Astro’s have had an extremely good rep in the last few years. I recently decided to replace my inevitably dying headset with a pair of their 2011 A40 headsets. Paired with one of their Mixamp 5.8 and 5.8 RXs for a more mobility.
The headset comes in some very simple and clean matte black box. It opens up revealing a bright orange interior, the instruction manual, and a hard shelled carrying case containing the headset with assorted chords. The ear plates for the headset come in a separate matte black box which slides out to reveal 3, 2 without microphone jack hole and 1 with the microphone jack hole, of whichever set you have purchased to accompany your headset. You can mix and match these on the headset to your liking as they attach very easily via 4 strong magnets, 1 in each corner. The Mixamp 5.8 and RX receiver come in another box that has a very eye catching graphic design under the matte black sleeve. It is put together in a folding fashion using some fairly strong magnets to hold the box closed.
The A40′s come a with Quick Disconnect feature which I did not notice upon ordering. I think they did a wonderful job designing it. The quick disconnect portion of the cord leading to the headset included an in-line mute switch for the mic. On the PC cable there is a volume control for basic master volume control. The headset is paired with two cords:
-Standard cable. (This is used for either conventional headphone jack music, or with the Mixamp for sound and voice. This can also be used with any other jack that uses a 3.5 mm 4-pole connector to listen and chat with people.)
-PC (Mic/Speaker) cable (A basic 3.5 mm PC headphone jack plug along with your basic 3.5 mm Microphone jack plug.)
Having not set up the Mixamp yet and just plugging into the basic PC cable that comes with the A40 headset. I must say I am impressed already. With a flat equalizer preset, the high notes seem distant causing what causes what feels like a suffocated feeling but overall they sound as good as my previous headset (Turtle Beach HPA2).
The headset is far lighter than I had anticipated. Build quality seems sturdy and resistant to wear and tear. There are parts of it that creak slightly when pressure is put on them. This is likely due to the headset being made of plastic. Even so, the headset has no issue accommodating those with larger heads. For those like me that take care of gadgets, there should be no issues in scuffing or scratching as most of the headset is a matte black/white colour of your choosing. For those that like to throw things around some caution is required as there are gloss pieces that seem like they would show scratches and scuffs very easy. The pillar that goes up to the band that goes across the top of your head as well as the customizable plates that go over the speakers are the 4 (1 of each per side) piano black gloss pieces that I would take caution over.
With the Mixamp plugged in via an optical cable in the treble seems to have appeared more so in my headset (flat equalizer presets in my media player still). However, with the treble now in the picture the bass definitely seems to be lacking more. If you are looking for a head rattling headset, these would definitely not be them. There is a Bass Expander button on the RX receiver that increases bass output. This does help fill that empty void that is missing lower sounds creating a much more full sounding experience. Users have to consider though that these were designed for the extreme gamers and competitions where minute sounds are important, not heavy bass. I think these could double over as a very nice movie headsets as well for those nights you don’t want to wake your wife up but can’t seem to sleep. Action movies and other movies with loud sounds may feel a bit lacking though. There is also a Dolby button on the TX base. Turning off the Dolby button made a world of difference for sound. I did a test to compare the previous setup with just the PC cable against the Mixamp 5.8 TX Dolby button. The base is very simple: you plug it in, sync your receiver, and never touch it again. Going through the Mixamp hands down a better choice. I did not purchase the Astro Mixamp (the wired version) since I got the wireless set. Judging by the visuals, I believe the sound would be very close to what the Mixamp 5.8 is producing.
After tuning my presets to the headset, both the PC cable as well as the Mixamp sound much better. The PC cable improves in leaps while the Mixamp still has improvements, just in smaller increments.
The wireless headset is not 100% wireless as you have the Mixamp 5.8 RX receiver to attach to but I believe it is far better than having to be attached to your console/television. I was able to walk through my house up to about 15 yards before getting extreme sound issues as the receiver and base had trouble communicating if the receiver was holding still. This includes 4 walls, and quite a bit of electronics turned on in between. If I set the base at the center of my house I could walk anywhere I wanted to and still be able to listen to music through my headset.
Voice communications through the Mixamp 5.8 took a little tinkering as the 5.8 TX base actually does not include a method for voice communications on PC unless you purchased the optional PS3 usb voice chat cable. I ended up setting up my optical out to the TX base for all music and game sounds. Then the usb back to my computer for voice in and out. I was able to control the separate volumes with the game and voice nob which was very enjoyable instead of having to tweak my system volume controls while playing a game. I was told my voice had a bit of static in the background when I enabled my mic to chat (push-to-talk). I decided to give the previous setup with the PC cable a shot and upon chatting with someone again I was told I came in better than a phone call and sounded like I was sitting right next to them talking. I think that I will be sticking with the PC cable setup for my desktop and using the Mixamp 5.8 TX + RX for all my living room console needs as well as watching movies without disturbing people.
The microphone was able to pick up sounds within a 3 in. radius extremely well. With the headset on my head, this 3 in. radius is easily achieved with out having to have the mic in your mouth like some headsets require. Once you exceeded those 3 in., the mic would start to have trouble picking up sounds in the background. At 1 ft. away you would have to yell to have the mic pick you up in order for you to sound like it did under the 3 in. limit. This is particularly nice since you won’t have other noises in the background coming into your chat, preventing your friends/teammates from not being able to hear you during a firefight.
If you plan on listening to loud music on the plane or somewhere in the public, expect your neighboring person to be able to hear whatever it is your blasting through your head. They aren’t very loud to the outside world but those people sitting a few rows behind you on the airplane will likely be able to faintly tell what you are listening to if you have it turned up. They are definitely a good solution to turning your surround sound off at night as to not disturb your neighbors, roommates, or family.
Mixamp 5.8 RX
(*images from Astro)