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June 2021

Astro A20 Wireless Gaming Headset

Platform(s): Xbox Series X
Genre: Hardware
Developer: Astro
Release Date: Oct. 18, 2020

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There's few things I'd sell my soul to the devil for. However, the ability to grow a solid moustache? I'd probably sign that contract ... maybe ... (definitely).


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Hardware Review - 'Astro A20 Wireless Gaming Headset'

by Chris Barnes on Jan. 20, 2021 @ 12:30 a.m. PST

Professionally tuned to deliver audiophile-grade gaming performance, the ASTRO A20 is a multi-purpose headset featuring premium quality design, comfort and wireless connectivity.

Buy Astro A20 Gen 2 wireless gaming headset

I'm usually not a fan of items marketed to gamers, which are often bulky, in flashy colors, and of questionable durability. I've often steered away from the gaming products for something more subtle. I have read plenty of reviews about Astro headphones in various online communities, so I was more than happy to review the Astro A20 Gen 2 wireless gaming headset.

The Astro A20 comes in at less than half the price of the more premium A50 model, so I wasn't expecting these to be a top-tier pair of cans. Instead, the A20s are more reasonably priced at $120, which is sure to attract a much broader audience — and more competition. Astro has done a great job of sneaking in the A20s at a sweet spot that many other wireless headsets struggle to hit. With the Corsair HS75x and Turtle Beach Stealth 700 coming in at $170 and $150, respectively, Astro undercuts the other headsets in that price range.

At first glance, the A20s are just what I expected: big, loud, and obnoxious. My wife called me a robot when the headset engulfed my overgrown hair and head. With a massive white frame, traces of green, and a stiff microphone arm on the side, the A20s aren't something that you'd consider wearing in your next work Zoom meeting. Along the right ear cup sits all the buttons to adjust the headset settings. With a power button, volume wheel, and game/chat mixers, it's standard fare for a modern, wireless headset. It's worth nothing that there's an additional button with an unknown function; the directions were not very clear. Astro highlights the headset's cross-platform functionality, so my best guess is the button is used to switch between different dongles plugged into various consoles.

In addition to the headset, the box is packed with a USB dongle for connectivity to your console, as well as a USB-C cord for charging purposes. It brings a smile to my face when a company adopts the modern and superior USB connector.

Connecting the headset to my Xbox Series X was a breeze. With a simple insert of the USB dongle into the front of the console, the headset instantly paired, and I was greeted with the "Headset Assigned" message on the Xbox dashboard. It's worth noting that the volume and chat/game mixer settings are only controlled through the headset, and they can't be viewed through the Xbox console guide's audio menus. It's annoying to not have the visual indication of the settings in the middle of a game, but that's more the fault of the Xbox than the headset.

The most important question for any headset is, "How does it sound?"

An initial test showed promising results. With a respectable range bottoming out at around 20hz and maxing out at roughly 15,000hz frequency, the A20s do a more than adequate job of capturing a full spectrum of sounds while gaming. During the initial tests, I found some buzzing at the most extreme bass levels when the drivers were really being tested. In addition, there were moments of static and popping when testing at higher frequencies. It was a decent test, but they lacked the clarity and crispness that my Philips SHP9500s get in the same audio tests.

Jumping into real-world scenarios are a lot more telling because that's where it matters the most. Comparing the A20s to my Philips SHP9500s, the bass was a lot more explosive on the A20s. Whether that's a positive or not is entirely up to the end user. For me, I found the bass to be a bit too much, to the point that it overshadowed the subtle mids and highs that my ears have come to appreciate from my current pair of headphones. If you're looking to feel the intensity of gunshots and bass drops in the tensest moments of a title, then these headphones are more than adequate to fit those needs. Those looking for a more subdued bass that brings out the subtler sounds in a game may want to look elsewhere.

I was pleasantly surprised with the sound quality of the Astro A20 headset. Considering it's a wireless headset coming in below the price tag of some of its competitors, it's a commendable achievement by Astro.

After the initial testing was out of the way, I put the headset through its paces for a couple of days in normal day-to-day gaming. From a comfort standpoint, the A20s are just as bulky and uncomfortable on my head as they are to look at. With a rigid frame around the top, a tight circumference on the ear cups, and a not-so-forgiving foam padding around them, this headset is less than ideal in terms of comfort. I've always used a simplistic metric when it comes to scoring headset comfort. If I notice I'm wearing them, then they're not comfortable. With the Astro A20s, I readjusted the headset every 30 minutes to ease the pressure on my ears. I wasn't in pain, but the slight discomfort was enough to continually break my immersion with the game.

Otherwise, I've found the headset to be a good choice for day-to-day gaming. Astro markets the A20 with a commendable 15-hour battery life, and I believe it. I was good about charging it on most nights, so I never ran into scenarios where I had to fumble for a wire in the middle of a gaming session. Beyond that, the range is quite good. I was easily able to get up and walk into the next room for a snack while I waited for a buddy to buy me back in Warzone.

Is the Astro A20 Gen 2 wireless gaming headset going to blow away audiophiles? No, but I doubt many "gamer" headsets will. Astro's headset comes in just under the price tags of its competitors but still trades punches in terms of quality. There's always the question of durability over the long term, but I can't speak to that. From my time using the headset, I'd say it's an option that's worth considering if you're in the market for a decent-sounding wireless headset that doesn't totally break the bank.

Score: 7.8/10

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