By – Thomas Faust

Astro A40 Review

Finding the right headset can be difficult these days. With an overabundance of products on the market, purchasing the piece of equipment that is tailored to your specific needs can require a fair bit of trial and error. It’s not just audio quality that matters, there’s also comfort, sturdiness, and additional features to consider. If you are a streamer or play games competitively, your requirements are different yet again. ASTRO recently fielded their new product, the A40 TR Edition, which tries to deliver something for everyone as an all-around solution to your gaming audio needs. We got our hands on the A40 TR and put it through its paces.  Starting out with packaging and presentation, the headset comes in a sturdy box that can easily be flipped open to safely store its contents for transportation or everyday protection. Considering that every user is looking to protect their expensive purchase from dust or dirt, this is a handy and thoughtful design.

Apart from the headset, the box contains a MixAmp, four cables, and a small quick start guide. The packaging is of such high quality, the lack of a proper instruction booklet stands out, but then installing the headset could not be easier. Just plug the MixAmp into your computer via USB and connect the headset to the MixAmp via 3.55mm inline mute cable and you’re good to go. I had an issue updating the MixAmp firmware, which sent the device into bootloader mode and rendered it temporarily unusable. However, updating the firmware on another computer did the trick. From the information I gathered online, this is a rare occurance, and it only seems to affect Windows 10 users. At least it gave me a reason to contact ASTRO’s customer service. They replied within two hours and actively helped finding a solution without relying on canned responses, which is commendable.

The A40 TR makes a solid first impression, sporting a mixture of heavy black plastic and metal components, which leads to a weight of 390 grams or just under one pound. I was expecting some slight discomfort after longer gaming sessions, but surprisingly there was no notable neck or ear fatigue. The ear cushions are made from thick cloth and should be able to fit larger ears. Due to the material and open back design, the ear cups lack any noise-canceling effects. If you are wearing glasses, the headset is also extremely comfortable to wear. It is actually the first headset which didn’t give me any trouble whatsoever after hours of usage. The ear cups swivel, which further accommodates every possible head type, and the padded headband never feels unpleasant.

Astro A40 Review

The standard microphone is made from flexible plastic. It feels a tad short for my taste, but others may not have any issues, and the microphone’s length certainly didn’t impede its performance. Both streaming and Skype chat worked just as intended, transmitting my voice clean, crisp, and without any interference. One other important feature is the detachable cable from headphone to MixAmp, which can easily be replaced if needed.

While I enjoyed the A40 from an aesthetic standpoint, what matters most in the world of audio hardware is the sound quality. In this regard, the A40 is nothing short of excellent. The dynamic range and bass alone are fabulour and immersive. Gamers do have their special needs when it comes to sound output, and the headset was able to fully deliver, capturing everything from subtle nuances such as distant footsteps to full volume blasts of orchestral music. The disparity in sound quality compared to less pricey headsets was particularly perceivable. Good gaming audio hardware makes a world of difference for every kind of user, offering an extra level of immersion, and the A40 TR is an excellent piece of equipment in that regard.

The MixAmp Pro TR has full PC sound card functionality which provides simulated Dolby 5.1 and 7.1 Surround sound via USB. This sturdy piece of plastic actually stays put, and its glossy black finish, which is sadly prone to showing your fingerprints and dust after a short while, certainly makes it look valuable. The unit has a big volume dial and a smaller dial for mixing game audio and voice input for streaming. The prominent volume control is easy to operate without even looking at the MixAmp.  Considering that a lot of headsets come with small, fiddly remotes, I cannot stress enough how much I appreciate this design. Multiple MixAmps can be daisy-chained together to improve team communication in local multiplayer matches. Furthermore, the device has a button to switch between surround and stereo sound, and one button to choose between four equalizer presets, which can be customized using the Command Center.

Astro A40 Review

The Command Center software is merely for customizing settings such as equalizer presets, microphone level, and streaming output. You can then sync those settings with your MixAmp, eliminating the need to have software constantly running in the background and hogging your memory. While equalizer changes have to be synced first before they fully take effect, you can listen to any alterations on the fly. But then, the four standard presets are already very good and should serve the needs of most users.

The A40 TR is fully modular, allowing for the easy replacement of single components to fit your specific needs. Separately sold Mod Kits deliver just that, offering noise canceling ear cushions made from leather, a padded headband, speaker tags that turn your headset into a closed back system, and an improved microphone in one package. Each of these components is swappable within seconds, with only the headband offering a bit of resistance.

A fully modded A40 TR feels slightly heavier, and I also found the standard ear cushions to be more comfortable for prolonged use. However, this trade-off is more than worth it if you’re using the headset in a loud environment. While professional tournament play was out of the question for this review, I can attest to a bunch of screaming children and the vacuum cleaner all being barely noticeable using the mod kit.

The microphone is longer and sturdier as well, which felt more comfortable to me, and offers some extra background noise cancellation. Other custom speaker tags are also available to purchase separately. Want to profess your undying love for Battlefield or Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare? ASTRO got you covered. Ultimately, Mod Kits might only be a must-buy if you’re playing in a competitive environment, but the ability to mix and match components to fit your personal needs is a big advantage and a welcome addition to an already excellent product.

Astro A40 Review 1

Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?

With a price of $250 or 275€, the ASTRO A40 TR is certainly a premium product. However, this reflects in the overall quality, as the headset is the perfect allrounder for everyday home use, streaming, and competitive play alike. With its build quality, ease of use, and features, this excellent piece of hardware comes highly recommended. The Mod Kits are worth the $60 upgrade for the noise canceling ear cushions and the improved microphone, as long as you actually play in an environment where those feature are needed. For the average user, the standard A40 TR package is probably enough, delivering outstanding quality out of the box.

ASTRO A40 TR + Mixamp Pro Summary:

TPG Hardware

  • Time Used – 21 Days
  • Acquisition Method – Review Unit
  • Availability – Official Site
  • Connection – USB, Optical
  • Wired/Wireless – Wired
  • Surround Sound – 5.1 / 7.1
  • Availability – Newegg, Amazon, Official Site
  • Software Used – Metro: Last Light, Alien Isolation, Titanfall, Skype
  • System Specs – 3.5Ghz AMD FX-6300, Radeon R9 270X, 8GB RAM

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