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  1. Table of Contents
  2. Intro
  3. Design
    1. Style
    2. Comfort
    3. Controls
    4. Stability
    5. Portability
    6. Case
    7. Build Quality
    8. Breathability
    9. Cable
    10. Front
    11. Angled
    12. Side
    13. Rear
    14. Top
  4. Sound
    1. Bass
    2. Mid
    3. Treble
    4. Frequency Response Consistency
    5. Raw Frequency Response
    6. Soundstage
    7. Imaging
    8. Total Harmonic Distortion
  5. Isolation
    1. Noise Isolation
    2. Leakage
  6. Microphone
    1. Recording Quality
    2. Noise Handling
  7. Active Features
    1. Wireless Range
    2. Latency
    3. Battery
    4. App Support
  8. In the box
  9. Conclusion
  10. Q&A
Reviewed on Oct 19, 2017 , Sam Vafaei, Yannick Khong

Astro A50 Wireless Gaming Headset for Xbox One
HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.1
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Test Benches:

  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
6.4
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:
8.2
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:
5.4
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.
5.5
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.
6.3
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:
Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

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.

This Headphones is currently our best Gaming Headset - Better Sounding Alternative.
Test Results
Design 6.5
Sound 8.3
Isolation 2.9
Microphone 8.0
Active Features 7.1
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.

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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 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. 

Style
Astro A50 Design Picture 2

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.

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.

6.6 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
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through : N/A
Additional Buttons : Presets

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.

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.

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.

6.6 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 Before Picture Astro A50 Breathability After Picture
Avg.Temp.Difference : 5.2 C

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

Comes with two cables: a USB power/audio cable and an Optical audio cable.

Front
Angled
Side
Rear
Top
8.3

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 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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

7.3 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.
PRTF Error
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What it is: The average amount of deviation in Pinna-Related Transfer Function of the headphones, compared to that of a loudspeaker. Whether the soundstage is perceived to be unnatural, located inside or in front of the head, is dependent on this quality. The more the headphones activate the HRTF resonances of the ear (similar to what loudspeakers do), the more the soundstage will be pulled out from inside the listener's head. This quality affects both stereo and mono content.
When it matters: When a natural, in-the-front soundstage is desired, similar to that of a loudspeaker.
Good value: <5
Noticeable difference: 0.5
:
6.89 dB
Openness
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What it is: How open the headphones are, and how open and spacious they sound. This quality affects both stereo and mono content. 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.
When it matters: When an open, wide and roomy sound 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
:
9.5
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 takes some of the characteristic of its environment (reflections/reverb) before reflecting back into the open headphones and to the listener's ears. This quality affects both stereo and mono content. This value is the inverse of the Leakage test score.
When it matters: When an open, wide and roomy sound is desired.
Good value: >7.5
Noticeable difference: 0.5
:
6.2
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

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.

8.0 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 Phase Response
Phase Error
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What it is: The average amount of deviation in the phase, from the ideal flat response.
When it matters: When an accurate and transparent imaging is desired.
Good value: <60°
Noticeable difference: 10°
:
39.28 °
Driver Mismatch (Amplitude)
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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: <0.3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
0.22 dB
Driver Mismatch (Frequency)
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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: <2dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
1.51 dB
Driver Mismatch (Phase)
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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: <90°
Noticeable difference: 30°
:
61.78 °

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.

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

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.

2.9

Isolation

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Score components:

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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:

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.

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

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.

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
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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

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.

7.1

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 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.

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:
Type
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What it is: The type and version of the wireless network, the headphones use to connect to the audio source. This could either be Bluetooth or radio frequency.
When it matters: The Bluetooth version will determine how compatible the headphones are with your Bluetooth enabled devices. Typically, newer Bluetooth versions are backward compatible with older ones but may lack the additional features that more recent Bluetooth protocols provide.
:
USB Transmitter
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
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.
:
N/A

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.

9.2 Latency
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What it is: The latency 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:
Base Latency
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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

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.

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.
Score components:
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
Auto-off
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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.
:
Yes
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 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 :
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
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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 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.

Microphone settings

Stream Port Mixer

General Settings

In the box

Astro A50 In the box Picture

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

Conclusion
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

6.4Mixed 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.
8.2Critical 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.
5.4Commute/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.
Subpar for commuting. They don't block a lot of noise and leak a lot at higher volumes. They 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.
5.5Sports/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.
Subpar for sports. They 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.
6.3Office
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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.
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.
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

10 ANSWERED QUESTIONS
4
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.
1
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.
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.
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
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.
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