I’d planned to tell you, dear reader, how wireless headsets suck because their batteries are always dead and they’re too heavy to be comfortable. But that’s not what I’ll be telling you today. In fact, don’t think of this as a review – think of it as a love letter to probably the best gaming headset I’ve encountered in my 32 years on planet Earth.
ASTRO’s A50 is made up of two parts: the headset and the base station. The base station is where the magic starts, since it serves as both a charging station and as the transmitter. Inputs include a Micro-USB port, an optical port and a 3.5mm aux port. There’s also an optical output and a USB charging port (which can’t charge an iPhone). The base station has three LED indicators: a light which flashes when the headset is charging, the Dolby Headphone 7.1 surround sound indicator, and the battery level indicator. That last one is probably the best part of the entire package, because it gives a real-time indication of the headset’s battery level while you’re wearing it.
The headset itself is well designed. The left ear cup features the flip-up microphone, which does a fantastic job and didn’t inspire any complaints from my friends during voice chat. The right ear cup has the power switch, the Dolby Headphone 7.1 button (to activate or deactivate the virtual surround sound), the microphone volume controls, and the headphone volume wheel. The side of the cup holds controls for game volume and voice chat volume, allowing you to adjust the mix mid-game.
The sound quality is excellent. Bass is deep and rich, highs deliver the spine tingles I crave from a good song, and everything in between is as I like it. These cups aren’t going to make audiophiles weak at the knees, but for the average Joe who wants to play games, watch movies and listen to some music they’re simply kick-ass.
The wireless link uses 5GHz, which means there’s very little chance of interference from other sources, like my dual-band router. The range is rated at 10m, and I can confirm that this is the hard limit – especially when there’s a wall in the way. The battery life is excellent and after six hours of solid usage, the battery only dipped to 60% (my old age doesn’t permit me to spend 12 hours in front of my PC to test out the advertised battery life).
To extend battery life, the headset cleverly turns itself off when it’s laying on a surface. For those who’ll frequently push the battery to its limit, there’s an included USB to Mini-USB charging cable. I got into the habit of putting the headset in the charging dock when I wasn’t using it, to ensure it got as much charge as possible.
ASTRO has created a great-looking headset that delivers impressive audio performance, comfort and battery life. It won’t be making audiophiles jump up and down, but gamers will be satisfied beyond their wildest dreams. However, there’s the issue of the price. I don’t care who you are, R4,999 is a lot of money to spend on anything these days. That’s half the price of a GTX 1070 Ti. If you happen to have a large pile of money lying around and you’re in need of a new gaming headset, the ASTRO A50 is worth serious consideration. If you need any more convincing, allow me to add that I don’t have a large pile of money lying around, and yet I’m already planning to buy an Astro A50 for myself. It’s that good.