When someone talks about getting a high-end headset for a console, they are almost always talking about one of the “big three”: Turtle Beach, Tritton, or Astro (I’m not including Vibras as they’re only for the 360). It’s no secret that Astro makes one of the best headsets out there – after all, it’s not every company that gets to be the official headset for all MLG live tournaments. So they’re good enough for the “professional” gamers, but what about the average gamer playing at his or her house over Live or the PSN – could they be better suited for the environment of a live tourney?
The first thing that really caught my eye with the Astro A30s, was the packaging. It’s not often that a company puts their products inside of a box with magnetic seals (in fact, I’ve never seen another one). It might be superfluous, but it’s definitely a talking point (my kids wouldn’t let me throw away the boxes so they could use them). The second thing that took me by surprise was just how minimalistic they were. The ear cups weren’t huge a la Trittons, and even the bridge was fairly thin. Not only that, but the MixAmp (the thing that makes it all work) was pretty small as well. The transmitting unit fit next to my consoles seamlessly, which was great considering I only had three inches left in my entertainment system, and the receiving unit is small enough to fit in my pocket while playing and not be an annoyance.
Hooking them up was just a matter of plugging in the transmitting unit, running an optical cable from the console to it, and then adding the dongle that makes voice chat work. It’s so simple that switching it between my PS3 and 360 became part of my gaming routine, and not a chore (like some other headsets I could mention). The cables are also more than long enough for most audio/video configurations. You can use standard batteries with the receiver, or you can buy the rechargeable battery pack, which I highly recommend. You can charge it off of any USB connector, and it plays a tone whenever it’s almost out of juice.
As for sound quality, I like it so much that the A30 has become my first choice when deciding on what to use when I’m gearing for some hard core gaming. The sounds are crisp and clear, the bass is deep and rich, and the voices come through clean. There is also a nice bass boost on the receiver, but I’ve never needed to use it other than to test it (it works, but the bass was already loud enough for me). There are two mics you can use – one is the detachable boom mic, and the other is an in-line mic right by the mute toggle. They both work quite well, although the connector on my boom mic has gotten a bit of a work out, and now it makes a good amount of static in my ear whenever it moves.
One of the biggest problems with the boom mic (besides the durability issue), is the fact that it picks up EVERYTHING. I know they say it doesn’t pick up much background noise (and for the most part that’s true), but it picks up everything I do. Things such as breathing, are transmitted to everyone else in the game (much to people’s amusement). I’ve adjusted all the sensitivity settings well below where they’re recommended to be at, but unless I breathe out of the side of my mouth, it’s getting transmitted. I do live in a very noisy household though (two parrots, five dogs, and three children), and it rarely picks up on any of them – the in-line mic doesn’t pick up on my breathing, but it does on everything else. Six one way, half a dozen the other I suppose.
It is quite pricey, with the Astro A30 Audio System (Headset, cables, and MixAmp) coming in at a $199.95, with the rechargeable battery pack adding an additional $19.95 (but if you’re buying the headset you probably have enough for the battery pack too). When compared to other headsets in the same price range, it blows them all away – it even blows away several I’ve tried that were more expensive.
Overall, I give the A30s a solid 4.5/5 because of how well they sound, and their ease of use.
- Very easy to use
- The sound is spectacular
- Made by a company that takes satisfaction seriously
- High price point for average gamers
- Mics are highly sensitive
- Could be a longevity issue to the boom mic jack
You can purchase the Astro A30 Audio System from their website for $199.95