When I purchased the Astro a40s for myself on a whim, I had high hopes that they would provide a welcome upgrade to my gaming abilities. Audio had long been an area that was lacking when it came to my setup, and I had heard a lot of hype around the a40s.
The Astro a40s are marketed as being the perfect gaming headset for PS4, Xbox One, or PC gaming. The setup for each system is slightly different, but they work very well on each system. There are even ways to get the Mixamp setup with multiple systems at once.
I was a bit put off initially by the high cost: $250 for a gaming headset is quite steep. This puts them firmly on the upper end of what most gamers would pay for headphones, even if they are as good as advertised. However, I figured they would be well worth it if they provided the benefits that Astro’s marketing touted.
Unfortunately, it didn’t quite end up being the match made in heaven that I was hoping for. While the Astro a40s are extremely comfortable, and usability level is very high, the audio quality isn’t exactly what I was hoping for.
Comfort – 9/10
The Astro a40s are unbelievably comfortable. I could easily wear them all day and then some. The earpads are nice and cushioned, as is the headband. The earcups are large, meaning they should fully encompass any sized ear.
I was extremely impressed with the build quality, and the flexibility of the headphones. They are very easy to adjust to any head size, and feel very comfortable once adjusted properly.
The only small issue I have is how easily the earcup material picks up hair, and how difficult it is to clean them. This doesn’t really affect the comfort levels, but it is related to the material they used on the earcups in order to increase the comfort, so I thought I’d include it here. It’s a small trade-off, but one I wanted to mention.
Audio Quality – 7/10
Let me be frank: the audio quality of the Astro a40s is good. However, it’s nowhere near the level I expected when I shelled out $250 for this “Professional Gaming” headset. After extensive testing, I can thoroughly say I am disappointed.
When comparing the a40s to the $60 HyperX Cloud Core headset, there was only a barely noticeable increase in my ability to hear events and enemies in-game. I compared the performance of these headsets in Call of Duty WW2 on PS4, Fortnite on PC, and Halo 5 on Console to get a well-rounded sense of performance.
In Call of Duty and Fortnite, my ability to hear enemy footsteps was increased by only a few feet with the Astro a40s. The difference was basically a few extra steps. While this could certainly be seen as an improvement, I didn’t feel as though it was enough to justify spending 4x as much money. When it came to Halo 5, there was no difference in the maximum distance at which I could hear enemy footsteps, meaning there is no benefit to the a40s over a $60 competitor. I cannot stress enough that there is such a little benefit from paying $190 more for a headset.
I can hear you saying: “Well if they sound good, it might still be worth it.” Honestly, I can say that this doesn’t hold true either. The a40s are extremely bass-heavy, as most gaming headsets are. When listening to music or videos, the vocals often get lost in the mix of background music and bass. This makes them altogether somewhat unpleasant when compared with even a pair of $30 earbuds.
The Mixamp TR also has some issues of its own. Turning the volume knob above 70%causes the sound to become crackly, and very tinny sounding. Even when other headsets are plugged into the Mixamp, it’s far better when the volume is below 70% of the maximum level.
Microphone Quality – 9/10
The Astro a40’s microphone is surprisingly high-quality for a gaming headset. It not only sounds good, but is removable, and can be plugged into either side of the headset. Furthermore, it is very flexible meaning it can be adjusted to the preferred distance from your mouth.
After playing several hours of games with my friends, they all agreed that the microphone sounded almost as good as my Blue Snowball USB microphone. This is pretty high praise for an add-on microphone on a gaming headset.
The quality is both adequately loud and clear, meaning you will never have to worry about constantly readjusting to make sure your teammates can hear you without being annoyingly loud.
The flexibility of being able to plug the microphone into either side of the headset is something I really appreciated. I usually leave it on the left side, but it’s a nice detail for lefties. I have a left-handed friend who always prefers their microphone on the right side as it’s less distracting for them.
Usability – 10/10
As we’ve covered a few times in previous sections, this headset has a heavy focus on usability. With several thoughtful touches geared towards customers, as well as the ability to adapt it to any gaming platform, you can rest assured that this will be the only headset you will ever need.
I have never used a more versatile gaming headset, and this is truly where the a40s shine. I currently have mine set up to where they work with both PC and PS4 at the same time. All I need to do in order to use them on Xbox One is to unplug the single cord from my PS4 controller and plug it into my Xbox One controller.
Overall, usability is certainly this headset’s strongest point. Even if I don’t end up continuing to use the a40s, I will likely use the Mixamp in its current configuration for years to come.
Value – 6.5/10
The Astro a40, with all its strengths and weaknesses, is a solid headset. I just can’t see the reasoning behind charging $250 for them (they were actually released at $350!). All things considered, they aren’t worth that much money. Astro seems to know this, as they put a strong marketing emphasis on partnerships with professional eSports organizations.
Astro surely figures that, by having industry icons as their main mouthpieces, they can influence enough people to pony up the high price to be like their idols. I’ll admit I fell for this marketing plan, and thus give them points for it.
Ultimately, this is the single biggest weakness of the headset. If they were in the $150 range, I would absolutely recommend them without a hesitation. For now, I’ll say that they are perfect for those with money to burn that want an all-encompassing option with high ease-of-use.
Astro a40 TR Edition
- Comfort - 90%90%
- Audio Quality - 70%70%
- Microphone Quality - 90%90%
- Usability - 100%100%
- Value - 65%65%
The Astro a40s are pitched as a high-end gaming headset for those who want the utmost advantage in their games. While they provide the comfort and usability for all-day gaming sessions, their audio quality is lacking, and the microphone leaves a lot to be desired.