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Anyone who’s read my scribbling on gaming-grade cans could tell you that Astro Gaming products are regularly mentioned. Though not the cheapest, you could do a heck of a lot worse to your gaming experience as they are some of the best gaming-specific headphone and mic setups on the market. See how the A50 stacks up against a different model by reading our Astro A40 review too. Compare these headphones with our EasySMX Cool 2000 review to make sure you’re making the right choice. The Astro A40 headphones with the Mixamp were the reigning champs for a good modest handful of years. That is until the Razer Tiamat 7.1 set unseated the champ (if only in raw audio playback). It is a great alternative to the Best Wireless Gaming Headset SteelSeries Arctis 7. Though, it might be a stretch to call it the best gaming headset.
Before we slap them on, let’s get a good look. Unsurprisingly, the new wireless joints from Astro look much like the company’s other wares. Style and general shape are more-or-less identical to past iterations. The signature flagship motif has always been the black-on-black color scheme, and the A50 set has more than taken up the pigment baton; It embraces it with much less color variance. The minimalist white and red accents barely disturb the all-black look. A deep red cord is also visible, extending from the earpieces up through the hallow piping connecting the headband. For another headset option, take a look at the Skullcandy PLYR2 wireless gaming headset review to compare.
The unit ships with the headphones and attached microphone, Astro wireless 5.8Ghz wireless transmitter, display stand, 1-meter USB mini-B power/voice chat cable, 0.5m USB charging cable, 1-meter optical cable and a 1.5 meter Xbox Live chat cable. It’s a concise bundle that keeps things simple.
Related: To compare this headset with another model, check out the Astro A50 With Xbox Adapter Review.
Update: The A50 headset also comes with a wireless base station to connect the headset to your PC or Xbox One. It makes pairing easier with your A50 headset, and you can pair up to four headsets on one base station. The base station also charges your headset wirelessly. If you’re a die-hard Gears of War gamer, take a look at our MadCatz Gears of War 3 review, with Dolby 7.1 surround headset review.
But there are some standout differences from your A40 setup. Gone is the option to swap out purchasable speaker tag designs. This was a bit surprising, and I have to say, I miss it. I never bought new speaker tags. But amassed a few sets over the years from owning different “Astro gear,” and I like the option. Here the mic is fixed to the left side, which kills the whole speaker tag swappage. So out the window, too, goes the ability to move the mic from the left or right side. The omissions result in a rather modest look. Yet I assure you, none of this is game-changing by any stretch. You can compare the A50 to the SteelSeries new 7H Fnatic Edition gaming headset.
Astro Gaming is back with a brand new set of cans (you can find more gaming headset reviews), the Astro A50 Wireless 7.1 Dolby Digital gaming headphones. These gaming headsets support your triumvirate of gaming go-to’s in the PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 (and now what is likely to be the best headset for PS4 and also you can count this as Best Xbox One Headset as well). This is Astro gaming’s first completely wireless setup. You may remember the company kicked out a wireless amp that was tethered to your computer or console but functioned wirelessly between the amp and the headset. This time we’re flying completely “Commando”…as it pertains to the lack of wires, NOT a lack of pants. FYI! Some really cool features from previous offerings are sacrificed. But performance is not one of them.
Related: Also, check out our Corsair Vengeance 2000 Wireless 7 1 Gaming Headset review.
Firstly, let’s set her up. It’s a simple process. But it does require an optical-in connection on your console or PC. Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 users are golden. But PC users may want to double-check for that optical-in connection on the back of your box. The port in question will be either baked into your motherboard or on a sound card. If you don’t have this port, many aftermarket options are available. I am using a Creative Xfire sound card with built-in optical-in. The included optical cable connects the transmitter/charging base to your console or PC. A single USB connection handles power and voice chat. While the second USB cable goes from the transmitter to the A50 headphones to charge them. Remember, with the new wireless base station, you can charge your A50 gaming headsets wirelessly.
Also Read: Best PS4 Headset
Again, this is a simple setup that works nearly perfectly. I did have one minor adjustment, which is fairly specific to PC users. I swapped out the USB charging cable. Instead, I use a longer USB-B cable that works with an AC adapter. “Why?” you ask. This ensures my headphones get fed a constant flow of power even when my computer is turned off. Otherwise, the transmitter will not receive power to charge your headphones. If you shut down your computer, with little juice left in the A50 headset, it’s doubtful they will sustain another prolonged session in the absence of another good charging. This alternative removes your computer, be it on or off, from the equation completely.
After it’s all connected, I enjoyed long hours of impressive audio in pampered comfort. The Astro A50 is just slightly more comfortable than the standard and wired A40 setup. That’s something to brag about. The ear cushions provide sufficient and comfortable padding. The headband is fitted with plenty of padding as well, and it is devoid of unnecessary heft or constriction. The wireless functionality offers even more comfort by way of freedom of movement and range of motion.
You can flip the mic up to auto-mute voice communication for added listening comfort. In addition, you can still dial up the game audio while also dialing down the voice chat audio. This is now done on the headphones, themselves, and not the Mixamp, like the A40 setup. The right side earpiece, with the aforementioned red and white accents, houses the toggle for this. Press up/down on the red accented line to dial up/down the Voice audio. The white accented handles the game audio. Audio cues are your only means of knowing how the two are balanced against each other. It bothered me initially, but really it’s about preference and your particular setting for a given game/voice chat client/system audio.
Astro gaming headsets are popularly praised for sound quality, and the A50 may just be the best. I ran these puppies through several of the best games on console or PC, to test for sound quality. If you didn’t think DayZ Mod could get any creepier, you were “dead” wrong. The clarity and balance in low to high sounds are staggering. I could hear zombies shuffling through the grass, even at night in pouring rain…ATVs and helicopters off in the distance… it’s a real survival asset. Borderlands 2 comes to life in its best ways: gun battles! They offer up new sounds that went previously unheard. This was the case for Battlefield 3, Deadlight, Dishonored, Planetside 2 (beta), and Hawken (beta). While, The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings Enhanced Edition, didn’t provide new audibility, it sang as it had never before with A50. To boot…? I was complimented several times on the voice chat clarity.
Draping your ears in these new unanchored cans is the best thing multiplatform gamers could do for themselves. Yet beware; these are not your highest-grade cans for music lovers. I have no complaints about what’s on offer but expect stellar gaming audio. Music lovers will have to settle for “great.” Poor you! You also get four equalizers presets to choose from. These are also a big help; some are clearly more suited for music, movies, or games. Play with them and see which you like for what you do.
Coming full circle… I like them. I like them a lot! Plus, Astro continues to improve on greatness with regular firmware updates, and an eager ear bent firmly in the community’s direction. It’s a one-stop, highly canorous fix for all your gaming audio needs. It’s also not all that cheap. For 3-bills, the Astro A50 Wireless Gaming headphones could be yours. You can also read our comparison of the Astro A10 vs Astro A40 if you are curious how these compare with those. It’s the same money for similar 7.1 wireless offerings at Mad Catz. Yet where those are Xbox exclusive, these out-perform the Warhead 7.1 setup across more gaming platforms, thereby maximizing your money spent. However, if you are still not sold on a pair of headphones, you can check out our guide on the top HyperX headsets to see if any of them fit your needs.
Bottom Line: The Astro A50 Wireless 7.1 Dolby Digital gaming headset is one impressive set of cans. Its best feature is its performance, with comfort and aesthetics coming in close 2nd and 3rd.