By Jonathan Charles | Jul 07, 2012 09:37 AM EDT
Astro'a A50 headset is available for pre-order, and is the third entry in the Axx line of gaming headsets that has caused Astro to be associated with professional gamers. The previous entry, the A30, was a smaller headset bringing Astro's strong sound background, so how does the A50 compare?
The Astro A50 is, perhaps unsurprisingly, very similar to its predecessors: it has a black silhouette but includes a wireless receiver for Astro's wireless MixAmp. A wired version of the MixAmp is available; basically, it brings 5.8 surround sound to the headsets and includes dials for adjusting audio and voice volume. It's so popular that people have recommended buying others headsets, but getting the MixAmp.
The earcups are closed and not open, like the Astro A30. According to Worthplaying, that results in deeper bass.
The controls for the MixAmp have also been moved to the headset, so it's now possible completely wireless outside of a voice cable if playing on the Xbox 360. At the bottom of the left cup is a USB port and an Xbox 360 input, while at the bottom of the right cup is the volume dial. There's also a voice and game audio slider, which controls the power and mix slider. This should mean for ease-of-access rather than reaching for the MixAmp, but it's difficult to say until the final product is available.
There's also no microphone mute switch. Instead, moving the microphone up mutes the person. Move it down, and the user is unmuted.
Astro officially said that 10-12 hours of battery life is available in the A50, which should be enough for the longest of gaming sessions if true. Charging the A50 fully takes five hours, but three hours gets to 80 percent (so around 8-9.6 hours, if dividing by 80 percent of the 10-12 hour figure). Charging is done via a USB cable, not an adapter that has to be connected to a plug socket.
Owners of the A50 can customize profiles, but the default options are designed for games, movies and surround sound. It'll be interesting to see if the game option works well on games like Battlefield 3 and Halo: Reach equally, considering the weapon and environment sounds are completely different (firing a pistol versus a Needler, for example). It sounds like the ability to customize profiles won't be available at launch: Astro told Worthplaying that it wants to release a software update to bring the functionality on a PC.
The A50 retails for an eye-watering $299.99, so whether the MixAmp plus another headset - such as the Siberia V2 - is a better deal remains to be seen.
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