ASTRO Gaming made its mark on the professional gaming scene with its A40 headset and corresponding wired MixAmp, but in the years since, the company seems to have focused on the consumer market. Products like the Wireless MixAmp 5.8 and the A50 wireless headset are great for the home but aren't allowed in competition due to their wireless nature. There was a minor update to the original MixAmp in late 2009, but since then, the company has been quiet on the wired front. That should be changing soon.
Based on information WorthPlaying obtained on Thursday, ASTRO is currently working on a new version of the wired MixAmp, MA3. Given that this would be the third version of the wired product, the working name is likely a straightforward MixAmp 3.
Because it is still unannounced, there are no official specs for the new product, but we can learn a few things from the layout of the PCB as seen in the photo.
Looking at the image, the top of the photo is where the rear connectors sit and the bottom houses the front connectors. The silver connector at the top left is a USB connector, while the two in the center are 3.5mm stereo jacks. These correspond to existing ports on the current MixAmp, where one of the 3.5mm jacks serves as an auxiliary input and the other is the PC microphone connection. The fourth plug seen in the photo appears to be another 3.5mm jack; it's likely a mini-TOSLINK jack, as these are slightly longer than standard analog 3.5mm connections. On the current MixAmp, the TOSLINK optical input takes up this space.
At the bottom of the image, we can see two 3.5mm stereo jacks on either side. These jacks are most likely the ASTRO standard daisy chain connections. On the current MixAmp, these exist on a daughter board, connected to the main section by a wire. Here, they have been moved up to the main PCB. The second jack from the left is a three-connector 3.5mm jack. This is the standard headphone connector, carrying two audio channels and a single microphone channel. The last jack on the board is a 2.5mm stereo jack, which is used to connect to an Xbox 360 controller.
Because the TOSLINK was switched to a mini version and the daisy chain connectors have been moved to the main PCB, it's probably safe to say that the MixAmp 3 will not feature RCA input jacks. There is also no visible connector for them on the board. By eliminating the daughter boards and consolidating everything on a single PCB, the new MixAmp 3 should be noticeably slimmer than its current incarnation once everything is put into a case.
Looking at the center of the board, we can see the two standard control dials. The one in the center should be the volume, while the one near the bottom of the photo is the channel fader. This is no different than the existing product. What is different is the button placement and the additional button on the new unit.
From the photo, we can see that the power button and the Dolby toggle have been moved up. No longer located below the fader control, they are now between the two dials. The power button is still the one on the left, as it has two different sets of colored LEDs. This is needed on the wired MixAmp, as the red LEDs indicate power status and the orange LEDs indicate charging status. The third button is something of a mystery, as it only appears to have a single set of LEDs. This means it is a basic toggle. Without seeing more of the board, it's impossible to make an accurate guess. It could be anything from a simple bass boost to an audio profile toggle to a wireless sync button.
One thing we do know about the MixAmp 3 is that it features updatable firmware, just like the A50 system. The MixAmp 3 firmware from July 2012 was versioned 2503, which puts it on a parallel path to the A50 firmware updates. This is a good sign, as it means potential issues can be corrected with updates as well as allowing for things like audio profile customization. These are features that ASTRO introduced with the A50, so it makes sense the company would want to leverage that work for future products.
Based on ASTRO's hardware roadmap, the MixAmp 3 will likely see a release in early 2013. Like any product in development, things can always change, but what we can glean from this photo seems to be in line with ASTRO's existing product goals. As a result, when the MixAmp 3 is officially announced, we would expect it will closely align to what you can see in today's image.
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