We’re big fans of Astro here at eTeknix, time and time again they’ve delivered absolutely jaw dropping products, and for me personally, the best of the best when it comes to gaming headsets. Their latest headset, the Astro A40 TR is their latest and greatest wired headset, while also coming paired with their premium grade MixAmp Pro TR, offering a huge amount of features and performance enhancements that will no doubt please the gaming masses, eSports teams, Twitch streamers and so many others.
“Immerse yourself in Call of Duty: Black Ops III on Xbox One with the new A40 TR + MixAmp Pro TR and the Call of Duty: Black Ops III Mod Kit. We’ve worked with both professional gamers and top audio designers to deliver pristine Dolby Headphone Surround Sound. Transform the A40 TR Headset from open-back to closed-back in moments with noise-cancelling ear cushions, a voice isolating microphone, and closed-back Speaker Tags. The MixAmp Pro TR takes absolute control, allowing you to adjust your Game:Voice balance, or use the stream output to capture your audio for livestreaming.”
To get the full Astro experience, they’ve been kind enough to supply us with one of their fantastic mod kits too. This is a completely optional addition, but it’s a prime example of how you can really make each Astro product your own. You can change backplates on the drivers, have your own made to match your team logos, or pick from the selection available on the Astro site. The Mod Kit goes one further, however, adding a new microphone, head support, ear pads and backplates, giving you a very different look for your headset of choice.
Equipped with the Mix Amp Pro, the Astro A40 TR comes with a vast amount of cool features. You can customise every input every output, the EQ, tweak streaming audio to suit your needs and your audience’s needs, and best of all, you can link multiple Astro headsets for high-quality team chat, with zero lag!
“Free ASTRO Command Center software for PC and Mac users allows the customization of every input and output, as well as the creation of your own EQ settings.” “Control what your stream audience hears, including chat and game audio levels. Broadcast in 2-channel Dolby Surround Sound.” Reads the Astro website. “Faster than the speed of sound, this fully digital connection enables interference and lag-free local voice communications.”
With high-quality components throughout, this is certainly a well spec’d headset, let’s go take a closer look at what it has to offer.
First, here’s Astro to take you through some of the innovative features of the A40 TR, Mix Amp Pro and their new Mod Kits.
The packaging is really nicely designed, with clear images of the headset and mix amp, giving off a nice premium product vibe already.
Around the back of the box, a quick breakdown of all the major features and component specifications, but we’ll take a closer look at those ourselves in a moment.
As I said before, Astro also included their completely optional, but seriously cool Mod Kit for the A40 TR. This includes a new headband padding, backplates, microphone and driver padding.
In the box, you’ll find all the usual documentation covering warranty and the setup process, although there’s also some very handy videos on the Astro YouTube channel for this, which we’ll take a look at shortly.
All of the included cables are finished to a high standard, with soft rubber tangle free coatings. There’s a long optical cable (TosLink), 4-pole 3.5mm for the headset, with in-line controller, a propriatory link cable for daisy chaining multiple Astro headsets for team chat, and a long USB cable for primary power to the Mix Amp Pro.
There’s a fully detachable microphone, with a flexible boom.
It’s finished with a very durable metal housing around the gold jack-lug, as well as a metal finish on the head.
A Closer Look
The Mix Amp Pro, now here’s a pleasant surprise, it looks like the original Mix Amp, although Astro tells us that looks are where the similarities end.
Down the front edge, you’ll find a pair of link ports, the headphone port and the aux port. This is everything you need to link multiple Mix Amps together for team chat, connect the A40 headset, and input audio from any external device such as your smartphone, mp3 player, etc.
The mixture of brilliant glossy whites and rich reds is a nice touch, certainly adds to the overall appeal. The weight of the unit is good too, helping it stay firmly in place, but even just holding it, it adds a literal weight of quality about it.
Around the back, we’ve got optical, stream and USB ports for audio input formats.
A thick rubber base prevents the unit for sliding around your desk or surface of choice.
On the top, we’ve got a huge dial for the volume, which has 180-degrees of rotation from left to right, a game and voice volume mixer, as well as EQ mode, Dolby and Standby buttons.
A Closer Look Continued
The headset its self is certainly attractive, in fact, I’ll go as far as saying it’s the best-looking headset we’ve ever had in the eTeknix office, although that much is true of every other Astro headset we’ve tested. The build quality is superb, a mixture of glossy white panel and soft silver highlights. It’s flexible too, but still feels sturdy and strong, without compromising on a relatively lightweight design.
The back of each ear cup has a backplate, each held in place with four strong magnets, allowing you to quickly remove and change the panel. The stock panels give the ear cups an open-back design, but as you’ll see with the Mod Kit, this can be changed to a closed back design.
The other backplate has an opening for the microphone mount, but as you can see above, there’s a microphone mount behind the other backplate too. Each plate can be swapped to the other side of the headset, meaning you can mount the microphone on either side, while leaving the other one covered up as normal; a nice touch!
The microphone fits very securely, but also allows you to pivot it. You can fold it up out of the way, or adjust it for the optimal speaking position.
The headband adjustment is done with this slider, allowing you to tailor the headset to the perfect fit.
There’s a good range here too, allowing younger and older games to comfortably wear the headset.
The top of the headband has two flexible bars with a smaller and removable support in the middle of them.
There’s a thick layer of padding on the other side of the central section, giving you a cosy fit over your head.
The 3.5mm cable connects to the bottom of the ear cup and the housing for the jack is metal, so is naturally quite durable too.
The padding on the ear cups is nothing short of luxury, some of the softest and best fitting I’ve ever seen.
Four magnets hold the ear cup padding in place, allowing you to easily remove it.
Since they’re removable, you can easily clean and maintain them or even replace them when they become worn out.
The memory foam padding is super soft, which provides an excellent fit over your ears while reducing a lot of pressure on your head from the headset.
Both of the ear cups can be rotated inwards, allowing the headset to rest comfortably around your neck when you need a break.
Mod Kit & Performance
The Mod Kit is certainly a cool aspect of the Astro A40 TR, as this was and still is a stunning looking headset in its stock configuration, but I must admit that these mods really take things to the next level, not just in terms of aesthetics, but also for enhancing the performance too. The headband now has more resilient soft leather coated padding, which is amazingly even more comfortable that the stock one, although that much is subjective.
Aesthetics are also highly subjective, you may like the stock white look (although there’s also a black model available), but I do love this mixture of black and green on the glossy white, it gives it a more dynamic look and it certainly stands out. What’s important to note, is that this isn’t just an aesthetics makeover. The new ear pads are leather, which provide a much closer fit around your ears, and after many hours of testing, I know they do a fantastic job of blocking a lot of external noise and this is going to pay for its self if you’re at a busy gaming event, or you have noisy kids running around the house and need a break from them (spoken from experience on both aspects). If you look closer, you’ll see some soft fabric inside the leather padding too, which gives your ears a much more comfortable place to be when wearing the headset.
The new backplates as not lacking in extra features either, as they feature a thick rubber gasket that seals the once open-back drivers to make them closed back. This further reduces your ability to hear external noise, making the A40 TR equivalent of wearing ear plugs. What it also does is prevent noise from leaking from the headset, so if there are people in the room while you’re blasting out your favourite game, they’re less likely to be bothered due to the reduced noise pollution. This closed back design has a noticeable effect on the sound quality too, as it helps tighten up the bass response, giving the A40 TR a much more pronounced low-end to the EQ, which is certainly an awesome thing to have.
The new design on the top of the head support. Overall, this is an impressive set of mods to the headset, both in terms of looks and performance. What really blows all of this out of the water, however, is the new microphone. The voice isolating microphone means that even in a noisy environment, your vocals will be the only thing your team hears, and I’ll be damned if I’ve ever used a better microphone on any headset, it really has to be heard to be believed, although that much is also true of the stock microphone, which is noticeably superior to others I’ve tested also.
The acoustic performance on the Astro A40 TR is exceptional, a well-balanced EQ at stock settings, but thanks to the fully customisable EQ, which has a very impressive range to it, as well as multiple customisable profiles that can be set to the Mix Amp Pro, it’s a cut above the competition. The bass is rich and detailed, the highs are bright and accurate and that’s an unmatched level of warmth and detail to the mids. The Astro A40 excels with any audio source, be that movies, music or gaming and you’ll be happy to use it for everything, not just the latter.
What does surprise me even further is how well the Dolby features work. Surround can be tricky for a lot of headsets with a 2.0 configuration, but the positional audio here is flawless, although that much is true of quite a few headsets in this price range; you simply get the quality you’re paying for in terms of signal processing. Fortunately, for those of you who streaming your games and audio on services like Twitch, your viewers also reap the rewards of getting a Dolby signal too, so that’s certainly an attractive benefit for those who like to provide the best experience for their viewers. Furthermore, you can tailor exactly what your viewers hear, mix the volumes for them via the Astro interface and Mix Amp and more; that much in its self makes this essential for those who stream their content.
With or without the Mod Kit, this is a great headset, but if you’re going to be competing, or gaming in any busy and noisy environment such as a LAN gaming arena, the Mod Kit is vital. It takes an amazing headset and fine tunes it to perfection for eSports.
Going back a few steps, if you’re interested in seeing how this setup is configured, here are two setup videos courtesy of Astro; one for PC and one for Xbox One. We’ve tested the headset on both and found results to be consistent on both.
Finally, once connected, the Mix Amp Pro lights up nicely, giving you clear view of where the power button is, the Dolby mode and four small LEDs help indicate which EQ profile you have selected.
The Astro A40 TR Headset with Mix Amp Pro is available from the Astro store for £200, while the optional A40 TR Mod Kit is available in BLOPS3 and Green formats for £48 on its own, that’s a total of £248, which isn’t cheap I know, but you’re not going to find anything better for less and certainly get a level of quality and features that justify the price.
Once again I’m blown away with the quality and performance that Astro can deliver. The Astro A40 is one of my all time favourite headsets, but the TR upgrade, as well as the addition of the Mod Kit accessories, have taken an already fantastic product to new heights. I will always buy a headset for the best sound quality before I pay any attention to its design, but Astro has mastered both beautifully. The overall design is certainly appealing, Astro make some of the best-looking headsets on the market. Add to that the huge range of backplates, including custom-made ones, as well as the Mod Kits, and you’re sure to find something you love.
The drivers are loud, powerful, detailed and distortion free no matter what you through at them. The advanced EQ features are certainly something to commend, but the stock out-of-the-box settings are good enough that I doubt many would even want to look at the more advanced features. Movies sound amazing, especially with the Dolby enabled, music sound rich and detailed and gaming is given new life that will help you get even more involved with your favourite digital universe.
The microphone performance is fantastic, natural tones and good noise cancellation are standard, making it great for team chat when gaming on any compatible device, but just as adept for Skype calls, Twitch streaming and more. The Mod Kit headphone performs even better in a noisy environment, but since you can unplug and attach whichever one you need, it’s easy to tailor it in seconds.
Mix Amp Pro is a huge advantage over most other headsets, giving you great control over sound mixing and EQ with relative ease. What really stands out, however, is the connectivity options. You can hook up audio from AUX, optical and USB, making it widely compatible with Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and desktop systems with minimal fuss in terms of setup and configuration. Add to that the fact that you can daisy-chain multiple Astro Mix Amp Pros for lag-free, high-quality audio, all individually EQ’d and mixed and ready for team gameplay and streaming.
Overall, the Astro A40 TR, the Mix Amp Pro and the Mod Kit, are examples of why the retail price is almost £250. You get so many features and lots of customisation for your money that I can’t help but feel this package is still excellent value for money.
- Exceptional sound quality
- Advanced streaming features
- Multi-format support
- Easy to set up and use
- High-quality and lag free link for multiple headsets
- Custom EQ settings
- Dolby surround that actually works
- Customisable design
- Excellent build quality and design
“Astro continues to dominate the high-end gaming headset market and the A40 TR is one of their best yet. If you need features and performance than can not only make your own gaming experience more enjoyable, but also bring tangible benefits for steaming and team play, then you’ll want this setup at the top of your shopping list.”
Thank you Astro for providing us with this sample.