The Bottom Line
Introduction & Specification Details and Close-up
Welcome, ASTRO's top-of-the-line wireless gaming headset - the ASTRO A50's. Coming alongside the A50's is the base station that doubles for an awesome desk feature as well as a charging station.
In this review, we will be directly comparing the A50's to the ASTRO A40's, and you can find my review for the A40's here. ASTRO, Logitech's gaming brand has slapped a hefty price tag on the A50's and looking at the website; we can see that the A50's are priced at $299.99. As for the A40's that come with a MixAmp Pro, they are priced at $249.99. So, we are going to see how ASTRO's top of the line gaming headset stacks up against its second best.
In this review, we will be running the A50's through a fairly standardized testing regime. We will be looking at the build quality of the headset, the design of both the base station and the headset itself, as well as the audio quality that comes with it. On top of that, we will be examining the surround sound, the microphone, music/movie listening quality, and much more. To kick things off, we are going to be jumping straight into a close up of the headset. Let's do it!
First off, we have an image of the front of the A50's box. We can see that the box is larger than a usual headset box, and we have a nice image of the A50's sitting on its base station. We also can see that the A50 is compatible with Xbox One, Mac, and PC. It should also be noted that you can get A50's for the PS4, but for this review, we are reviewing the Xbox/PC version.
Next, we have the back of the box, and we can see that ASTRO has laid out a whole lot of information in regards to all of the features that come with the headset. There is a thorough explanation for all of the features, and a legend included so buyers can easily navigate to where each of them are.
Here we can see an image of the A50's taken out of the above packaging, and while you can't see from the image, this inside packaging is a hard box that has some considerable weight to it. It also has some nice designs on the front and back.
Upon opening, the A50's buyers will be presented with the above image, and as you can see, the A50's fit nicely in the provided plastic cut-out.
Moving on, this is what the headset looks like when being taken out of its packaging, and as you can see, it features a nice jet black design.
Above we have a close-up of the microphone that comes with the A50, and you might be able to tell from the image, but it's fairly large. The microphone on the A50 is definitely the largest microphone I have come across on a gaming headset, measuring in at 18cm. The microphone is also decently flexible, and due to its length, it can be positioned almost anywhere near the user's mouth.
Here we have an image of the left-earcup, and as we can see, there is really nice subtle ASTRO branding.
Moving onto the right earcup, we can see the inbuilt MixAmp, which grants the user the ability to control in-game volume and voice volume separately.
In this image, we are looking at the frame of the A50's, and as you can see, it's a metal frame that has white line indicators so users can match up both sides to the correct height.
Here we can see the top of the headband on the A50's, and ASTRO has some nice subtle branding on the top.
Next, we have an image of the back right earcup, and as you can see, there are a couple of buttons present. The button located closest to the top is the Dolby button that enables Dolby Audio. The one below that is the EQ switcher button, which I will get into more in the design part of this review. Below that button is the analog volume wheel that controls.
In this image, we are looking at the base station that comes with the A50's, and as we can see, the base station allows for the headset to be sat right inside of it.
Lastly, this image shows off the back of the base station, and as we can see, there is the switch that changes the headset for PC mode to Xbox mode. There is the charge port, opt/in and opt/out port, AUX, and micro USB port.
Jak's Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Hero X570 (Wi-Fi) (buy from Amazon)
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600X @ 4.4GHz (buy from Amazon)
- GPU: EVGA GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER XC GAMING (buy from Amazon)
- Cooler: be quiet! Silent Wings 3
- RAM: 16GB (2x8GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB 3200MHz (buy from Amazon)
- SSD: GALAX HOF Pro SSD PCI-E M.2 2TB
- Power Supply: Corsair CX Series 750 Watt (buy from Amazon)
- Case: be quiet! Silent Base 600 (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (buy from Amazon)
Design & Software
The design of the ASTRO A50's certainly feels premium, and to kick things off, we will be looking at the overall build quality of the headset. The A50's feel a lot more solid in hand than the A40's, which I felt were far too flimsy. There is a lot more stiffness to the A50's, which makes the headset feel a lot sturdier and higher quality.
On top of that, the metal frame does add a certain level of structural integrity that is definitely noticeable when wearing them. The A50's aren't the strongest headset, though, and I still have major concerns if this headset was accidentally dropped or thrown in a fit of rage. If treated correctly, the A50's will last you a long time, but over time I'd expect some wear at some of the vital points of the headset. These vital points would be around the top of the earcup and the top of the headband.
Even though the build quality of the headset is fairly decent, the headset still feels quite lightweight, which is something I appreciate a lot when it comes to gaming headsets. No gamer wants to feel as if their headsets weight is encumbering their game experience, and I feel as if the A50's certainly won't be doing that for any gamers.
The A50's come with a really nice long boom microphone, and due to its length, it can be placed almost anywhere near the users' mouth. Unfortunately, changing the angle of where the microphone is placed isn't that great as the microphone doesn't really hold in place that well. The A50's do come with a staple feature that all gaming headset companies should implement to their upcoming headset designs, and that feature is when the microphone is raised, it automatically mutes. Having this feature on a gaming headset removes the need for a mute microphone button, while also giving the user the ability to quickly and easily mute their microphone in a hurry.
Comfort-wise, the A50's do not disappoint. The soft plush earcups sit firmly and comfortably on your ears. While this might be different per user, the A50's earcups perfectly fitted my ears, and I found there was no excessive pressure that caused me any pain while I was wearing them for longer periods of time. Looking at the functionality buttons located on the right earcup, ASTRO has done a great job with placing as they are really easy to use, and also have nice satisfying click once they are pressed.
The volume wheel is usually a subject of controversy on a gaming headset, as some companies choose to make the tension of the wheel very loose. A loose volume wheel, for me in particular, is such a pain, but luckily on the A50's ASTRO have opted for a volume wheel that has a decent level of tension. This means when the volume wheel is knocked for whatever reason, it won't increase/decrease the volume of the headset dramatically.
Moving onto the base station, ASTRO has done a fantastic job of allowing users to easily place the A50's onto the base station for charging. Setting up the base station is extremely easy as well; all users have to do is plug the provided micro USB into their PC/Xbox.
I really enjoy the design of the A50's, and I feel as if ASTRO gave a lot of thought in where everything was being placed, as well as the overall build quality.
For users on PC, it's highly recommended to download the ASTRO Command Center as this is where you will be able to update, tweak, and change the settings of any ASTRO product.
After downloading and installing the ASTRO Command Center software, you will be presented with this screen. In this part of the software, users will be able to cycle through EQ sound presets that ASTRO has gone ahead and preinstalled. Users can also make their own presets, and all presets can be saved and synced to the base station and headset. The benefit of saving presets is that users can cycle through their three saved presets by simply pressing the EQ button located on the right-hand earcup.
For the more advanced user, ASTRO has added to the advanced settings tab, which will be mainly used by audiophiles, and people who want to get the absolute most they can out the A50's. In most cases, the advanced tab won't be used, and throughout my time with the A50's (upwards of 50 hours), I barely used this feature.
Moving onto the microphone tab of the software, we can see that there is very few settings for the microphone, but everything that you will need is here. We can see there are noise gate presets such as Streaming, Night, Home, and Tournament. Each of these will add a certain level of suppression to your microphone. Users will have to fiddle around to find their best preset, and this will, of course, this highly depends on your environment. For me personally, I found the Home noise gate preset to suitable. While I was chatting to friends on Discord, they couldn't hear my mechanical keyboard, which is what I feel most users will be aiming for with a noise gate.
Lastly, we have the Settings tab. Here is where users can adjust the balance between Voice and Game. So what does this mean exactly? Well, the A50's have the ability to reduce voices such as when people are talking in Discord, while not reducing in-game volume. The same can work in reverse as well. This is particularly handy in some tight situations where you want to mute the people in Discord but don't have enough time to ALT-Tab out of the game because your enemy is advancing on you. Luckily, on the right-hand side earcup, there's an in-built MixAmp, which lets users easily adjust the discrepancy between the two.
All in all, the ASTRO Command Center is extremely easy to use, and I feel as if even the people who the least amount of experience in audio settings will find the Command Center easy to navigate.
Performance & Microphone
As with all of my headset reviews, I like to use the headset I'm reviewing for anywhere between 30 and 50 hours. I believe this is a fair amount of time to be able to gauge the pros and cons of the headset, while also getting a great feel for the overall audio experience that comes with the headset. Upon reaching the 30-hour mark with the A50's, I decided to stick it out for the 50-hour mark, not because I wasn't sure if the audio quality was good or not, but because I was having an absolute pleasurable time gaming with the headset.
After setting up, the A50's the first game I jumped into was Apex Legends. Apex Legends has great directional audio and has a large variety of sounds that give users such as myself a great soundstage to work with. Coming with Dolby sound support, I decided to jump in and test the headset in just normal stereo mode, and what I heard was nothing short of impressive. The A50's in stereo performed fantastically, everything sound clean-cut and crisp. Each of the shots from multiple weapons rang brilliantly, and I felt as if the mids were especially enhanced as I could pick up on enemy footsteps far earlier than any of my teammates.
But are the A50's better than the A40's + MixAmp? Well, not really. Since the A40's are getting more power fed into the headset, and they are running off that wired connection, I felt as if the overall audio quality was slightly better on the A40's in comparison to the A50's. Most of ASTRO's headsets lack in bass, but this was something I noticed much more the A50's than the A40's. I believe this again due to the wired connection and the MixAmp Pro that comes with the A40's. Other than that, the A50's have fantastic audio quality, and with the price tag that is attached to the headset, you'd expect that it should.
Listening to music and movies with a gaming headset can always be somewhat distasteful, depending on the headset. But when you are spending close to $300 on a headset, there's a fairly high chance that you will be using the gaming headset for things other than just games. So, with that being said, I did test the A50's with both music and movies, and they held up reasonably well. I would advise switching the EQ preset to Media for music and movies as it increases the punchiness of the bass.
The microphone on the A50's isn't removable, and its quality is about what you would expect out of a headset microphone, but maybe slightly better. One of the things I would like to point out about the A50's microphone is that there is quite a lot of bass added to the users' voice. This is certainly a good thing as a baseless voice is a common problem for headset microphones.
Battery life for the A50's is somewhat decent, and the reason why I say somewhat decent is because it's inconsistent. Sometimes I would get around 10 hours of use with the A50's, and other times I would get 16 hours. I'm not quite sure why this was happening, but I never did run out of battery while in a gaming session. The charging station makes it far too easy for users to charge the A50's, which leads me to believe that battery won't be much of an issue for A50's.
The A50's have a lovely minimalistic design that is also lightweight, comfortable, and not burdensome whatsoever. The overall audio experience isn't the best I've heard but is certainly impressive for a wireless headset, and definitely feels like you get your money's worth. The base station makes charging the A50's a breeze, and also has a fantastic HUD that allows you to see how much battery the headset has left and what EQ preset it's on.
There isn't that much about the A50's that isn't impressive, but if I were to choose some parts of the headset that I would like to see improved upon, I would have to pick the battery life, microphone, and the build quality. As I mentioned previously, I found the battery life to be inconsistent, and a headset microphone can always be improved upon. As for the build quality, I enjoy my headsets to be a bit stiffer and rigid, so I'd love it if ASTRO could somehow implement a more solid feel into their future headset designs.
So, is the ASTRO A50 worth the price tag of $299.99? In short, yes, but here's why. I believe that once you use a wireless gaming headset, it makes it very hard to go back to wired, despite, in some cases, the sound quality boost when using a wired gaming headset.
I believe the convenience of a wireless headset for a gamer is too much of a good thing, even to the point where a gamer would choose a wireless headset that has worse sound quality over a wired gaming headset that has better sound quality. The comparison between the A50's and A40's stands as a perfect example, as I believe the A40's + MixAmp pro has better sound quality, but I still overall recommend the A50's purely on the wireless factor. The A50's probably sound overall 10-15% worse than the A40's + MixAmp Pro, but the convenience of wireless is still too much of a good thing not to recommend.
The A50's don't sound bad at all, and by no means is that the case. But I feel as if what users are buying with their $299 is more so a headset that has a wide range of features and also a fantastic charging station that complements the functionality of the headset. There isn't $299 worth of audio quality packed into the A50's, but there is a whole audio experience packed into its box, and I believe that starts with the base station. The A50's wouldn't be as good if they didn't have the base station, and I feel as if they would just be another wireless headset lost in the sea of other wireless headsets out there.
The base station makes using the A50's seamless and easy, directly adding to the overall user experience of the headset. Do I recommend the ASTRO A50's? I sure do, especially if you are after a wireless headset that gives you ultimate levels of convenience.
The ASTRO A50 and base station make for one of the best headset and charging station combinations I've ever used. The A50's stand as a perfect example that gaming headsets can be both convenient, and have awesome performance.
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