Today we are looking at a premium level gaming headset, the Astro A40 + MixAmp Pro. We will be running it through its paces to see if the $250 price tag is worth it. We will also be seeing if it's worth it for you to just pick up the A40's by themselves, or if the MixAmp Pro is worth a further $150.
The Astro A40's are marketed towards premium level gamers that are looking to drop some significant cash on a gaming headset, and with Astro's being a big name in the gaming headset industry, we are going to see if they live up to that.
In this review, I will be discussing the headset's performance with audio, comfort, provided software, flaws, design, microphone, and more. I will also be providing my thoughts on my gaming experience I had with the headset with/without MixAmp Pro with over 30 hours of solid gaming.
So, let's jump right into it!
Specification Details and Close-up
Jumping straight into it, we have an image of the front of the box. Here's where we can see some of the features that come with the A40's such as compatibility, mod kit ready, tournament ready, and Dolby Atmos support.
Next, we have the back of the box. In this image, we get a much more detailed look at all of the features. We can see that a legend and a corresponding diagram of both the A40 headset and the MixAmp Pro has been provided. This is a really great touch, as potential buyers of the headset or even people who have already bought it can refer back to this for a fast explanation of features.
I must say, the unpacking experience for the A40's was extremely high-quality, the outer cardboard is stiff and rigid, and it has a nice artistic pattern on it.
From this image, you can see how the box unfolds out into a horizontal like fashion. Inside of the box, all of the headset gear is firmly placed in its own dedicated plastic compartments.
Next, we are looking at everything that was included inside the box besides the user manual and Dolby Atmos two year activation code. This is what we see in the image; Astro A40, microphone, 2m in-line audio cable, MixAmp Pro, 3m optical cable, 50cm daisy chain cable, and a 3m micro USB cable.
Here we have a close-up image of the MixAmp Pro. From this image, we can see a large volume wheel to the left, and to the right, the voice/game volume wheel. The button at the top of the MixAmp allows users to switch between normal stereo sound and Dolby's surround sound. The button at the bottom of the MixAmp allows users to switch equalizer modes, which I will get into later on in this review.
Here's where things might get a bit confusing. This is the back of the MixAmp Pro, and from this image (going from left to right), we have a daisy chain port, optical in port, micro USB port, Xbox/PC mode switch, AUX-in port, stream port, and another daisy chain port.
This is the front of the MixAmp, and in this image, we are looking at the PC and Xbox text that lights up when you have selected a respective mode. There's also the headset port that users plug their 3.5mm jack once it's attached to their headset.
The A40's come with customizable Speaker Tags that allow users to add some further customization and personalization to their headset. These can be simply removed by pulling them off, as they are magnetically connected. Side note - users can purchase separate tags from the Astro website.
The A40's fabric earcups can also be removed, and replaced with leather earcups if the user purchases the Mod-Kit.
This image is the backside of the microphone. The microphone is actually quite long and is extremely flexible, which allows gamers to adjust it in any way they desire.
Here we have a close-up of the microphone head. The head is metal and really rounds off the whole look of the A40's.
This image is of the extremely comfy fabric earcups. These earcups are amazing, they fit nice, and snug and are great to longer gaming sessions. The one downside of them being fabric is that lint, hair, and other bits of fabric do catch onto them, which is what can be seen in the image.
In this image, we are looking at the height adjustment for the headset. Instead of numbers, Astro has opted for simple stickers that allow for users to make sure their headset is at the same height on each side. On a personal note, I really prefer the look of plain stickers rather than numbers (especially for this design of headset).
Finally, to finish off the close-up inspection, we have an image of the 3.5mm headset jack located on the left earcup.
Design and Use Case
I have used the Astro A40's for around forty or so hours, and usually, I would begin writing a review on a headset after about the thirty-hour mark. I couldn't do this for the A40's, as I felt that every time I used them in the various scenarios that I did, they just got better.
Let's talk about design. Upon opening up the A40's box and plugging them into my PC and immediately jumping into a game of Apex Legends, I noticed the extreme comfort of the fabric earcups. These earcups are.... Legendary, and I need not say more. As for the weight of the headset, it looks lighter than it actually is. Now, this doesn't mean that they feel heavy on your head, but the weight is recognizable.
The customization options this headset provides are fantastic. Even though the Mod-Kit is a further $99 to add that new level of customization, it's a feature that's still there if you want it, and ultimately a really nice touch.
Taking off the headset is an entirely different story. Unfortunately, I have had MAJOR issues taking off the A40's due to their flexibility. Don't get me wrong, the flexibility is great when the headset is on your head, but taking them off the wrong way can give you a shocking amount of anxiety. Let me explain. If you are mid-game, and for whatever reason, you have to get up quickly, most gamers take off their headset with one hand, as their other hand is still on their mouse.
For me, I usually take my headset off with my left hand, but taking the A40's off with JUST your left-hand means that the weight from the right-hand side earcup is lower than the left. This makes the headset twist due to its flexibility, and even a few times, I accidentally slammed my headset down onto my desk. The A40's are a $149 headset, so slamming or twisting of any kind isn't something gamers want to experience. What I had to do to ensure there was no twisting was to make sure I removed the headset from my head with both hands.
Even though the headset does twist, which really isn't nice to look at, it still holds together surprisingly well. The plastic is very strong, and so are the pieces of metal connecting the headset to its comfortable headband.
Microphone design. A big thumbs up to Astro (if you are reading this) for allowing users to change the microphone from one side of the headset to the other. While this might sound like a small feature, it's very thoughtful, and would certainly make the odd user who wants this in a headset very happy.
The cable management of the Astro A40's can be a bit of a nightmare due to how long they are. If you are a PC gamer, I'd recommend investing in some zip ties/velcro ties to tie up the extra cables into a nice bunch. This will stop any accidental tugging from chair movement, arm movement, etc. As for console gamers, depending on how far away you are from your system, you might have some trouble with cable management as there is quite a lot of it.
Overall, the design of the A40's is great. It's minimalistic, comfy, has a lot of customizable options, and does its job very well. The only downside I can really give it is excessive cables, and the fact that the headset feels somewhat flimsy.
Software and Performance
Let's get into what keeps users using Astro's, the performance of the headset. I played upwards of 30 hours of Apex Legends with the A40's plugged into the MixAmp Pro, and what I heard was clear clean-cut audio. Highs, mids, and lows were easily distinguishable. The base sounded fantastic as well as high pitch audio.
As for the A40's without the MixAmp Pro, the audio that I heard didn't sound distorted, but more muffled and cramped. Individual sounds weren't as distinguishable, which made me feel like the overall audio sounded like it was being projected into my ears as one track, and not as separate sounds.
So, with that being said, the A40's are noticeably better when they are plugged into the MixAmp Pro. The MixAmp Pro seems to open up the sound gauge much and allows for a wider range of sounds to be projected through the headset. This, in turn, enables a much better gaming experience overall.
Using the A40's plugged into the MixAmp Pro also allows for gamers to bounce between EQ presets. Astro provides users with four different EQ presets. These are called; Astro+, Balanced, Natural Bass, and Tournament. Each of these presets gives a different kind of feel to the headset's sound, and depending on what you are listening to through the headset will determine which mode you should be on. For this review, I kept my A40's on the 'Natural Bass' preset, which keeps it at stock settings. For general use, I'd recommend users just to keep it on this setting.
A link to the Astro Command Center download can be found here. As for how good the Astro Command Center is, I'm actually quite impressed. It's very straightforward and easy to use. I believe anyone with basic audio knowledge or even no audio knowledge whatsoever will be able to successfully navigate the command center and achieve whatever it is they opened it for.
Here are some screenshots of what the Astro Command Center looks like:
The A40 microphone is arguably one of the best gaming headset microphones on the market, not only for its design (which is amazing) but also for its sound quality. The design of the microphone might be on the longer side of things, but through its length, it unlocks a certain level of customizable ability. The microphone is extremely flexible and can be easily bent into any kind of direction that the user desires. It's also sturdy, looks aesthetically pleasing, and comes with an in-built noise gate that can be increased/decreased through the Astro Command Center.
As for microphone audio quality, the A40's microphone is great. I played several games of Overwatch and Apex Legends and asked my team what they thought of the mic. They responded that the microphone sounded clear and that I was not muffled or distant from the mic at all. I sounded clean, with each of my words being heard loud and clear. I also used this microphone on Discord and asked a few of my friends how it compared to my Razer Seiren Emote desk microphone through a blind test.
What they said was that while I did sound much clearer through the Razer Seiren Emote, the A40's microphone does hold its own. Through Discord the A40's microphone was perfect, picking up every single word that I spoke, while at the same time not picking up any keystrokes from my keyboard. This is something the A40's microphone has over Razers Seiren Emote, which is a far more expensive desktop microphone. Great work here, Astro.
I took the A40's to the gym with me, and while you traditionally wouldn't use a gaming headset outside of gaming scenario, I wanted to test how they would hold up for someone who was looking to use the A40's for both gaming and music listening. To put it short, I wasn't that impressed. The A40's sounded pretty decent when listening to music off Spotify, but I noticed at higher volumes higher pitch audio seemed to get lost in the sound. I also didn't have the pleasure of being able to tweak my EQ to a specific setting due to the headset being plugged directly into my phone.
So as a whole, I wouldn't recommend using the A40's for music listening, they are decent if that's the only headset you have, but I wouldn't buy them for that purpose specifically.
At the time of testing the Astro A40's + MixAmp Pro, my motherboard didn't have an optical port. So instead of testing the Dolby Atmos without the optical cable, which provides considerable performance increases, I decided to leave this part out of the review. I thought it wouldn't be fair to both readers and Astro to hear my thoughts on this feature when the headset isn't at its full capabilities.
What's Hot, What's Not, and Final Thoughts
The in-game audio quality is incredible for the A40's + MixAmp Pro, and what goes hand-in-hand with the audio quality is the comfort. If that's not enough for you, there's customization, a slick design, great stock settings in the software, and finally - the MixAmp Pro, which is straight-up a game-changer for gamers.
There are very few things that aren't great about the Astro A40 + MixAmp Pro, but if I were to pick a few things that I didn't enjoy, they would be the following. Cables being too long, the headset itself feeling flimsy due to its flexibility, and finally, the lack of volume controls on the headset.
Let's wrap this bad boy up. What Astro has done with their A40's + MixAmp Pro is nothing short of a pro-level gaming headset. The in-game audio quality is phenomenal, and the design is robust; they are customizable and, most importantly, extremely comfortable.
Using the A40's without the MixAmp Pro is a definite downgrade, so I would recommend anyone who already owns the A40's to pick up the MixAmp Pro to bring your gaming audio from an average level to a pro-level. Having the MixAmp Pro also gives you the ability to bounce between preset EQ's, and change game/voice volume - this is so useful and something you won't know you love until you use it.
On the Astro website, the A40 TR is going for $149.99 (without the MixAmp Pro). The website also bundles the A40's with the MixAmp Pro for $249.99. Do I think it's worth this price? In short, yes, but not if you aren't willing to pay for Astro's premium. If you are after a headset that brings a fantastic level of in-game audio, has customizable features, is extremely comfy, and you don't mind paying a premium price, then the A40's + MixAmp Pro is a great choice.
All in all, if you are a gamer looking to drop some big boy money on a gaming headset that won't disappoint, then the Astro A40's + MixAmp Pro is a fantastic option. With only a few small downsides, the A40's are great for any hardcore gamer or aspiring streamer in need of some leveled up audio.
The Bottom Line
Astro's A40 TR + MixAmp Pro is gorgeous premium level gaming headset. It does everything that it is designed to do, plus more. So, if you are a gamer looking to spend some big bucks on your next gaming headset, you will not be disappointed.