It’s been some time since we’ve noticed top class Astro tools. As soon as identified solely for its high-end headsets, Astro spent the previous few years carving a distinct segment on the budget-friendly finish of the marketplace. First there used to be the A10, handing over unusually nice sound for handiest $60 (and incomes our select for highest funds headset). Then Astro adopted up with the A20, for entry-level wi-fi.
However with the ones beginners now firmly established it’s excessive time Astro returned to its signature headset, the A40.
Observe: This evaluation is a part of our roundup of highest gaming headsets. Move there for main points on competing merchandise and the way we examined them.
Like father, like son
Astro’s billing this newest A40 as a brand-new era, however I don’t assume the headset’s in truth modified. That is, by means of all outward appearances, the similar A40 Astro has been promoting since no less than 2016.
The magnetic covers over the earcups were tweaked rather, I believe—however that’s necessarily meaningless, given the ones covers are replaceable by means of the end-user, and are available in one million other types. Finally, the brand new “default” covers have a smaller-type emblem and not more extraneous ornament.
That’s it! That’s the only alternate! (Possibly.)
Differently, the A40 is basically frozen in time. And why no longer? The A40 is an icon, particularly the uncovered steel rods that protrude in the course of the scarf. A lot of these “edgy” designs age out, however the A40 doesn’t glance dated but—which isn’t to mention it gained’t ultimately. Astro nonetheless has a couple of years left regardless that, and if ever there have been a not-broke-don’t-fix-it state of affairs it’s the A40. Astro’s good to go away it by myself in the meanwhile.
And the A40 nonetheless tops the contest in positive departments, even with no refresh. It’s probably the most few headsets with a reversible microphone—which means it may be plugged into both the left or correct ear to fit your desire. I’ll individually by no means use that characteristic, and left-hand mics are so standardized I in truth to find the speculation of a right-hand mic somewhat unsettling. Nonetheless, I’m certain it’s preferred by means of a undeniable area of interest.
Convenience may be top notch. HyperX and SteelSeries are on-par with Astro, and Logitech no longer a long way at the back of, however the A40 merits credit score all of the identical. I’m particularly keen on the A40’s default microfiber earcups. They may not be the most productive for hot environments, as they entice warmth and in addition absorb sweat as an alternative of wicking it away. Right here in San Francisco regardless that? They’re cushy, they’re breathable, they usually don’t aggravate my beard.
That remaining level may be very particular, certain, however let me reiterate for my different bearded readers: The A40’s earcups are a minor miracle.
Astro may just use a greater wiring device regardless that. The three.5mm hookup is against the again of the left earcup, and whilst the cable remains out of how it additionally tends to rub towards my neck—particularly in cross-body eventualities, as when plugging right into a PC on my correct.
I additionally want Astro would put extra effort into its integrated controls. Astro’s very personal wi-fi A50 is a fashion I want different firms would emulate, with Sport/Chat blending (or chat-mix), quantity, EQ, mute, and Dolby all simply available and reasonably intuitive. However at the A40? There’s a mute toggle at the cable and that’s it—no longer even a quantity wheel.
Combine it up
Why? As a result of Astro needs you to buy its MixAmp—and also you will have to. Astro sells the A40 standalone for $150, however reality be informed, it’s an embarrassingly stripped down headset: It’s restricted to a three.5mm enter and not using a splitter, you lose get entry to to all of Astro’s software-side enhancements, and the integrated controls are minimum. You’ll be able to get a significantly better and extra succesful stressed out headset for $150.
Ante up $100 extra for the A40-plus-MixAmp package deal, alternatively, and also you get chat-mix, quantity keep an eye on, EQ, Dolby, and extra—albeit as a separate field, no longer constructed into the headset as with the A50. Nonetheless, it’s how to cross should you’re set on purchasing an A40. With out the MixAmp, the A40 is a far weaker providing.
The MixAmp is the place Astro’s undertaken the majority of this fourth-generation redesign. The former MixAmp used to be orientated vertically, with one monumental quantity dial over the smaller one for chat-mix.
The brand new MixAmp is arrayed horizontally (as pictured above), with a quantity wheel at the left and chat-mix at the correct. A neat contact: The wheels are RGB backlit, and the lights turns crimson when the A40 is muted. 4 pin-prick lighting down the middle point out which EQ preset you will have energetic, and there’s a button to switch 7.1 or Stereo modes as smartly. The again is festooned with inputs—optical, USB, Aux—and a transfer that permits you to toggle between PC and PlayStation four on-the-fly. PC and Xbox, if you purchase the opposite fashion.
The principle receive advantages is best cable routing. Inputs all feed into the again, after which there’s a unmarried three.5mm jack at the entrance that is going to the A40. It’s so much cleaner-looking than the former fashion, which cut up the ports between the back and front in ways in which from time to time made it onerous to transport the MixAmp whenever you had it set.
Usually, the brand new MixAmp merely seems to be extra skilled, like a sound piece of audio blending apparatus, the place the former model felt sort-of toylike.
As I stated, Astro sells the A40 with out the MixAmp, nevertheless it’s onerous to consider why. This tiny field is borderline crucial so far as I’m involved. Even so, it’s much less of a leg up than it was once—Logitech (who in fact owns Astro this present day) and others have began construction chat-mixing capability into their $100 to $150 headsets as smartly, with integrated controls. The MixAmp feels much less novel than it used to, and costly besides.
However should you’re purchasing an Astro A40, it’s a will have to. It makes a mediocre standalone headset into top-tier tools.
You’ll be able to listen it within the sound, as smartly. I examined the A40 with and with out the MixAmp to get an concept of what the A40 in truth feels like, as opposed to the way it sounds with the MixAmp.
And standalone, the A40 sounds high-quality. It’s a particularly warm headset, with low and lower-mid frequencies prevalent within the blend. Cymbals and snare hits generally tend to get misplaced or buried regardless that, and I’ve spotted that tune feels flat and cramped. That’s particularly sudden given the A40 makes use of an open-backed design, which we could in additional ambient noise but additionally usually creates a broader soundstage. Right here, you indisputably lose isolation, however the A40 doesn’t sound just about as extensive because the HyperX Cloud Alpha, as an example.
The bar for $150 headsets is so much upper than it was once, and with out the MixAmp I’m no longer satisfied the A40 beats out inexpensive web site favorites, even wi-fi ones like Logitech’s $150 G935.
With the MixAmp, the A40 sounds extra spectacular. Even with the Stereo blend, no longer Astro’s utility 7.1, tune feels considerably extra colourful. Astro’s EQ presets quilt a excellent vary as smartly, with the default a full of life profile that provides each the bass and upper-mid registers a kick. Is it essentially the most correct listening enjoy? Would you blend an album on it? Completely no longer, nevertheless it does sound lovely rattling excellent and hides one of the most flaws in Astro’s tuning.
That stated, I’ll carry the similar caveat I raised with the A50s a couple of years again: The A40s price so much, and will have to sound excellent out of the field, earlier than EQ. I firmly imagine that, and I want Astro may just get the A40’s unenhanced sound as colourful as its processed sound.
It’s value noting that Astro’s were given probably the most larger microphones in the marketplace. That’s one space the place Astro’s firmly forward of maximum everybody else. The mic is versatile, simple to place, and voice copy is wealthy and crystal transparent. Astro additionally rankings issues for offering extra microphone choices than same old. No longer as many as Logitech’s new G Professional X, thoughts you, nevertheless it’s nonetheless larger than the norm. As a mumbler, I’m in particular keen on the “Evening” preset, which reduces the A40’s utility noise gate and selections up even my quietest instructions.
So, the million (or $250) query: Does the A40 with the MixAmp sound excellent sufficient to justify its worth? That resolution is sophisticated. The A40 with MixAmp sounds nice, indisputably probably the most better-sounding gaming headset programs. However $250 is steep this present day, and individually I believe you’d want the benefit of operating a couple of inputs to the similar headset in the course of the MixAmp to justify making an investment in a stressed out headset this dear. If that’s you… should you’re a streamer or every other content material manufacturer kind… nice.
Differently, it’s onerous for me to consider why you’d select a $250 stressed out headset over a $300 A50, getting necessarily the similar construct however in a extra handy wi-fi shape. Stressed out, the aforementioned Logitech G Professional X is a cast selection for part the fee. Astro’s title nonetheless instructions a top class, and the A40 undoubtedly justifies its excessive worth—however no longer up to it did a decade in the past, when there have been fewer choices.