Sleek design, Astro audio v2 with Atmos, hours of comfort… and no wires.
- Manufacturer: Astro
- Platforms: Xbox/PC and PS4/PC
- Price: £299/$299 RRP
- Reviewed on: Xbox One X
- Supplied by: Astro
The Astro A50 is back with a fresh new style.
The A50 Gen 4, is an upgraded version of the previous A50, using the new Astro audio V2 and taking full advantage of Dolby Atmos, and it has also had a visual upgrade. This time around the A50 has gotten sleeker; the side rails are closed at the top and are flat, rather than ending at an angle. The side window that used to show the wire is gone, and much of the sharp styling has been replaced with smoother details. It’s also worth mentioning that the headband has changed. The insert you replace with a mod kit is now longer and a slightly different shape, meaning that your old A50 mod kits will not be compatible.
The A50 is feature packed, and surprisingly easy to use. You have three separate eq settings labelled 1, 2, and 3, and you can toggle between Astro audio and Dolby Atmos modes. This is all indicated on the front of the base station, with the settings you are currently using illuminated white, along with either Xbox or PC depending on what mode you have it set to.
You also have full volume and chat/game mixer control, with everything controlled on the headset itself. You have an on/off slider switch at the top, as well as two buttons that will either switch between Dolby Atmos and Astro audio V2 or switch your EQ setting. After that, you have the volume adjustment wheel that will control master volume, and on the cup itself, each side of it will adjust the mix between game audio and chat audio, but there is one other feature that you could easily miss. Let’s say you take it off and set it down so you can pop to the bathroom between games. In your absence, it switches itself off and will stay off or on standby until you pick it back up – genius! It’s a brilliant feature, so simple but so clever, allowing you to ensure that every second of battery you have is used on your gaming.
As for performance, the Astro A50 is stellar. With three distinctively different EQ settings and Dolby Atmos, you may find yourself choosing to watch your movies with the A50s on rather than your TV speakers (who cares if no one else can hear it).
The headset itself feels premium class; all the materials used feel sturdy and resistant, and even the plastic itself seems to have an almost soft-touch coating that really gives you that high-end experience.
The cups and headband have not changed much, bar the design changes mentioned earlier. They are still equipped with the fabric cushion, with the option to upgrade to synthetic leather with the mod kit (sold separately).
The microphone has undergone a slight upgrade; it appears to look and perform more like the Astro TR mics that are only seen in the A40 mod kits. It will pick up your voice perfectly with impeccable clarity, and as an added bonus, particularly for those that love showing off their Astros while streaming, they have now emblazoned the Astro text on the back of the mic, and it looks wicked!
The base station, in contrast, has received an almost complete overhaul. It now has a more directionally focused design, having a gloss black front panel where all your option indicator lights will show, and the iconic Astro text on one side. The top has a perfectly bevelled recess for the headset to fit right into; it will magnetize in and charge the headset, all while it is sat on display, and it looks amazing.
The A50 is a high-performance headset that will be the pride and joy of any gamer or streamer, though, despite its host of amazing features, it does have two small cons, albeit they hardly take away from its glory.
The first is that once in a while you may get a short sound cut or ‘pop’. It is extremely rare, and is, of course, unavoidable with wireless connections. Wireless headsets, whilst convenient and extremely advanced, always have a chance of slight interference.
The second is that you cannot adjust your mic monitoring through the settings menu on Xbox, although you can adjust it using the Astro Command Centre app. However, as mentioned before, this mic does seem to align more with the Astro TR mics, and they were designed to sit closer and more directly in front of your mouth, and cancel out any external noise.
With the Astro command center you can adjust all settings including the mic monitoring and noise gate, as well as the 3 pre-set EQ’s being Astro, Pro and Studio; as standard the noise gate is set to streamer for the most authentic voice sound and the mic monitoring is three-quarters of the way up.
So, with some tweaking of the setting you could make the mic perform exactly how you want. (TIP, you will need to plug your A50 into a pc and use Astro command center to update the firmware before you can use the Xbox app.)
Overall, I consider the Astro A50 the pinnacle of premium audio. It has pro performance and looks to die for. Bar two small issues I encountered in over a month of testing, I would have no issue recommending this mic to anyone. It’s great no matter who you are; streamers have more freedom to move and no wires to clutter up their cam or set up, and gamers have all the control they could ever ask for, right there on your ear.