This reviewer’s first experience with Astro headsets came in 2012 when assigned to sit in a hotel room and review a Call Of Duty (can’t remember which one, probably gave it an 8). COD’s great and all, but it’s exhausting on the ears. Gunfire and macho grunts in eight-to-ten-hour shifts, for three solid days. In the wrong circumstances, such a press event could easily be a living hell, but, fortunately, there were pairs of A50s laid out for us all by our tellies. (And yes, they stayed there after we checked out, just so we’re clear.)
Design & Features
Those maxims of comfort and quality are truer than ever with the latest gen of A50, Astro’s flagship model. The velour-effect covers around each earcup are breathable but wonderfully cosy on the ears, like a duvet that shouts bullet sounds at you. There’s a huge amount of rotation (and in fact the earcups can be positioned flat for space-saving packing) and adjustment from the headband, so there’s always a comfortable configuration for you whatever your cranial dimensions.
This being a high-end model with a price to prove it, build quality, and construction materials are impressive everywhere. There is some plastic to it, but it’s shaped and finished to such a pleasing array of rubberised and shiny gloss elements that you could never accuse it of looking anything other than ready to grace a luxury setup. The design still speaks very much to the gamer, but it’s a grown-up version. The same goes for its redesigned and shrunken headset stand/wireless charging station, featuring a white LED display similar to Steelseries’s Arctis Pro station and similarly giving you charge level, mode, and surround on/off readouts. Both the headset and stand look adult, not like an Action Man’s base of operations as so many overtly ‘gamer’ peripherals do.
If you’ve ever sampled a set of Astros for yourself, you’ll know about the sound. It’s powerful. Booming, tight when it needs to be, and detailed. Certainly not the kind of audio footprint you’d use to mix a record in a studio, but the exaggerated lows are invigorating in-game. All the more impressive is that Astro manages to coax all that bass out of a 40mm driver, whereas other manufacturers tend to go to a 50mm diameter driver when they’re in search of a more authoritative low-end.
This is the bit where I’d usually say that fantastic game sound carries over to music too, and in this case, it’s true, yes, but a qualified ‘yes’. Personal preference does creep in here: I usually prefer to listen to music with as flat an EQ as possible, and I can certainly hear that I’m not getting a flat response even with Astro Command Center’s ‘studio’ EQ profile (incidentally, the software is still quite barebones, but it does its job without fuss). There are other headsets or contenders for best headphones I’d use first if I purely wanted to enjoy some Thelonius Monk.
But as an overall package, the sound here is irresistible. Like a big, excitable dog, making everything sound sparkly and dramatic whether it’s a Battlefield cutscene or a Windows error sound. This is about as good as the best wireless gaming headsets get, period.
Which still leaves room for the A50 to fall short of perfect, of course. Although Astro says the full range of its headsets will be next-gen compatible – throwing its hat in the ring for early contention when it comes to the best PS5 headsets, for example – it’s not quite clear how compatible they’ll be, precisely with which consoles, and using which adapters. With that in mind, it might be waiting to see exactly how it works before buying for next-gen consoles right now.
Back in the realm of right now, the only irk comes in charge time. You’ll get a commendable 15 hours from one full charge, but the time it takes to reach 100% feels slow at over three hours. Given that the headset has to be placed in the charging station to charge, it’s out of use for that whole time, which is long enough to wonder if the alternative USB cable charge method isn’t simpler and more practical after all.
Overall – should you buy it?
But let’s not dwell on that small downside; let’s celebrate what has always been, and remains, a fantastic and luxurious wireless headset – one that draws on all the qualities that being part of the Logitech headset family can provide – that simply gets all the important stuff right and makes you feel positively pampered while you’re using it. One of the best gaming headsets going, and certainly one of the best PC headsets for gaming.