Combining sleek styling and superb audio, this is ASTRO’s best set up yet.
- Developer: Astro
- Platforms: Xbox one, PS4 and PC
- Reviewed on: Xbox One X
- Supplied by: Astro
Having used my original A40s day after day, for hours on end, I can comfortably say they are at the top of every list for me, but if you had told me that ASTRO were going to make the A40 better, I would have been sceptical. ASTRO only went and did it though… When the A40 Mixamp Pro TR arrived, saying I was excited would be a huge understatement. I was ecstatic, almost beside myself with pure excitement.
The first thing worth mentioning is the unboxing experience, which is usually not something I feel is necessary to talk about, but it’s just so damn premium. The outer packaging slides off in such a satisfactory way, it’s almost worthy of being in one of those satisfying videos of perfect fits. You are then presented with a black box covered in designs, with a split down the middle. You pull the tab and the magnetic… yes, magnetic doors pop open to reveal your perfectly placed A40 and the Mixamp Pro TR. Both are nestled in a clear plastic that hovers them off the back of the box, and it just looks amazing and instills a sense of security, because the first thing I thought was, if the box is this good, imagine the headset itself.
Also, an extremely pleasant surprise included was a two year activation code for Dolby Atmos, along with your usual cables such as a micro USB, a double male 3.5mm jack cable with an inline mute on the short end, an optical cable, and a daisy chain cable all inside the right hand compartment of your box.
Well let’s get to that, the A40 itself has received some minor detail changes, it now has a matt black ear cup back and stunning silver rails. It’s also bundled with black fabric cups, black head cushion, black speaker tags with a red accent and a silver surround tying it all in. This, in comparison to the gloss black cup backs and green parts the original A40s come with, has a much more refined and high end appeal, in my opinion. That’s not to say I didn’t like the green, because I did – it’s my favourite colour, but this design just screams finesse and luxury.
As for design, it is the same aggressive ASTRO style we have seen before, the core design has not been changed, and in my opinion that’s a good thing. I love the look of the A40, and again I can’t see how they could make it better. It still has the metal-reinforced matte black plastic across the headband and around the earcups, allowing a good amount of vertical swivel.
In addition, the iconic ASTRO rails are still there, allowing you to spin the cups 90 degrees so they can lay flat on a desk or be stored in the ASTRO scout backpack. The ear cups themselves are still exactly the same with the removable magnetic cushions and speaker tags that, as standard, are semi open back, and with the addition of a mod kit can be closed back.
Now, on to the Mixamp Pro TR. It consists of a slightly tilted vertical rectangle, making it nice and neat to sit on a desk or tv stand. It has two gunmetal-grey dials, the larger dial to the left controls the master volume,whilst the smaller dial on the right adjusts your chat/game mixer.
Two buttons sit in between the dials on the top of the unit, which enables you to switch between stereo and Dolby audio, and also choose the EQ setting you wish to use, which is indicated by four small LED lights down the middle of the Mixamp. Additionally, on the back you have a selection of connections, including two daisy chain ports, which comprise of an auxiliary and a stream port, which allows you to connect and output your audio for streaming purposes, an optical input (only on the Xbox version), a micro USB port for power, and a switch for selecting either Xbox or PC (PS4 or PC, on the PS4 version). Finally, on the front you have a standard 3.5mm jack input for your A40 headset, and an LED that lights up Xbox or PC depending on what you have them connected to. There is no wireless function on this headset, as it’s designed for tournament and professional usage, and this is a deliberate exclusion to minimise any possible interference during intense competition.
Now, as for performance, this A40 Mixamp Pro TR pairing did not disappoint. From the moment you first switch on the Dolby audio, the audio quality is sheer perfection and it doesn’t sound like the audio is coming from a headset. Rather, it sounds like it’s all around you. Using it while playing Call of Duty is like having some kind of cheat code active, that enables you to hear every detail. You are able to distinctively tell what’s going on, and where, with pinpoint accuracy. If an explosion goes off near you, boy will you know about it!
I then decided to try out my favourite game, opting for a bit of Halo. Since upgrading to an Xbox One X and a 4k display, I have been blown away by the beauty of Halo, but add in some ASTRO audio with the Mixamp pro TR, and it’s a whole other world. The audio quality finally feels as amazing as the game looks, it’s a more rich and fulfilling experience that almost makes you want to stop and appreciate the atmospheric sound of Spartan versus Covenant war.
Next up had to be Forza, particularly as I wanted to see how it fared outside the popular FPS market. Well, I have never driven a McLaren Senna, but it feels like I have, hearing the engine tone powering through my eardrums, and the slight whistle of the turbo of the Civic Type R next to me. It is surreal to think that so much audio detail has always been there, albeit that I had never been able to pay attention to it before. Sometimes I swear you think you can smell tyres burning, it just pulls you in.
On top of stellar audio that could only be beaten by being in the game yourself, is the convenience of the whole setup. With the mute hanging neatly on your chest, it’s just a slide away, and when you do mute, the LEDs on your dials will turn from a bright white to a striking red. Equally, if it’s just too loud, that’s no problem, the master volume is right there. If you’re three down in a game of Search and destroy in CWL and you need your wits about you, simply reach over and turn the mixer dial to turn your mates down… I, of course, would never do that… that’s what I tell them, anyway.
The mic is simply brilliant, as is usual with ASTRO. To my suprise, even with my partner sat right next to me, and in the same party as me, it never picked her voice up and created unwelcome echo. The microphone on the A40s never missed a beat.
Comfort has not changed, the A40 is still my go-to choice for an all night grind. I couldn’t fault it last time, and I still can’t. I know a lot of people will comment on the fabric over leather choice but I can assure you that it’s good, breathable and soft. If you still want leather, you can pick yourself up a mod kit and easily replace all 3 cushions with leather.
Overall there were only 2 issues I found with the A40 and Mixamp pro TR, the first being that the Mixamp will not turn off with the console, so the lights will stay on. It’s not a huge issue by any standard, but it would have been nice for the lights to at least turn off.
Second was that with the Mixamp connected, I could not find any way to alter my mic monitoring, this was my only wish, either have some control on the Mixamp itself or allow alteration in the xbox audio settings.
ASTRO has gone and knocked my flip flops off again, with out of this world audio, the comfort and durability we are all used to, and the aggressive astro styling we love.
Now add the convenience of the Mixamp Pro TR, and it’s a straight win.
I would strongly advise anyone thinking about upgrading to nab themselves a pair of A40s with the Mixamp Pro TR, especially if they’re looking to break into Esports.