Every year, I’m always curious to swing by the Astro booth at E3 to see what they’ve got on the menu. They’ve consistently been one of the best and most reliable gaming accessory companies around, and there’s good reason that Astro is a household name when it comes to high-end gaming headsets. On display this year, they were showing off the new licensed PlayStation C40 controller, which we reviewed earlier this year and absolutely loved, so we focused on the second product: The fourth generation Astro A50 headset.
Now if you, like me, were a little confused at the naming convention, allow me to explain. Yes, the Astro A50 is not a “new” headset model. It’s the flagship headset for the brand. This iteration is the foruth generation of the A50s however, which makes some fundamental improvements over the previous models and addresses feedback that users have given over time. For all intents and purposes, these improvements do make it a brand new headset that solves some of the issues that its predecessor had. If you want the best A50s, go for the newest A50s.
Let’s start with the basics of design. The new Astro A50 magnetic base has been redesigned to dock the headset even easier than before, so there should be less fiddling with it to get it to charge. I tested it out a couple of times and never had any problems just popping it right into place with ease. The base station also houses improvements to the wireless connection, meaning less dropouts and more active channel hopping which means that wireless interference won’t be the cause of any audio issues you might face. The connection and battery information are now displayed on the front of the base station, so you can easily see what your battery level is before heading into that Destiny Raid. Nothing worse than a dead headset in the middle of an intense gaming session, and Astro design makes sure you are always charging it when storing it, but also gives you the ability to easily know exactly where your battery is at regardless.
The MixAmp is built right into the headset, so you can control everything you need to right from the controls on the earcups. This includes balancing chat and game audio, as well as making tons of other small tweaks. For anything further, you can go into the Astro Command Center on your PC to make the tiny little customizations and changes to the audio profile. While it’s not going to have any impact for PS4 players right now, the new Astro A50 headset is ready for spatial audio solutions like Dolby Atmos. Astro is doing a bit of future proofing ahead of the next generation of consoles to ensure that if you invest now, these can grow with you.
From a design perspective, these things are exceptionally comfortable. They let me put them on in the demo session, and it was a fight to get me to take them back off again. The Astro A50 mod kit furthers this comfort and design. Of course they sound great too. The limited presentation I was able to take part in showed off an exceptionally impressive audio profile, and I’m really curious how it would make my usual haunts (music, games, chat with my group, etc.) sound.
A premium headset does come with a premium price though, and you’ll be dropping $299.99 when the new fourth generation Astro A50 Headset and Base Station launch this summer. Early impressions are positive. Astro has a track record for ensuring its products are top quality, but we won’t know for certain until we can test these under ideal home conditions to see if the changes made warrant the price point. Comfort and quality are the name of the game though, and if Astro keeps pace with what it’s managed to do previously, we’re certain the new Astro A50 headset will be worth every penny.