As we stated earlier, Astro have gone for the minimal and light approach. The headband has a small and rather narrow cushioning, but still provides a good amount of comfort. The weight of the headset is very evenly distributed throughout the headband and the ear cups, meaning the A40 is very comfortable for long periods of time.
Each ear cup measures 105mm x 90mm.The ear cup cushioning is comfortable and soft, even with the strong grip placed on the head. This is not a headset you will easily dislodge, even if you like to move around a lot during a gaming session.
We also found that the ear cups were comfortable over the ears. No pinching or squashing in the 40x60mm gap. As with most headsets the A40 ear cups do make your ears get rather warm, but not to uncomfortable levels.
We decided to use Teamspeak and Skype to test the microphone quality, as well as multiple recordings … this way we evaluate the quality. Unfortunately crackling was evident that was audible to all of my friends on TeamSpeak as well as myself.
The crackling issues were there when using either of the two ear cup jacks. In an attempt to remedy this issue I found that by pushing the mic in a little more firmly, that interference was reduced, although after a few moments the mic began cracking again. We are not sure if this is just related to my specific review sample, or a product wide issue. We only received one review sample so it is impossible for us to say.
The microphone didn’t really replicate voices too well, giving dull tones with a reduction in higher end frequencies. When comparing to another mid-range headsets, we found that the A40 microphone was lacking clarity despite the premium looks, build and style.
This headset simulates 7.1 sound surround through its 40mm drivers. We are used to a 5.1 headset that delivers its sound via separate speakers. The A40 has just two speakers that deliver the 7.1 experience.
Our chosen game was Battlefield 3, straight away we noticed that sounds were much clearer than our long term Tritton 5.1 headset. Enemies were easy to hear and with the simulated 7.1 surround, we knew exactly where they were too.
We could also identify certain weapons that were being used elsewhere in the map. With some of the lower end headsets, most gunshots are differentiated though bass and treble levels. It can be fairly hard to distinguish some weapons from the others. The A40 brings out so much more of the game and keeps you well immersed, while giving you that edge regarding enemy location or distance. The Mixamp’s ‘Pro mode’ really helped me gauge just where the enemy soldiers were hiding, as well as accentuating their footsteps and movements.
The A40 brings out so much more of the game and keeps you well immersed, while giving you that edge regarding enemy location or distance.
To put the A40 to the test with music, we wanted to use a mixture of audio tracks. A song we focused on was Octavarium by Dream Theater. We chose this particular band because of how diverse they are in terms of instruments and musical ability. Featuring many different sounds, tempos and a very broad range of instrumental and vocal tones.
The bass is very well balanced here throughout all of the Mixamps EQ settings with no distortion of any kind, all the way up to maximum volume. Treble levels are also very nice, managing to pick up minor details in the very complex arrangement of instruments. Vocals are beautifully rendered by the drivers.
For movie use, we tested with The Expendables on Blu-ray. There was a little extra reason for this, we always have trouble hearing Sylvester Stallone’s voice if the sound levels aren’t perfect. Thankfully the vocal track was crystal clear … Stallone’s voice was no problem for the A40 to reproduce even if he does tend to mumble at the best of times.
Astro seemingly have covered all bases here with fantastic balance between the highs, mids and low frequencies. You can connect to your PC via both USB and optical, although while using the USB cable you miss out on all of the EQ settings that the Mixamp has to offer. You are left with the raw sound of the headset. If your PC doesn’t have an optical output, you may want to consider adding a sound card that does.
The ear cups did a nice job of blocking out the sound from a high powered desktop PC. The headphones are very capable at blocking out external sound – meaning you aren’t interrupted by environmental sounds close by.
This said, a lot of the audio will leak from the headset so people in the vicinity may complain, even at reasonably low volume levels. If you are looking for a headset that ensures gaming, music or movie watching doesn’t disturb those in the same room, there are better alternatives.