If you’ve ever gone shopping for a pair of mid-range gaming headphones, you’re undoubtedly at least tangentially familiar with the Astro name. They produce a slew of gaming headsets of varying feature sets and price points, and are widespread enough that even if you’ve never owned a pair, you’ve probably used them for a floor demo of a game at a show like PAX.
A large issue, according to the company, is that the majority of their products were at a price point where they weren’t accessible to those just looking to get into the game. The company’s A40 series can run you anywhere from $150-250 depending on what you’re looking for, and the wireless A50 series will set you back around $300, which is a sizable chunk of coin for most.
The new A10 series is Astro’s first attempt at a budget-friendly headset for someone just getting into the world of gaming headsets, and as such it lacks a lot of the more premium features of its predecessors, but unlike it’s predecessors, it only runs $60.
The Astro A10 is a solid build with few moving parts, much unlike other entries in the product line. The ear cups don’t swivel for storage, there are no plates giving the option for open or closed back listening, the microphone isn’t removable, and it doesn’t come with a mixamp. It really does feel like a stripped down, bare essentials headset, but it still has the feel of an Astro headset.
It’s flat, industrial design and curves are similar to that of the more premium model, albeit toned down, but I was told that the form, while nice for what it is, came secondary to function in this case.
What was repeatedly stressed to me was the increased focus on durability, which Astro repeatedly stated was less and less of a concern for headset manufacturers the lower you got on the price spectrum. The company set out to make a pair that wouldn’t break two weeks in, and to illustrate this to me, a representative unplugged the demo unit and repeatedly threw it into the walls of the meeting room.
After the fifth or sixth volley into the walls, the headset was then plugged into an Xbox One and I played about 10 minutes of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered to get a feel for the headset in a real world scenario, or, as close to a real world scenario as once can be in a meeting room overlooking the E3 show floor.
I found the unit to be incredibly comfortable for a headset of that price point. The steel headband gave it a firmness that was definitely felt on the ears, which in turn helped create a seal with the ear cups. While not noise-cancelling or even noise-isolating, it did a fairly good job at helping block out the sounds of the suite.
As for sound, I had no problem with things like positional audio and the like, and I was surprised to see the unit not have gone overboard with the bass, which is more or less to be expected with lower-end headphones. The mids left something to be desired, but overall I’d say they were more comfortable and sounded better than the PlayStation Gold and Logitech G933 headsets that I own and use regularly, albeit with fewer bells and whistles and a little less pleasing on the aesthetic end.
The Astro A10 will be available for Xbox One, PS4 and PC on June 25 for $60. It’s worth noting that there is an optional, $100 Xbox mixamp version that has volume and chat controls.