Hello, D-Day1944 here, and welcome to my Discussion. Today's topic: The Astro A40: Is it Still One of the Best?
Starting Point of the Astro A40:
Back in 2008, the company ASTRO Gaming revealved their first ever Gaming product, the Astro A40 Gaming Headset. It was the offical Gaming Headset of MLG, and shortly after its release, many reviewers and gamers praised the new headset for great audio and a revolutionary new innovative DAC (or Digital Audio Converter) in the Astro Mixamp. Many people thought this was the headset to get. However, even then, the Astro A40 had problems. After some time had passed, many people complained about the Bass Response, as well as the Microphone Response. With such problems, ASTRO Gaming needed to come up with a solution. In 2011, the company offered a $15 upgrade to the original. If you still did not have the Astro A40, you could have bought the ASTRO A40 2011 Edition. The updates were better matetials in the cloth of the Earpads to improve bass response and a updated Microphone. A couple days after the release, and many people were already even more impressed after the original. The Astro A40 definitely was one of the best Gaming Headsets of 2011, despite the fact that, within the same year of 2011, SkullCandy bought ASTRO Gaming for $10.8 Million. However, as the saying goes "That was then, and this is now"
Onward to 2012:
It is now 2012, and the Astro A40 will be officially four years old. There has been some serious competition in the four years it has been with us. For my testing and comparison, I have picked a select few Gaming Headsets that might seem familiar to you. In my Opinion, these Gaming Headsets have challanged the Astro A40 toe-to-toe and blow-for-blow. Also, I will be listing Gaming Headsets of this year as well that I have tested. Without anymore stalling, here they are! :)
Turtle Beach XP500
Beyerdynamic MMX 300
Sennheiser PC 360
Tritton AX 720 (2012 Edition)
Normally, many people mention these Gaming Headsets to be equal to or surperior than the Astro A40. I have tested the aformentioned Gaming Headsets and the A40 2011 Edition. So, now that you know about what the Astro A40 has gone up against, the question remains. Can the Astro A40 still be a premier option?, or has four years really taken its toll. You will find the answer... very soon! :)
Astro A40 vs. Turtle Beach XP500
Turtle Beach really wowed many of us here in the XP500. 18 Programmable EQ's, Dual Bluetoothing, and Wireless. At first, I thought this would be the ultimate counter to the A40. Everything sounded great. However, it did have one catch. The Wireless Signal ran on the dissapointing 2.4Ghz signal, which is not good at all. Since I have a lot of equipment running 2.4Ghz, the Turtle Beach XP500 sounded distorted, with heavy amounts of static and popping in my ears. (Ouch!) Playing games like Black Ops and Reach were difficult, and since there is so much static, team communication fared no better. Also, for the EQ settings, to me, they could not be fully realized due to so much hiss and static! For the Astro A40, the sound was great. I had used the Astro Mixamp for the A40, and the Signal to Noise ratio was incredible. For the Bulid Quality, the Astro A40 felt more like a headset than the XP500. If anything, does the XP500 look almost similar to the PX5? Anyway, for Comfort, the Turtle Beach XP500 won this one, albeit slightly. The memory foam inside the A40 was nice, but the plushly feel of the XP500 was pleasent. For the Price and what you can expect, the Turtle Beach XP500 costs around $200-215. I had obtained mine for $209.88, but since the expectations did not succed, I had to return them. For the Astro A40, I paid $291.23 ($264.08 + $27.15 for the Lithium Ion Rechargable Battery Pack) back in 2011.
Final Verdict #1:
The XP500 did present the A40's one of its toughest challenges, but the 2.4Ghz Frequency hurt the headset more than it helped it. So for the first victory goes to the A40!
Steamrolling ahead is Comparison #2:
Beyerdynamic MMX 300 vs. Astro A40.
I might not be a music player, but having heard from one of Beyerdynamic's Headphones, I could not wait to get these. I eventually got mine in the beginning of 2012, and have used this with the Astro Mixamp to achieve Dolby Digital 5.1. If you forgot how DD 5.1 works, or want to know, let me explain.
The Science behind Dolby Headphone and Dolby Digital 5.1/7.1
Dolby Digital uses a simulated signal of actual 5.1 channels of audio in a speaker setup, and is then mixed with Dolby Headphone. These algorithims and encyptions are then streamed in using various DSP's (Digital Sound Processing) to simulate 5.1 channels of audio into the headset. To Achieve DD 7.1, Dolby Pro Logic II is added in as rear filler channels and then processed in to make DD 7.1. However, since Optical Cables support up to DD 5.1, and the Xbox runs on DD 5.1, DD 7.1 cannot be achieved. As for the PS3, no difference. You would need a HDMI input on the Mixamp to achieve DD 7.1, but since that is not the case, all the companies who have been saying "Experience Dolby Digital 7.1 Virtual Surround Sound!" are just scamming you. Now that you now about this, back to the Comparison!
Comparison #2 (Continued)
Soundwise, the Beyerdynamic MMX 300 finally toppled over the reign of the Astro A40. While the A40 does have great sound, the high end soundstages were mostly clean. The Beyerdynamic MMX 300 has a sound that is unmatched to my ears. Playing games like Halo Reach and Black Ops really was a blast. For the microphone, it was superb. It never picked up background noise and was very clear thourghout playback. For music, same story. Listening to songs like "Reach for the Sky" by Social Distortion, "What I'm Made Of" by Crush 40, "In the End" by Linken Park, and "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC really showcased how well the MMX 300 performed. The Astro A40 did do great, but not as great as the MMX 300. Of course though, sacrifices have to be made. For one, the MMX 300 is very expensive, costing around $$325-$450! That really hurts this headset a lot. If you wanted to use this on console gaming, you will need an Astro Mixamp. In total, you could be spending close to $600 dollars. My set in total cost $589.77. Add the fact that the MMX does not support certain features of High End Pro Gaming Headsets (swiveling earcups, detactable boom mic, etc.) and all you are left with is just a Gaming Headset for stay at home gaming. The Astro A40 gives you everything you need (minus the Li-on Battery Pack, Astro Carrying Case, and PC/PS3 Adapter.) For the Build Quality, the Astro A40's won just by the smallest of fractions. The only reason the MMX 300 lost was because of all the exposed cabling, and the fact that getting it snagged was easier than it was on the A40. For Comfort, for me, it is a tie. Again, the memory foam in the A40 was pleasent, but the velour padding on the MMX 300 was also pleasing to wear for hours on end.
Final Outcome of Comparison #2:
While it may have some quibbles, the MMX 300 was more than a match for the A40. It might have shortcomings, but it definitelty is a Gaming Headset bulit from the ground up for the complete package.
Let us not dwandle! Onward to the third Comparison!
Sennheiser PC 360 vs. Astro A40
Ah, the argument that has been going on for years. These two headsets have met eachother in fourms or discussions more times than any other headset I have on the list. Now, it is time to see who is the real winner. To start out, one thing that is noticable on the PC 360 is the bulky microphone. This thing is massive! For a another curveball, the pricing of the PC 360 is almost exactly the same as the Astro A40 System itself. Finally. there is the earpads. which are XXL. That is definitley saying something, but how do they sound? Are they better than the A40's? The answer is yes and no. The PC 360's did have a slightly wider soundstage, but the low-end of the 360's was not as good, despite it being one of the best open back headsets that have great lows. While it did perform well in stereo for music, gaming really showcased how well the PC 360's were, although the bass response did not come out as much as I hoped. Well, time to see which of these two are truly better. To my ears, the A40 and PC 360 are actually on par with eachother. While the PC 360 had a wider soundstage, the A40 had thicker tone with deeper bass. It really will come down to personal perference when you buy one of these headsets. However, like the MMX 300, the PC 360 still lacks those certain features. Again, you will need an Astro Mixamp, and that will put some holes in your pocket. I had to pay mine for $378.45. Not as bad as the MMX 300, but still, pretty much up there. For Comfort, again, it is a tie! I cannot decide which headset is superior than the other. The PC 360 has the 2XL earpad going for it, while the Astro A40 has its memory foam. Each felt spacious to me, and I could play for hours on end! For Bulid Quality, whadda know, a tie again! Both of these headsets have performed flawlessly, even after a couple tosses on the carpert floor, or my mohogany dresser. Both could take a beating and still could come back for more.
Final Outcome of Comparison #3:
Whether it was the PC 360's wider soundstage, or the A40's thicker tone, I really was hard pressed to see which one was truly better. Personal Prefernce will decide which one you want.
And Finally, the Fourth Comparison:
Tritton AX 720 (2012 Edition) vs. Astro A40
Tritton and Astro really have not been the best of friends. While the old AX 720 was good, ASTRO Gaming laughed and put the smackdown on them with their 2011 Edition of the A40. Ever since then, Tritton wanted revenge. At first, they started out well in the fourth quarter of 2011, releasing the Gears of War 3 Edition 7.1 Headset. While there were some welcomed additions and improved sound, the A40 still got the last laugh, due to the Gears of War 3's average signal to noise ratio. Tritton decided to then bring their old classic back. And so the Tritton AX 720 7.1, or 2012 Edition, was born. It basically upgraded its signal to noise ratio, added better pads, and a better microphone, much like their arch-enemy ASTRO Gaming did a year ago, minus the upgrade of the signal to noise ratio. In sound, would these upgrades have made a difference? The answer would be a yes. The AX 720's improved signal to noise ratio helped it in more ways than one. Sounds were more clear to me than what the were on the old AX 720. Listening to music on these were good, albeit not totally clear. The low-end was good, but lacked definition at times, the mids were warm even though being a bit shrill, and the high end was mostly clean with tiny bits of tinny sound. For gaming however, everything changed. The AX 720's did not dissapoint and those improvements really helped out the headset a lot, but does it still sound better? No. The sound quality was great, but to my ears, the AX 720's are a 1/2 a star behind the Astro A40. As for Comfort, the A40's win this one. Even though Tritton did add new materials for the earpads, expect to get sweaty ears in 2-3 hours. Even with the plush padding, you might get 4 hours, but do not count on it. For the bulid quality, the A40 yet again. Even though the AX 720 improved in sound, hollowed out sections in the plastic rise up concerns. It is also to mention that the headset is stiff and rigid, which is not good. For pricing, however, the AX 720's beat any other headset on this list. Its pricetag of $149.99 is great for a Surround Sound price. Add the fact that a MP3 Audio Adpater only costs $9.99, and you have every cable you need. All the other cables will come with the headset.
Final Outcome of Comparsion #4:
While Tritton did greatly improve on their aspects, the Astro A40 eeks out a one point victory.
The Astro A40 still is one of the best Gaming Headsets out thre. Even though, in my opinion, Beyerdynamic's MMX 300 is the new "bully on the block" Astro still manages to hold its own. Let us take a look at the Rankings, shall we?
1st place: Beyerdynamic MMX 300
2nd Place: Turtle Beach XP500
3rd Place: Astro A40/Sennheiser PC 360
5th Place: Tritton AX 720
1st place: Astro A40/Sennheiser PC 360
3rd Place: Beyerdynamic MMX 300
4th Place: Turtle Beach XP500
5th Place: Tritton AX 720
1st Place: Tritton AX 720
2nd Place: Astro A40
3rd Place: Turtle Beach XP500
4th Place: Sennheiser PC 360
5th Place: Beyerdynamic MMX 300
So, there you have it. As stated before, the A40 definitley is still of the greatest, although beyond its prime. Few other headsets give us the complete package for years to come. With that said, that will conclude my discussion
Astro A40: Is it Still one of the Best?
Thank you so much for reading, and join me in my next planned discussion:
Turtle Beach XP400, Tritton Warhead, and Astro A50: All-Star Wireless Headset Battle Royale!
Until next time, this is D-Day1944, signing out.