If by chance you’re single and living alone, buy surround sound and crank up the volume to a 100. Enjoy the thundering bass of the subwoofer during heated rounds of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Far Cry 4. Revel in the crackle of gunfire and thunderous explosions now, because there’s a good chance your life will turn upside down once you get married and have kids. If you fall into that camp, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Here’s the deal. I’m married to my wonderful wife and her parents live with us in a two-story house. They go to bed rather early, which gives me three or so hours to enjoy some games before passing out myself, but there’s a catch. Despite the house being a decent size the rooms are fairly close by, which makes raising the volume impossible without waking someone up.
For months I simply turned down the noise to about five or six on the HDTV’s volume scale, which is to say I could barely hear anything. Headphones are ideal, but I wanted to avoid wires, and the cheaper peripherals have varying levels of quality; essentially, you get what you pay for.
Thankfully, the ASTRO Gaming A50 Wireless 5.8 GHz Headset with Dolby 7.1 became the perfect solution. For years I knew of ASTRO as the company that produced headsets with amps. They were high quality (with an expensive price tag to go along with them), but the wires got in the way. The A50 basically cuts the cord, delivering crystal clear audio without having to wrestle with wires unless you plug the AG1 Chat Cable into the Xbox One controller.
First, here’s what you get in the box:
- A50 Headset
- Mixamp Tx
- Headset stand – three pieces that snap in place and do not come apart
- 1.0M A50 USB Cable that connects to the Mixamp TX for power
- 0.5M A50 USB Cable that connects to the A50 headset for charging
- 2.0M TOSLINK Optical Cable that connects to the Xbox One console for audio
- 1.0M AG1 Xbox One Chat Cable that connects to controller and Xbox Live Chat Port
Considering I am not the sharpest combat knife in the arsenal, and have to constantly re-read directions to understand things, setting up the A50 headset and Mixamp was surprisingly easy because both devices come pre-paired right out of the box; ASTRO includes steps on how to pair if this is not the case. In addition, the Mixamp is both light and small, which lets you place it out of sight if you prefer a minimalist presentation.
Meanwhile, the headset is both comfortable and well built. You’re able to switch off voice communication by lifting up the microphone, and the in-game audio sounds outstanding. The bass is a bit low, but there’s a chance ASTRO did this intentionally for gaming purposes, since hardcore players seem more concerned with hearing opponent footsteps. On top of that, you can adjust the volume the following two ways: using the master volume wheel on the right ear cup, or pressing either the left or right sides on the outside of the cup to lower or raise the volume, respectively.
The only thing I don’t like is the ear-piercing noise you’ll hear whenever the headset’s power is low, which is both sudden and unpleasant. This is more of an issue for marathon gamers, and casuals like myself will probably avoid this for the most part.
On a lesser note, I wish the instructions went more in-depth about the product. The quick start guide is cool, but I kept asking "what does this other thing do?"
That small complaint aside, the A50 Wireless Headset is a great companion for evening gamers, or new parents who don’t want to wake the baby. At $299 it costs almost as much as the Xbox One system, but if you need a product that delivers a wonderful experience, the money is well spent if you have the cash to burn. Otherwise, you should be able to find headsets from other manufacturers at friendlier prices.
There’s also a PlayStation 4 version. Same exact product, but with blue highlights instead of the Xbox green.
- Super comfortable
- Easy to set up
- Exquisite in-game audio
- Expensive at $299
- Instructions don’t go in-depth
- Unsettling low battery noise
Buy the ASTRO A50 from Amazon: Xbox One and PS4