The gaming peripheral market is, almost daily, becoming more competitive as the intended consumer base grows and demands greater quality, efficacy, and higher standards of fidelity from their suppliers. With that, gaming headsets have become a high commodity, bridging the gap of communication with fellow players while providing quality sound. Regardless of what platform you game on, a quality headset is essentially a necessity and we at MMORPG.com have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to review the ASTRO A20.
In the Box
- A20 Headset
- ASTRO Wireless Transmitter
- 1.0m Micro USB Cable
- 1.0m Optical Cable
- 0.5m Micro USB Cable
- MSRP: $119.99
- Tuned with ASTRO Audio™
- Premium fit and finish
- Long lasting comfort
- Durable construction
- Flip to mute microphone
- Game : Voice balance
- 5GHz Wireless technology
- 15+ Hour battery life
- ASTRO Command Center Software
- Customizable EQ settings
- Frequency Response: 20 - 20,000 Hz
- Distortion: < 3% at 1 kHz
- Characteristic SPL: 100dB +/- 3dB AT 1 kHz
- Microphone: 6.0mm uni-directional microphone
- Nominal Impedance: 32 ohms
- Headband Pressure: 4.5N
- Ear Coupling: Over Ear
- Weight w/o Cable: 320g
- Connection: 5.8 GHz Wireless
- Drivers: 40mm Neodymium
- Power Supply: USB Micro-B (USB 2.0 compatible)
- Weight w/o Cable: .11 lbs
- Dimensions: 4.75"/2.25"/0.88"
- Wireless: Up to 30ft
- Output: 5.0V, 400mA
- System Requirements: ASTRO A20 + Transmitter
- Base Station Inputs and Outputs: Optical In, USB Power & Soundcard, USB Charging Port
Upon removing it from its box, I was taken aback by the lightness of the headset. I’m an older gamer and as I grew up, so often quality was associated with weight. The A20 is a prime example of how that is no longer the case. As I have used it and become familiar with its feel and the product, there is no question in my mind of the quality. Yes, it’s light. However, the materials are tougher than they look and the lightness of the product is very freeing as it rests on your head. The only drawback I experienced, as far as the feel, was that my admittedly overlarge head was a tight fit, even with the adjusters fully extended. The foam cuffs are particularly soft and encapsulate the sound very well. Sitting next to my wife while I played through a gun battle in RDR2 rendered no perceivable leakage of sound for her. Nor did I feel discomfort from them after long hours of gaming.
Oh, and the sound! ASTRO has tuned the headset specifically for gaming using their ASTRO Audio™ to ensure that the sound is clear and clean throughout, regardless of the settings you are using. Just because it was tuned for gaming, however, does not mean the A20 doesn’t excel when put to other use. Listening to music and watching television or movies was equally as dynamic. Of course, the equalizer settings can all be customized via the Command Center. There, players can manipulate the setting as they please, and save the settings to their library for quick retrieval. Those options, along with the 5GHz wireless signal work to create and broadcast outstanding audio up to 30 ft. One aspect I did find a little odd, but hardly troublesome, was the volume would reset to its default setting every time I turned the headset off.
The built-in microphone was another aspect of surprise for me. The majority of headsets I have used encase the wiring of the mic in a hard-plastic boom. The A20 mic has its wiring running through a flexible, but sturdy boom, with only the actual mic being encased in hard plastic. The flexibility of the mic boom is yet another highlight, allowing for better customization of how it sits, and better able to withstand the occasional drop or accidentally catching on something while you fiddle with other aspects of your PC.
The sound quality the mic records is definitely befitting the quality of the piece, and the ability to customize the Game:Voice balance through the ASTRO Command Center is an extremely handy feature. Using the Command Center to adjust the Game:Voice balance can be a little confusing at first. The balance adjuster presents as a sliding control with Game on one side and Voice on the other. However, sliding the control closer to Game will increase the Voice input. I realized the indicator acts as an actual scale; as the measure of the bar for Game became smaller, the input balance for it is lessened. ASTRO has also designed a Noise Gate setting in which preset mic settings can be found to best suit your input needs for different situations.
To be able to use the ASTRO Command Center, however, you must have the transmitter plugged into your PC, with the headset plugged into the transmitter. Using the transmitter might seem a bit awkward, but for both my PC and the PS4, installing it was fairly simple. Definitely more of a task than simply plugging a dongle into a USB port, but how many of those headsets can boast a 5GHz signal? The quality of sound is definitely worth the extra minute or two to properly plug in the transmitter. Fixing the settings on the PS4 so that it would actually use the headset and mic probably takes longer than plugging in the transmitter. That delay, however, is more a lack of intuitive programming on PlayStation’s part. All required steps are printed clearly in the A20s instructions, so no worries.
One problem I did encounter was that the cord for charging the headset is only a meter long. For use with my PC, it’s not such a big deal. However, if I want to play my PlayStation 4 while charging I would have to sit a lot closer to it than is comfortable for my set up.
While the A20 is not the highest quality headset that ASTRO offers, it has proven to be a very powerful tool. With the ASTRO Command Center to facilitate finite tuning and customizing various options, this headset will quickly become a central part of your gaming experience. The comfort and quality provided by the quality materials ensure it will stay there for some time.
- Amazing sound
- Quality materials
- Highly customizable settings
- Short recharge cord
- Not sized for larger heads
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of review.