Astro's flagship headset has gotten a soft revamp for 2019, and it continues to represent one of the best wireless gaming headsets you can get. Joining the 2019 Astro A40, the Astro A50 guns for a sleeker, more mature design, dropping some of the "gamer" toy-like colors and edges for something more muted. Beyond the obvious upgrades to the visual design, Astro has committed a range of small improvements across the spectrum, bringing the A50 to as close to perfection as we might ever get in a gaming headset.
Bottom line: Astro has refined almost every aspect of its flagship product, achieving near-perfection in the process.
- Absolutely incredible audio
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Convenient, weighted base station
- Versatile audio mixing
- Impeccable microphone quality
- Adjustability mechanism isn't great
- Fuzzy fabric cups can get warm
What you'll love about the Astro A50 (2019)
The most noticeable improvement to the Astro A50 is the design, which ditches the gaudy toy-like neon green accents of its predecessor. Instead, we get chrome parts and very subtle gold features, across contrasting matte and gloss black plastics. Matte, for the most part, thankfully.
|Frequency Response||20Hz - 20,000Hz|
|Weight (Base Station)||317g|
|Size (Base Station)||8.5 x 4.25 x 1.15 inches|
|Features||Flip-to-mute mic, side-tone voice monitoring, EQ presets|
|Battery life||15 hours|
|Compatibility||Xbox, PC and PS4, PC variants|
The base station has also had a design upgrade, complimented by a weightier design and slightly smaller footprint. The decent weight ensures it won't slip and slide all over the place, pulled against the tautness of the optical audio or USB connectors. It has a switch on the reverse to move it between PC and Xbox voice chat modes, with convenient lights on the front which indicate battery life, EQ modes, and platform setting.
The magnetized base makes it easy to dock and charge your Astro A50 headset, which lists around 15 hours of battery life with a range of 30 feet for wireless connectivity. The signal is rock solid, and suffered zero interference despite sharing a small space with tons of other wireless devices. I had an issue with the previous A50 headset base station where its wireless signal canceled out the wireless signal from my Xbox controller. Thankfully, it seems Astro has solved that peculiar problem.
Moving past the aesthetics, the design of the headset has had a few improvements here and there. The adjustable side frames have been softened on the ends to make them easier to manipulate, and the buttons feel a little more tactile and responsive than the previous set. Every aspect of the Astro A50 just screams quality.
Every aspect of the Astro A50 just screams quality.
In terms of sound, the A50 is also incredibly impressive. I've not always been a particularly huge fan of Astro's audio tuning since it seems to introduce some odd echo effect on clicky highs tones in some scenarios, which can't be unheard once you notice it. You can disable it though, and the Astro software gives you a wealth of EQ presets to tweak and play around with. If you're willing to do the legwork (or, uh, earwork), you can tune the sound on this bad boy to your very exact liking.
It wasn't long before I found myself whisked away, wholly immersed in the glistening new forests of Monster Hunter World's new Iceborne expansion beta, and getting rocked by sweeping explosions in Battlefield V — forgetting I had this review deadline to write. Wonderfully immersive sound, with a broad soundscape to seal the deal. The A50 is also very performant for music and media, offering lush cinematic qualities that really pulls you into the show, or make you feel like you're deep in the pit at a rock concert.
On-ear controls make it very easy to quickly balance between voice chat and game sound, while also offering alert tones for when you've maxed them out either way. The flip-to-mute mic is also a nice convenience, particularly given the sheer quality of the voice recording capabilities on this thing. The A50 certainly has one of the better microphones we've tested in this category.
All-in-all, there's very little to complain about with this product. The audio is excellent and is highly configurable, the design upgrades are a welcome improvement, and the wireless base station provides unprecedented freedom and convenience. We're very close to perfection here, but there are always a few things that could be done better.
What could be better about the Astro A50 (2019)
Astro seems to really enjoy its unique headband clasp adjustability, for lack of a better descriptor, but I really think it holds the product back. I've overlooked it previously, but when everything else is screaming quality, it's just a bit odd how difficult Astro makes it to adjust their headsets. You really have to push and force the poles against the plastic clasps to get them to move up and down, which isn't something you really have to deal with in any other headset I've tested.
I'm also not a huge fan of the woolly fabric Astro uses on its headsets. I find it to be overly warm, and considering we're still in summer, it's very much like wearing winter earmuffs. Astro sells a separate A50 mod kit with leatherette earcups which are no doubt cooler on the skin, but you're already paying $300 for the privilege of this product. They should be included, in my opinion.
Finally, Astro's sound tuning I just find to be a tad irritating. Thankfully they give you a ton of control over how this headset sounds, and you will be able to perfect it with a lot of tweaking. I'm not quite sure why the Dolby setting on both the A50 and A40 base introduces a strange echoey effect on specific high tones. I was previously advised by Astro that they had improved this with firmware updates, but I have yet to see (or hear) real evidence of it working in practice.
It's most notable straight away on the Xbox dashboard when you navigate around, that "pop" sound the Xbox makes when you select different elements almost sounds like it's coming through twice when the Dolby setting is activated. As I say, you can disable it, but the Dolby setting produces very rich results in other parts of the sound spectrum, compelling me to turn it off, and then back on, and then back off. It's irritating but by no means a deal-breaker.
Should you buy the Astro A50?
Despite the fact this headset is a whopping $300, it's quite easily the best all-round wireless headset you can get for Xbox One and PC today. The charging dock convenience, solid wireless signal, and excellent audio when combined have few rivals in the space, even if there are a few better-sounding, and more comfortable products out there.
With the Astro A50 2019 edition, Astro confidently retains its position in the upper halls of headset excellence.
Flying close to perfection
Astro brings near-perfection to its flagship headset.
The Astro A50 is as close to perfection as an Xbox/PC wireless headset can possibly get. With a rock-solid signal, impeccable audio, a comfortable design, and wireless convenience, even at $300 you won't be disappointed with this product.
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