Reviewed on Mar 19, 2018 , Sam Vafaei, Yannick Khong

Astro A50 Wireless
HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
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Test Benches: test

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
6.7
Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
8.1
Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
5.3
Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
5.4
Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Score components:
6.4
Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:
7.5
Home Theater
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Score components:
8.0
Gaming
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Score components:
Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The Astro A50 is a good gaming headset with a very good sound for critical listening. These headphones are well-built, durable and have a premium-looking design with comfortable ear cups that you can wear for hours. Sadly, you can't really use them as casual, everyday headphones. They're not made for commuting or sports and have to be in range of their base station to work.

These Headphones are currently our best Gaming Headset - Better-Sounding Alternative.

Test Results
Design 6.5
Sound 8.2
Isolation 2.9
Microphone 8.0
Active Features 6.3
Connectivity 5.0
Pros
  • Comfortable and sturdy design.
  • Great audio reproduction with EQ and presets.
  • Good microphone that filters out noise.
Cons
  • Bulky design not meant for outdoors.
  • Poor noise isolation.
  • Leaky at high volumes.
Update 2/16/2018: Converted to Test Bench 1.2.

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6.5

Design

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Score components:
Astro A50 Design Picture

The Astro A50 Xbox One and Astro A50 PS4 are well-built and comfortable gaming headphones that aren't versatile enough to be used as casual headphones. They have large and well-padded ear cups and an easy-to-use and responsive control scheme that's just for gaming. They feel sturdy and decently durable but the headband is weaker than the rest of the build. Unfortunately, they're not the most outdoor friendly headphones, having a limited range that reduces their portability. They're also not stable enough for sports and do not have a detachable mic. 

Style
Astro A50 Design Picture 2

The Astro A50 Wireless look and feel like gaming headphones. They have a flashy color scheme and a large, slightly bulky design that won't be ideal for outdoor use. You also can't remove the mic which further emphasizes the gaming-only aesthetic. On the upside, they look well-made and feel high-end thanks to the premium materials used in their build quality.

8.0 Comfort
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What it is: Adjustability and degrees of freedom, pressure, stiffness and weight.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used for long durations.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Astro A50 Comfort Picture
Weight : 0.8 lbs
Clamping Force
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What it is: The force that the headphones exert on your head, once you have them on. This is purely a measurement of the force applied, which does not take into account the earpad's surface area and the resulting pressure you will feel, on or around your ears.
When it matters: The tighter the headphones, the more force they put on your head. This can get uncomfortable or cause pain and soreness during long listening sessions.
:
0.7 lbs

The Astro A50 are comfortable headphones with large spacious ear cups that fit well around most listener's ears. They're somewhat heavy headphones but thanks to the comfortable padding on the headband and ear cups, they distribute pressure evenly and do not feel too tight on the head. They may get a bit fatiguing after a while but in most cases, they were comfortable enough for several hours of gaming with no issues.

6.8 Controls
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What it is: The control scheme of the headphones, the number of functions provided, button layout and ergonomics as well as the quality of tactile feedback.
When it matters: If you want to control volume, pause your music or make phone calls without directly interacting with your audio device.
Astro A50 Controls Picture
Ease of use : Good
Feedback : Good
Call/Music Control : No
Volume Control : Yes
Microphone Control : Yes
Channel Mixing
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What it is: Being able to mix audio channels directly on the headphones.
When it matters: This is most useful when using a separate chat software so that you can mix in-game audio and chat audio depending on your needs.
:
Adjustable
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through : N/A
Additional Buttons : Presets

The control scheme is good but only for gaming purposes. They offer an easy-to-use and responsive volume dial, a slider that lets you switch between different EQ presets, and a Dolby button to activate the surround sound effect. They also have two additional buttons on the right ear cup that lets you control the mix between in-game audio and voices from a chat which comes in handy when playing online multiplayer games.

6.6 Breathability
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What it is: How hot the headphones get when you wear them for an extended period of time.
When it matters: If you often have long listening sessions or use your headphones while doing physical activities like running or working out.
Score components:
Astro A50 Breathability After Picture
Avg.Temp.Difference : 5.2 C

The Astro A50 have decently breathable pads but will still make your ears fairly warm during long gaming sessions. They create a fairly good seal around your ears, and since they have a closed back design, they obstruct a fair amount of airflow which will make sweat during physical activity but should be okay in more casual conditions. They are not sports headphones and won't be breathable enough for working out but are suitable for gaming and listening to music if you take breaks from time to time.

1.1 Portability
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What it is: The volume of space occupied by the headphones when folded into their most compact format.
When it matters: If you're often on the move and need to carry your headphones in a bag, purse , or pocket.
Score components:
Astro A50 Portability Picture
L : 7.1 "
W : 7.4 "
H : 4 "
Volume : 210 Cu. Inches
Stand required : Yes

The A50s, like most gaming headphones, are not particularly portable. They do not fold into a more compact format and the bulky cumbersome build isn't meant to be easily carried around on your person without a bag. They also need to be within range of their stand for them to work wirelessly, which further limits their portability. While the stand is not as big as some of the home theater headphones we've reviewed, it's still less portable than some of the other gaming models that use a simple USB key. An hybrid base/bluetooth headset like the Turtle Beach Elite 800 doesn't have that issue.

0 Case
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What it is: The provided carrying options to protect your headphones when transporting them.
When it matters: To prevent damaging your headphones, if you often carry them in your bag or pocket.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Type : No case
L : N/A
W : N/A
H : N/A
Volume : N/A
8.0 Build Quality
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What it is: Durability, material quality, cheap/expensive feel.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used by multiple users (classes/studios), by children, in tough conditions, on a daily basis, or for exercise.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Astro A50 Build Quality Picture

The Astro A50 are well built, durable gaming headphones. The ear cups are dense, and the plastic used in their build quality feels high grade and capable of withstanding a couple of accidental drops without much damage. The hinges are also sturdy and made of metal, which adds to their durability. However, to make the headphones lighter, the headband is somewhat open and a little hollow with only a plastic mid-section resting on the head. It's flexible but doesn't feel as resistant as a regular headband especially those with a metal frame.

6.5 Stability
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What it is: How the headphones are designed to prevent them from slipping off your ears or falling off your head.
When it matters: If you plan on using the headphones while doing sports or other physical activities that requires a lot of movement.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Astro A50 Stability Picture

These headphones are decently stable but won't be ideal for anything but casual listening sessions and gaming. They're not too tight on the head and the ear cups are bulky and heavy, which causes the headphones to sway a lot if you use them while doing any physical activities. This means they won't be suitable to go jogging with as they are not designed for that use case.

Cable
Astro A50 Cable Picture
Detachable : N/A
Length : 1 ft
Connection : USB

The Astro A50 Wireless come with two cables: a USB power/audio cable and an Optical audio cable.

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Headshots 1
Headshots 2
8.2

Sound

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What it is: How accurately the audio is reproduced. The tests are performed with the headphones' most commonly used features enabled (noise-cancelling, wireless, etc.)
Astro A50 Frequency Response

The Astro A50 is a very good sounding pair of closed-back over-ear gaming headphones. They have an excellent, deep, and consistent bass, a great and neutral mid-range and a well-balanced treble. They also image very well and have an average soundstage. However, their bass and mid-range tend to be a bit muddy and cluttered, and their treble could sound slightly harsh with S and Ts on overly bright tracks. It should be noted that the headphones were tested with the EQ in position 1 since that would score best against our target.

9.0 Bass
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What it is: Frequency Response from 20Hz-250Hz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on bass frequencies, such as those of kick drums and bass guitar.
Score components:
Astro A50 Bass
Std. Err.
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What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in bass frequency response (20Hz-250Hz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) bass performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
1.55 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
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What it is: The lowest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response.
When it matters: Shows how extended the bass is.
Good value: <40Hz
Noticeable difference: 5Hz
:
14.35 Hz
Low-Bass
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 20Hz-60Hz.
When it matters: Kick drums and low frequency effects get their 'thump' from this range. Mostly felt than heard.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-1.32 dB
Mid-Bass
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 60Hz-120Hz.
When it matters: Melodic bass instruments have most of their fundamental frequencies in this range. This is where the 'body' and 'punch' of the bass sits.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
1.04 dB
High-Bass
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 120Hz-250Hz.
When it matters: Most instruments get their warmth and full-ness from this range. When over-emphasized, mixes tend to get muddy and boomy.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
2.33 dB

The bass is excellent. Low-bass, which is responsible for the thump and rumble common to EDM, Hip-hop and film scores, is well-balanced and extended down to 14Hz, which is great. Mid-bass, occupied by the body of bass guitars and the punch of kick drums, is also reproduced virtually flat and within 1dB of our target. However, high-bass is more than 2dB over our target, making the bass on these headphones slightly boomy.

8.7 Mid
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What it is: Frequency Response from 250Hz-2KHz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on mid-range frequencies. This is the case for the majority of audio content.
Score components:
Astro A50 Mid
Std. Err.
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What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in mid frequency response (250Hz-2.5KHz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) mid performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
1.77 dB
Low-Mid
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 250Hz-500Hz.
When it matters: Most instruments have their fundamentals or low harmonics in this range. Over-emphasis in this range sounds muddy and cluttered. Under-emphasis, thins out the vocals and lead instruments.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
1.23 dB
Mid-Mid
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 500Hz-1KHz.
When it matters: This range is occupied mostly by upper harmonics. Over-emphasis sounds forward and boxy. Under-emphasis pushes instruments to the back of the mix.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-1.43 dB
High-Mid
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 1KHz-2KHz.
When it matters: Most instruments, especially vocals, get their intensity and clarity from this range. Over-emphasis sounds honky and harsh, under-emphasis sounds weak and distant.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
0.89 dB

The Astro A50 have a great mid-range. Low-mid and high-mid are quite flat, but very slightly overemphasized which could make the mix a bit muddy and vocals a bit thick sounding. Mid-mid shows a 5dB dip surrounding 600Hz, and could slightly push vocals/leads to the back of the mix by giving more emphasis to high-bass/low-mid.

8.8 Treble
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What it is: Frequency Response from 2KHz-20KHz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on high-range frequencies, such as voice, cymbals, and any other material where brightness, brilliance and airiness is desired.
Score components:
Astro A50 Treble
Std. Err.
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What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in treble frequency response (2.5KHz-20KHz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) treble performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
2.48 dB
Low-Treble
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 2KHz-5KHz.
When it matters: Almost all instruments rely on this range for their presence, detail, and articulation. Over-emphasis can sound harsh and painful. Under-emphasis hurts the comprehensibility of vocals and lead instruments.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-2.16 dB
Mid-Treble
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What it is: The average amount of over/under emphasis in frequency response from 5KHz-10KHz.
When it matters: This is the sibilance range. Cymbals, vocals, and lead instruments rely on this range for brightness and presence. Over-emphasis sounds piercing and painful, under-emphasis sounds dull and lispy.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
2.15 dB
High-Treble
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What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 10KHz-20KHz.
When it matters: This range gives brilliance and airiness to the sound. Over-emphasis sounds hissy, under-emphasis sounds closed-up and lifeless.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-1.31 dB

The treble is very good. The response is very even and relatively flat. However, the underemphasis in low-treble could negatively hurt the presence and detail of vocals/leads, but at -2dB the effect will be very subtle. The 5dB bumps in mid-treble could make these headphones a bit bright and sibilant sounding (piercing on S and Ts), but only on overly bright tracks.

Raw Frequency Response
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What it is: The average uncompensated frequency response of the headphone. For in-ears and earbuds, this corresponds to the average of 5 measurements/re-seats on the dummy head (HMS). For over/on-ear headphones, this corresponds to the average of 5 measurements/re-seats on the HMS (Head Measurement System) for the mid and treble ranges, and 5 measurements/re-seats on 5 human subjects for the bass range.
When it matters: This is for those who want to see the raw and uncompensated frequency response of the headphone. Some of the more advanced users, are able to read and evaluate headphone frequency response in its raw form and without compensation. This will be especially useful to them if they have their own headphone compensation/target curve, which may differ from the compensation curve/target response used by RTINGS.com.
Score components:
7.9 Frequency Response Consistency
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What it is: The amount of deviation of each frequency response pass, from the average frequency response.
When it matters: Shows how consistently the headphones perform after re-positioning them.
Score components:
Astro A50 Consistency L Astro A50 Consistency R
Avg. Std. Deviation
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What it is: The average amount of deviation in frequency response of 5 re-seats, from the average frequency response.
When it matters: Shows how consistently the headphones perform after re-positioning them.
Good value: <0.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.42 dB

The Astro A50 have a good frequency response consistency. The treble range is quite consistent across multiple re-seats, with the maximum deviation below 10KHz being about 3dB. In the bass range, the delivery is also quite consistent across re-seats and multiple human subjects. However, we noticed that having glasses on could cause an up to 3dB of drop at 20Hz, which is not as bad as some other headphones.

8.7 Imaging
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What it is: Imaging qualities are inherent to the audio content, the headphones have to 'reproduce' them rather than 'create' them. They determine how accurately the objects are positioned in the stereo image, and how transparent the imaging is.
When it matters: When accurate positioning of the objects in the stereo image, and clear and transparent imaging is desired.
Astro A50 Group Delay Astro A50 Phase Response
Weighted Group Delay
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What it is: The average amount of group delay calculated based on a perceptual weighting filter. Group delay indicates how long it takes for each frequency to reach their maximum amplitude. This is a monaural quality and can be perceived even with one ear.
When it matters: Headphones with lower group delay have more transparent imaging and a tighter bass. Headphones with higher group delay in the bass range tend to have a wimpy and loose bass, and headphones with higher group delay in the treble range tend to have a less transparent imaging.
Good value: <0.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.18
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
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What it is: The Left/Right balance of our test unit, that is, the amount of amplitude difference between the left and right drivers. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When a properly balanced stereo image and low manufacturing tolerance is desired. A poor score indicates a noticeable difference in level between the left and right drivers.
Good value: <1.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.22
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
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What it is: The amount of difference (Std. Err.) between the frequency response of the left and right drivers of our test unit. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When an even and stable stereo image, as well as a low manufacturing tolerance, is desired. A poor score indicates there may be 'holes' in the stereo image at certain frequencies.
Good value: <2
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
1.51
Weighted Phase Mismatch
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What it is: The amount of difference (Std. Err.) between the phase response of the left and right drivers of our test unit. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When an even and stable stereo image, as well as a low manufacturing tolerance is desired. A poor score indicates there may be inaccuracies in the stereo image reproduction at certain frequencies.
Good value: <16
Noticeable difference: 3
:
9.19

The imaging is very good. Their weighted group delay is at 0.18, which is within very good limits. The group delay graph also shows that the entire GD response is below our audibility threshold. This ensures a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were very well-matched in frequency and amplitude response, but there was some room for improvement in terms of phase matching. Regardless, objects (like footsteps) and instruments will be located very accurately in the stereo image on these headphones.

6.5 Soundstage
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What it is: Soundstage qualities are not inherent to the audio content, the headphones have to 'create' them rather than 'reproduce' them. They determine whether the sound is perceived to be coming from inside or in front of the head, how open and spacious the soundstage is, how much the headphones acoustically interact with the environment, and how strong the phantom center is.
When it matters: When an accurately produced, large and spacious soundstage, similar to that of a stereo loudspeaker setup is desired.
Astro A50 PRTF
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
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What it is: The standard deviation of the PRTF (Pinna-related transfer function) of the headphones compared to a reference loudspeaker's PRTF at 30°. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test does not apply to in-ears and earbuds, due to the lack of pinna interaction.
When it matters: An accurate pinna activation is mainly responsible for how natural and speaker-like the soundstage is perceived to be. The less error in the shape of the PRTF, the more natrual and speaker-like the perception of the soundstage will be. High amounts of error may indicate a soundstage that is unnatural or odd.
Good value: <2.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
1.81 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
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What it is: The average amplitude of the PRTF (Pinna-related transfer function) of the headphones compared to that of a reference loudspeaker's PRTF at 30°. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test does not apply to in-ears and earbuds, due to the lack of pinna interaction.
When it matters: This value is responsible for the perceived size of the soundstage. The higher the value, the larger the perceived size of the soundstage. However, values above the reference (5.0dB) could result in a soundstage that is perceived as unnatural or odd.
Good value: >3.7
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
3.8 dB
PRTF Distance
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What it is: The depth of the "10KHz notch" of the headphone's PRTF, which is caused by phase cancellations at the concha. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test does not apply to in-ears and earbuds, due to the lack of pinna interaction.
When it matters: This value is mainly responsible for the perceived distance and elevation of the soundstage. A small distance value may result in a soundstage that is perceived to be located inside the head. Larger values may help pull the soundstage out from inside of the head and bring it to the front.
Good value: >13
Noticeable difference: 1
:
5.67 dB
Openness
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What it is: How open the headphones are, and how open and spacious they sound. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test differentiates between acoustically and electronically produced crosstalk and only takes the acoustically generated crosstalk into account. This value is the inverse of the Noise Isolation test score, and could be indirectly related the acoustic impedance of the headphones.
When it matters: When a headphone with a sense of an open, and spacious soundstage is desired. A value of 10 indicates a fully open headphone, and a value of 0 indicates a fully closed headphone.
Good value: >7.5
Noticeable difference: 0.5
:
9.1
Acoustic Space Excitation
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What it is: How loud the headphones are, and how much they excite their environment acoustically. If the headphones are loud and open enough, the sound leaking from the headphones will be affected by the environment (reflections/reverb) before reflecting back into the open headphones and to the listener's ears. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This value is the inverse of the Leakage test score.
When it matters: Headphones with higher excitation values, similar to openness, tend to have soundstages that are perceived as more open and spacious.
Good value: >7.5
Noticeable difference: 0.5
:
7.1
Correlated Crosstalk
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What it is: How strong and solid the phantom center is. This is mostly a stereo quality and its effects on mono content are minimal. This test is sensitive to the phase of the crosstalk and whether it is produced acoustically or electronically.
When it matters: When a true reproduction of the stereo image is desired. A value of 0 indicates no crosstalk, or that the existing crosstalk is not correlated enough to affect the phantom center. A negative score means the crosstalk is out of phase with the original signal, resulting in a slightly wider stereo image at the expense of creating a 'hole' at the center of the stereo field. A positive score means the crosstalk is in phase and positively affecting the phantom center.
Good value: >1dB
Noticeable difference: 0.3dB
:
0.0 dB

The soundstage is about average. In the 2KHz-8KHz region, the PRTF response is both accurate and loud. However, there doesn't seem to be a 10KHz notch present, resulting in a soundstage that is larger than most headphones, but will still be perceived to be located inside the head, as opposed to in front. The breathable pads of the Astro A50 also helps with giving them a sense of a more open soundstage compared to fully isolating headphones.

7.0 Total Harmonic Distortion
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What it is: The subtle, unwanted frequencies (harmonics) produced alongside the intended frequencies.
When it matters: When clean and pure sound reproduction is desired, though its effect is not as noticable as frequency response.
Score components:
Astro A50 Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
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What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 90dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at moderate listening levels.
Good value: <0.100
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
1.909
Weighted THD @ 100
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What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 100dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at loud listening levels.
Good value: <0.300
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
11.904

The harmonic distortion performance is decent. The overall amount of THD is slightly on the high side, but most of it won't be audible. The peak in THD around 4KHz however, could make the treble the treble sound a bit harsh and fatiguing.

2.9

Isolation

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Score components:

The breathable design also makes them less isolating in loud environments. The Astro A50 Wireless don't block a lot of noise and let the ambient chatter of your surroundings seep into your audio. They also leak at higher volumes so they may be distracting to those around you in quieter settings. If you game alone in a quiet room, then they should be fine but at a competition or in noisy environments, you won't be able to hear your audio as well.

2.4 Noise Isolation
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What it is: How much outside noise is blocked out by putting the headphones on.
When it matters: If the headphones are going to be used in a noisy envinronment (airplane, subway, etc.)
Score components:
Astro A50 Noise Isolation
Overall Attenuation
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What it is: The overall amount of environmental noise reduction in dB.
When it matters: In loud envinronments like planes, trains, offices, etc.
Good value: <-20dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-5.74 dB
Bass
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What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the bass range (20Hz-250Hz).
When it matters: When the outside noise is bass-heavy, like in airplanes.
Good value: <-15dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-0.08 dB
Mid
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What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the mid-range (250Hz-2.5KHz).
When it matters: When the environment's noise is mid-heavy, like in an office.
Good value: <-15dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-1.11 dB
Treble
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What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the treble range (2.5KHz-20KHz).
When it matters: When the environment's noise is treble-heavy. Although uncommon, areas with sharp sounds fall under this category.
Good value: <-30dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-15.91 dB
Self-Noise
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What it is: The amount of noise created by the active electronics of the headphones (if applicable), measured from 300Hz-20KHz. Applies mostly to wireless and noise-cancelling headphones.
When it matters: If too loud, it could become distracting when listening to quiet material like podcasts and audiobooks.
Good value: <16dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
21.73 dB

The isolation performance is poor. In the bass range, they don't isolate at all. This means they will let in all the rumble of the airplane and bus engines. In the mid-range, important for blocking out speech, they achieve about 1dB of isolation, which is barely noticeable. However, in the treble range, occupied by sharp sounds like S and Ts, they achieve about 16dB of isolation, which is below-average.

3.8 Leakage
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What it is: The amount of sound bleeding out of the headphones.
When it matters: When the listener doesn't want people around them (in office, recording studio, etc.) to hear what is being listened to.
Score components:
Astro A50 Leakage
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
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What it is: The amount of sound leakage heard 1 foot away from the user, while the user is listening to a 100dB SPL signal.
When it matters: When you don't want people hear what you are listening to.
Good value: <35dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
54.73 dB

The Astro A50 have a poor leakage performance. Although they have a closed-back enclosure, their breathable pads makes them act more like a semi-open headphone. The significant portion of their leakage is between 300Hz-8KHz, which is a broad range, spanning both mid and treble ranges. This make their leakage more full-bodied sounding than that of in-ears/earbuds. At 100dB SPL and a foot away, their leakage will be relatively loud. About 60dB SPL, a bit louder than the ambient noise level of most offices.

8.0

Microphone

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What it is: The microphone section shows the quality of speech capture and transmission by the mic, as well as how well the microphone under test handles noisy environments.
When it matters: For your speech to be transmitted to and understood properly by the listener, the microphone needs to have a good recording quality. If the environment the microphone is being used in is noisy, a microphone with a good noise handling performance would be needed as well.
Score components:
Integrated
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What it is: The microphone integrated in the ear cup or ear bud of a wireless headphone.
When it matters: For calls, gaming and voice over IP software or for any other use of the microphone.
Good value: Yes
:
No
In-line
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What it is: The microphone inside the in-line remote of audio cables for wired and wireless headsets.
When it matters: In-line microphone are usually better than integrated mics. If you need better recording quality and noise handling for calls, gaming and voice over IP software then use the audio cable of your wired or wireless headphone if it has an inline microphone.
Good value: Yes
:
No
Boom
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What it is: A typically better microphone, that's also adjustable and extends so that the mic is closer to your mouth.
When it matters: Much better recording quality and noise handling than in-line or integrated mics. Primarily used for gaming and voice over IP software.
Good value: Yes
:
Yes
Detachable Boom
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What it is: A boom mic that is detachable from the headset.
When it matters: If you want to use your headphone outdoors without the bulk and hassle of the Boom mic.
:
No

The performance of the Astro A50's microphone is great. In quiet environments, speech recorded or transmitted with this microphone will sound noticeably thin, and rather dark and lacking in detail. However, it will still be easily understandable. In noisy environments, they perform extremely well and should be able to separate speech from ambient noise even in very loud environments like a busy subway station, or a gaming competition.

7.0 Recording Quality
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What it is: Microphone recording quality shows how natural, neutral, extended and intelligible speech would be with the device under test, in a quiet environment.
When it matters: A microphone with a good recording quality ensures that the person listening to you would hear a full, clear, and easily understandable speech. Therefore, it is important whenever a good quality of speech transmission and intelligibility is needed.
Score components:
Astro A50 Microphone Frequency Response
Recorded Speech
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What it is: Actual audio recording of the headphone's microphone, recorded while placed on the dummy head, with speech being played back through the dummy head's mouth simulator.
When it matters: When a clean, full, and intelligible speech transmission is required.
:
LFE
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What it is: Low-frequency extension shows how deep the bass response of the microphone is, and therefore, how deep and full your voice would sound to the listener. It is the lowest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response.
When it matters: LFE is not a big factor in speech intelligibility and even speech recorded with a mic that has an LFE of 500Hz could still be easily understood. Therefore, it is mostly important if you are concerned with how deep and full your voice would be heard.
Good value: <150Hz
Noticeable difference: 30Hz
:
348.96 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
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What it is: Frequency Response Standard Deviation shows how accurately and balanced sound is captured by the microphone at each frequency. FR Std. Dev. is calculated between LFE and HFE, and the rest of the spectrum is ignored.
When it matters: A good frequency response is desired when a natural and neutral speech quality is desired. As opposed to HFE which is more a metric for speech intelligibility, frequency response could be considered as a metric for a natural and neutral sound.
Good value: >3.5dB
Noticeable difference: 0.5dB
:
1.38 dB
HFE
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What it is: High-frequency extension is the highest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response. It shows how extended the treble response of the microphone is.
When it matters: HFE is one the most important factors in speech intelligibility. The higher the HFE, the brighter, more open, and more extended the speech quality will be which makes it a lot easier to understand by the listener.
Good value: >8KHz
Noticeable difference: 1KHz
:
3466.89 Hz
Weighted THD
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What it is: The unwanted frequencies (harmonics) produced alongside the intended frequencies, which cause deformation of an output signal compared to its input.
When it matters: When clean and pure sound reproduction is desired, though its effect is not as noticable as frequency response.
Good value: <1.5
Noticeable difference: 1.0
:
0.334
Gain
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What it is: Shows how much louder the microphone can go above our reference loudness level. The gain value is reported relative to our reference level, which is 94dB at a distance of 5cm from the mouth.
When it matters: A microphone with a high gain is important when the input signal (speech) is very quiet. For example when whispering, or talking on the phone in a library.
Good value: >18dB
Noticeable difference: 3dB
:
23.46 dB

The recording quality of the mic decent. LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 349Hz, which is about average. This means speech recorded or transmitted with this microphone will sound relatively thin. The HFE (high-frequency extension) of 3.5KH results in a speech that lacks some detail and sounds a bit muffled. However, speech will still be easily understandable, since speech intelligibility is mostly dependent on the 500Hz-4KHz range.

9.0 Noise Handling
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What it is: How well the microphone is able to separate speech from background noise, so that the transmission would include more voice and less noise.
When it matters: When a clean and intelligible speech transmission is desired in a noisy situation like talking on the phone on a busy street or on the bus.
Score components:
Astro A50 SpNR
Speech + Pink Noise :
Speech + Subway Noise :
SpNR
Show Help
What it is: Speech to Noise Ratio is the difference in level between speech and background noise as heard by the listener
When it matters: If the microphone is going to be used in a noisy environment, it is important for it to be able to separate the speech from background noise, so the voice would be easily audible and understandable.
Good value: >24dB
Noticeable difference: 3dB
:
46.83 dB

The boom microphone of the Astro A50 Wireless has excellent noise handling. In our SpNR test, it achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of about 47dB, which is outstanding. This means they can separate speech from background noise even in extremely loud environments, like a busy subway station.

6.3

Active Features

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What it is: Headphones with active components that require a battery. This includes noise cancelling and wireless headphones that actively reduce noise or transmit audio via a wireless connection.
When it matters: How suitable the power and wireless specifications of an active headphone will be, depending on your listening habits. The range and/or discharge time of the active headphone you select will be important if you're often on the move or have long uninterrupted listening sessions.
Score components:

The Astro A50 come with a pretty robust software for Windows and MacOS that gives the user a lot of control and customization options. They also have a good battery life of 13 hours with an efficient auto-off feature that can sometimes be a bit tedious since it can't be disabled but it saves a low of power. Unfortunately, they take roughly 6 hours to charge via a regular USB port which is not ideal and quite long even for a gaming headset.

6.1 Battery
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What it is: The power source of your headphones. All headphones with active features have a battery that will deplete over time.
When it matters: To continue using the active features of your headphones. Some models lose features or switch off completely when the battery is drained, which limits what you can do with them until the next charge.
Battery Type
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What it is: The type of battery that the headphones use. Usually AAA or embedded, Li-ion rechargeable batteries.
When it matters: When your headphones run out of power. Rechargeable batteries usually charge via the headphones Micro-USB port whereas AAA batteries have to be replaced or charged with an external device.
:
Rechargable
Battery Life
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What it is: The amount of time it takes for a headphones' battery to be completely drained. Battery life will vary depending on the active features used and volume level.
When it matters: For active headphones that connect wirelessly, have noise cancellation or other audio-enhancing features, that cease to work once the battery is dead.
Good value: >10hrs
Noticeable difference: 0.5hrs
:
13 hrs
Charge Time
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What it is: The amount of time your active headphones have to be connected to a power source to charge from 0 to a 100%. However, charging time will vary depending on your power source.
When it matters: To be able to use the active features of your headphones. Especially, wireless ones that completely switch off and need to be recharged when the battery is dead.
Good value: 2h or less
Noticeable difference: 0.25h
:
5.8 hrs
Power Saving Feature
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What it is: A feature that turns off the headphones, after a set time, when they're not in use.
When it matters: To prolong battery life when the headphones are not being used, or if you forget to manually turn off your headphones.
:
Auto-Off Timer
Audio while charging
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What it is: Some active headphones remain usable while charging. They continue to stream audio and do not disable other active features.
When it matters: This makes sure that your headphones's battery are not being drained when your relatively close to a power source. However, this means wireless headphones will need a wired connection to the power source during the charging process.
:
No
Passive Playback
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What it is: Active headphones that still work when all their active features are turned off or out of power.
When it matters: If you run out of power and do not have spare AA/AAA batteries or access to a power source to recharge your headphones.
:
No

The A50s have a good but slightly frustrating battery performance. They provide about 13 hours of continuous playtime, which is good and should be more than enough for most gaming sessions. They also automatically turn off, which saves a lot of battery. Unfortunately, this feature is overly aggressive, turning the headphones off within 5 minutes if you're only using the microphone, and within 17 minutes even when there is audio playing. The latter only occurs if you're not moving your head or the headphones during those 17 minutes, making the implementation of the feature understandable, but not always practical. It can't be disabled, even with the Astro Command Center.

8.0 App Support
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What it is: The additional app provided to enhance your listening experience. They typically deliver a set of practical features that give you more control over the sound, noise cancelling and effects that the headphones produce.
When it matters: An app with a lot of features allows you to customize your listening experience to suit your taste and preferences. For example, additions like an equalizer can give you more bass or treble and room effects can simulate a bigger Soundstage in closed back headphones.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Astro A50 App Picture
App Name : Astro Command Center
iOS : N/A
Android : N/A
Mac OS : Yes
Windows : Yes
Equalizer
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What it is: Parametric, graphic or preset sound profiles that slightly alter the frequency response.
When it matters: If you want to tailor, your listening experience. Depending on what you're listening to you may want more or less bass for some tracks or more mid-range for vocals-heavy audio.
:
Parametric + Presets
ANC control
Show Help
What it is: Control over the Active noise canceling technology. This could be either a simple on/off button, and adjustable slider or even adaptive self-regulating noise cancellation.
When it matters: If you're in an environment where you need to monitor your surroundings or completely isolate yourself from ambient noise.
:
N/A
Mic Control : Frequency Response
Room effects
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What it is: Room effects that enhance the audio quality to make it more immersive.
When it matters: If you want to further tweak your listening experience. Adding room effects, can simulate a more spacious Soundstage or deliver a surround sound-like feel.
:
No
Playback control
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What it is: An in-app player that gives you access to play/stop, track skipping or volume controls directly with the app.
When it matters: It's a shortcut that allows you to control your audio without leaving the application.
:
No
Button Mapping : No
Surround Sound : No

The Astro A50 command center is an easy-to-use and efficient support software that's missing a couple of features. It provides a great parametric equalizer that you can assign to the EQ slider on the right ear cup that lets you choose between different saved presets. They also have a microphone tab that gives you control over the microphones frequency response as well as its noise gate. However, they have no option to extend or disable the gyroscope auto-off feature, which can be a bit tedious at times. They also have no surround sound effect menu or true button mapping beyond the EQ presets.

Microphone settings

Stream Port Mixer

General Settings

5.0

Connectivity

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What it is: The inputs and outputs of wired and wireless headphones, as well as their latency performance and range.
When it matters: To know how compatible your Bluetooth device, console or PC will be with your wired or wireless headset.
Score components:
  • 10% Bluetooth
  • 32% Wired
  • 10% Base/Dock
  • 22% Wireless Range
  • 25% Latency

The Astro A50 have a good wireless range and sufficiently low latency to be great for gaming as well as watching movies and videos. They provide more connection options than the A20. They also come with an excellent, multi-purpose base station that offers a couple input options and convenient dock charging. Unfortunately, the base station will only work with the console variant of the A50s you chose, so you may have to get another base if you want to switch between your PS4 and Xbox One. They also only connect via this base so they won't be as versatile as gaming headsets with a Bluetooth and wired connection like the Turtle Beach Elite 800.

0 Bluetooth
Show Help
What it is: Bluetooth support for wireless headphones.
When it matters: To connect wirelessly to Bluetooth sources like your phone, tablet, console, PC and TV.
Score components:
  • 79% Multi-Device Pairing
  • 20% NFC
  • 0% PS4 Compatible
  • 0% Xbox One Compatible
Bluetooth Version : N/A
Multi-Device Pairing
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What it is: A Bluetooth profile that's allows some headphones to be simultaneously connected to multiple Bluetooth sources.
When it matters: To quickly switch between your Bluetooth sources. For example switching from your phone to your home or work PC.
Good value: 2 devices.
:
N/A
NFC
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What it is: Near Field Communication technology that allows you to quickly, pair your headphones with your Bluetooth and NFC-enabled device.
When it matters: This makes pairing with an NFC-enabled device a lot easier than the typical and often tedious hold-to-pair procedure that most wireless headphones have.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
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What it is: Bluetooth compatibility with the PlayStation 4.
When it matters: To connect your headphones wirelessly with your PS4.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
Show Help
What it is: Bluetooth compatibility with the Xbox One.
When it matters: To connect your headphones wirelessly with your Xbox one.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A

These headphones are not Bluetooth compatible. If you want a gaming headset with Bluetooth support, check out the Turtle Beach Elite 800 or the Stealth 700.

0 Wired
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What it is: The type and compatibility of audio cables for wired and wireless headphones.
When it matters: For all devices with a regular audio jack (line-out) and also compatibility of the in-line remote/boom microphone with consoles and Personal computers.
Score components:
  • 13% Analog
  • 9% USB
  • 26% PS4 Compatible
  • 26% Xbox One Compatible
  • 26% PC Compatible
Cable Tested : N/A
Analog
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What it is: A regular 1/8" TRS audio jack or a 1/4 or 1/16 TRS with a 1/8 TRS adapter.
When it matters: For all devices with a line out.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
USB
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What it is: A USB or USB adapter to connect to your devices for audio and microphone.
When it matters: A digital USB adapter usually offers a slight advantages over a regular audio jack, like a DAC, and amplifier module or software support and compatibility with PCs. However it may not be as compatible with consoles.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
Show Help
What it is: PS4 compatibility with a regular 3 or 4 pin 1/8 TRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your PS4
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
Show Help
What it is: Xbox One compatibility with a regular 3 or 4 pin 1/8 TRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your Xbox One
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A
PC Compatible
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What it is: PC compatibility with a regular 3 or 4 pin 1/8 TRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your PC.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A

These headphones do not come with an audio cable that you can use without the base station. Unlike some other gaming headset like the SteelSeries Arctis 7, the A50s will no be compatible with mobile devices and will not work with the Xbox One or the PS4's controller.

9.3 Base/Dock
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What it is: The base station, dock or dongle transmitter of wireless headphones that receive data/audio via a proprietary frequency range.
When it matters: Knowing the inputs and outputs of the base/dock/dongle as well as its compatibility with consoles and Personal Computers. Also whether the base supports dock charging to easily recharge the headphones without any cables.
Score components:
  • 4% Optical Input
  • 22% Line In
  • 4% Line Out
  • 22% USB Input
  • 4% RCA Input
  • 9% PS4 Compatible
  • 9% Xbox One Compatible
  • 9% PC Compatible
  • 2% Power Supply
  • 13% Dock Charging
Wireless Type
Show Help
What it is: The type of wireless connection used by the base station/dock to communicate with the headphones.
When it matters: For latency and range. For example Radio frequency has low latency but mediocre range when obstructed and proprietary docks have their own 2.x GHz or 5 GHz frequency which varies in performance.
:
Proprietary Dock
Optical Input
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What it is: Optical input for audio.
When it matters: Optical can carry a bit more data at faster speeds than typical wired connection which allows for more high quality, lossless audio.
Good value: Yes
:
Yes
Line In
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What it is: The regular wired input via a 1/8" TRS audio jack.
When it matters: For any device that has a line out for audio transmission.
Good value: Yes
:
Yes
Line Out
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What it is: A regular 1/8TRS audio jack output.
When it matters: If you need to share the audio source with other devices. A line out lets you connect other headphones or speakers to the dock/base station.
Good value: Yes
:
No
USB Input
Show Help
What it is: A digital USB input instead of a typical 1/8 TRS line-in.
When it matters: A USB connection can provide both an audio input and power to the Dock or Base station.
:
Yes
RCA Input
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What it is: Audio input using via an RCA connectors.
When it matters: Provides better stereo audio to the dock/base that's then transmitted to the headphones.
Good value: Yes
:
Yes
PS4 Compatible
Show Help
What it is: Dock/Base station compatibility with the PlayStation 4.
When it matters: To be able to use all the features of the dock/base station with out losing audio or microphone capability.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
Audio Only
Xbox One Compatible
Show Help
What it is: Dock/Base station compatibility with the Xbox One.
When it matters: To be able to use all the features of the dock/base station with out losing audio or microphone capability.
:
Audio + Microphone
PC Compatible
Show Help
What it is: Dock/Base station compatibility with your Personal Computer.
When it matters: To be able to use all the features of the dock/base station with out losing audio or microphone capability.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
Audio + Microphone
Power Supply
Show Help
What it is: The connector type of the power source.
When it matters: The accessibility of the power source. For example a power supply with USB/USB-C connects to multiple devices, PC , PS4, Xbox One or even with your regular phone charger whereas a A/C adapter is less common.
Good value: USB/USB-C
:
USB
Dock Charging
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What it is: Charging the headphones via the dock/base station instead of a charging cable.
When it matters: It makes charging your headphones easier and gives you a sport to store your headphones when they are not in use.
Good value: Yes
:
Yes

The Astro A50 come with an excellent base station that provides dock charging and multiple input methods. They have a regular line-in audio jack, an optical input and audio via the usb cable when plugged into your PC or the appropriate console. Unfortunately, the base does not work across platforms so you won't be able to switch between your PS4 and Xbox One unless you purchase an additional base station which is a little disappointing. On the upside, there’s a neat little hack; if you get the Xbox One variant of the A50's base and connect it to your PS4 in PC mode, you will have both audio and mic support but no microphone, monitoring or settings since the support is not native.

7.7 Wireless Range
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What it is: Headphones that offer a cable-free listening experience over a wireless network, typically via Bluetooth or radio frequency.
When it matters: If you don't want to be limited by the length of an audio cable. This means having the freedom to move around in your home or office with a much greater range than an audio cable could provide, especially, if the Bluetooth source is heavy or difficult to carry.
Score components:
Obstructed Range
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What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when the Bluetooth source was placed in another room.
When it matters: If you can't or prefer not to carry your Bluetooth source on you, while listening to your audio in an indoor environment. Although, the obstructed wireless range will slightly depend on your home or office layout.
Good value: >35ft
Noticeable difference: 5ft
:
36 ft
Line of Sight Range
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What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when in direct line of sight of the Bluetooth device.
When it matters: If you can't or prefer not to carry your Bluetooth source on you, while listening to your audio in a large and open environment.
Good value: 170ft or more
Noticeable difference: 10ft
:
112 ft

The Astro A50 have a better-than-average wireless range when the USB transmitter stand is obstructed, and a decent wireless range in direct line-of-sight. They will rarely cut out if you're gaming directly in front of your TV but if you're going to use them to listen to music and walk around your house then the audio may start skipping once you're in another room. They perform about as well as most typical Bluetooth headphones.

9.2 Latency
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What it is: How long it takes for audio to play through your headphones once the audio signal has been sent from a source.
When it matters: When gaming or watching movies. High latency means you will hear the audio much later than the images you see on screen.
Score components:
Default Latency
Show Help
What it is: The Base RF latency or the default sub-band coding (SBC) of most Bluetooth headphones.
When it matters: When watching videos a high latency can cause sync issues between the images you see and the audio you hear.
Good value: 50ms or less
Noticeable difference: 15ms
:
39 ms
aptX Latency
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What it is: An audio coding algorithm (Codec) that improves bit rate efficiency. It reduces latency and improves sound quality over Bluetooth.
When it matters: For better sound quality if your often streaming music over Bluetooth. Also it slightly improves latency when watching videos with wireless headphones.
Good value: 50ms or less
Noticeable difference: 15ms
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
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What it is: Low latency variation of aptX that significantly reduces sync issues between video and sound when using Bluetooth headphones.
When it matters: When watching videos or gaming latency is a lot more noticeable than just listening to music.
Good value: 50ms or less
Noticeable difference: 5ms
:
N/A

They have low latency, making them a suitable option for gaming. They're not as lag-free as wired headsets but at 39ms, you will rarely notice any sync issues between the audio and the images on the screen. This also makes them a good choice for home theater use.

In the box

Astro A50 In the box Picture

  • Astro A50 Headphones
  • Base Station
  • USB Power and Data cable
  • Optical audio cable
  • Manual

Compared to other Headphones

Astro A50 Compare Picture

The Astro A50 are one of the better gaming headsets that we've reviewed, provided you get the dock for the right console. They have multiple input options, they sound great, and they're very comfortable. They're also well-built with a premium, somewhat breathable design but they're not as versatile as some of the other headsets. You can't use them with your phone since they do not support Bluetooth, their base is console limited and they do not have a regular audio jack. They're also considerably more expensive than most of the other gaming headsets we've tested so far.

Turtle Beach Elite 800

The Turtle Beach Elite 800, unlike the A50s, are Bluetooth headphones and also come with a base station that has multiple input options and dock charging. They have a bit more latency, especially when using Bluetooth instead of the base, but should still be suitable for gaming. Unfortunately, they have a worse control scheme that's a bit confusing and subject to a lot of accidental inputs, their build quality feels very plasticky for their price and they do not sound as good as the Astro even when you EQ them. The Astros are better than the Elite 800 in most aspects including gaming but if you need a more versatile design to use outdoors with your phone, then they may be a decent alternative.

Astro A10

 

The A10 are simple, wired gaming headphones. They have an excellent microphone and a low latency connection but won't be as versatile as some of the other wireless gaming headsets we've tested. They also have no customization options, unlike the A50 which support the Astro Command Center. Their build quality feels slightly more durable than the A50s but not as premium or as convenient since they're wired. If you have both the PS4 and Xbox and often switch between consoles, the A10 may be a decent and cheaper alternative to the A50s since they will work with both consoles' controllers. However, for gaming and critical listening, the A50s are much better than the A10s.

SteelSeries Arctis 7

The SteelSeries Arctis 7 are also one of highest rated gaming headsets. They have a bit more inputs than the Astro A50 and can be used wired with mobile devices since they also come with a 1/8'TRS audio cable. They have a slightly better, and more durable metal build than the Astros but are a bit tighter on the head so they won't be as comfortable. The Arctis 7 are a great alternative to the A50s, especially if you need a pair of headphones that has a low latency wireless connection and an audio cable to switch between consoles and mobile devices.

Bose QuietComfort 35

The Bose QuietComfort 35 are good noise canceling headphones with a super comfortable design. They won't be the best headphones for gaming especially if you want to use them wirelessly. But on the upside, they come with a decent audio cable that's compatible with console controllers (the Android variant) and they're comfortable to wear for long gaming sessions. If you need a headset strictly for gaming, then the A50s are the better option but for every day casual use, the QuietComfort 35 are more versatile.

Conclusion
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

6.7Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
The Astro A50 are well-designed headphones primarily for gaming but with a very good sound quality for critical listening and low latency for watching movies. They do not block a lot of noise and leak a lot, so they won't be the best headphones to use in public. They're also limited by a fairly bulky dock which means they won't be suitable for commuting or sports.
8.1Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
Great for critical listening. They have a comfortable design, a well-balanced frequency response with a good amount of bass and fair representation of instruments and vocals. They also have a decently spacious soundstage and a good stereo image reproduction which is suitable for both critical listening and gaming.
5.3Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
Subpar for commuting. The Astro A50 gaming headset doesn't block a lot of noise and leaks a lot at higher volumes. These headphones also have to be in range of the transmitter dock so they won't be suitable for commuting or traveling unless you're on a plane or train and using a laptop. Even then the dock is not really practical to use under those circumstances.
5.4Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Score components:
Subpar for sports. The Astro A50 Wireless have a bulky design that's not stable enough for running or working out with. They're also limited by their dock so unless your working out indoors they won't be very practical.
6.4Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:
Average for office use. They have a comfortable design you can wear for hours and a great app with a lot of customization options. However, they leak quite a bit at higher volumes and won't block the ambient chatter of a noisy office environment.
7.5Home Theater
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Score components:
Good for home theater use. They have a good enough wireless range for most home theater set-ups. They're also very comfortable and have sufficiently low latency for watching movies and videos.
8.0Gaming
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Score components:
Good for gaming. The Astro A50 have low latency a convenient wireless design and a comfortable fit you can wear for long gaming sessions without any fatigue. They won't be the best headphones if you have a particularly noisy gaming environment like being at a competition. However, they deliver on most aspects that make a good gaming headphone. They have a clear and reliable microphone, a good battery life with power saving features, and an excellent sound for both gaming and listening to music. They even come with a robust software which offers a lot of customization options.
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Questions & Answers

15 ANSWERED QUESTIONS
6
Also, considering this comes with that Dolby 7.1 surround sound technology, would you guys say that it is enhances the listening experience or holds it back when using it? I searched your site but can't seem to find anything on what you make of 7.1 surround sound or whether it is nothing but a gimmick and to stick with the stereo sounds of headphones. Sorry for the seperatr questions.
We don't have a test for evaluating the Dolby 7.1 implementation of the headsets at the moment, but based on our subjective evaluations, the effect is mostly subtle on stereo content and we would rather have it disabled.
2
Considering that this pair of headphones scored great in both the critical listening department as well as home theater, even though these headphones is more for gaming, would you recommend these over something like the Seinnheiser RS 185 for home theater? Thanks.
Yes, we would recommend the A50 for home theater use over the Sennheiser RS 185. They're cheaper, they have low latency, a good sound, and unlike some of the other gaming headsets, their base station takes an aux, optical and USB input. This makes them as, if not more versatile than RS 185 with a better sound and build quality.
2
Can you list the bit depth and sample rate specs of each headphone you review? And also whether or not the audio is in a compressed format? Also, what types of virtual surround sound are supported and the relevant information about them. I think these are important factors to consider.
At the moment we don't have a test for assessing the virtual surround capabilities of headphones. The sample rate and bit depth of wireless headphones are dependent on their audio codec and wireless protocol, which you can find in the Active Features section. We have plans for measuring the perceptual quality of the headphone's codecs sometime in the future.
2
Are these not available in a more neutral and less "teenage gamer" color scheme? I would like to get one, but they are absolutely hideous.
We agree the Astro A50 (Gen 3) color schemes are a bit too flashy. The older variants of the A50 (the 2014 and 2015 models) have slightly better color schemes but do not have the convenience of the dock charging station.
1
Love all your content btw guys youre my go to source for tv's already! Was just wondering what would be your recomendation for a console gaming headset for xbox one x (or xbox in general) preferably wireless. Are there any better than the a50 for wireless? ive been with turtle beach and then astro and dont know many others, Thanks!!
We've just started reviewing gaming headsets, and from the limited numbers that we have measured, the A50 would be our recommendation. It also has optical connectivity so you can use them with your Xbox.
1
If I missed this information I do apologize, but since these have 3 set EQ positions by default did you do your evaluations with the default position 1 EQ enabled? I just want to know if you did these evaluations with EQ on or if you created a flat profile and pushed them to the headset before testing. Thank you.
Yes, they were tested with the EQ in position 1, since that would score best against our target curve. Thanks for your pointing out the missing information, it has been added to the review.
1
Thank you for mentioning that Dolby does not add much to stereo content. I am looking for headphones in my Media Room to watch movies and TV shows. What do you think of this and other Dolby / DTS 7.1 headsets (connected via Optical) for mainly movie watching? Is it worth it or I can save some money going to to say Senn RS165 for purely movie watching (no gaming) requirement.
Our soundstage test does not yet account for Dolby/DTS 7.1 surround sound, so we cannot objectively say which one is better. The A50s are more comfortable and better built, they also have a lot more features that if you're willing to customize, makes the experience a lot better overall. However, for just watching movies the RS 165 is the cheaper option, has a bit more bass (which is a bit more suitable for movies) than the A50's default sound profile and sufficiently low latency for watching videos. We would recommend the A50s because it's the better headphone in most aspects, but if budget is the real constraint, then the RS 165 are a good choice.
1
Great review. Given the fact that these aren’t cheap (costs as much as a console itself or more) and only supports one console ps4 or xbox one (yes we can buy base station alone for second console), what do you guys recommend for a multi console gamer experience? 3 of my consoles are using hdmi to tv and arc hdmi connected to soundbar. Hence Optical ports on all 3 are available. Toslink splitter with one of these is worth it? (Dont care about chat feature) or any other recommendation? ( i prefer to keep audio at its original fornat without downscaling to stereo) Thanks
The SteelSeries Arctis 7 are a great option that do not cost as much as the A50. They connect wirelessly (though their USB dongle) with the PS4 and PS3, but they also have a regular 1/8" TRRS audio connector cable that you can plug into your Xbox One controller and still use the mic.

This also means any wired gaming headset with a 1/8" TRRS jack would be multi-platform for newer consoles, as the PS4 controller also has an audio jack. In this case, we also recommend the Hyperx Cloud Revolver.

Lastly, the S/PDIF splitter may not be the best solution for this case, but if all three consoles are connected to your TV or soundbar (via HDMI), then you can use the line-out, or optical out of your TV or soundbar and connect that to the base station of the A50. This should let you select the output through whats playing on the TV or the soundbar.

1
Hi Guys, I love yalls website and have even used it to buy a TV(Vizio P Series 2017– love it by the way) and currently I am looking for a gaming headset. I’m curious as to why you didn’t list the Astro A50 as having surround sound even though it has Dolby 7.1 Surround sound. I’m not sure but I’m pretty sure it does have surround sound yet you guys didn’t mention that. If you could please answer my question that would mean a lot. Thank you, Adrian
We don't have a test for measuring the surround capabilities of headphones yet, that's why we don't mention it in our reviews. But we will add it to our tests whenever we have a good method for measuring it.
1
Can I connect two or more headsets to the same base station?
Unfortunately, we do not have two Astro A50s Gen3 in the office to test with a single base station. However, since the base station gives you battery data and inputs for one headset we do not think it will be compatible with two A50s.
0
Hi, I’m excited to see your site reviewing gaming headsets now. I bought a pair of A50s earlier this year and found them completely unusable. The audio would cut out constantly, and several attempts at troubleshooting the issue with Astro customer service were unhelpful. Did you experience any audio drops during your testing? Is there a way you could test for signal stability? To give you a little more information, I was using the A50s with a PS4 and I live in an apartment building. I’m wondering if the source of the problem was the base station not being able to compensate for interference from wireless sources in my building. Other headsets I’ve used have either had no dropped audio (Bluetooth connection) or very rare drops (2.4ghz wireless instead of the 5ghz the A50s use). Thanks for all the great reviews.
We didn't experience any audio drops when testing our Astro A50 except for the wireless range test, which was to be expected. We do not think that the issue was caused by interference as we have multiple wireless devices running in the office at all times. The gyroscope auto-off feature does switch off the A50 faster than most gaming headsets, but as long as they were awake and connected to the base station, we experienced no audio drops or data loss in our measurements.

We do not yet have a test bench to visualize how data packets are being sent and received over a wireless connection, but our obstructed range test should give a good metric for signal stability. In this case, there were no connection issues or audio drops with our A50 when the dock was less than 30ft away and in another room, so we can conclude that your A50 may be defective. Have you tried the base station with any other devices except your PS4? Also, if possible, can you test your A50 in a different environment than your apartment? That way you confirm can if there's an interference issue. Keep us posted and we will be happy to help.

0
I shopped for every gaming headset last year and returned a ton. I found that these a50 by far best on the market for anyone wanting a gaming headset. All the reviewed stuff that is low if about portability and they are not meant for that. Perfect for sitting by your xbox waiting to play. The thing with gaming headsets it they break over time and I have found this to be the headset that has not broken on me and the quality has been the same since day 1.
Thanks for sharing your experience. We agree with you that portability should not be a factor for gaming headsets, that's why we don't include a portability score in the Gaming usage rating. You can see the score breakdown of each usage rating by hovering your mouse pointer over the blue question mark.
0
I recently purchased a set purely for home theater use based on your reviews and recommendations. I purchased the PS4 version (mainly because the green was really tacky for me) I wasn’t aware i had to have a PS4 or computer to actually get the base to turn on and charge the headset? I tried using a wall power USB adapter (5v, 2.1A) to power the unit so and Use it by my home theater system, but it doesn’t turn on unless it’s connected to my PC via USB, and im assuming it’ll power on connected to PS4 (I dont own one) Did you find the same to be true with the unit you tested? If so this should really be mentioned in the review if its a requirement because it makes it impractical to have as a home theater headphones if you dont have a gaming console or a PC by your home theater receiver. Thanks for the info, amazing website!
We tested the Astro A50 Gen 3 (Xbox one) with the Sony X930E TV and here are results.

1) When the base station is connected to the TV's USB port in PC mode, the base station is on and able to transmit audio to the headphones. This works with optical out and line-out.

2) When the base station is connected in Xbox mode or to a wall outlet, the base station does not turn on, so no audio.

3) When the base station is connected in PC mode with a USB Safety adapter (to prevent data exchange) the Base station did not turn on.

This most likely means that the when the data pin is disabled (like when using a regular wall adapter) there is no data communication via the USB cable, and the Base station does not turn on. We agree that this information should be available in the review and it will be added to the text, but until we can add a new test you will not be able to filter the headphone tables by that criteria. However, you should still be able to watch your video content if you use the USB port of your TV (and the base station is in PC mode) with a line-out or optical-out.
0
Has the Astro A50 headset been tested using the optional mod kit? I’d be curious to know how the leather earcups might affect this review. Thanks for running such an awesome site!
No, it was tested using the default factory pads, and using the Studio EQ preset.
0
I was reading that the Astro A50 Xbox One edition is the only truly wireless headphone that works for both Xbox One and PS4. The Xbox One obviously should work fine, but if you select the "PC Mode" on the Xbox one versiondock and use the USB connection to the PS4, you can get wireless audio and mic. Did you happen to run through this during your testing or could you confirm? If so, this stands to be one of the few (if not the only) headphone I know that can support both Xbox One and PS4 wirelessly, which is good for us gamers that have both consoles. (source: www.reddit.com/r/xboxone/comments/7jjns2/true_wireless_headset_for_both_xbo_and_ps4/)
We tested our Xbox One variant of the Astro A50 and can confirm that in PC mode you do get audio and limited mic functionality on the PS4. However, you cannot change the mic settings through the PS4 menu. We have updated the text of the A50 to reflect this.
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