When many gamers think gaming headsets, a few brands pop into mind. Astro is one of the leading brands in the gaming sphere, and their headsets have earned much acclaim. However, that sometimes has come at a cost with some Astro headsets being priced in the $150+ category. Recently, MMORPG.com was able to take a look at the Astro A40 TR headset and we came away largely impressed. The Astro A20 is next, and the results are surprisingly positive for the most part.
- MSRP: $149.99
- Ear Coupling: Over-Ear
- Frequency Response: 20-20000Hz
- Distortion: < 3% at 1kHz
- Connection: 5.8GHz Wireless
- Microphone: 6mm unidirectional
- Nominal Impedance: 32 Ohms
- Weight (without cable): 320g
- Drivers: 40mm Neodymium
A20 Transmitter specs
- Power Supply: USB Micro-B (USB 2.0 Compatible)
- Weight w/o cable: .11lbs
- Dimensions: 4.75” / 2.25” / 0.88”
- Wireless: Up to 30 ft
- Output: 5.0V, 400mA
- Base Station Inputs: Optical In, USB Power & Sound card, USB Charging Port
The Astro A20’s that I was able to review are the PC/PS4 version, and at first impressions the Astros did not disappoint. Set up is a breeze, and while on PS4 it’s simply plug and go, PC there is a bit more involved. Though in the end, it only took about a minute or two to get drivers and the Astro mixer program installed and ready to tweak. The Astro Commander Center lets you tweak the equalizer settings that can be synced with the headset and changed at will via a button on the back of the right ear cup. This allows a tremendous amount of flexibility when designing and arriving at your optimal personal audioscape, and is a great addition that more headphone manufacturers should offer.
The comfort level of the headset is something of a mixed back, unfortunately. The weight of the headset seems to be set on the ears themselves (I could also just have an oddly shaped head - so I do recommend trying the headset on in the store if you’re able to do so) and as a result over long stretches of gameplay the headset became somewhat wearrisome to wear. And that’s a shame because the headset isn’t badly built. The ear cups, while more of a felt/cloth material which I dislike, are breathable and comfortable around my ears. The headband has a memory-foam esque material which rests nicely a top my head. While overall the headset has molded plastic feel, it doesn’t feel cheap, which is a great departure from the gaudy headsets which litter the gaming headset landscape. And the fact that these are wireless really makes it easy to move around at your desk or in your favorite chair as there is no pesky wire to content with.
At the end of the day, though, headsets are defined by their audio quality. At $149.99, the Astro A20s need to be of stellar quality to justify the high price tag. And in some ways they are. However, when compared to some of the other headsets on the market for the same price point, they do fall a little flat.
Let’s be clear - the Astro A20s sound great, especially with gaming. Playing Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, I was able to pick up more ambient noise than my normal gaming headset (which for much of the last month has been the aforementioned Razer Krakens for mere convenience). Gunshots really popped and the soundscape of the game felt more alive than ever. Switching to my PS4, Persona 5 really shined. I had been playing P5 using just my TV audio, which admittedly isn’t that great. Details that I had not ever heard over the course of my current 40 hour playthrough came through and the Astro A20s really transformed the entire experience.
However, in other uses, such as music, the Astros did fall short of some of my other, similarly priced headsets. The LucidSound LS30 is a wireless headset at $149.99 that, while it doesn’t have the bells and whistles the Astro does, the way the drivers are tuned give an audio experience that in my mind is unrivaled at the price range. Listening to Mozart’s “Confutatis” and “Lacrimosa” is one of my favorite tests. While the pieces do shine on the A20, it fell short of really filling the air compared to the LS30s. The Astro’s versatility in how you can mix the EQ and find a great setting does help bridge the gap, but the overall end result does leave some of the finer points feel flat, though it is a great way for the Astros to unmuddle the low ends, which sound garbled using the default EQ settings. Compared to Razer’s offering, the A20 does allow more of the intricate detail underneath the melody to come through.
Additionally, Epica’s “Once Upon a Nightmare” is another great song to showcase the highs, mids and lows of the A20. And to most, the A20s will sound perfectly fine, and in many ways it does. However, compared to the equally priced LS30, the A20 did fall a little flat compared to LucidSound’s offering. Some of this could simply be due to the extra 10mm of Neodymium drivers the LS30 employ (The A20 is 40mm, while LS30s are 50mm). However, while both headsets sounded exceptional, the A20 just didn’t have the body and weight that the other headset provided. Also disappointingly the Astro lacks any surround sound functionality, which is a shame overall.
This isn’t to put down the A20s, however, it is important to note that similarly priced headsets out there can achieve similar, or in some cases better results. At the end of the day, the A20s have an edge over the competition in terms of accessibility - the setup on other headsets can sometimes be infuriating - and with the A20 it was, as mentioned before, an absolute breeze.
The Microphone on the A20 isn’t anything really to call home about, however. The quality isn’t bad per se, but it’s certainly not podcast or stream quality. The unidirectional mic does require it to be right in front of your mouth for the best audio experience, and the absence of a dedicated mute button on the mic or headset - you mute it by swinging the mic upwards which in some moments where you need to quickly mute it’s a little annoying.
The noise gate feature on Astro Command Center is great and allows you to set your microphone to a myriad of uses, such as nighttime gaming, streaming and more.
Here is a sample of how the Microphone sounds - as well my inability to read on command:
At $149.99, the Astro A20 do provide a great little package. The build quality of the headset is a step up above from some of the other gaming headsets you’ll find. Additionally, the wireless component of the headset works absolutely flawlessly and the Astros perform solidly in terms of audio quality and microphone quality. The Astro Command Center ecosystem does allow for some extreme flexibility in terms of customizing your audio experience, and while the headset does fall some what short compared to other headsets in the price range in terms of sound and build quality, the ecosystem provided by Astro is enough to push it over the edge and really make me recommend this headset. It is costly, and I do urge you to look at similarly priced brands to make the best decision for you - however the Astro A20 has taken a spot as one of my most used gaming headsets over the course of the last few weeks, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
- Durable materials
- The wireless connectivity is astounding
- Astro Command Center really lets the A20 shine
- 15 hour battery life
- Can become uncomfortable over long gaming sessions
- While it sounds great, it does leave some to be desired compared to its competitors
- No surround sound
- No dedicated mute button for Microphone