One thing that is dumb is how Xbox and PlayStation require seperate wireless headsets. For some dumb reason they don’t allow the same drivers to work on each other, despite both working on PC. But consoles gonna console I guess. This has resulted in me having a couple of great PS4/5 wireless headset, but not one for the Xbox yet. Bring on the Astro A50.
The headset had a little saga to start off with which I will save for the finale, but is it worth dropping $500 on this beast?
One super cool feature of the headset is the charging station. The first thing this headset does is amp up the cool factor as it makes the headset stand upright on your entertainment unit. When you are dropping this much coin on a headset you want to show it off.
But that’s not all the charging station does, it also lives up to its name and does that whole charging … thing.
Being able to plug it in in a way that is simple makes charging and storage easier. It might seem trivial but actually having to go plug your headset into a cable or plug to charge it between gaming sessions can result in not remembering and you lose your battery at the start of a session. Having the storage on your entertainment unit also means you need to go out of your way to not have it charged.
The pins can take a little bit to get the hand of lining up so it charges, which isn’t a major once you get it a couple of times. The headset has magnets to hold it upright and if you have it in but not connected on both cuffs the lights flash to indicate it isn’t charging.
So the Astro A50 supposedly has a 15 hour battery life. Given I was off for surgery recovery recently I figured I could test this by leaving the headset on the couch as I limped to get food and would easily run up 15+ hours without the headset being charged.
The problem is I was testing a well designed headset. Once the headset is off your head for 30 minutes it goes into power saving mode and it wakes back up when you put the headset back on. This meant that I had the headset off the cradle for well over 15 hours without hitting the power switch on it, and I didn’t drain it.
Given I was doing what I thought was a good battery test, and that in real life I pop the headset back on the charging station, this battery has more than enough juice for your most intense gamers, and if you are doing more than I recommend going to grab a bite to eat, maybe take a walk. A shower wouldn’t hurt either.
The sound quality that came out of the Astro A50 was fan…tas…tic. When you get a good headset and jam a game like Gears 5, the sound adds so much value to the experience and I couldn’t have been happier.
But, and this is a big but, and no I am not saying I have a big but, but I kinda do.
But, the headset does little to noise cancellation, even passive. This meant I was enjoying beautiful sound that while I was at home moping over my tummy wound, but once my seven year old got home and started making noise there was a lot of sound bleed. Now for the but for my but, that’s actually a great feature for me. I can only wear headsets during the day if I can hear my son in case something goes wrong, and so this headset actually fits my life better for this reason.
I poke around with the heap of customisation available with the headset, but I was happiest with the defaults.
The microphone was pretty good, but not as good as I was expecting given the price of the headset. I wouldn’t use the headset for things like recording yourself for something serious, but for a gaming headset it’s well above average.
When I first picked up the Astro A50 I was nervous because it was so light. I quickly discovered there was nothing fragile about this slick aluminium beast. I never felt handling the headset was finicky, but that lightness adds up when it is on your head.
Wearing the headset the lightness and memory foam ear cups were the most comfortable headset experience I have had yet. Seriously it feels like you aren’t wearing one so much quicker than any other headset I have worn yet.
The super comfy memory foam is probably the reason for so much surrounding noise bleeding in, but wooooorth it.
So the A50 has come out before the Xbox Series X, and as such was built for the Xbox One. So with this in mind it has a cable that is no longer necessary, but it also means it needs a firmware update out of the box. I plugged it into the Xbox first, for testing purposes, and it powered up but no sound.
So I plugged the headset and base into my PC, validated the hardware worked fine, and went ahead and installed the Astro Command Center from the Astro website and kicked off the update. When it was finished I unplugged the headset and plugged it back in, confirmed that the software said it was up to date.
Delighted about the sound joy I was about to receive I plugged the headset back into the Xbox and … no sound. Bring on IT troubleshooting brain. Power cycled the Xbox, power cycled the headset, rebooted the Xbox with the headset attached, rebooted it without the headset attached, tried different USB ports, tried different settings on the Xbox, tried every button on the headset, and got mad.
Then I discovered you could download the Astro Command Center on the Xbox, so I tried that. It told me the firmware was out of date, but the Xbox app can’t update it. Plugged it back into my PC and it said the firmware was up to date. I deleted the software and installed it from the Windows store as opposed to Astro’s website, and it said it needed an update. Update completed and boom the headset worked on my Xbox.
I watched a couple of trailers on my Xbox so I at least felt some satisfaction before going to bed but they need to delete that install file from their site.
TL;DR if you buy this headset for your Xbox Series X | S, make sure you download the app from the Windows store, not Astro’s website. Do this and free hours of your life up to enjoy this awesome headset.
The Astro A50 is an awesome headset with a big price tag. If price isn’t an issue then I definitely recommend a pair of these. If price is an issue and you need every dollar to be worth it, then it may be a bit harder to justify. The Arctis 1 for example offers so much versatility for the much lower price tag.
But if you want an awesome headset to work on your PC + Xbox, or PC + PlayStation, then it’s a pretty amazing experience.