Astro A40 Audio System 2013 edition review
Astro Gaming is a reputable brand known for their premium gaming audio products. Their poster child, the Astro A40 Audio System, was the official licensed headset of Major League Gaming in 2008.
After being acquired by Skullcandy in 2011 and recognised as one of the fastest growing company in America, Astro Gaming had since updated the Astro A40 Audio System for 2013, combining an acoustically improved A40 Headset with an updated MixAmp Pro.
While built for gamers, those who expect exceptional build and sound quality should also look toward the Astro brand - and who wouldn't like to have that regardless of what their purpose may be.
But is it good enough to justify its hefty price tag of US$249.99? Read on to find out.
The Astro A40 can be adjusted for you in the best of ways. Unlike other headsets which use a set of hinges, the Astro A40 simply relies on fiction on 2 metal pipes that are found on either side for adjustments both up and down and swivelling of the ear cups from side to side. Not only does this give you full control over the ergonomics of the headset, it also tends to last longer compared to headsets that rely on screws and hinges that will deteriorate from stress and use over time, at least from my experience.
With a light-weight frame and adequate padding, you will not feel fatigue even after wearing the headset for hours. My ears are quite large, and I am very receptive to discomfort caused by inadequate sizing of the ear cups and the squeeze from a headset after long use. I didn't suffer any of that with the Astro A40.
The paddings are made from a cloth-like material, which is extremely breathable, though it does lose points on sound isolation - It is good, but not absolute. For those who want to shut off the world, this headset will slightly disappoint, though for me, it is certain good enough. The fact that I can still hear my friends and family calling out to me with the headset on is actually a plus point - but you be the judge.
When being marketed as a gaming headset and coming along with a hefty price tag, you should expect it to be cross platform, and the Astro A40 checks that box. It is compatible with Xbox, PlayStation, and PC.
Many headsets comes with their own dedicated software which allows people to tweak the characteristics of the sound produced in a million different ways. Set-up can be long and complicated, and when not done right, it will leave a lingering dissatisfaction that you are not using the headset to its full potential.
While such options are a must-have for all those audiophiles out there, many of us would appreciate headsets that work great out of the box. This is an aspect in which the Astro A40 truly impresses. Simply plug in the MixAmp Pro (a dedicated mixing system) to the PC, Xbox and Playstation and the headset to the MixAmp Pro and that's it. It is really that simple!
(You can even skip the MixAmp Pro and connect the Astro A40 straight to the PC, though you will lose the enhancements that the MixAmp Pro has to offer)
After that 2 minute set-up, your audio experience will sole by based on what has been set on the MixAmp. Once again, simplicity and minimalism is the essence of the Astro A40 Audio System. The MixAmp Pro has 4 controls - A volume knob. A game/voice dedication knob that allows you to balance the volume between voice chat and in-game effects to your preference. A Dolby On/Off button. And finally, an EQ Button that cycles through 4 different audio presets (Pro Mode, Cor Mode, Media Mode, Sport Mode).
It's noteworthy to point out that the EQ button only works when the MixAmp Pro is connected via the optical cable.
The Astro A40 Audio System has the ability to daisy-chain with other MixAmp Pros, providing a closed communication circuit your team that does not have delay and signal degeneration. Another feature of the Astro A40 being built for a team is the interchangeable speaker tags.
It is connected to the sides of each ear cup by 4 small neodymium magnets. You can design and buy customised speaker tags at Astro's official online Speaker Tag Customiser, However, I think that with the increasing availability of 3D printing, the possibilities are endless, especially for teams that are more flamboyant.
Dolby Surround Sound
The sound quality from the Astro A40 is awesome. Playing "Last of Us" on this is fantastic as you can clearly make out the direction in which the "clickers" make their infamous sound - makes one paranoid and hide in a corner. With this level of quality, it is definitely something you should use for team play for first person shooters.
For those desktop adventurers out there, the community had done loads in terms of trying to show us what they have experienced.
Destin and Gordan from their Youtube Channel "Smarter Every Day" made this great 3D audio experiential video while in Machu Picchu. It was a side activity, with the main goal of their trip to take a gigapixel panorama of Machu Picchu. Short of being there, this is the next best thing to experience Machu Picchu - A great 3D video with the Astro A40.
The detachable mic works flawlessly as well. You can position the mic at a comfortable distance away from your mouth and the receiver will still hear your voice - crisp and clear! In fact, it is recommended that you position the mic further from than usual as there has been some mentions that the voice is too loud according to other players.
Wrapping It Up
Minimalism at its finest
The Astro A40 Audio System 2013 Edition is definitely one of the best headsets that I have used! I appreciate minimalism and simplicity, especially when done well. The sound quality is amazing, especially since it requires no effort to set up. It also makes the original Astro A40 proud with its features (interchangeable Speaker Tags, incredible microphone, Daisy-chain) fully supporting team play!
The quote of "You get what you paid for" is definitely true with the Astro A40 Audio System!
This section exists to acknowledge that fact that no matter how good a review is, it is definitely wise to seek other reviews and make your own judgement before making a purchase. Here are some other quality reviews of the Astro A40 Audio System (2013 Edition):