Astro A38 Wireless Headset Preview
In 2012, Astro Gaming released the wireless A50 headset for PC and consoles, and now the company is bringing a new wireless headset to the mobile market. The Astro A38 Wireless Headset is geared towards tablets, laptops and smartphones, and features active noise cancelling, an internal rechargeable battery, integrated playback and volume/ mute controls, as well as a built-in microphone.
The Astro A38s are definitely stylish and visually-appealing, as well as highly portable. Weighing less than half a pound, the headset comes with a hard shell case so you can throw it right into your travel bag with no worries – this is a really nice touch. The A38s easily connect to any Bluetooth device by either entering pairing mode or using the NFC (near-field communication) functionality with supported devices. The active noise cancellation works wonderfully, as it can easily drown out background noise and even people talking right next to you – it would probably be a great feature to have on a plane. For those who crave more customization, Astro offers custom speaker tags for for all of their headsets.
Interestingly, Astro is offering this beta model of the Astro A38 to the general public, at a discounted price of $119 versus $229 for the full retail release later this year. Those who purchase the beta model will be able to trade it in for $119 in credit towards any Astro product, including the retail release of the A38s. While the beta model of the Astro A38 headset already looks, feels and sounds great, beta users will be able to provide valuable feedback about their usage and general opinions which will influence the final retail release.
The Astro A38s (which come in either grey and blue or white and yellow) have fantastic sound, even in their beta form. There’s plenty of bass, and yet everything sounds clear and punchy – the fine-tuned audio drivers offer a well-balanced mix. The A38s look pretty similar to the A30s, but the padding on the ears of the A38s feels much better. It’s a totally different, leather-esque material that is incredibly comfortable when resting against your ears. Even after multiple hours of gaming or listening to music, I had very little ear fatigue.
The wireless portability and decent signal range make this a great headset for listening to music while lifting weights or running on a treadmill, or even following along to exercise videos that are playing on your tablet or tv. I tested the Astro A38 on a PlayStation Vita, iPad Mini, and a PlayStation 3 – although it’s not advertised for use on consoles, I did get it to pair up. There was a bit of audio lag when talking to friends but aside from that it’s definitely possible to use.
I noticed that the headset’s audio signal would drop out when I moved more than 15 feet away from my tablet or cell phone, though Astro informs me that the wireless range will see improvements along with the noise-cancelling mic, wireless connectivity, and volume of the speakers. The volume levels on the Astro A38 seemed good to me – I can’t imagine it getting much louder without reaching ear-damaging decibel levels. The mic clarity could also use some work, as my voice came through a bit muffled, but the team is already working on correcting this. My only other real issue with the headset is that it doesn’t extend enough to rest comfortably over my ears – it would be nice to offer a little more room, so that it isn’t pressing down so hard on the scalp and messing up your hair.
The right ear cup of the A38 houses the micro-USB port for charging, as well as volume controls. The left cup has the power/ pairing button, as well as a button for answering calls and skipping, pausing and repeating tracks. The bottom of the left ear cup offers a mute button. Astro claims that the headset can get up to 20+ hours of use (audio playback, 15 hours for chat) off of a single charge, and the headset hasn’t run out of juice on me yet. There’s no way to tell what the charge level is though, which is hopefully something that the company will improve on for the final release. So far I’m very impressed with the Astro A38s, and I’m looking forward to reviewing the full retail release in mid-to-late summer.