The Astro A50 are a good gaming headset with a very good sound for critical listening. They're 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.
- Comfortable and sturdy design.
- Great audio reproduction with EQ and presets.
- Good microphone that filters out noise.
- Bulky design not meant for outdoors.
- Poor noise isolation.
- Leaky at high volumes.
The Astro A50 Xbox One and Astro A50 PS4 are well-built and comfortable gaming headsets 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 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 for the Astro A50 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.
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 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.
The Astro A50 is a very good sounding pair of closed-back over-ear gaming headset. They have an excellent, deep, and consistent bass, a great mid range and a very good treble. They also image well and have a decent soundstage. However, their bass and mid-range, tend to be a bit muddy and cluttered, and their treble could sound slightly harsh 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.
Excellent bass range performance. Low-bass which is responsible for thump and rumble is well-balanced and extended down to 14Hz, which is great. Bass 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 and muddy.
Very good mid-range performance for the Astro A50. Low-mid and high-mid are quite flat, but very slightly overemphasized which could make the mix a bit muddy. Mid shows a 5dB dip surrounding 600Hz, and could slightly push vocals/leads to the back of the mix.
Excellent treble range performance. The response is very consistent and relatively flat. However, the underemphasis in low-treble could negatively hurt the presence and detail of vocals/leads, and the bumps in treble could potentially make certain sounds harsh and piercing.
Good consistency. The treble range performance on the Astro A50 is quite consistent across re-seats. In the bass range, the delivery is also quite consistent across re-seats and multiple human subjects. We also noticed that having glasses on, could cause a small drop in bass, but wasn't as detrimental to bass as with some other headphones.
Decent soundstage. Although these headphones have a closed-back, their ear pads seem to be quite open, which results in a relatively open sounding soundstage. However, their ear cups are not as large and deep enough to activate the pinna resonances like a loudspeaker, which means that their soundstage may be perceived to be located inside the listener's head as opposed to in front.
Very good imaging. Phase error is minimal, and so is amplitude and frequency response mismatch. However, our test unit showed a small amount of phase mismatch between the L/R drivers which could have a subtle negative effect on the stereo imaging of the A50.
Decent harmonic distortion performance. The overall distortion level 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 of the A50 a bit harsh and brittle sounding.
The breathable design of the Astro A50 also makes them less isolating in loud environments. They 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.
Poor isolation performance. Although these headphones have a closed-back, they perform more like an open headphone, probably due to the breathable material used in their ear pads. Therefore, the Astro A50 doesn't block any noise below 800Hz and above that, they only achieve about 16dB of isolation which is mediocre.
Poor leakage performance. The significant portion of leakage sits between 500Hz and 6KHz which is a relatively broad range. The overall level of the leakage is also on the louder side.
Great microphone performance. Although speech recorded with the Astro A50 could sound slightly thin and dark, however, it will be quite easily understandable to the listener and will do the job just fine almost in all situations. However, the A50 excels in noisy environments as they are one of the best performing mics we have measured in terms of noise handling and should be able to separate speech from noise even in the most demanding situations such as a subway station.
Decent recording quality. With LFE at 350Hz and HFE at 3.5KHz, speech recorded with the Astro A50 will sound slightly thin and airless. However, the area between LFE and HFE is reproduced quite well and relatively flat.
- 100% SpNR
Excellent noise handling. The microphone on the A50 achieves a speech-to-noise ratio of more than 46dB, which is one of the highest ratios we have measured so far.
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 also come with a pretty robust software for Windows and MacOS that gives the user a lot of control and customization options. They have a good battery life and a powerful but sometimes tedious battery saving function that can't be disabled, even through the A50's command center. They also take roughly 6 hours to charge which is quite long even for a gaming headset.
These headphones 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 drop 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 cutting once you're in another room. They perform about as well as most typical Bluetooth headphones.
The A50 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 A50s have a good but 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 for the A50 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.
In the box
- Astro A50 Headphones
- Base Station
- USB Power and Data cable
- Optical audio cable