Astro A50 Wireless Headset Review
According to advertising, the Astro A50 was co-developed “by professional gamers, streamers, and designers” to meet the maximum audiophile requirements of gamers. But is the Astro A50 worth 320 euros? Sebastian listened to and looked at the Astro A50 more closely in the test.
EQUIPMENT & PROCESSING
Before testing the excellent piece for bass and treble, discussing the microphone, and checking the levels, here are the vital technical data as usual.
The box is massive. A large, glossy printed box lies in front of us. In this box, you will find another package that is luxuriously opened. The order in it seems almost sterile. Plastic containers pack the headset and accessories. Everything looks precisely coordinated and placed in a targeted manner. Astro, a Logitech brand, apparently wants to serve the discerning gamer here.
The connection of the headset is straightforward. First, we free the charging station and the headset from the plastic and then have the option of connecting the station to our PC via USB or optical cable—alternatively, the Playstation or Xbox.
- Amazing Design
- Good sound quality
- Immersive surround sound
- Slightly bright treble
- EQ switch doesn’t deliver
- Not true 7.1 sound
One notices immediately that the cables are not as high quality as the price suggests. The cast ends, and thin cables without much shielding disturb the overall picture.
The charging station itself appears solid. Matt and shiny plastic alternate, and the shell itself doesn’t look too clumsy either. The nice thing about it is that our headset doesn’t just lie on the table while charging. Instead, the shell gives us a visually attractive stand for our premium headset.
The headset itself is made stable. Velor covers for the auricles are delivered to you in the factory state. Of course, Astro does not spoil it and offers more in their shop. However, the price also has it all. For a simple pair of artificial leather shells and a headrest, we pay 39.99 euros plus shipping as a set.
In addition, the ear cups are neatly processed, especially since the plastic used here feels high-quality and can easily withstand a few accidental falls without significant damage.
In addition, the hinges on the edge are robust and made of metal, which contributes to the longevity of the Astro A50. To make the headphones lighter, the headband is slightly open and a slight hollow. Only a plastic middle part rests on the head. Although it is flexible, it does not feel as resistant as a standard headboard. Nevertheless, you also get velor upholstery in the middle part.
The controls on the ear cups (buttons) are also very well made. Nothing wobbles, and everything works as it should. Furthermore, the size adjustment using a hinge is reasonable and engages directly and adequately. The microphone, which is muted by an integrated flip switch, gives slight but noticeable feedback when it is operated. The headset makes a very high-quality impression and quickly leaves apparent opponents such as Roccat or Razer behind.
The supplied accessories are more like a simple headsets from smaller price ranges. The previously mentioned USB cable and the optical cable come with a cable length of just one meter in the box. This may still be very practical on the console, but on the PC, it can quickly lead to problems with larger structures or desks.
Again, we miss a driver’s CD. The quick start guide also gives us no indication of Astro’s software. Because with it, you can bring your headset up to date and configure the equalizer. It’s a shame. One might have expected from a premium product.
DESIGN AND ERGONOMICS
The Astro 50 already looks bulky. The drawn edges appear almost aggressive, but the contours highlighted with glossy plastic and matt additions look very classy overall.
The base station with the discreet LED lighting for sound mode, channel selection, and the charge level is also cautious but high quality.
However, you will have to do without RGB lighting or the like here. Astro has kept the entire set in black, exposed the LED in light white tones, and does not want to go to the new “Everything has to be colorful!” Trend belong.
So the good thing is charged, software installed, firmware updated, and upside down. Despite the heavyweight, it is incredibly comfortable. The auricles do not press too much on your head, and we have a pleasant contact pressure through the headrest. In addition, the auricles are nice and large so that your ears are perfectly covered, and there is no unnecessary pressure. Very pleasant!
Even faster movements make the headset hardly slip or appear uncomfortable. However, the weight is relatively high, which may be bothersome. Nevertheless, that didn’t bother our Sebastian after three hours of music, film, and gaming.
The thick velor ear cushions are easy to wear as usual and distribute the pressure evenly. If you want to switch to artificial leather, you have to order it separately. However, the exchange is effortless. You don’t have to fiddly pull a narrow rubber ring on the frame.
A magnetic click system to which the auricle protectors are attached does this for you. So you change the shell within seconds, without much effort. So that’s a lovely addition.
The noise attenuation of noises entering from the outside is excellent. It is not so tightly “shielded” that you have to be called three times. But there is sufficient isolation from light and medium-loud outside noises.
Due to the velor upholstery, the Astro A50 is relatively breathable so that you won’t get warm or sweaty ears so quickly. Nevertheless, your ears get pretty warm during longer gaming sessions and farm performances.
The microphone can be flipped up when it is no longer in use. So it will be muted immediately. For the necessary distance to the mouth, the arm is flexible and can thus be varied. However, we do not have a light signal or similar on the charging station or headphones, whether our microphone is active.
CONNECTION, TECHNOLOGY & SOFTWARE
While we have come to the microphone, let’s take a look at the technical details and, above all, the software.
Connection & technology
As usual, we let the headset run through various scenarios. Since every user has their own “favorite topics” and areas, we have tried to stagger them as broadly as possible. Finally, we connected the headset to the PC and PS4 using an optical cable.
The test was carried out on the PC after installing the associated software from Astro. Unfortunately, the PS4 couldn’t serve that. However, according to Astro, the software can be installed on the Xbox One, which is a disadvantage for Sony. However, we can save the setups on the headphones in 3 profiles, which can be selected on the headphones. So if we want to enjoy the luxury of profiles on the PS4, a PC, MAC, or Xbox One has to help out.
After connecting and charging, the headset is automatically paired with the Setup Station, but not via Bluetooth. Astro has opted for a 5 GHz radio technology used more and more in the WLAN area instead of the standard 2.4 GHz technology.
So, let’s continue with the test.
We tested a range of about 6 meters, separated by two doors and plasterboard walls. Important: Due to its composition, plasterboard, in particular, is an interference problem on these frequencies. However, we could not find any impairment here.
Placing a cell phone directly at the station and the Roccat-Leader transmitting station did not cause any interference on any device.
Now that we have the technical principle that the headset is connected and ready let’s look at the heart—the software.
Astro A50 software
The software can be downloaded quickly with about 200 MB and installed just as quickly.
After the installation, the headset is quickly placed on the station, the current firmware is loaded, and then we can jump into the setup. This presented itself very clearly and detoxified. We don’t have any complex graphics or nonsensical settings, but everything is a bit too “black” for us here.
We get the opportunity to create three profiles in the equalizer settings. These can be adapted to our preferences at different frequencies. This is where things get interesting for real audio fans.
The button “Advanced” under the simple equalizer brings us to an extra menu. When dialing in, we are advised that the settings there are very sensitive. And there it goes to the nitty-gritty:
Center frequencies can be adjusted directly in Hz
Sound pressure level can be optimized in dB ranges
and bandwidths can be set.
You should only go in here if you know what you want. Otherwise, the sound experience will quickly turn into a creepy excursion.
The respective profiles can then be saved in triplicate, and you can switch to the desired shape using a switch on the headphones themselves. Excellent addition: We know which profile is currently active. The one you have selected is numbered on the charging station with 1 to 3.
What is also very pleasant: Once you have connected your PC and console (the station offers the possibilities thanks to numerous connections), you can select the respective signal. Again, via a switch on the headset. And here, too, the corresponding symbol on the charging station will show you which device is active.
Next, we come into the microphone settings. There are presets like “Streaming, Night, or Tournament.” The advantage is shown quickly and recognizable by tooltip: These profiles are aimed at specific areas of use. Alternatively, you can also control the microphone volume, levels, and background recordings. Unfortunately, there are no refined settings for the frequencies here, but this is due to the microphone’s characteristics.
The following menu is the so-called “stream port,” which is aimed at consoles because consoles use the same audio channel for voice chat and game sound. With the software, you can separate the volume between the voice channel and the game channel and regulate it at different levels. Exciting aspect here: If you stream with your console, you can turn the voice channel for your stream louder or quieter—a handy convenience function.
ASTRO A50 MICROPHONE TEST
Now that we’ve configured the headset, saved the settings, and sat down, let’s listen carefully. To do this, we set the microphone for the cleanest environment to test a direct, clear, and undistorted recording.
Please note the correct positioning of the microphone here. Astro has not installed a so-called pop filter here, which means that solid S-sounds can lead to overdriving and be very uncomfortable for your playmates or your stream.
If you want to hear what the Astro A50 microphone sounds like, then listen to the following sound sample:
But as you can hear from our test, we have a clear and structured sound. Sure, a cardioid microphone operated by a mixer or an audio interface is unbeatable. But Astro doesn’t want that with this headset either.
But what immediately inspired us: We have audio monitoring. Do you know that? Don’t you know how loud you are compared to the game you’re streaming? If necessary, the Astro A50 sends your microphone signal directly to your ears. And that without delay. This is extremely pleasant, especially in streaming.
SOUND IMAGE OF THE HEADPHONES & BASE STATION EXPLAINED
But now we come to the listening pleasure with the Astro 50. With such an exclusive price segment, as a reminder, we have 320 euros here. We expect more than just the features already mentioned. As is so often the case in this area of headsets, we have again installed 40mm, neodymium-magnet drivers.
We played Rainbow Six: Siege (PC), Starcraft 2 (PC), Final Fantasy 14 (PC), Hotline Miami (PC), Horizon: Zero Dawn (PS4), and The Last of Us Remastered (PS4).
To do this, we have set ourselves the Dolby mode and configured the profile as in the screenshot above.
The Dolby mode convinced us here, however, and the sound reproduction was also hot.
The massive soundtrack from Hotline Miami brought us the most fun. The Astro A50 gave us a furious sound. Not infrequently, we just stood in the game and listened to music.
In Rainbow Six: Siege, we had a different “use case.” There was no loud music here to enrich the game. Instead, the precise location of noises is required here, apparent background noises and clear differentiation of TeamSpeak and in-game sounds.
Regardless of steps, shots, or ambient noise, the sound image was more than reasonable. We especially liked the highs and clean mids here.
StarCraft 2 and Final Fantasy also clearly benefit from the high-quality drivers. Because especially the very epoch-making soundtracks were so inspiring, it wasn’t tricky for Hotline Miami to convince with its catchy soundtrack.
On the PlayStation 4, we took the current SLIM revision. Here we were faced with a problem: This has no optical output for the sound. We also miss a 3.5mm jack connection. So the base station is attached to the console via USB.
Here, however, a problem arises which is not the case on the PC and which was unfortunately confirmed by Astro on request:
Yes, if the headset’s base station uses the USB ports of the PS4, the PS4 will recognize it. So we can use the full scope of the headset—also the respective equalizer profiles, which we have previously set on the PC.
But the sound is only transmitted in stereo. Admittedly clean and sonorous, but the DTS range is wholly cut off. That puts pressure on the rating and is disappointing for this price range. Otherwise, our test console recognized the headset straight away and assigned it correctly.
Movies & Music
Then it went into the films or VODs. We left the Dolby profile active with our settings not to cause any distortion of the result. For this purpose, we have selected, for example, extra VODs that have a DTS soundtrack. A regular YouTube video, as an example, is mixed as a simple sound in 9 out of 10 cases. But to be able to test the DTS support, we needed suitable material. So we have taken various clips directly on the DTS website ( https://dts.com/experience-dts-headphonex ).
But since there is also such a low potential for loss (due to the transmission and overlaying of the codec), we took raw material directly. You can get this for testing free of charge. It is saved as MKV and therefore offers a 1: 1 recording of the extensive sound spectrum. These files can, for example, be played very quickly with a VLC media player.
We did the following: DTS: X Out of the Box (Long), SFX Long (Lossless), and Living World of Audio 2 Long (Lossless).
And this is where the Astro A50 shows that it’s not just a perfect gamer headset. The mix of the different pitches, the music, the bass, and treble – we have an intense cinema atmosphere that caught us and blew us away. So far, we have not been able to experience a gaming headset of such quality. Yes, even headphones like the Beyerdynamic DT 770 will reach their limits here, which we used as a direct comparison. However, especially at higher volumes, there are advantages.
As a comparison, you can take a robust home theater system here. Sure, the volume range in a headset is many times smaller, but the audio quality the Astro A50 delivers here is enormous and enthusiastic.
The base station of the Astro A50
But where does this sound quality come from? How can it all be in this headset? The background is a simple one and also another reason why it drives the price up.
Regular or simple headsets get their sound quality from a simple sound chip. This picks up your sound card and uses these frequencies. Of course, the Astro A50 or the charging station does that too, but what if your sound card doesn’t support DTS?
Usually, software such as the Sound Engine 3 from Steelseries emulates the codec required to generate the sound. However, Astro or Logitech went a bit further here:
As mentioned, the base station can register which channel the sound is on, despite several inputs. The solution is straightforward: An extra sound chip has been installed here, delivering full DTS quality. Your PC controls this by itself without installing a significant driver. And that explains to you why the software was designed so extensively. A move that you will notice in the sound. It is not without reason that sound card owners rave about the outstanding quality, in contrast to simple sound chips stored on-board on your mainboard. And the consoles also come into play here because the support of the chip is noticeable rigorously.
The Astro A50 has a great base station that offers dock charging and multiple ports. In addition to the status LEDs on the front, the connections can be seen on the rear.
The base has a standard audio input socket, optical input, and audio via the USB cable connected to your PC or the corresponding console. Unfortunately, the base station of the A50 is only compatible with either PS4 or Xbox One (depending on which model you buy), but the headset can be connected to both base variants. You can still use an Xbox One station on the PS4 by clicking the optical cable and using PC mode.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE 3RD AND 4TH GENERATIONS?
If you are considering upgrading from the 3rd generation of the Astro A50 to the 4th generation or are wondering whether it is worth spending more, then we have listed the differences of Generation 4 for you here:
Design differences: color (ear pads and frame) now mainly black, before green or blue accents
Base station: Connections directly on the back, LED display on the front (did not exist before)
Two years Dolby Atmos with Generation 4
Buttons on the auricle to focus the sound on the voice or in-game sound (was previously on the lower side of the shell)
Is it worth upgrading from A50 Gen 3 to Gen 4? No way. Is it worth spending money on the new Astro A50 Gen 4? Perhaps. If you prefer complete black in terms of color and want Dolby Atmos, then yes. Otherwise, save the money and get the 3rd generation.
CONCLUSION ON THE ASTRO A50 TEST
One is seldom enthusiastic about a product. On the contrary, one is often skeptical, especially with “gaming headsets,” always having a bland aftertaste. So it is better to be safe than sorry.
The Astro A50 is optically discreet, not too bulky, and the quality looks excellent. The only drawbacks here are the cables supplied and the lack of synthetic leather covers as an alternative ordered at a high price. Moreover, there are no “fancy” features like exchangeable cover plates for the auricles. But it still looks high quality, especially in connection with the charging station. It is an eye-catcher.
The software is extensive, and it offers settings that also inspire professionals in the audio sector. Because here, it was aimed at more than just the “average gamer.”
The headset is therefore aimed at the enthusiast. Someone likes to take 320 euros in hand but wants an unmistakable and genuine DTS audio experience in their games, music, and films. Regardless of the platform, the profiles are saved on the charging station.
An excellent headset, even if the price puts you off. But it can inspire through quality, so if you have 320 euros lying around.