ASTRO A38 Headphones Hands On Preview
Typically when you think gaming headsets, one brand really comes to the forefront of your mind. ASTRO gaming headsets have sponsored some of the best eSports players in the world, as well as being the official headset of some of the largest event in our sport. Oftentimes that pedigree comes at a price, normally something along those lines being outpriced to most consumers. Acquired by Skullcandy in 2011, this allowed Astro to continue to make the superb quality headsets they are known for, but to also design and create headsets for the more budget-friendly consumer.
Last year at E3, we had a chance to check out their new headset at the time, the PLYR1 (which I used for quite some time, personally). Astro/Skullcandy were back at E3 this year to showcase a new product what isn’t specifically gaming-centric, but extremely impressive nonetheless.
The Astro A38 Headphones were created with mobility in mind. Giving a person studio quality audio fidelity while also being very ergonomic to the consumer. Available in both a white with yellow trim and blue with grey trim, the A38 headsets are fully bluetooth enabled and feature some of the best noise cancelling drivers I have ever experienced.
This is a product not designed for consoles, but rather for the mobile user. Using wideband fidelity bluetooth 3.0, the headset pairs effortlessly with phones, tablets, mobile devices, Playstation Vita and so on. Other features include:
- Microphone with active noise cancelling
- 15+ hours of battery life w/mic; 20+ hours when listening to music
- Auto shut off when not paired with device (5 min timer)
- Bluetooth AAC High fidelity playback
When I put these on for the first time, the plush earpads were extremely comfortable. I’m not one who likes bulky headsets. I am personally more of an earbud kind of guy. I use a headset with my PC for the best quality, but on the go I don’t like the weight or the stockiness of most large headphones. Plus, I simply think they look weird. These are smaller than the normal headphone and sit comfortably around your neck when not in use. In fact, they are so lightweight, our presenter Thaddeus mentioned that he sometimes forgets they are there.
The headsets themselves are able to be outfitted with your favorite Tag set, as with all Astro headsets. Some new Tags that Astro is coming out with include some League of Legends tags, Watch_Dogs, Assassin’s Creed, Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare and a few others. Chose to not sport your favorite game, you can use some great lifestyle tags, as pictured below.
To showcase the sound quality as well as the noise cancelling properties of the A38, I watched a simple trailer on a tablet the headphones were synced to. I checked the volume to see if the tablet was blasting the audio for the effect, but it was only about halfway. I placed the headphones on my ears and I already could tell that I would not hear anything else once I pressed play. The volume in the room was noticably more quiet with the A38s on. Once the music was playing, I could no longer hear the conversation that was playing out in 2 feet next to me.
I would also point out that the conversation was lost to the void not because the music was just loud, but because the way the headphones form to your ears really blocks out the noise. It doesn’t cover the entirety of your ear, but rather simply just sits on them and covers your earhole perfectly. That is not to say that the headphones can’t be loud, just simply that they don’t use the volume as the tool to cancel out background noise, which is nice to hear finally.
The highs, the mids and the bass were perfectly balanced, which is hard especially with the bass. During the beta testing, some testers complained that the headphones weren’t loud enough, so they raised the volume by 6 decibels. This is outrageously hard to do without distorting and losing some of the bass. If the brief moment I spent with the headset can attest, they did not lose any bass, in fact I would venture to say the bass sounds better on this headset than mine back at home.
The A38 is slated for a late summer 2014 release, and will be available for $230.
Also announced at E3 is a partnership with Halo and Astro Gaming. As a result, Astro will be the manufacturer of officially licensed Halo branded headsets. In addition, another really cool product was shown, one that personally I will really want to try on my PC and Xbox One. A wireless PC dongle is available and compatible with wireless Astro headsets. This is made especially useful if you use the same headset for multiple systems, like I do. Instead of having to unhook and re-hook your headset to the new device every single time, you can leave the wired plugins at the console and use your Wireless dongle at your PC. Now you can simply just bring the headset to the room and leave all the wiring (or lack thereof) at the system!
The dongle will be available in a few different ways:
- By itself it’s a $40 purchase
- $239.99 with the A50 PC edition
- $339.99 with the A50 PC + Console Edition (which is cheaper than the normal price!)
In the end, this is different it was a nice reprieve from the hustle and bustle that is the E3 show floor, but a very welcome reprieve. The headset shown is definitely a must have for those who walk to work a ton, or are looking for a headset to block out everything but your Vita game while on a bus or train. Or maybe you workout and are tired of those wires getting in the way of your workout equipment? The A38 will definitely be the way to go.
Thanks to Astro Gaming for allowing us to check out their product and the couch in their waiting room! It was much needed!