Astro A50 Gaming Headset
There is no doubt that a great headset will give a player a massive advantage over others, particularly in 'first person shooter' games. But is it really necessary to spend what for most would be, a substantial sum, to gain that advantage?
The Astro A50 (pictured below in all its glory) is Astro's latest offering, following on from the very popular (and excellent) A40.
The New A50 from Astro
As you would expect from a premium branded product, the set comes in a nice shiny box, and the headphones themselves are securely held within. As soon as you get hands on with them you'll immediately recognize that these have the same superb quality and 'feel' as the A40 had. They are made from high grade materials, and certainly feel like you are holding something a step up from the rest. The first thing i noticed was that they are a little bigger than the A40 i'm used to, but it's not a huge difference.
As you'll see from the Diagram, there are a couple of controls on the headset itself, a volume wheel, and a equilizer mode switch. both have a solid feel to them. The rather chunky microphone is hinged, so can be 'flipped' up when you don't need it, again this has a solid feel. The mic itself will mute itself when flipped up.
The headband is comfortable, and flexible enough to suit most people. The totally closed cup ear pieces are a departure from the A40, initially they felt a bit odd, but i think that is just as i'm not used to a fully closed cup.
In the box you get a rather nice stand to rest the headset on when you take a break, a 3' cable (these can be used wireless too), the wireless transmitter and of course the owners manual. One point to note is that if you want to use these with an Xbox, you have to use the supplied cable, so no wireless for 'Xboxers' i'm afraid!
So, how do they sound?
In a word - AWESOME
There's no two ways about it, these headphones give the best audio quality i have heard yet. There's no (or at least i couldn't hear it) hiss, which is often detectable on cheaper headsets when no sound is being played through them, the bass sounds great and mid/top ranges are lovely and crisp too.
A big thing for me with the games i play (first person shooters) is 'positional audio'. For those that don't know, this will generate the sound according to where it originated from in the game. So if someone to my left shoots at me, i can tell from the sound that it's coming from my left. This is something that cheaper headsets either don't do at all, or do poorly. I found the A50's performance in this respect to be astonishingly accurate.
Lets get technical...
So for those of you that like to know the finer points, here they are:
Ships With:A50 Headset with Li-Ion Battery,Astro Wireless 5.8 Ghz Transmitter w/ KleerNet™, Headset Stand, 1.0M USB Power Cable, 0.5M USB Charging Cable, 1.0M Optical Cable, 1.5M XBOX Live® Chat Cable
Transducer Principle:Open Air Frequency Response:20Hz - 20,000 KHz
Nominal Impedance:48 ohm
Weight w/o cable:0.81lbs/363 grams
Characteristic SPL:118 db @1kHz
Connector:2.5mm XBOX Live®
chat port, Mini-USB port
Microphone:6.0mm uni-directinal noise canceling
Power Supply:USB mini-B (USB 2.0 compatible)
Battery Life:8-10 Hours
HxWireless Radio:5.8GHz STS Module
Inputs:Optical In, AUX In (3.5mm)
Outputs:Optical Passthrough, USB Power & Voice, USB Charging Port
I certainly don't regret my decision to buy these. Yes, they are a lot of money, but once you have them you'll wonder how you ever got by with any of a lesser quality.
Anyone that plays a reasonable amount of games will be amazed at the extra detail you can here through a decent headset, I also have noticed a gain in my playing performance too. Some will say that could be a placebo effect, but i'm crediting the amazing Astro A50 with that award!
A lot of money, yes, a lot of extra gaming pleasure, most definitely!