Astro A50 Headset
I picked up a pair of Turtle Beach Ear Force XO Four for a little under $200 so that I could experience Alien Isolation to it’s fullest. Whilst the XO Four do a good enough job, they are not as good as the old Turtle Beach headset that I had on the 360. So when Bluemouth Interactive offered to loan me a set of their new Astro A50’s I jumped at the chance.
These babies retail for $469, so I was expecting a lot from them, and whilst I sorely miss them, they were not without a few teething problems.
I’m not a technical guy, I’m not an audio guy. I’m a plug it in a hope it works kind of guy. I’m your average punter. Maybe. So I read the instructions carefully before (and during) set up. My first problem was that the audio cables would not plug into the back of my XBox One. At first I thought maybe I was being too careful, but then I tried quite a bit of force. They just would not slot in and I was getting very frustrated. I took a break and came back to the job at hand, looked over the set up instructions and their, in small print, at the end of the instructions was a minor point – don’t forget to take the caps off the end of the audio cables. Maybe this should have been a little more prominent and at a more suitable place in the instructions?
Other than that, set up was a breeze, I updated my XBox and controller and everything was set to go, except the headset seems to come shipped set to maximum volume. Ouch. They also have a handy tap surface on the headset so you can turn up or down the chat volume. Problem was that this was set up quite loud as well, so to get any sound from the game I had to turn up the volume and was getting quite a bit of static. A bit of fiddling around and google searching and I got everything perfect, and fired up Far Cry 4. When I reached the Himalayas the sound was absolutely amazing. The Astro A50’s were worth every bit of hassle. They put my (much cheaper) Turtle Beach headset to shame. The sound was crisp, the atmosphere was palatable, I was in gaming Nirvana.
The headset was also incredibly comfortable. Where as my XO Four almost felt like a clamp on my head, The A50 felt almost luxurious. And by which I mean you forgot you were actually wearing them.
I tested the Astro A50’s with a few games, a BluRay Pure Audio album, and a BluRay film. The sound across all these was amazing. I’m no audiophile, but I know when something sounds better than something else, and I’ve tested a range of Turtle Beach headsets on the XBox 360, PS3 and XBox One, but these Astro A50’s put everything else to shame.
In the sound and comfort categories.
The second time I went to use the A50’s, they had no sound coming out of them, and after a fruitless google search, and some hair pulling, they suddenly worked again. This fortunately was not to be a recurring theme. The A50’s worked perfectly from here on in.
But they did have some niggling shortcomings. The adapter that slots onto the Xbox One controller (on both the Turtle Beach and the Astro) does not come off easy. This is probably a Microsoft design fault rather than anything to blame Astro for. But, because the wire that connects the headset to the controller is permanently affixed to the adapter, if you’re not wanting to use the headset, you either have to struggle to take the adapter out or have a cable hanging between your hands. Not necessarily a biggy, but my turtle beach headset has a removable cable.
The only other shortcoming is that the headset runs off a rechargeable battery. Just like the Xbox controller and with the same plugs. This would be ok, if the charge cable was the same length as the XBox Controller, but it’s not. It’s way too short. Embarrassing so.
Minor hiccups that can be worked around quite easily (buy a longer cable!), and to be honest, I’d trade the convenience of my Turtle Beach XO Four headset (which runs off the Xbox Controller’s battery) for the sheer awesomeness of the Astro A50 in a heartbeat. The A50 is so much better in term of comfort and quality, that once you’re set up, you’ll not want to wear a cheap headset ever again.
It’s just a damn shame that Bluemouth wanted the headset back.
Reviewed by: Jonathan