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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Astro A50 are a much better gaming headset than the Turtle Beach Stealth 600. The Astro A 50 have a more durable and premium build quality. They're more comfortable and are a bit more suitable as a home theater headset thanks to their great base station, optical in and out, and many other connection options. They have low latency, more customizable features with their app and better microphone for voice chats. On the other hand, the Stealth 600 are considerably more affordable than the Astros. They also have a longer lasting battery life even if they do not have dock charging like the A50s.
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.
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.
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.
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.