Gaming headsets run the full gamut of prices and quality, from no-frills headphones, that just happen to have a mic attached, through to, well, gear like the Astro A50.
The Astro A50 Wireless Gaming Headset — to give it its full name — is a set of wireless cans that have a noise cancelling mic and work in conjunction with the Astro MixAmp 5.8 for a Dolby 7.1 (and 5.1) surround sound experience.
Designed for consoles and PC, set-up was refreshingly simple. Simply plug the optical cable from your PC, PlayStation 3 or Xbox into the MixAmp, which then hooks into your device via USB, which is all the power it requires. Once the headphones are charged up — also USB power, thanks to the in-built rechargeable battery — just turn them on. The headset and the amp are pre-paired, so all you need to do is possibly tweak some settings on the PC or console, and you're up and gaming.
Features and design
We liked the build on the headphones a great deal — these are solid, well made cans that still feel comfortable, even when worn for a long time. The right ear-cup has the volume wheel at the back, in a perfect position for thumb access when worn. Above that is the power button and the switch for the pre-sets. The whole outside of the right cup is a giant toggle switch for voice/game balance — it's nice, but we occasionally accidently adjusted the balance while just trying to re-seat the headphones on our ears.
What is less impressive is the self-assembly stand. A stand to hang the headphones on is a nice idea — one we liked with the. But compared to the rest of the hardware in the A50 pack, the stand is a little plasticy and tacky feeling.