When writing the review for the Astro A30 headset, I found it so tempting to try to compare them with the Turtle Beach X41’s that I had been using for around 18 months. I refrained from doing this because the Astro A30′s are a cross platform product in comparison to the Turtle Beach X41′s dedicated use to Xbox360, that has, as such earned them their own place in the market.
The Astro A40 Audio System Headset on the other hand is a stunning piece of equipment that I am glad to have had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with. The headset reviewed here is The Astro A40 2011 Edition Audio System, the Official Headset of MLG. Ok, enough of the love at first sound bite, why are they so good?
When the parcel arrived I had anticipated the quality of everything I was about to behold, from box to bins. As with the A30’s the packaging is second to none, you get the stylish high-quality ballistic nylon travel case to protect your headset and supplied as standard is a 6.0mm uni-directional noise cancelling microphone, a mute switch and two Quick Disconnect cables, a cable for console gaming, a 2 meter PC cable with volume control and a standard twin-jack connector for your PC.
There are “Speaker Tag Competition Foam Inserts”. Installing these is optional depending on the results you require. The inserts I found to be very effective and when fitted they reduce the amount of unwanted background noise by approximately 6dB (this reference is taken from operation manual). In reality this means that whilst wearing the headset you are more likely to hear someone talking to you with the inserts left out.
Included with this Official MLG headset were Speaker Tags bearing the MLG logo. Like the Astro A30′s these are held in place by powerful magnets and are interchangeable by the user with many different options available including custom designs. A great deal of thought has been put into the tags too, in each set for the A40’s you receive three tags. Why? One of the tags has a small hole in it to allow connection of the boom microphone. If you don’t intend using the headset with the microphone for in game chat etc, then you can replace it with one that has no hole, a small but nevertheless pleasing feature that maintains the overall appearance of the headset. Unlike the A30 headset, you can chose which side you would prefer to place the microphone. Also, much improved from the A30 and indeed the earlier A40, the boom microphone when shaped to your liking stays where you put it ensuring quality voice communications throughout gaming sessions. Whilst playing online, fellow gamers have been quick to comment very favourably on the quality of voice chat compared with any other sets or earpieces that I have used previously.
As with my review of the Astro A30 headset, I have utilised the Astro Gaming Wireless Mix Amp 5.8. This not only showed the diversity of the mix amp but once again took the performance of the headset to another level. Combining it with the Astro A40 Audio System Headset you are in no time totally engulfed in full 7.1 digital surround sound. With the over the ear design of the A40 Headset coupled with background noise reducing foam inserts, the overall quality of sound and the bass response is deep, sweet and plentiful with the treble end being perfectly balanced to provide a truly wonderful overall sound. A suitable balance between in game audio and voice chat is easily achieved with the very accessible Mix Amp Controls on the fly. This is in comparison to the Turtle Beach X41 headset where the audio controls are smaller and therefore difficult to manipulate whilst in the thick of things.
Developers go to great lengths to bring you immersive in game sound and with the Astro A40 Audio System Headset you hear it just the way they intended. From spent rounds pinging on the floor around you to incoming air strikes, enemies will find it difficult to surprise you once you’ve tuned in to the wealth of audio being thrown at you from all directions. In driving games, not only can you hear the opponents cars approaching from behind, but you can tell which side of the track they are which is helpful when they are attempting to overtake you. If platform or adventure games are your thing, then you can still rely on the A40’s to deliver unrivalled sound quality that has for me anyway brought games back to life. It’s true that there are many headsets on the market that are capable of providing good quality surround sound, though for me the Astro A40 audio system stands above them bringing to the table its own audio dynamic offering pinpoint accurate, directional sound with supreme clarity that packs a punch.
In contrast to the A30′s, the A40 headset incorporates an over the ear design much like the Turtle Beach X41‘s and whilst this creates an overall more bulky headset, it doesn’t make them any less comfortable to wear. The adjustments for the cans are plentiful and the overhead strap is excellent with a comfy foam insert for good measure. Overall I regard the Astro A40 Audio System Headset to be the most comfortable that I’ve worn to date.
Some minor negative points that I feel should be mentioned:
Compared with for example the Turtle Beach voice chat cable, the Astro version for the A40 headset appears quite flimsy. It is a straight jack connector that isn’t very robust and I think it’s only a matter of time before a replacement will be required. Also rather annoyingly, when using a play and charge kit for the Xbox360 there is an audible humming / buzzing sound that is unbearable. In order to avoid this you will need to ensure batteries are charged before embarking upon any lengthy gaming sessions.
Seriously, if you want to get an edge over your opponents, you need a quality audio setup. If MLG’s backing isn’t enough for the you then take it from me, having championed the Turtle Beach X41 thus far, I am a convert. The Astro A40 Audio System Headset combined with the Astro Gaming Wireless Mix Amp 5.8 ticks all the right boxes for those that are serious about their gaming experience and those that want the best cross platform audio set-up available.