Those here for a quick takeaway then this is it. If you can afford the Astro A50 Wireless + Base Station and are looking for a wireless gaming headset, then these are an excellent, top-of-the-range choice. You can safely stop reading this right now, head on over to your retailer of choice, and pick up the Astro A50 Wireless + Base Station and you will not be disappointed.
Right, before we get on to the review proper, why not watch Astro's dubstep-filled A50 launch trailer?
Them drops right!
Seriously though, the video is a pretty good introduction to what you'll be getting if you plump for the Astro A50 Wireless + Base Station, with its banner features well pimped.
Dolby® Headphone 7.1 surround sound with built-in MixAmp™ technology, a 5GHz low-latency wireless connection over 30 feet, 15 hours of Lithium-Ion battery life on a single charge, a pro-grade microphone with flip-up mute and and headset with three distinct EQ profiles that can be added to or tweaked with Astro's bundled software.
- Best gaming headsets for PC, PS4 and Xbox One: get great, immersive audio while you game and enjoy media
Yes, you get a lot of bells and whistles in the Astro A50 Wireless + Base Station box, which for the money asked (RRP £250) you certainly should do.
The A50s, which come in this black and blue colour scheme for PS4 compatibility or grey and green for Xbox One compatibility (both sets also work with PC and Mac), come in a large rectangular black box.
Take off the outside sleeve of the box, which slides off to the side, and you are presented with (yep, you guessed it) another black box, however this one opens down the centre and is decorate with a cool-looking robot.
With the inner boxed opened you are then presented with the A50 headphones themselves, which are securely nestled in a moulded plastic inner. Also embedded in the inner are digital audio and USB to micro USB cables, which are required to transfer audio data and power from your console or computer to the Base Station.
Underneath the plastic inner is the Base Station itself, which is a cool, black slab of thing indented at the top with a recess for depositing the headphones in when they are not in use.
Within this recess lies a brace of small-scale power prongs which, when the headphones are slotted in, make contact with small receptive power plates on the bottom of one of the headset's ear cups, thereby charging them for wireless operation.
Sticking with the Base Station, on its front lies a number of indicator lights, highlighting things like power and charge level, while at its rear lies a brace of digital optical ports (one for in and one for out), a micro USB port and an AUX out.
As such, not only can you connect the Base Station to your console or computer of choice, but you can also bring in sources from elsewhere too, overlaying music from a phone for example while gaming. You can also feed the gaming audio, voice included, into another system for capture.
The headset itself is an over-ear thing of industrial, futurist beauty. Chrome, perforated, hollow tubes extend from the chunky, rubberised-finish earcups up to a robust, cushioned headrest, conjoining them together in a wide profile.
On the earcups themselves lie a small quantity of buttons, switches and dials, which handle things like power, profiles and volume, as well as the headset's raise-to-mute microphone, which is positioned on exterior of the left cup. In a nice touch, all the switches are positioned at the rear of the right-hand cup, hiding them from view while also making them easily accessible while gaming.
Once the Base Station is connected to your system of choice, operation is then as easy as simply lifting the A50 from the dock, flicking the power switch, and placing the cans over your ears. Then, aside from selecting an EQ profile by sliding a switch to one of three different positions, you are good to go.
Audio quality is, as you would expect from a gaming headset, inclined slightly toward the low-end, with absolutely cracking distortion-free bass, while the immersive surround sound is absolutely superb, with individual enemies' locations in Titanfall 2 or Dishonored 2, for example, discernible via sound alone. In addition, the headset fits just as snuggly if you are using PlayStation VR.
The volume range is also excellent.
Connectivity range, providing you don't put thick stone walls between you and the Base Station, is also pleasingly large and secure. You can walk around, sit, perch, loll, balance, jog or whatever else takes your fancy around the Base Station and, from our testing at least, not experience any distortion or drop outs. Having the Astro A50s operating on a frequency north of 5GHz clearly does have its advantages after all.
Battery life too, despite us not sitting there with a stop clock, also seems on the money at around the 15 hour mark. Charge the A50s to full power - indicated by 4 power bars on the front of the Base Station - and you really can just forget about having to charge them for quite a while, which in our case sometimes stretched out over a week (well, we do have to keep T3.com ticking over, don't we!).
That ability to just pick up and play, without frequently being met with low battery warning beeps, was most welcome.
Overall then, we had a great experience with the Astro A50 Wireless + Base Station. Everything about this gaming audio system just screams premium - well, everything but the cloth ear cushions and headband cushion (can be upgraded to synthetic leather at an extra cost) - and we genuinely were impressed with its commitment to kill compromise across the board.
And, while small things like the cloth ear cushions, and big things like the price, stop it from landing a perfect 5 score-wise, we have absolutely zero problem in recommending the Astro A50 Wireless + Base Station if you are on the market for a premium gaming headset.