting myself in for.
The headset’s superb audio quality pushed the game to new heights and made the
horror experience even more frightening. Every footstep, every squeak of a
wooden floor was crisp to the point where I had to stop playing to regain my
composure.

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The increase in quality over a standard headset or TV speaker is
just that good. Other games like Nioh didn’t evoke the same feeling as
Resident Evil, but I could still hear a big difference, especially during
combat where the swing of a sword through the air, could not have sounded any better. The Astro
A50 is also compatible with PC and MAC, so I tested it with Counter-Strike:
Global Offensive (CS: GO) on PC. In CS: GO, players rely heavily on positional
audio and predictive shots, and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the
results, as the game delivered just that. 

I do have a gaming headset that cost me just over R1000 for PC, but my
game improved so much in CS: GO with the Astro A50 I just don’t want to go back
to anything else. The surround sound is superb, albeit a bit
different from what I am used to. I don’t know exactly how, but the speakers
feel further away, deeper in a sense, which helps the surround sound effect
really come to life. In every single game I played, my experience was transformed
into what I can only describe as audio heaven. 

The Astro A50 doesn’t compromise
quality on any front, delivering an experience like nothing I have encountered
before. I couldn’t hear my mic myself, obviously, but doing some
testing in a Skype test call and asking others in both CS: GO and Dota 2
matches the responses were generally “crystal clear”, with one exception where
I lagged a bit.

Comfort is key

Out of the box, the Astro A50 is extremely comfortable. I
didn’t have to adjust anything for it to fit perfectly onto my average-sized
cranium. For me, comfort is the most important part about a headset, way above
anything else (if the sound is decent), as I use a headset for prolonged
periods of time. The headset is a tiny bit bigger and heavier than what I am
used to, but I didn’t experience any discomfort while using it.

It actually
felt better once I got used to the extra weight. The headset’s frame is a combination of
plastic and aluminium, which means it is still light for its size. Combined
with the comfortable earpads and padded headband, the whole build just screams
quality.

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Everything on the headset is adjustable, you can even remove
the padding at the top or the soft cushions over the ears. The act of removing
the cushions, for example, was so incredibly easy. All I needed to do was pull
on them, and they came off.

But wait, you might think that would mean they
could fall of or move during play? Nope. They are fitted with magnets which
lock onto the cushion’s specific place when you bring them close enough. You can adjust the Astro A50 so much, tailor it to your
specific needs and enjoy the most comfortable gaming headset experience to
offer.

The Verdict

Just like your traditional works of art, the Astro A50 comes
at a hefty price. The Recommended Retail Price (RRP) is R4999, which is more
than a PS4 Slim 500GB console goes for in South Africa…

The best price I could find for the headset in South Africa
at the time of writing is from Evopoints
at R4,499
and then from Rebel Tech at the
price of R4,550.
It is without a doubt a large amount of money for a headset;
but the quality of the Astro A50 is without question. If you are looking for a
premium audio experience on the PS4, that is also a PC and Mac headset, and money is no issue, you can’t go wrong
with the Astro A50. It delivers an amazing wireless audio experience, one which
I thoroughly enjoyed every second of in my two weeks with the headset.

Coupled
with its ease of use, the ability to adjust just about anything on the headset
and the extremely comfortable design right out of the box, it is definitely a
must-have. The Astro A50 will transform your console gaming experience into
something more, something truly special. I simply don’t want to play games
without it anymore.

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