Astro Gaming A40 Audio System Review: Sound Advice

Astro Gaming's A40 Audio System is largely pitched at the "pro gaming" market, a headset and amplifier combo that offers a private audio experience and the necessary options for voice chat while playing others.

The A40 Audio System is comprised of Astro's A40 Headset and A40 MixAmp. Released last year, it's a petite but powerful package that supports gaming on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, offering 5.1 Dolby Surround and combined voice audio. But you certainly don't need to be a "professional" to partake in the sweet sounds of the A40.

Here's what we thought of our month-long ears on time with Astro's audio system.

Loved
The Headphones: These things sound glorious. It wasn't until I was forced to take them off so that other people in the room could participate in the listening experience via my antiquated receiver and surround sound set up that I realized how meaty the A40 Audio System was. The A40 headphones deliver sharp, crisp and powerful audio, which I credit with helping to improve my performance in some recent Left 4 Dead 2 and Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer gaming. And while aural advantage is great, it was while playing Dead Space with these things on that really sold me.

The Mixamp: The compact, densely constructed A40 MixAmp packs plenty of connections and power into a tiny package. It's simply and beautifully designed, with one large dial for controlling volume, a smaller dial for controlling the mix of game audio and voice chat audio. Popping cables in and out and storing the MixAmp out of site makes the wee amplifier an easily portable option.

USB Powered: I like things that are USB powered, as each of my currently hooked up consoles and the PC on which I play games come equipped with USB ports. The device can also be powered by a quartet of AA batteries, an option I haven't found a need for yet.

Comfortable, But Hefty: I'm not used to wearing headphones, so my initial experience wearing the A40 headset was not an altogether comfortable one. But my head adjusted, eventually feeling comfortable with the light pressure the A40 put on my skull. It's a solid set of headphones—324 grams/11.4 ounces—so some adjustment doesn't seem out of the ordinary, but at this point, I use these things for nearly every solo gaming session.

Hookups Aplenty: Astro doesn't skimp on the cables, including just about everything you'd need in the package from a connection standpoint, way more than I needed for my own personal use.

Hated
Boy, That's Kind Of Expensive: Purchased together, the A40 Audio System, will set you back $249.99. And that's not cheap. The package is much more expensive if the headset and MixAmp are purchased separately, so don't do that. But they're a great, well-built option for late night gaming or for those who move their gaming sessions around the house.

One Cord Too Short: The one cable that's lacking is the Xbox 360 controller communicator cable, which plugs into the MixAmp and at the bottom of the pad. My own set up has just a little too much distance from couch to console and your mileage may vary. But the shorter cable, much shorter than the headphone cable, means I'm forced to play leaning forward. And to suffer this minor discomfort is the kind of thing wimps like me prefer to nitpick.

At $249, the A40 is an investment, pricier than some of the consoles, but also a sound one. I've mostly made the switch from my home audio set up to the A40, and not just because the other residents in my household have become annoyed with the constant din of zombies, terrorists and space aliens being aerated and liquefied by heavy gunfire. It's not without its shortcomings, but the warm, powerful audio experience more than makes up for the minor inconveniences it's saddled with.

Would we suggest that everyone go out and grab an A40 and make it their primary audio option? Absolutely not. If you're already good on sound, more power to you. But if you're in the market for a new audio option, either out of consideration for your housemates or for a better headset/mic combo, give the A40 an earful.

The A40 Audio System was developed and release by Astro Gaming. Retails for $249.99 USD. A unit was provided at a video game review event. Played through through portions of Modern Warfare 2 on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Left 4 Dead 2 on the Xbox 360 and Dead Space on the Xbox 360 with the full A40 Audio System. Played through portions of Batman: Arkham Asylum on the PlayStation 3 using a dedicated receiver and A40 Headset.

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