I'm a huge fan of Astro's A50 wireless headphones. They're incredibly comfortable, light weight, rocking great sound, complete with a convenient charge dock. However, they're not the cheapest headset out there, hitting $300.
If you're still interested in getting some Astro-level wireless quality without busting the bank, the company provides a cheaper $150 headset dubbed the A20, which eliminates some of the frills in exchange for a lower price point. At this price range though, the competition is a lot more fierce, with options from Plantronics, Turtle Beach, and others vying for your wallet.
So, then, how does the Astro A20 stack up in practice? Frankly, pretty damn well.
Astro A20 specifications
- Wireless: 5.8 GHz radio via USB transmitter
- Battery life: 15+ hours
- Connections: Optical cable, USB 2.0
- Compatibility: Xbox One, PC
- Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz
- Buttons: Customizable EQ modes, chat vs. game sound mix dial, power
- Mic: Non-detachable, flip-to-mute mic
- Price: $150
Design and quality
Astro is well-known for quality materials and excellent comfort, and the A20 continues this trend. This headset is supremely comfortable, with roomy, soft memory foam fabric cups, and similar treatment on the headband. The headband also has a notch for an Astro headphone stand too, which is a nice touch if you want to keep things tidy.
They definitely look like "gamer" headphones, with bright green accents and an elaborate design, but they don't look bad by any means. They're not designed to be taken outside like some other headsets, as they have no 3.5mm jack and no detachable mic. This is all gaming.
Speaking of the mic, it utilizes Astro's familiar auto-muting functionality, where angling the microphone upwards will automatically mute the mic. It's a nice touch, reducing the number of buttons on a wireless headset already festooned with buttons. There's a single dial underneath for adjusting audio mix between party chat and game sound, a button for switching between EQ presets, and an on/off power switch. The buttons are spaced out nicely and are raised, so they're easy to find without looking. They also have audio feedback so you know when you've pressed one.
The plastics used throughout feel light without feeling cheap and brittle. The frame also supports multiple stages of adjustability, and should fit almost any head size and shape with comfort and ease. While I'm not sure this headset will withstand significant punishment, those who take good care of it and don't throw it across the room in a ragequit moment will find it lasting a long time.
I was more than satisfied with the Astro A20's build quality and comfort.
This headset lacks surround sound, instead offering straight stereo, while this isn't the best for a sense of positional awareness in games, the general sound quality is warm and inviting. Dolby Atmos and Windows Sonic software surround can help with the experience of positional cues to some degree, but I find headsets with 7.1 virtual surround sound almost always win in this area, but generally you'll end up paying a premium for the privilege. However, unless you're playing hardcore multiplayer games frequently, stereo sound is more than adequate, and you'll still have a rich and immersive experience with the A20.
Monster Hunter World with the A20 felt luxurious and cinematic, with crisp and clear sound resonating in the headset's roomy cups. Additionally, the headset mixes chat and game sound very well, allowing for fine tuning over which sounds are louder. Some other headsets I've used like the RIG 800LX don't offer as much control or responsiveness when using the audio mixing, so it's nice to see Astro prioritize game chat this way.
Speaking of party chat, the A20 headset also features loud and crystal-clear mic feedback, so you can hear yourself speaking and thus, avoid unintentional yelling. I cannot possibly understate how important mic monitoring is for chat headsets, and it's maddening that so many manufacturers still seem to overlook this feature. Thankfully, Astro is probably the best in the business, offering consistent mic monitoring across all of the products I've used.
The signal on the headset is strong, without any distortion or lag. However, it might just be too strong, as I've found it to have interfered with the wireless signal from my Xbox controller. However, after a resync of the Xbox controller and updating the headset's firmware, the issue didn't occur again across dozens of hours of use, so hopefully it was just a passing problem.
Overall, while the sound stage isn't going to offer the depth you might get with say, the Astro A50s, at $150, you're going to be hard pressed to find a sound experience that competes on this level. The Astro A20 is a winner.
Across both Xbox One and PC, the Astro A20 is a performant, high-quality, comfortable headset, rocking a very inviting price point.
- Extreme comfort and nice materials.
- Quality voice experience, with loud mic monitoring.
- Excellent audio.
- A 3.5mm jack would have been nice for added versatility.
It's missing some of the bells and whistles of its more expensive A40 or A50 cousins, but at $150, you'll struggle to find something as good.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!