Compatibility: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Drivers: 40 mm
Frequency Response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz
The Astro A20 Gaming Headset has been around in some way, shape or form since 2017. But with the PS5 and Xbox Series X on the horizon, this console-centric wireless headset was about due for a refresh. I’m pleased to report that theAstro A20 Gen 2 is still a strong choice, and actually better than its predecessor in some substantial ways. Not only does the Astro A20 sound great, but it’s also compatible with every major console on the market, and is less expensive now than when it first debuted.
On the other hand, the A20 has a few significant drawbacks, particularly if you’re looking to connect it to a PC, a PlayStation and an Xbox. The device has a surprisingly awkward design that’s not exactly uncomfortable, but not visually appealing, either.
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While the A20 isn’t the perfect console headset for every possible gamer, it’s a relatively inexpensive way to go for wireless features — with great sound, to boot. Read our full Astro A20 Gaming Headset (2020) review to learn why this could be the right choice for your upcoming PS5 or Xbox Series X purchase.
Astro A20 Gaming Headset Gen 2 design
The Astro A20 Gaming Headset’s 2020 redesign isn’t radically different from the 2017 version. Instead of a black chassis, this time around, it’s white.
The PS4/PS5 version has blue highlights, while the Xbox One/Xbox Series X version has green highlights. There are some technical differences between the two headsets, but structurally, they’re similar otherwise.
Until I saw myself in a mirror, I didn’t realize quite how strange the A20 looks compared to most other gaming headsets. Rather than adopting an oval shape, the A20 looks almost rectangular, with a long, flat, foam-padded headband, and two arms that move up and down, instead of notches on the headband itself. Not all of the headband actually sits on your head. It’s an odd design, and doesn’t fit as well as more traditional headsets.
Beyond that, the Astro A20 is pretty light on bells and whistles. The right earcup has a power button, an equalization mode button (there are three, and you’ll hear a different tone for each), a volume dial and a USB-C charging port.
On the left earcup, there’s a boom mic. I still think that any headset that costs more than $100 should have either a detachable or retractable mic, but if you put the mic in a vertical position, you can’t actually see it, so it’s not a dealbreaker.
Astro A20 Gaming Headset Gen 2 comfort
In spite of the Astro A20 Gaming Headset’s unusual design, it’s pretty comfortable to wear. The black fabric earcups are plush and breathable, and the headband provides a fair amount of padding.
Even with my glasses on, I could wear the Astro A20 for hours without any discomfort. On the other hand, I was never able to get a great fit, due to the unconventional headband adjustment. The earcups don’t swivel, however, and the arms don’t have much give, which could prevent some players from getting a good seal around the ears.
Astro A20 Gaming Headset Gen 2 performance
One area where the Astro A20 Gaming Headset excels is in sound quality. The Astro A20 has a rich, vibrant soundscape across a variety of games, movies and music. And while gamers should expect good sound from headsets that cost more than $100, I can think of wireless headsets in the $150 range that don’t sound nearly as good as the Astro A20.
I tested the headset with a variety of games across a variety of systems, including Genshin Impact on the PS4, Blasphemous on the Xbox One, Baldur’s Gate III on the PC and Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition on the Switch. I was impressed with how the Astro A20 handled every genre, from crackling fireballs in Baldur’s Gate, to spirited dialogue in Genshin Impact. I was even surprised to find that the bass was far more robust than in most gaming headsets, which was great for the ominous growls of Blasphemous or the resounding bomb blasts of Hyrule Warriors.
Similarly, the Astro A20 handles music well — provided you’re listening on a computer or console, that is. Because it doesn’t have a 3.5 mm audio jack or Bluetooth functionality, this probably won’t be your everyday music headset. But I listened to tracks from Old Crow Medicine Show, Flogging Molly, The Rolling Stones and G.F. Handel, and I was very pleased with both the bass/treble and left/right channel balances.
Astro A20 Gaming Headset Gen 2 features
Arguably, the most interesting thing about the Astro A20 Gaming Headset (2020) is that it works wirelessly with both the PS4 and the Xbox One — and, as such, will work wirelessly with both the PS5 and Xbox Series X as well. This is a real rarity among gaming headsets, because PlayStation and Xbox consoles use completely different wireless protocols.
The Astro A20 splits the PS/Xbox difference in a deceptively simple way: with an adapter. If you buy the PS4 version of the headset, it comes with a dongle that attaches to a PC, PS4 and docked Switch. If you buy the Xbox version, there’s no adapter, because it works with the Xbox’s internal wireless systems. But if you buy the PS4 version, you have the option to buy a separate, discrete Xbox dongle, and vice versa. The A20 USB Transmitter costs $20, and effectively doubles your A20’s versatility.
At least, if you can get it to work properly. Frustratingly, Astro does not include instructions on how to pair the A20 with a new adapter anywhere. It’s not in the quick-start guide; the A20 USB Transmitter doesn’t come with any instructions; the website doesn’t offer any kind of manuals or videos. As such, pairing the A20 with a new adapter is pure guesswork, and you have to do it each time you switch back and forth between a PlayStation and an Xbox.
I eventually (sort of) figured it out, simply by pressing various button combinations until something clicked. But after that, the A20 frequently forgot its connection profile upon startup, and I’d have to do the whole process over again. A lack of clear instructions coupled with a mercurial pairing process absolutely killed most of my enthusiasm for the very clever transmitter idea.
Beyond that, the A20 has three different equalization settings, but no software to customize additional profiles. The mic sounds crystal-clear, and the battery lasts for up to 15 hours, with no unnecessary lighting to drag that number down. There are no surround sound options, however.
Astro A20 Gaming Headset Gen verdict
Our Astro A20 Gaming Headset Gen 2 review discussed how this ambitious peripheral provides great sound and solid wireless connectivity, all at a reasonable price. However, even though the A20 USB Transmitter is a totally optional feature, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed by it. Bridging the gap between PlayStation and Xbox wireless headsets is a noble goal, and only one other company (SteelSeries) has pulled it off well before now. The Astro A20 is a step in the right direction, but it looks like cross-platform connectivity is going to be a pain for at least one more console generation.
Still, the Astro A20 sounds great and feels comfortable, and those are easily the two most important features in any gaming headset. Consider the Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 if you’re willing to spend a little more money — but if you’re not, you should be very pleased with the Astro A20.