LOS ANGELES – Astro, a longtime manufacturer of high-end gaming headsets, has lined up some exciting partnerships as of late. After joining forces with Logitech last year, Astro also partnered up with Nintendo a few months back in order to create headsets inspired by the Big N's classic series. The first licensed headset is almost ready to go, and it's a surprisingly elaborate piece based on The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild.
I got a chance to see and hear the Zelda-themed Astro A10 headset firsthand at E3 2018 this week. While the A10's audio quality is not going to blow anyone out of the water, the attention to detail is astonishing. Not only does the black-and-gold headset feature Zelda designs on each earcup, but the peripheral's entire color scheme reflects the tie-in. The space between the earcups and the headband are gold, and there are small Triforce logos on the headset itself.
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Easily the most impressive visual touch, however, was the notching. As you extend the headband to fit your head, you see golden notches to let you know where your desired fit is. Fair enough. But Astro has surrounded each notch with runes from the Sheikah Slate. The overall effect is subtle and elegant, but would feel totally at home in the Zelda universe. Nintendo fans will find a lot to like here when it comes out toward the end of the year. (There's no price available yet, but similar special editions run about $70.)
The sound quality itself isn't quite as exciting as the rest of the setup, though. The Astro A10 is Astro's budget line of headsets. As $60 devices go, it's not bad, providing clear sound and a comfortable fit. But I tested the device with Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition on Switch, and the distinctions between dialogue, music and sound effects aren't very subtle. There's a somewhat flat feeling to the soundscape. The Zelda-themed A10 will provide satisfying sound for an adventure in Hyrule, but not the same kind of quality you'd get from a more expensive headset – the Astro A40 TR X-edition, for example.
The A40 TR X is, as the Roman numeral suggests, a way for the A40 headset to celebrate its 10th anniversary. Few peripherals last ten years on the market (the average shelf life is more like two or three), but the A40 has been a consistent fan-favorite ever since its debut back in 2008.
While the $250 A40 TR X is not radically different from the standard A40, it will feature a glossy red-and-blue chassis, as well as an exclusive 10th anniversary emblem beneath one of the earcups. As always, the device connects via a detachable 3.5 mm audio cable, making it easy to transport. (The flexible microphone is still always attached, however.)
I played through a round of Injustice 2 with the A40 TR X, and loved the crisp distinctions between various types of sound. Batman and the Joker taunted each other with perfect clarity, and the devastating super-moves sounded just as immediate as the pounding music.
Astro's two newest headsets may technically be re-releases, but there's something interesting here for both Nintendo fans and gaming enthusiasts who aren't afraid of plunking down a few hundred dollars for clean audio. Expect more info about exact release dates later this year.