Play Tested: Four Gaming Headsets Page 2

Astro A40 MLG Edition

I never thought I'd start a headphone review raving about the packaging the 'phones come in. But, here I am doing just that. Astro takes every aspect of their gaming headphones seriously, right down to the boxes. Encased in a sturdy, embossed, two-piece box, the top-of-the-line A40s ($259) come with their own zippered carrying case ($20). Opening the hard-woven clamshell reveals a fleece-lined, molded interior with spaces for the wireless transmitter, boom mic and headphones. While the aforementioned pieces fit fine, I wish there'd been a space for the wireless receiver and a pouch for an optical cable.

Speaking of cables, the A40s weren't as wireless as I'd hoped – even with the wireless transmitter setup. A cable runs from the left earphone cup into the wireless transmitter that's home to the volume knob and chat/sound mixer. Plugging in another wire from the transmitter to my Xbox 360 controller made the wiring nightmare even worse. Luckily, battery life with the available rechargeable power pack ($20) came in at an impressive 30 hours.

Aside from a bit of white noise when the volume knob is cranked past halfway, I have zero complaints about the A40s. They weren't the most advanced in terms of controls or audio settings and they aren't as wireless as other units, but they're by far the best sounding surround headphones I've used. Whether I was cracking off headshots in the aural warzone (and I mean that in the best way possible) of Battlefield 3's multiplayer or scouring the alleyways and rooftops of Batman: Arkham City, the A40s delivered deep, earcup-shaking bass and excellent channel separation.

Astro made an impressive effort in keeping the sounds from the A40s in your ears and everything else out, too. Sound leakage was minimal, as was isolation - more than once someone had to tap me on the shoulder to steal my attention away from the onscreen action. I didn't hear them and they were standing next to me, almost yelling my name. There's a reason the A40s are Major League Gaming approved: they rock.

$259, astrogaming.com

ProsCons
* Excellent bass response.* Noisy - audible hiss when
volume turned up past halfway.
* Believable channel separation.* Not enough control over voice chat
to game audio balance.
* Good isolation* Too many cables

 

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