Astro A50 Gen 2 Wireless Headset for Xbox One Review

The Xbox One variant of the A50 can actually be used with other consoles as well as PC and mobile, making it one of the more versatile gaming headsets out there.
Image &copy: Astro

When you think hard about it, there’s really no rhyme or reason to buy a luxury sports car. After all, a cheaper economy car can still get you to the same place minus the crazy hit on your wallet.

Then again, there’s just something satisfying about the experience of driving a nice automobile. Whether it be the zippy acceleration, quality interior or just the performance bump overall, an upscale, sporty car makes driving a fun experience instead of just something you do to get from point A to point B.

It’s the exact same feeling I get when using the second-generation A50 Wireless Headset for Xbox One from Astro Gaming. At $300, the Gen 2 A50 goes above and beyond what seems to be a reasonable cost for a gaming headset. Just like the sporty luxury cars I mentioned earlier, however, the Astro tries to justify the A50’s astronomical price tag — pun so totally intended — by providing the equivalent of a premium experience.

The more high-end vibe starts with the exterior of the headset, which sports a more solid-looking feel than flimsier-looking headsets. Despite using a fair amount of plastic, for example, it doesn’t look as plasticky as the Turtle Beach Ear Force PX22 or the Skullcandy PLYR 2. The A50 achieves this with its use of a smooth, matte-type plastic similar to the SMS Street by 50 ANC boutique headphones, as well as accents such as metal cylinders and logos. The nice design cues extend to its accompanying MixAmp Tx transmitter, which combines a matte finish with glossy accents as well as a grippy neon green bottom for preventing slippage.

Admittedly, the stand looks plasticky and flimsy, especially compared to the headset itself. It still gets the job done, though, and houses both the headphones when not in use as well as the MixAMp Tx.

Tutorial: How to Set Up the Astro A50 Wireless Gaming Headset

The Xbox One A50 does not come with the same MixAmp Pro setup you get from other Astro headsets such as the A30 Crossgaming headset.

Instead, those features are built into the headset itself, which allows you to adjust chat and game volume balance by pressing on different sides of the right earcup plus overall volume via a knob. It’s not as easy to adjust as the knob dials of the MixAmp Pro but it also puts the controls within easy reach while getting rid of one more extra piece of gadgetry. Chat can be turned or muted simply by flicking the mic stick down or up, though this also comes at the expense of not having a removable microphone attachment. Battery life on a full charge for the headset is about eight to 10 hours, though mileage will vary based on your usage of chat.

Unlike the ROCCAT Kave XTC headset, you can’t manually fine-tune the audio on the A50 for a custom setup, unfortunately. Instead, the A50 comes with three audio presets. First is “Media Mode,” which features more punchy low end for bass lovers. “Core Mode” has a more balanced audio profile while “Pro Mode” emphasizes higher frequencies for competitive gaming. Overall, the Dolby Digital 7.1 surround sound is excellent, allowing you to hear certain audio nuances that you normally wouldn’t hear without the use of a good stereo setup. There’s nice separation between the lows, mids, and highs, and it makes gaming truly feel like a cinematic experience.

It even makes games you don't normally enjoy feeling like a good time because of the pleasant audio. Chat also worked well and provided a solid experience.

Tutorial: Pairing the Astro A50 Consoles, PC and Mac

About the only audio issues I experienced was during the first time I turned on the device. At the time, I noticed a hissing sound in the background and the mic also was incredibly sensitive, picking up ambient noise around me and any contact with the surface of the headset. It went away eventually, though, so I’m not quite sure what was going on. Meanwhile, connection with the Xbox One controller is done via a wired setup, which defeats the purpose a bit for a wireless headset.

Also, note that the MixAmp Tx does not come with its own power adapter but takes up one of the USB ports on the back of your Xbox One. The included charging cord is pretty short, by the way, so you’ll need to concoct an alternative microUSB charging option while playing if you don’t want to be gaming within a foot or so of your TV.

Overall, however, the A50 wireless headset provides one of the best audio experiences I’ve had from a gaming headphone, and I’ve certainly tried out my fair share of headsets for gaming. Add the fact that the Xbox One version is quite versatile — I verified with a source from Astro that the A50 also works with other systems such as PS4, 360, PS3, PC, Mac and mobile — and you’ve got a setup that does not tie you down to one device. As long as you can swallow the $300 price tag, the Astro A50 Wireless Headset for Xbox One is one of the best gaming headsets available.

Final rating: 4.5 out of 5

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