It’s been a while since we’ve seen premium Astro gear. Once known exclusively for its high-end headsets, Astro spent the past few years carving a niche at the budget-friendly end of the market. First there was the A10, delivering surprisingly great sound for only $60 (and earning our pick for best budget headset). Then Astro followed up with the A20, for entry-level wireless.
But with those newcomers now firmly established it’s high time Astro returned to its signature headset, the A40.
Astro’s billing this latest A40 as a brand-new generation, but I don’t think the headset’s actually changed. This is, by all outward appearances, the same A40 Astro has been selling since at least 2016.
The magnetic covers over the earcups have been tweaked slightly, I think—but that’s essentially meaningless, given those covers are replaceable by the end-user, and come in a million different styles. In any case, the new “default” covers have a smaller-type logo and less extraneous decoration.
Astro could use a better wiring system though. The 3.5mm hookup is towards the back of the left earcup, and while the cable stays out of the way it also has a tendency to rub against my neck—especially in cross-body situations, as when plugging into a PC on my right.
I also wish Astro would put more effort into its built-in controls. Astro’s very own wireless A50 is a model I wish other companies would emulate, with Game/Chat mixing (or chat-mix), volume, EQ, mute, and Dolby all easily accessible and relatively intuitive. But on the A40? There’s a mute toggle on the cable and that’s it—not even a volume wheel.
Mix it up
Why? Because Astro wants you to purchase its MixAmp—and you should. Astro sells the A40 standalone for $150, but truth be told, it’s an embarrassingly stripped down headset: It’s limited to a 3.5mm input with no splitter, you lose access to all of Astro’s software-side improvements, and the built-in controls are minimal. You can get a much better and more capable wired headset for $150.
As I said, Astro sells the A40 without the MixAmp, but it’s hard to imagine why. This tiny box is borderline essential as far as I’m concerned. Even so, it’s less of a leg up than it used to be—Logitech (who of course owns Astro nowadays) and others have started building chat-mixing functionality into their $100 to $150 headsets as well, with built-in controls. The MixAmp feels less novel than it used to, and expensive to boot.
But if you’re buying an Astro A40, it’s a must. It makes a mediocre standalone headset into top-tier gear.
You can hear it in the sound, as well. I tested the A40 with and without the MixAmp to get an idea of what the A40 actually sounds like, versus how it sounds with the MixAmp.
It’s worth noting that Astro’s got one of the better microphones on the market. That’s one area where Astro’s firmly ahead of most everyone else. The mic is flexible, easy to position, and voice reproduction is rich and crystal clear. Astro also scores points for providing more microphone options than usual. Not as many as Logitech’s new G Pro X, mind you, but it’s still better than the norm. As a mumbler, I’m particularly fond of the “Night” preset, which reduces the A40’s software noise gate and picks up even my quietest commands.
Bottom line So, the million (or $250) question: Does the A40 with the MixAmp sound good enough to justify its price? That answer is complicated. The A40 with MixAmp sounds great, definitely one of the better-sounding gaming headset packages. But $250 is steep nowadays, and personally I think you’d need the convenience of running multiple inputs to the same headset through the MixAmp to justify investing in a wired headset this pricey. If that’s you… if you’re a streamer or some other content producer type… great.
Abigail Smith is an inventive person who has been doing intensive research in particular topics and writing blogs and articles on Printer Customer Support and many other related topics. He is a very knowledgeable person with lots of experience.