Astro A40 Chat Headset ReviewS

The Astro A40 is the premier chat-ready 5.1 surround sound gaming headset on the market, compatible with Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. But unlike the Turtle Beach X41, it's wired.

Price

$250 with mixamp needed to combine chatting and surround sound.

Verdict

I still vastly prefer the convenience of Turtle Beach's wireless X41 headset, but I have to admit, the Astro A40 sounds better.

Astro A40 Chat Headset ReviewS

Playing Borderlands, everything from the growls of skaggs to the cadence of machine gun fire sounded richer and rounder on the A40s than my X41s. Maybe the sounds weren't always as distinct, but especially when cranking the volume on each headset, I realized the general listenability—the whole package of sound—was more pleasant with Atro's product, making me long for hearing loss. It's a difference in mid range that, while not absolutely Earth-shattering, will probably be noticeable to most in a side-by-side test.

Both headsets have extremely similar sound localization. And chatting, on both, is an equal joy.

But there's one, huge, horrible, despicable Achilles' heel to the Astro A40s. To connect the headset to an Xbox 360 (or PS3/PC), wires will invade your entire living room because the console needs to plug twice into a mixamp (the big, retro box you see in the lead photo), then the mixamp connects your headphones and controller. That's confusing, I know. Here's the full workflow:

Xbox 360 optical out and USB cord => A40 Mixamp => Headphones/Mic and Xbox 360 controller.

Astro A40 Chat Headset ReviewS

Ultimately, not only are you negotiating four wires for this one headset, but you'll still be tethered close to your console because of one, generally short/inflexible wire: the optical cord from your Xbox to the Mixamp (you can always opt for stereo plugs, but that sort of spoils the fun).

So while I knew the A40s sounded a bit better than my X41s, I couldn't kick back and enjoy the game in the same way. For one long cord or tight quarters PC gaming, I might opt for the A40s. For four cords sprawled across my living room, I'm sticking with the X41s—especially since they're $50+ less.

Maybe you'll feel differently.

Astro A40 Chat Headset Review

Excellent sound

Astro A40 Chat Headset Review

Headphones work with any 3.5mm source, too

Astro A40 Chat Headset Review

Wiring gets obnoxious