By Jonathan Charles | Jul 19, 2012 12:27 PM EDT
The Astro A50 headset, the successor to the ultra-popular Astro A40, ships late July in the U.S. for customers placing pre-orders. The Astro A50 headset is available for pre-order and brings wireless surround sound, which is a departure from the wired A40 and Astro A30 headsets.
Previously buying an Astro headset was usually complemented with the Astro Mixamp, a rectangular device with dials to adjust game and chat volume while bringing 7.1 audio. The Astro Mixamp is an essential accessory for many users and is so popular that it's often used with non-Astro headsets. The Mixamp isn't bundled with the A50, probably because the A50 includes Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound.
Astro is making sure the device lasts for the longest of gaming sessions. The device has 12 or more hours of battery life and works with Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, and mobile devices (though the bulk probably means it isn't ideal for listening on mobile devices: for portability, get the Astro A30).
The headset also features Dolby 7.1 surround sound, dials on either side of the headset to adjust chat and game volume, and a microphone that users can mute by raising and turn on by lowering.
Considering the multitude of wired and wireless options and two other Astro headsets, the question is if the headset is worth the price. It's a difficult question to answer considering not much is known about the performance of the device. However, it can be scrutinized based on price and performance.
For $249.99 you can get the Astro A40 and Mixamp from Astro's website, $50 cheaper than the Astro A50. Despite being criticized for its bulk and poor bass performance, the headset is still regarded by many as the solution for immersive gaming audio. At $199.99 the Astro A30 is even cheaper and comparable on audio quality, while designed for listening on mobile devices.
Outside of Astro's headset, it's better if the price range stays the same to buy a headphone and clip-on mic (such as the ZALMAN ZM-MIC1, for $8.09). The latter comes cheap for the excellent performance it delivers and the advantage is that the sound isn't being compromised (like in gaming headsets because the two devices are working separately).
Some excellent, and cheaper, headsets to use with the mic offering better performance are (from Amazon.com): the Audio-Technica ATH-AD700, for $90.87; the Audio-Technica Import Series ATH-A700, slightly more expensive than the AD700 at $129; the Shure SRH840 headphones, designed for professional audio and again more expensive at $148.89; and the Beyerdynamic DT770 PRO headsets for $174.06. The 80 OHM version is recommended if used for gaming
Pre-order the Astro A50 now for $299.99, an expensive but necessary price for users looking to get top-notch wireless audio in a convenient. Shipping for U.S. customers begins late July.
Mobile & Apps also covered impressions of the headset, and were positive.
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