Astro A10 Review – Stellar Budget Performance (PS4)
The brand Astro Gaming has come to mean premium headsets. This means premium everything – premium fit and finish, premium-quality sound, premium mics, and especially, premium prices, with their headliner the A50 fetching a cool $300 price point. Astro has now changed their tune, and have unleashed the A10, an entry-level headset that costs a modest $60. Can Astro provide a stellar experience at less than half the cost of their next-lowest priced headset? Or does Astro have no business in the lower-end of the price spectrum? Time to find out in our review.
Included in the A10 box is an instruction manual, the headset itself, and a 3.5mm cable, 2 meters (a little over 6 ½ feet) in length. That’s it! The box’s packaging materials protect the headset while it’s en route to you, and little else. The headset comes fully assembled, and in fact has no user-replaceable parts beyond the cable. The cable is a good length – long enough to not tug at your head if you set the controller down while looking something up on your computer, but short enough to not tangle itself easily. The inline volume controls are a nice touch, and something not seen too often at this price point.
While we received the PS4 model review unit of the A10, the only difference between the models is the color scheme. There’s blue for the PS4 model, red for the PC model, and of course green for the Xbox One model. If red or green is your favorite color, then there are no worries in buying a different model – the headsets are all identical except for the color scheme. The Xbox One model can come packaged with a mixamp to be used on an Xbox controller, however this cranks up the price to $100, which may place it just outside some gamers’ budget.
The build quality of the Astro A10 is solid. There’s not any metal to be found externally, and it’s made of an incredibly flexible hybrid plastic of some sort, which can bend any which way you could imagine. Apparently, the inside is where metal is, which gives the headset its great durability. During a demo we had at E3, PR made a point to slam an A10 set against a nearby wall, to demonstrate the resilience of the headset. Rest assured, for those of you who rage-quit games, slamming everything away from you as you lose…Well, you might want to talk to someone about your anger issues. But at least your A10s can take such a beating without breaking a sweat!
Speaking of sweat, the A10 features a soft foam as ear cushions. The material helps to keep the weight of the headset down – the A10 is indeed ASTRO’s lightest headset on sale, at 346 grams (0.76 pounds). Though we are splitting hairs here, when you consider that the A40 weighs 360 grams (0.79 pounds). Yet that material may cause some of you to sweat into the cushions, because the material isn’t as breathable as other fabrics. As long as the room you’re playing in is a decent temperature, this shouldn’t be much of a problem.
A Comfortable Weight
Now, because the headset is so light, it will naturally be comfortable for many to wear for hours on end. However, because there is no tension-relieving strap as seen in other, more expensive headsets, you may start to feel some tension around your ears after several hours. It’s good to take a break from such long gaming sessions, anyway, and any symptoms you may have such as this tension will go away within minutes of removing the headset.
The ASTRO A10 features 40mm neodymium drivers. These are the very same drivers that usually end up on Astro’s much higher-end A40s and A50s. But surely with this lower price point comes a lower level of audio fidelity, right? That’s actually an incorrect assumption. The A10 drivers pump out some impressive sound, and while you’re always at a significant multiplayer advantage when playing with almost any headset, the fact that the A10 has the same quality audio as the higher-end sets means that your games will come to life. Bass is punchy, though a little muddied at higher volumes, but sound effects such as gunshots in shooting games or punches and kicks in fighting games come in crisp and tight.
Beyond gaming, the A10 is also universally compatible (even with the latest iPhone if you haven’t lost your phone’s adapter by now). The built-in volume knob in the included cable means that you can output your audio at full blast from your device, and precisely control the volume using analog controls. While the A10 wasn’t designed with general audio in mind, the result is easily usable as a daily driver on a commute – just don’t play at too loud of a volume. Music sounds okay through this headset, though at higher volumes there is some noticeable distortion, especially in the low-end. Keeping things at or below the 80% volume mark is recommended, closer to 50% being ideal for most external audio.
Surprisingly Impressive Mic
To round out the package, the A10 headset also includes a boom mic. This has Astro’s signature flip-to-mute style. You simply move the mic up until it issues a satisfying click, and then you know your conversations are not being broadcasted for the world to hear. The microphone is an impressively capable one, too – people who had heard us when using other headsets, such as the SteelSeries mentioned earlier, noticed a marked increase in voice quality when on the ASTRO A10. Sure, this isn’t studio-quality, but it’s certainly not bottom-of-the-barrel as you’d expect in a budget headset.
Perhaps owing to the headset’s cheaper build materials, the A10 does bleed sound out of the cups. I barely had the audio at 33% volume, and my wife said she could hear whatever song I was playing in full detail. This was in a pretty large room, with the headset seated properly, covering both of my ears. This is to be expected of lower-end headsets, however, but it would’ve been nice to see Astro crack such a common problem at this price range. For what it’s worth, the SteelSeries P300s, which launched at an MSRP of around $100, also bleed sound, though to a lesser extent.
Gamers everywhere need to take note: Astro has introduced a beast of a headset at a wildly affordable price. With a sturdy, flexible construction, sound that will enhance your gameplay, and even an impressive microphone, Astro has built the ultimate budget headset, perfect for gamers on a tighter budget, or who can’t justify the higher price tag of other premium headsets. Sure, the audio may distort a bit at higher volumes, the cups bleed audio, and the feature set is minimal. But the Astro A10 headset is a great entry into a market that up until now, the company has all but ignored. You may want to consider the A10 when your current cheap headset gives out, if you want surprising all-around quality that can also take a physical beating.
Astro A10 review unit was provided to PlayStation LifeStyle by Astro Gaming. For more information, please see our Review Policy here.