Windows Central Choice Award

I really love mix controllers for audio on Xbox One and PC. As a game streamer, being able to control the sound mix is critical for separating console game sound between yourself, the stream, and voice comms, and my daily driver has been Turtle Beach's Elite Pro Tournament combo. However, it's not the only available solution.

Say hi to the Astro A40 TR with MixAmp Pro, a similarly priced bundle that brings across many similar features. We'll be doing a deeper comparison between these two headset titans in the future, but for now, here's what sort of experience you'll get with the wired Astro A40 TR on Xbox One or PC.

Specs

  • Frequency Response: 20 - 24,000 Hz
  • Distortion: THD < 0.1%
  • Microphone: 6.0mm unidirectional with noise gate (detachable)
  • Nominal Impedance: 48 ohms
  • Weight: 360 grams
  • Connection: 3.5mm to headset, USB and SPDIF to Xbox and PC
  • Surround: Dolby Headphone 7.1
  • In the box: Headset, 3.5mm cable, optical cable, MixAmp controller,
  • Price: $250

See at Amazon

Design and comfort

Astro headsets follow a common theme of heavenly comfort, and the A40 is no different here. Whether you're using the faux leather mod kit for full noise isolation, or the softer fabric cups that come bundled with the set, your ears are going to have a good time. The over-ear configuration gives even the largest ears plenty of room to breathe, and the fact you can easily remove the cushioning (held on with nifty magnets) makes this headset supremely easy to clean. The cups are adjustable too, rotating and sliding to accommodate any head shape. The microphone can be removed and adjusted to fit your needs as well (or replaced entirely).

Speaking of removable parts, every aspect of the Astro headset screams quality. There are no cut corners here, leading the field for headsets in this price bracket. Astro really typifies "gamer" design conventions, with loud and gaudy angles and features that wouldn't necessarily find themselves welcome on regular music headphones. I'm not a big fan personally, but that's wholly subjective. What matters most is the construction, and Astro is a leader here. This headset will take a beating, the plastics feel dense and don't creak or crack under pressure, complemented by metal connectors in all the right places.

The Astro comes in both white and black flavors, with the white version sporting red accents, and the black sporting gold. You can customize the speaker plates on the outside, even with customized images via Astro's website, which is a truly awesome touch.

My only criticisms are of the MixAmp box itself. While it sports the same material quality as the headset, it falls into the same trap as similar controllers: it's just too damn light. The cables will cause this box to annoyingly slide all over the place. The rest of the design is good, however, with notched dials and LED lights which help you easily find the controls you want and need. The white version gets quite visibly dusty, however, and the glossy material doesn't help. It's easily cleaned, though.

Overall, the A40 and the MixAmp it comes bundled with is a tremendous, comfortable product, that should withstand plenty of punishment. How does it sound though?

Audio experience

The best thing about mix controllers is that they offer precision tuning over the volume of your game, and your voice. Whether you're using a basic one connected to your controller, or something more expensive like Astro's solution, I can't recommend them enough for frequent party chatters. The Astro solution is a cut above, however.

Save for my problems with the weight of the MixAmp, the ability to very precisely control the volume of chat sound in relation to game sound is a beautiful thing. Additionally, if you're a game streamer, you can hook the MixAmp up to your PC via USB for system sounds and PC voice chat, while feeding in game sounds via optical cable from your Xbox One. Set up is easy, consistent, and just works. I've had issues with echoing, drivers, volume, and firmware on some competing solutions in complex setups, but the A40 has just been a pleasure to use on both PC and Xbox One, mixing audio across both devices. Additionally, Astro eliminated the need for a 3.5mm connection to the Xbox controller as well for voice chat, which Turtle Beach's Elite Pro Tournament requires for some odd reason. Fewer cables is good.

The 7.1 surround is a far richer experience than basic stereo headsets too, and in my opinion, beats Dolby Atmos (mainly because most games do not yet support Atmos). You can also disable 7.1 on the mix controller if you want to listen to music in stereo. It supports an array of EQ presets as well, which can be configured on PC using Astro's competent command software. Far too many headset companies provide a sub-par software experience on PC, so it's nice to see quality software that matches the likes of Razer for a change. Updating the firmware was as easy as plugging the headset in.

The audio quality is crystal clear, completely distortion free, with loud and clear mic monitoring feedback so you don't end up yelling. The only downside I've found is that the mic often struggles to pick up your sound if you're being quiet, though you can configure the noise gate on the mic using the Astro's software. The A40 provides crisp audio on impact hits and sweeping ambience as creatures and other effects encircle your player. Astro has done a great job at defining the surround channels, which is free of clipping even at the higher volumes. You won't be disappointed with the sound scape here, for both game audio and chat.

Final thoughts

The A40 TR MixAmp bundle is for serious gamers, particularly streamers who want to take their set up to the next level. I'm pretty sure the vast majority of gamers will be more than happy with the convenience of a wireless solution like the Astro A20, but if you have the cash to spend, 7.1 audio is far richer and more immersive experience.

Pros:

  • A pleasure to wear with premium materials.
  • Rich 7.1 surround sound.
  • Clear mic monitoring and voice chat.
  • Customizable with personalized designs.

Cons:

  • MixAmp should be heavier to anchor the cables.

4.5 out of 5

Astro is an incredibly reliable brand, and I've found myself impressed with the quality, comfort, and most importantly, the sound of its products. Critically, Astro also provides high quality PC software, which makes configuration and firmware updating easy, compared with some competing solutions. This headset just works on both Xbox One and PC, even if you want to get more complicated mixing chat through your PC, while feeding in audio from your console.

The Astro A40 TR ticks all the right boxes for a $250 set. If you're in the market to elevate your Xbox One or PC headset experience, there's absolutely nothing here you'll find disappointing.

See at Amazon