Astro A50 Gaming Headset and Base Station 2019 Version Review
Astro's A50 headset is easily one of the best and most versatile headsets on the market. Some technical prowess may make it a bit intimidating for newcomers but those eager to tinker with it will discover a headset with a large variety of features.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve put Astro’s latest A50 headset up against a wide variety of games including Friday the 13th, Apex Legends, Hunt: Showdown, and Insurgency: Sandstorm. Ultimately, what I find is a headset that still offers the same quality and features fans have come to expect. What stinks is the number of loopholes players will have to get through to access everything they want. Astro has delivered another great headset but one that still feels too advanced to justify a purchase for someone just looking for a headset to talk and play games with their friends.
Those into hardcore tinkering, spec, and a plethora of premium features will have found the holy grail in Astro’s latest version of the A50. The newly designed dock is specifically a standout in the package. Astro has gone ahead and cut down the size of the dock, making it look really good on a variety of surfaces. The smaller design also allows it to sit seamlessly amongst other hardware. When it comes to sound, the Astro A50 still offers some of the best of any gaming headset. Albeit, this is where players will likely notice the least change if they’ve brought headsets in the past. Where the current generation A50 improves on more is the hardware features and functionality.
One of its biggest detriments is the dock’s exclusivity to either PS4 or Xbox. Again, Astro has made it so those paying for a $300 headset will have to choose whether they want it for their PS4 or Xbox One. For such a high premium price, I don’t think it’s personally unfair to expect a headset that works with everything. The dock is meant to eliminate wires as much as possible, meaning the headset itself is fully wireless. This is essentially the reason docks are sold separately as it connects to both the player’s PC and their console of choice. A50 owners do have the choice of picking up another dock for $100 if they want to have access to each of their platforms with the headset.
Another issue is actually setting up the dock with both a PC and a console. That’s where it’s not going to accommodate every setup. For example, my personal gaming space would require me to move my PC to the other side of my desk so I could hook my dock up to it and my console. This is something I simply don’t want to do, so it’s easier to just move the dock without having wires sprawled out across my desk. I don’t necessarily fault Astro for this particular problem, but it’s something to consider for those interested in purchasing the A50’s for both console and PC play.
Other than that, the dock is really something special. With magnets included on top of the dock, it’s easier than ever to finish up playing and click the headset in to charge. Due to the easy nature of it all, I never found myself running out of the A50’s 15+ hour battery life. Also, while I didn’t personally get to use it much, it’s very easy to switch the headset back and forth between console and PC mode. In fact, it’s a flip of a switch. Lastly, the A50 comes with different profiles that are saved directly to the headset, meaning players can carry them over between docks and switch them on the fly depending on which game they’re playing.
One of my personal favorite things about the dock is just how strong its connection to the headset itself is. I was able to join a rowdy chat with my Discord crew, go into my kitchen to make a grilled cheese sandwich, move over into my garage to grab a drink, and walk back into my bedroom without losing sound. If that doesn’t speak for the quality of the dock itself, I don’t know what will. We’re talking multiple walls that the connection has to get through. My friends were able to hear me clearly and I was able to hear them the entire time.
The A50 once again is compatible with the Astro command center. Here players that are both newer to sound options and veterans can tweak their settings to find exactly what they want. It’s something the competition doesn’t really offer and adds a whole layer of personable engineering to the headset. The command center also has many options that’ll be beneficial to streamers like chat audio and alert volumes. If you’re not as interested in tweaking a lot of settings on your end, you can begin with a lot of the presets Astro has provided.
Astro headsets have never had any issues with being comfortable and this new A50 model is no different. The headset offers mod kits, but the base A50 itself is already really comfortable. I’ve had problems in the past with a lot of pressure on my ears after long periods of play but never experienced that same pain while I wore this headset. There’s also some nice padding on the middle band of the headset which is a nice touch that gives it a generally comforting fit on each part of your head. Of course, the core components of the headset don’t feel cheap at all and this applies to the cushioning as well. It sounds lame but it’s genuinely really exciting putting the headset on.
There is also some quick button prompted features all around the headset itself. On the right earpiece, you can quickly adjust voice and game audio on the fly without having to go into the command center. As per usual, there’s a volume knob as well as buttons that support Dolby audio and allow players to change their preset headset settings. Those who live tiny conveniences will be happy to hear that the headset will go into a rest mode of sorts when it’s off the dock and not being used. As soon as it’s picked up it’ll play a quick little jingle and be ready to go. The microphone attached to the headset is flexible and can be moved easily without the fear of tearing or breaking it in any way. It also immediately mutes the user when it’s lifted up and unmutes when it comes back down.
Astro has hit it out of the park once again with a headset that feels truly premium by design. However, those who don’t love tinkering with tech too much may find it easier going with a cheaper option that’s more plug and play friendly. While it doesn’t allow for the most seamless experience between console and PC transitions, Astro’s mind is in the right place. Eliminating just one or two extra wires from my desk to replace them with a beautifully designed docked is much more preferable. I do ultimately wish that I could use the Astro A50’s with all of my hardware without having to purchase additional peripherals, but it’s comforting that the option is there.