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Astro Gaming A40 Audio System

2009 Gaming Headset Review Roundup
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Astro Gaming A40 Audio System (Headset and USB MixAmp): $249.99

Ever since the original launched back in 2008, the A40 Audio System from Astro Gaming has been considered one of the best, if not the best PC and console gaming solutions available. Now it’s 2009, and the A40 is back with some adjustments and improvements that make it even better.

The A40 system comes in two large black boxes. In one box, there is the A40 headset, its hard-shell case, detachable mic, three speaker tags (plates that go on the outside of the cans), sound-dampening padding, a quick-release to stereo connector, and a quick-release to 3.5 mm audio/mic cable. The USB MixAmp comes with a daisy-chain connector, RCA cables, an Xbox-controller audio cable, and a USB cable (regular to mini-B). We also received a six-foot TOSlink optical cable ($19.95) and a rechargeable battery pack (also $19.95), but neither of these are included with the headset or MixAmp.

The design of the A40 system hasn’t changed greatly since the original came out. The headset looks identical, but has improved wiring and a different kind of driver in each can. The headset still comes with brackets that attach the cans to the headband, while the rest is wrapped in plastic (in this case, a clean matte black). The cans still leave plenty of room for your ears, which is conducive for long gaming sessions with no worries about sore ears or migraines. Astro has also added a limited run of red, blue, and green color options for its A40 headset.

Like the A40's design, the MixAmp is also largely unchanged, expect that its USB connection now sends and receives audio as well as power. This is how the A40 MixAmp is PC- and PlayStation 3-friendly right out of the box. The button layout on the MixAmp is simple and intuitive. There are two volume knobs, a power button, and a Dolby Digital-control knob. Once the MixAmp is powered on, the Dolby decoder immediately activates without any tinkering. In short, the MixAmp is simple and effective.

The A40 isn’t as comfortable as some of our less expensive headsets, but it beats out the AX 720, its primary competition. The A40 is light, but sturdy, and even if the Siberia v2's are more comfortable, the A40 isn't a bad experience for your noggin by any means.

The detachable microphone can be fastened to either can and is completely bendable. The action on the mic is very fluid, but not to the point where the mic won't stay in place. This means there's no hassle when you need to move the mic away from your mouth while you're cursing out the teammate that just got you killed.

The A40 system comes with an easy-to-read diagram mapping out the different ways you can set up the A40 system with the 360, PS3, and PC, while each system has a “good,” “better,” and “best” connection method. The included accessories ensure that you can connect to both consoles and your PC in some way, but the lack of an optical cable in either box means you have to dish out some extra cash for the pleasure. The rechargeable battery pack might be a luxury, but when you’re talking about a $250 gaming headset and mixer, an optical cable should come free of charge.

Once you connect your A40 system to a console, you will understand why the A40 system costs over $200. The sound quality in this headset and mixer are amazing and second to none in the headset market. The bass/lows are right where they should be and are thunderous but not overwhelming. The mids and highs are crisp and clear. All told, the audio capabilities  combined make ODST and Killzone 2 sound fantastic.

Much like the AX 720, the A40 MixAmp wouldn’t agree with our onboard sound. Sparing ourselves another several hours of troubleshooting, we went right to the 3.5 mm connector adapter and plugged the A40 headset directly into the motherboard. Yet again, the A40s did not disappoint.

What else can we say? The Astro A40 system is easily one of the best headsets/gaming audio systems we have ever tested. Expensive? Yes, but if you plan on using it with your PS3, 360, and PC, then it’s a sound investment. Overall: 4.5/5

If you want to check out the A40 Audio System and all other things Astro Gaming, head over to their website for pricing and purchase.

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  • 1 Hide
    fozzie76 , December 11, 2009 8:00 PM
    How big are your ears? Would the SteelSeries Siberia v2 fit on a guy that's 6'6" and can sometimes get lift from my big ears if the wind is strong enough? A comfortable headset is worth its weight in gold to me.
  • -1 Hide
    dconnors , December 11, 2009 8:07 PM
    Hey fozzie!
    Both my ears are roughly 2.75"(top to bottom) by 1.5"(left to right). The Siberia fits with room to spare, so unless your ears are the size of doormats, you should be in the clear.

    -Devin
  • 0 Hide
    computer_veteran , December 12, 2009 12:09 AM
    I'm pretty sure Astro Gaming bribed Tomsguide...if you can't figure this out by reading the above text, then it is simply sad. Read the Astro Gaming page. I wonder why Tomsguide included their website, and not others.
  • -1 Hide
    IzzyCraft , December 12, 2009 2:32 AM
    About headsets and no G35
  • -1 Hide
    overshocks2 , December 12, 2009 3:48 AM
    ^Agreed, also what was the point with the stupid Zowie Hammer? Waste of time reviewing it, and not include Razer Megalodon? What about other price-performance headsets? This is a poorly done guide, plus the 5 categories are just bad. Convenience should not even be there that's for noobs, who can't connect wires?

    Very disappointed.
  • 1 Hide
    IzzyCraft , December 12, 2009 4:39 AM
    Up considering the last headset is 250 bucks the Megalodon and G35 missing from the list seems a bit odd as they are only 150 and 130 bucks respectively
  • 0 Hide
    dconnors , December 12, 2009 5:18 AM
    computer_veteranI'm pretty sure Astro Gaming bribed Tomsguide...if you can't figure this out by reading the above text, then it is simply sad. Read the Astro Gaming page. I wonder why Tomsguide included their website, and not others.


    I included the Astro page because that's the only place you can buy their products. I did the same for the Tritton headset because its only available at Best Buy. The other four headset can be found at multiple retailers.

    -Devin
  • -1 Hide
    dconnors , December 12, 2009 5:22 AM
    IzzyCraftAbout headsets and no G35


    We reviewed the G35 and Megalodon a few months ago, that's why they weren't included this time...

    http://www.tomsguide.com/us/Surround-Sound-Headsets,review-1357-4.html

    http://www.tomsguide.com/us/Surround-Sound-Headsets,review-1357-5.html

    ...pretty easy to find. All you need to do is search "G35" or "Megalodon" on the front page and they are the first results, respectively.
  • -1 Hide
    quantumrand , December 12, 2009 6:46 AM
    I vote Turtle Beach EarForce HPA2. It has great sound quality, as well as full 5.1 ch surround sound. Comfort is pretty good too (the HPA1's weren't so comfy, but the HPA2's made a big improvement).

    I think it's kind of silly that the only headsets that got strong points in sound quality were the ones that were compatible with consoles...USB sound is generally horrible. I don't put much faith into those reviews...
  • 0 Hide
    dconnors , December 12, 2009 6:51 AM
    quantumrandI vote Turtle Beach EarForce HPA2. It has great sound quality, as well as full 5.1 ch surround sound. Comfort is pretty good too (the HPA1's weren't so comfy, but the HPA2's made a big improvement).I think it's kind of silly that the only headsets that got strong points in sound quality were the ones that were compatible with consoles...USB sound is generally horrible. I don't put much faith into those reviews...


    Neither of the console headsets use USB for sound, but rather for voice. The sound is via optical. Also, the Fatal1ty MKII got a 4/5 for sound, and it uses 3.5mm connectors.

    -Devin
  • 0 Hide
    BlackDeath , December 12, 2009 8:19 AM
    I would love to see you add to this review the Medussa 5.1 gaming headset.. it is a surround sound headset and should be matched up against this review..
  • -1 Hide
    dconnors , December 12, 2009 8:39 AM
    BlackDeathI would love to see you add to this review the Medussa 5.1 gaming headset.. it is a surround sound headset and should be matched up against this review..

    Speed-link is a great company when it comes to peripherals, but they aren't in the American market. The minute they set up shop here, we will review their products.

    -Devin
  • 1 Hide
    tonitelaoag , December 12, 2009 10:24 AM
    for this article, wow is my word for the astro , thanks for the review, i like it very much, now i know what to buy, i seldom comment, but this one is a thumbs-up for tom's contributor Devin, more hands-on reviews like this please
  • -1 Hide
    BlackDeath , December 12, 2009 2:15 PM
    I understand that they are not in the American market but since they can still be ordered and have been reviewed by other websites why would you not want to still do a review so that people that can attain them very easily can see a good comparison? I ordered mine a few years ago and paid about $110 and they were shipped from the UK. You can find them from sellers on ebay in the United States. I'm sorry Devin but I just do not feel that is a fair reason not to review them. I'm sure that when people do a search for gaming headset reviews they will come by this site and look at the list.. The larger your list the larger your review will appeal to the audience.. I happen to be one of many of these people in your audience.. The customer is always right :)  So honestly besides you stating that they are not in the American market, which technically they are since you can find them.. What would it take for you to review them to make a larger review list?

    To comment to Tonitelaoag.. I agree with what you said and I would love to see others besides the Medussa 5.1's from Speedlink be reviewed. Search the comments and I this is one of my selected posts.

    Thank you for your consideration in advance Devin

    Aaron
  • 0 Hide
    foody , December 12, 2009 2:52 PM
    I would have liked to see a review of the Turtle Beach HPX and the Sennheiser PC350 which are the main competition for the A40 headset at MLG events. Though, they all still use the Mixamp.
  • 1 Hide
    counterpart , December 12, 2009 3:03 PM
    dconnorsWe reviewed the G35 and Megalodon a few months ago, that's why they weren't included this time...


    Fair enough. But it would have been interesting to see where the G35 falls in between the ones tested this time.
  • 0 Hide
    radiowars , December 12, 2009 4:18 PM
    No Plantronics? Wow, I love their headsets, mainly because they're cheap and have relatively good sound quality. And no Logitech either?
    Oh well, it's still a well written review, just would have liked to see my favorites on there :D 
  • -1 Hide
    dconnors , December 12, 2009 8:42 PM
    @BlackDeath
    Getting a headset imported does not make it a part of the American marketplace. Are Japanese-only DS games a part of the American marketplace because you can get them imported? No.

    In order for us to review something, it needs to be sold by one or several North American-based retailers, or the company in question needs to have representation in the US. If you do a Google product search for "Speedlink Medusa", only one entry shows up, and it is an eBay listing.

    Nothing against Speedlink, it's just a strict rule we have here @ Tom's. As soon as Speedlink breaks into the N.A. market, we will review their products.

    -Devin
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 12, 2009 10:57 PM
    I have the complete Astro system (headset + mixamp) and it is simply amazing. Excellent sound, comfort and build quality. The clarity of the mic is something else. People always mention it. Also the mixamp is incredibly handy for Xbox Live because you can raise or lower the voice chat volume independently of the game volume instantly.

    Grace
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 12, 2009 11:11 PM
    What's the best headset for pinpointing footsteps? any opinions?
    I used to have a cheap $20 headset for 2 years until it broke. It was some no-name brand, but it was so awesome cuz it was so cheap. Sound would only come from 8 different directions, so by turning my player in a game, I could poinpoint where enemy footsteps were coming from.
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