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The NEW Gaming Headset/Headphone Topic! (REQUEST STICKY PLZ) - Page 167

post #4981 of 5440
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raven Crimson View Post

Sorry, I'm more active on the thread at Head-fi.
Yes, I've used the A50s... I don't like them. Quite disappointed. I think the SLYR sounds considerably better, and costs a fraction of the price. That poor sound quality for a high price, it doesn't match. Don't make that mistake... DO NOT sacrifice that much SQ for wireless. Just mediocre.
However, I really like the new A40s and the new Mixamp. Like, REALLY like them. I don't think they're as good as the PC360s, but for an all in one solution, the A40 bundle is pretty damn great. I like them more than the PC360 for music and movies. For gaming though, the PC360s have a comfortable lead in positioning, soundstage, and balance. That's what happens when you pit a closed headset to an open one. Yes, the A40's tags can be removed, but they still sound the same, tags or not.
The SLYR review comes first, then the A50s, and finally the A40+Mixamp 2013 edition.


Thanks. I dont want to give up a lot for wireless. The way you make it sound is that I will be. I have no interest in the A40's since they are wired. If I were to change it would be to a wireless headset. Looks like I'll be waiting a little longer. Nothing I like on the wireless end and I got tired of buying and returning headsets.
post #4982 of 5440
The best trade off would be the Mixamp 5.8... but Astro got rid of it, sadly.

Tested the A40s through my 5.8 vs the A50... it was a very clear victory for the A40s. The 5.8 was a fantastic device. A shame.
post #4983 of 5440
I love my pc360 and 5.8 mixamp combo. Haven't found something better. Just wish the wires were shorter
post #4984 of 5440
As someone who has tried all of the following above solutions, in a back to back comparison, I would have to agree with the last few posts and rank the following in terms of sound quality & overall execution:

1) 5.8 mixamp + PC360
2) 5.8 mixamp + A40
3) A50

The A50 has less cabling to deal with, but is NOT truly wireless. Trust that one cable to tethered to the controller will get annoying. None of the A50's 3 presets provide the same accurate, fullness and soundstage as the 5.8 mixamp choices. Its controls are nowhere as visual/tactile/analog as the mixamp ones are. Its a purely digital setup that doesnt provide enough adjustment/feedback in my opinion.
The A40 + mixamp combo has a BUNCH of cables, but should satisfy any gaming need on the 360.
The PC360 + mixamp combo EVEN MORE cables, but should satisfy any gaming/music/movie/general sound need that can be accomplished with a open headset.

If you need a closed headset or just a headphone.. then you would be better off looking elsewhere. But for the vast majority of gamers, these solutions work well enough. A few other notes I'd like to remind headset newbs about:

*If you are looking for a pure wireless headset. Try the $180 TB XP400 before you try ANYTHING else. Then compare it to more expensive wireless solutions if you wish. Good luck with finding a better one!
*The 5.8mixamp seems to be a thing of the past. Astro doesnt sell it anymore from what I can see, so if you find one used. Make sure it still works, get some extra 2.5 to 2.5mm male/male cables cheap off Amazon and keep it FOREVER.
*if you have/find a mixamp. Then you will get a better overall solution buying the PC360 headset to use with it, than buy buying the A40 headset ala carte. I like the A40headset, but the PC360 is a little bit better in almost every way I can of. PC360's have been as cheap as $160 on Amazon, I paid $180 for mine off Amazon just to "try" them. And ended up keeping them. They work that well, that my A40's have finally been retired!
Edited by Daekwan - 12/19/12 at 9:08am
post #4985 of 5440
^I NEVER thought I'd ever hear those words from you. EVER.
post #4986 of 5440
FYI - Best Buy has the Turtle Beach XP500's for $169.99 (originial price is $269.99)
post #4987 of 5440
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daekwan View Post

The A50 has less cabling to deal with, but is NOT truly wireless. Trust that one cable to tethered to the controller will get annoying.
Does the 360 block using the USB port for chat, or is that just a Mixamp limitation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daekwan View Post

*If you are looking for a pure wireless headset. Try the $180 TB XP400 before you try ANYTHING else. Then compare it to more expensive wireless solutions if you wish. Good luck with finding a better one!
I'm tempted to try the XP400, but it doesn't have a headphone out like the XP500/PX5 does, right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daekwan View Post

*The 5.8mixamp seems to be a thing of the past. Astro doesnt sell it anymore from what I can see, so if you find one used. Make sure it still works, get some extra 2.5 to 2.5mm male/male cables cheap off Amazon and keep it FOREVER.
They still sell the 5.8 Mixamp as a wireless A30 bundle for $229, but that's it.
post #4988 of 5440
By the way, Astro is now selling the standalone Mixamp Pro 2013
post #4989 of 5440
The newer 5.8 mixamp I believe now stay on even when the receiver is off. Might be worth it not to get my lazy ass off the recliner. Package my older 5.8 with A30 and just sell it get back some costs.
Edited by emartins - 12/20/12 at 11:50am
post #4990 of 5440
I don't ever turn my 5.8 TX off....ever. Never had one issue with it. Don't see why anyone would go through the trouble of getting it replaced just so the optical out works when the TX is off. The TX doesn't draw much power, and the Rx unit has it's own power button.
post #4991 of 5440
Mine will turn off after a certain amount of time of no activity. It's not the power consumption of the device I care about. It's the fact that if I want to play I have to get up to turn in the Tx.
post #4992 of 5440
FINISHED (hopefully). Taken off my guide at Head-fi, obviously...

http://www.head-fi.org/t/534479/mad-lust-envys-headphone-gaming-guide-updated-12-21-12-skullcandy-slyr-reviewed
Quote:
Skullcandy Slyr (*headset*)
http://www.skullcandy.com/shop/slyr-black-yellow

700

Sells for $79.95
Review (Click to show)
Before I get started, I really want to thank Skullcandy for getting in contact with me and giving me the chance to review the SLYR, as well as the A40+Mixamp 2013 Edition, and A50s on their Astrogaming side.... They have been very communicative, and understanding. Can't thank them enough.

I'm sure that pretty much anyone interested in headphones know the Skullcandy brand. Their name is instantly recognizable, and their headphones can be found in many stores, ranging from their very entry level headphones, to their higher end Aviator and Mix Master headphones. They do not have a shortage of headphones, and as such, have been the target of a lot of criticism for not catering to audiophiles but to the domestic market. Personally, I can easily say that I do not have a lot of experience with Skullcandy products. My first pair of Skullcandy headphones were a pair of Ink'd IEMs that I bought ages ago loved. I didn't know a thing about headphones back then, but I do remember liking their sound signature, and their cheap price. The next product I had some time with was the Lowriders...a PINK pair, I had bought for my then girlfriend, hahaha. I have never been a fan of on ear headphones, and the Lowriders couldn't stay on my head. I honestly couldn't tell you if they were halfway decent or not. I have a slippery dome it seems, lol. I wasn't exactly pleased with them, and their build quality was quite lacking from what I'm used to today, but they were very inexpensive, and my girlfriend liked them well enough.

Anyways, my point is, I don't have a bias for OR against Skullcandy. What I DO know is that they have made great strides in improving their line and becoming more serious about the quality of their products. I can surely appreciate any company doing that. With the arrival of the SLYR, PLYR, and PLYR2 (with help from Astrogaming, which is well known in the gaming community, and which they now own), it's hard to not be curious about what Skullcandy has up their sleeves for us gamers.

So I'm approaching these headphones with a completely open mind. Okay, maybe not completely open. I do have ONE bias: I don't expect much from headsets. With as many headphones as I have owned and tested, gaming headsets have been, for the most part, disappointing. Save for the Sennheiser PC360 (which remains the best headset I have used, and still among the best competitively even among the amazing headphones I have owned), the next best headset for me was the Tritton AX720 which was decent, but not 'good' overall. They are excused as they come with a Dolby Headphone decoder box which more than makes up for their lack of pure sound quality. Everything else was borderline forgivable to 'blegh'. So, with that bad taste in headsets overall, the SLYR had an uphill battle, and that's before I even opened the package. Still, I was excited.

Hmm, the Skullcandy SLYR (pronounced Slayer). Upon opening the package and taking them out, I was still neutral. They were unassuming, and relatively stealthy in a dominantly matte black finish with sort of yellow/green 'windows' on the cups. From what I have seen of earlier Skullcandy designs, they tend to be fashion statements, with lots of urban/street flavors, etc. The SLYR is humble looking in comparison. I actually like this. I tend to prefer a more classy approach to my headphones, rather than ones that scream at you. The SLYR still has an edgy design to them with sharp angles, but it's not 'loud'. It's hip for the younger kids, but still reserved enough for adults.

So that was my first impression on looks. Looks are not my top priority in a headphone. Comfort and sound first. How did they fare? Well, as soon as I put them on, I immediately thought: "Crap, these are on ear." I'm not a fan of on ears. Still, the pads were very soft, and they weren't pleather. Things I DEMAND in a headphone nowadays. I absolutely avoid pleather/leather like a plague. Then I realized, with a little bit of adjusting, the SLYR is actually circumaural/over ear! YES! Very happy about that. Certainly not the biggest cups, but they did fit my ears well enough (bigger openings than the Creative Aurvana Live, and much deeper pads). The SLYR is off too a good start, and I haven't even heard them yet.

As with every headphone I buy, my first listening test is ALWAYS music. Gaming comes later. I fired up some songs, let my ears adjust to their sound signature and soon after, I knew; Skullcandy meant business. These don't just sound like a good headset. They sound like a good headphone. PERIOD. I absolutely did not expect this sound coming from an $80 headset. The first thing that I immediately noticed was the balance between the bass, mids, and treble. I am not exaggerating in saying that headphones costing 3x the price of the SLYR can't manage to find such a great balance between fun and balance the way the SLYR does. I mean it. With the Sennheiser PC360, you get a really good and overall neutral-ish tonal balance, with not much sticking out of place, but not being exciting tonally. The SLYR on the other hand manages to sound balanced, with the right amount of bass emphasis and energy to make them exciting. They are forward sounding headphones, with not a hint of boredom in it anywhere. The Creative Aurvana Live sounds considerably more reserved in direct comparison, darker, and warmer. (which I had on hand at the time of review). While the CAL was still more refined overall, I have to say, I preferred the sonic signature of the SLYR. It was immediately more engaging and exciting. The SLYR isn't the fullest sounding headphone I've heard, nor the most refined, but they definitely got the balance right for my ears.

Bass: To be honest, I expected to have more bass than they did. I expected bloated bass. Bass that gets in the way of detail. This is NOT what I got. Instead, I got punchy, impactful, energetic bass that is quite present, but never overwhelming. It also has good speed and decay. Quite impressed with the SLYR's bass. A very good start. If I had to give the bass a quantity, I'd give them an 8. Plenty of bass for me. Not perfectly in line with mids and treble, but it's a GOOD emphasis.

Mids: I'm used to v-shaped curves, with bass and treble emphasis, and recessed mids. Yet, the SLYR has some pretty up front mids next to the typical v shaped can. Can't pinpoint if it's the smaller soundstage, or just the mids in general, but they certainly weren't what I consider really recessed. Maybe just slightly so next to the bass, but I'd say they're pretty in line with the treble. They are pretty forward in the sense that vocals are near you basically at all times unless a song purposely mixes them further back.

Treble: You either expect dull, veiled treble, or treble that is too sharp, too spiky, too peaky. Again, the SLYR surprises in it's sonic characteristics. The treble is energetic, but it's not harsh. It's very close in balance to the mids for me. It is RARE for treble to be in the safe zone between too soft, and too harsh. The SLYR is DEFINITELY in that safe zone. I honestly wish the DT990's treble had a similar line. That's right.

Amping: As to be expected, the SLYR is a very efficient headphone, and I didn't feel they needed any extra amping.


Soundstage: This is definitely the only aspect of their sound that I was personally not entirely happy with. Part of it is because I'm grown so accustomed to open headphones, with an airy, wide/deep soundstage, and going back to a closed headphone's soundstage and typical closed headphone signature is a bit jarring. After getting used to the closed headphone sound, I'd still say the SLYR's weakest aspect is the soundstage. It's relatively small even comparing other closed headphones. I have VERY little experience with closed headphones, and I feel that out of the few I have on this guide, the SLYR is near the bottom in terms of soundstage. Thankfully, everything else is so good, so this drawback doesn't hurt as much. Still, it is small, and everything sounds pretty packed together next to other headphones in direct comparison like the CAL and A40s (the two main headphones I had on hand).

Positioning: Now that we're getting into the gaming side of this review, the first thing to discuss is positioning. Since I feel that positioning is very dependent on soundstage, I feel they did suffer just slightly compared to my faves. That is the nature of closed headphones (with the exception of the D7000, and DT770s which have some truly large soundstages for closed headphones), and the Pro 900 which, with the aid of S-Logic helps give a sense of depth not typically found on closed headphones, though not by much. The SLYR does place positional cues properly around you, though with the lack of soundstage, there isn't much space between you and the virtual space to make pinpointing easy. Still, it does a good job. Not great. I was able to dominate pretty easily in Call of Duty 4, and didn't feel lie I was at all hampered by the SLYR's positional cues. I didn't feel like they gave me a huge advantage compared to some of my fave headphones, but they did their job well. Again, good. Bear in mind, the SLYR was definitely marketed as a stereo headset with a mixer that plugs into RCA cables. I'm fairly certain that those who play in stereo will have VERY little to complain about.

Clarity: The SLYR is a warm headphone, but with enough crispness to say that they are plenty detailed for gaming. The closed design hurts clarity again only compared to open headphones like the PC360 and K701. As a closed headphone, I found them to have a nice balance between fun and detail-whoring, so I'd say that if I had to rate clarity separately, they'd get a 7 (good). I doubt there will be any complaints about clarity, especially at their price range.

Comfort: Pads? Soft, deep, comfy velour. They could definitely be bigger as larger ears MIGHT make these on ear ear headphones. Clamp? Not too loose, not too firm. I find them just right. Weight? Very light. Check. They stay relatively in place at all times, with not a lot of readjusting needed. A huge win here.

Microphone: The microphone is permanently affixed to the SLYR, but like the PC360, you swing it upwards. Unlike the PC360, the mic on the SLYR tucks away nicely into the cup, and is relatively well hidden when not in use. it's also small, but sensitive enough to pick up my voice quite easily. My voice came through clearly on my PS3 device settings, so I have very little to say about it, other than it does it's job well. It may be just a little too sensitive for my setup, as I have a large, noisy fan near me, and the mic picks it up unless I sit further back than what I'm used to. Still, that shouldn't be an issue for most people.

Build Quality: The SLYR is made out of all plastic. The plastic feels sturdy enough for my taste, somewhat reminiscent of the PC360 plastic. I have more faith in tossing these around than I would the Creative Aurvana Live. Assuming you're not abusing the hell out of the SLYR, I don't see these breaking with normal use.

Accessoriers: The SLYR comes with a stereo mixer. Think of it as a stereo alternative to the Mixamp, with the ability to mix voice/game audio at your desired levels, with three different EQ presets. One bass heavy, one flat, and the other treble heavy. I personally don't have much use for the Mixer since I own the Mixamp and prefer gaming in Dolby Headphone surround, but I did test the mixer and found the presets to work relatively well, and the mixer to also work pretty well in mixing game and voice without a lot of distortion. If anything, the closest alternative to this Mixer is the Steelseries Spectrum Audio Mixer, which retails for $40 and is for the 360. The SLYR's mixer works for both the 360 and PS3 (as well as PC). I didn't find a need for the EQ presets as the SLYR already has such an agreeable sound signature.

The Mixer has a very lengthy cable terminated in RCA jacks with piggyback female inputs. The Mixer is powered by a standard USB plug, and comes with a 3.5mm input for ANY headphone, as well as the 2.5mm input for the 360's controller for chat audio. The SLYR comes with a detachable 3.5mm male/male cable (a bit on the short side, IMHO) that carries chat audio. You can indeed use your own 3.5mm male/male standard audio cables, though the entry on the headset side may not accommodate thicker plugs. I found that the CAL's extension cable fit, but the first gen Astro 3.5mm cables didn't. I used the CAL's extension on the headset side, and my own 3.5mm male/male cables on the female end of the CAL's extension cable when using the SLYR for music on my main headphone setup (non-gaming). Basically, you will want cables with thin 3.5mm plugs if you want a lengthy cable for the SLYR. I don't know where to get lengthy ones that also carry voice audio, unfortunately.

Value: $80 gets you a damn good headphone that just so happens to actually be a headset. Convenience, comfort, and a relatively forward, engaging, and still balanced tone makes the SLYR the very first headset in the sub-$100 bracket that I recommend to anyone who absolutely needs a headset.

Final Impressions: While the SLYR isn't perfect, and aren't as refined as to what I'm personally used to (hello "Head-fi standards"), I must say that even with my higher end tastes, I really, REALLY like the SLYR from the sound, all the way to the comfort. These are great for music, great for fun gaming, and good enough for competitive use. Skullcandy's first serious gaming headset gets a solid B from me, and have made me a true believer. I can't wait to see what else Skullcandy has up their sleeve. If their $80 headset is this good, I have high hopes for their higher end models. One last thing that you will want to know: I prefer the SLYR over the A50s.

Final Scores...

Fun: 7.5 (Very good. They really did a great job in finding a great balance between fun and balance. Very impressive for this price)

Competitive: 7 (Good. They absolutely do their job. I'd say stereo gamers will particularly love them, kind of like how I personally see the M50s if a little better in terms of positional cues. For us virtual surround gamers, I'd still say they are worth looking into if you absolutely need a headset.)

Comfort: 7.5 (Very good. Those with larger ears may have to use them as on ear as mentioned before, though they are still comfy in that way.)

Edited by Raven Crimson - 12/27/12 at 11:03pm
post #4993 of 5440
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raven Crimson View Post

^I NEVER thought I'd ever hear those words from you. EVER.

+1, the Tritton Warheads must have been an epic fail!

I have gone back & forth trying both the PC 360s and astro A40s with these different surround processors w/voice chat support for the last several years

- Original Astro Mixamp
- Astro 5.8 wireless
- Sound Blaster Recon3D
- Astro Mixamp 2013 edition

I have also compared both the legacy and 2013 a40 headsets. I've done extensive reviews on all of these in this and the previous thread.

Daekwan's right, in terns of sound and convenience the PC360 + 5.8 mixamp combo is still hands down the best. One could say that for full sound and low-end, the 2013 a40s may sound better overall, but I simply cannot find a way to make those things comfortable for extended play sessions. Also since you can find the Senns on sale frequently at $200 or less, I can't recommend the a40s as a standalone purchase.

However, if you can deal with the wires and the a40s don't start giving you a headache after a few hours of play, the 2013 mixamp a40 combo is perfect for gaming and more than you'll ever need.

If you have to go wireless, get the a30 wireless combo that astro still sells with the mixamp 5.8, sell the a30s and put that towards the PC360s and call it a day ;-)

I will say if you don't need the console voice chat (single player gaming) or do alot of PC gaming the SB Recond3D is actually a good choice. Unfortunately there are just too many issues with the voice chat mixing on Xbox live to recommend it for multiplayer gaming (although it works better on the PS3 oddly enough).

I still find myself going back to the PC360/5.8 combo...too convenient, sounds great and it just works!
post #4994 of 5440
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gage33 View Post

By the way, Astro is now selling the standalone Mixamp Pro 2013

I recently bought the Tritton ax-720+......Am I missing out on anything with the Astro40 mixamp now available as a standalone? It sounds like the Astro has a better reputation.
post #4995 of 5440
Quote:
Originally Posted by pfalvey View Post

I recently bought the Tritton ax-720+......Am I missing out on anything with the Astro40 mixamp now available as a standalone? It sounds like the Astro has a better reputation.

Unless you want to use your own set of cans, there's nothing wrong with the ax720s. Not worth justifying the cost of the mixamp if you are perfectly happy with the ax720 headset. The control box that comes with the ax720 does the same dolby headphone surround processing that the mixamp does, so you aren't missing out on anything unless you really want to use a different headset.

In fact I think the 720 decoder box may support using a different headset, but I only used it for a short time over a year ago so I can't attest to that...can't find anything on the website. Maybe someone else that has one can chime in on that...

EDIT: Yep, here is a youtube vid of a guy that hooked up a TB HPX with the 720 decoder box, pretty good setup:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17AfgfSdjtk
post #4996 of 5440
Is there a way to hook up a Wii to the 2013 Mixamp Pro? My TV does not pass out optical from component inputs so that is not an option. Can I convert the RCA audio to 3.55mm male and plug it in somewhere in the Mixamp like the MP3 input? Would I still get the surround effect from that input (Wii does DPL). The old Mixamp had RCA inputs but they dropped it on the 2013 model. Someone on the astro forum suggested converting the RCAs to 3.55mm and plug it into the optical input of the Mixamp. That does not sound right to me.
post #4997 of 5440
You're out of luck with the Wii, unless you buy an analog to digital converter.

http://www.amazon.com/Menotek-Analog-Audio-Digital-Converter/dp/B0045UWXB0/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1356374925&sr=8-3&keywords=analog+to+digital+converter
Edited by Raven Crimson - 12/24/12 at 10:53am
post #4998 of 5440
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raven Crimson View Post

You're out of luck with the Wii, unless you buy an analog to digital converter.
http://www.amazon.com/Menotek-Analog-Audio-Digital-Converter/dp/B0045UWXB0/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1356374925&sr=8-3&keywords=analog+to+digital+converter

Actually as a test I plugged my iPad into the optical port like the guy on the forums mentioned using the provided 3.55mm cable provided and it worked. Maybe this port is dual use? Weird.
post #4999 of 5440
Given that review, I think I'm gonna go ahead and give the wireless plyr 2 set a chance.
post #5000 of 5440
Wait a minute. The PLYR is wireless? Completely wireless? And 360 compatible????

Why am I just now finding this out?
post #5001 of 5440
The SLYR is the wired one. PLYR 2 is wireless stereo, PLYR 1 is wireless dolby, doesn't come out till march though.

It's a pretty safe assumption they all sound basically the same.
post #5002 of 5440
The PLYR2 is wireless stereo, but the base station has a 3.5mm input, so it can be hooked up to something like the Mixamp for DH. Had I known that, I would have asked Skullcandy to send me that one instead.
post #5003 of 5440
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raven Crimson View Post

The PLYR2 is wireless stereo, but the base station has a 3.5mm input, so it can be hooked up to something like the Mixamp for DH. Had I known that, I would have asked Skullcandy to send me that one instead.

Yup. My receiver does DH, so I'm set. Can't wait to give them a try.

I just bought a skullcandy headset: words I never thought I'd say. But I can't lie, they look killer, and hopefully sound just as good.
post #5004 of 5440
I need more info on the PLYR 2. Skullcandy's site is horrible as far as actual product information and pictures. Here's two pictures of the headset, buy now! Anyway, you're saying that it will accept a DH signal from another source, like a receiver. That would be cool. Also, what kind of batteries does it take?

When you get yours be sure to post up a quick review. I'm also curious what you think of the comfort level on these. They look big, but again, their pictures don't give anything as a reference.
post #5005 of 5440
Quote:
Originally Posted by bbexperience View Post

I need more info on the PLYR 2. Skullcandy's site is horrible as far as actual product information and pictures. Here's two pictures of the headset, buy now! Anyway, you're saying that it will accept a DH signal from another source, like a receiver. That would be cool. Also, what kind of batteries does it take?
When you get yours be sure to post up a quick review. I'm also curious what you think of the comfort level on these. They look big, but again, their pictures don't give anything as a reference.

Well, any wireless headset with a 3.5mm stereo input will work that way, you just use the headphone jack on the front of the receiver like any normal set of headphones. DH is just 5.1 processed into standard 2 channel stereo, its not really a special signal.

The battery is non-replaceable and built in to my understanding. So kind of a negative, but preferable to having to swap rechargeable AAs IMO. I use a headset only 20%ish of the time I play, so I'm personally not worried about longevity.

They shipped today so I should have them early next week.

Raven, did the SLYR have sidetone/voice monitoring on the mic? I can't find anything about it one way or another.
post #5006 of 5440
Hmm, Not sure. Perhaps with the Mixer, but I've been using it with the Mixamp 5.8, which doesn't really...

In any case, here's one you guys might be interested in... (not fully complete, but the this is the gist of it).
Quote:
Astro A50 (*wireless headset*)
http://www.astrogaming.com/a50-wireless-system

700

Sells for $300

THIS REVIEW IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION!
Review (Click to show)
Before I get started, I really want to thank Skullcandy for getting in contact with me and giving me the chance to review the SLYR, as well as the A40+Mixamp 2013 Edition, and A50s on their Astrogaming side.... They have been very communicative, and understanding. Can't thank them enough.

The Astro A50s. The first venture into fully wireless headsets for Astrogaming. Prior to the A50's inception, Astro released the discontinued, rare, and very sought out Mixamp 5.8. The Mixamp 5.8's main selling point was that any standard headphone or headset terminated with a 3.5mm plug could be attached to the Rx unit (receiver), essentially making them wireless. As you guys may know, I'm a humongous fan of the Mixamp 5.8, and it remains as my main gaming device when using my audiophile headphones. While it wasn't truly wireless (you still have your own headphone's wires to deal with), it did remove the tether always necessary between the console and yourself in wired setups, making it a more elegant, and cleaner solution than anything else before.

Unfortunately, Astro didn't find the Mixamp 5.8 to be a big seller, and sought out other solutions. This is rather unfortunate, as with more improvement and functionality, future iterations of the Mixamp 5.8 could have been a huge success in my eyes. Ah well, them's the breaks. So now Astro steered their focus away from the 5.8 and towards fully wireless headsets, the first being the Astro A50s.

Upon opening the freshly designed package, you are greeted with the A50, the transmitter (that shares the same body as the Mixamp 5.8's Tx unit, though different inputs/functionality), parts of a headphone stand (which is VERY nice of Astro to supply), and the necessary cables (which I will edit into this review later, as I have a mess of cables from 3 products at the moment).

Now onto the headset itself. Upon first listen, I was immediately attacked by a relentless assault of bass. Seriously, it absolutely surprised the hell out of me. My prior experience with an Astro headset was the first gen A40s, which was anything but bassy. For a $300 headset, I EXPECTED a well balanced, competitive oriented headset with nowhere near as much bass as the A50s have. In truth, I was quite put off by it.

The A50 has 3 presets:

Preset 1: Bass heavy.
Preset 2. Balanced/flat,
Preset 3: Enhanced details (not sure if EQ-ed for less bass, or added mids and treble)

In reality it sounded more like:

1. Boomy, muddy, and completely useless.
2. Boomy, and veiled
3. Bassy with extra detail

No, I'm not kidding. I found the only preset worth using was Preset 3, which wasn't bass light to begin with, but at least I could actually hear the details, and it was quite decent sounding, though ultimately catering more towards fun than competitive, and not exactly sounding balanced. It's honestly not even worth mentioning the other two in this review past this point, because quite frankly, they're quite terrible sounding. In my future review of the Astro A40s (w/Mixamp 2013 Edition), you can see Astro's presets CAN be useful and maintain some clarity. Just...not here.

I'm not even sure whether to fault the presets, the fact that it's wireless, or if it's the A50's drivers themselves. I plugged in the transmitter to my PC in which the transmitter functions as a USB dac/amp (as well as microphone). The presets as well as Dolby Headphone are disabled, allowing you to hear the drivers work at their most natural state. Well, it seems to be the drivers. They are quite bassy. I am quite literally confused as to why Astro decided to use such bassy drivers for their most expensive gaming headset.

The A50s weren't down for the count yet, though. While 2 of the three presets left a really bad taste in my mouth, I still had one functional preset. Firing up CoD4 (and later on MW2) revealed that the A50s were decent gaming performers albeit on the disappointing side in terms of sound quality. It does perform fine when getting down to the nitty gritty, with a little more bass than I'd prefer out of competitive gaming cans. While the audio quality isn't great, positional cues and details were decent to good. The problem is that it's a closed headset, and everything sounds congested. The A40s sound more open, airy, and balanced, even with the speaker tags on. As far as the wireless capabilities, I find it to be great, where it takes quite a bit of distance for the A50's to drop the audio. I didn't notice and snap, crackles, or pops, nor did I get any hiss until you crank the volume quite a bit past the point where I'd say it's humanly necessary.

I'll get to the specifics in the break down.



Build Quality: The Astro A50 shares the same body and aesthetic design of the A40s, which is to say, they look/feel great for a headset. There are a few key differences from the A40s.

1. The microphone is permanently affixed to the left earcup. The A40's is removable.
2. The cups are closed, and unlike the A40s, can't be removed for a semi-open design. They are now fully closed.
3. The right cup can be pressed on the sides to adjust voice/game volume, similar to the Mixamp's voice/game knob, with the exception that it's two hidden buttons you press, not turn.
4. On the rear of the right cup is where the power button, preset slider (EQ), and volume adjustment is placed.
5. On the rear of the left cup is where the mini usb input (for charging), and the 2.5mm controller input (for the 360 controller) is placed.

Build-wise, I felt the parts used were pretty high quality. Astro made a pretty reliable looking headset here. Nothing looks or feels cheap. The plastic used looks high-grade, and looks like it can take a beating. I'd still handle it with care, however. The only area of 'weakness' that I'd be wary of, is the headband padding piece which sort of 'floats' in the center of the headband. Doesn't look like it'd be a problem, but it's the only area I can see that would probably be the first to give out with rough treatment.

The A50s swivel inward, so you can lay them flat if you need a breather. I find them very comfy letting them rest on my shoulders/neck area, which is rare compared to the vast majority of audiophile headphones which have huge cups, won't swivel, etc.


Comfort: I must have a ginormous head, as I have to wear the A50's fully extended. That, or they don't have enough give. On the opposite side of the size spectrum, the PC360 has enough extension to fit the head of a giant. I wish more headphones allowed that much freedom in size. The A40/A50 is comfortable, but they are at their limit with my head. It could use just a bit more extension, in my opinion.

The pads are made of cloth/velour-like material, which is to say, they are quite comfy to my ears, and won't be heat building/sweat-inducing like typical pleather. I've felt better, but they do their job well.


Microphone: While I'm not too experienced with microphones, I didn't have any issues with my tests. It picks up my voice well. The microphone is long, pliable, and one of the better mics I have used. I don't see anyone having issues with this mic.


Accessories: (will be added at a later date).


Isolation/Leakage: In terms of letting sound in/out, I find the A50s to perform...decently. I do hear a fair amount of leakage, so I wouldn't crank these loudly if someone is near me sleeping. As far as keeping external noise out, I found that while using the A50s, it did a decent job overall. I wasn't truly bothered by external noise, though it's not particularly great at it.


Bass: As mentioned earlier, the bass is overly emphasized and boomy for a high-end headset. It's enjoyable on the bass light preset, but ultimately too strong to truly make this headset compete with the other, more balanced headsets like the PC360, SLYR, AX720, and Astro's own A40s. On the flat and bass heavy presets, the bass is loose, boomy, and sloppy. It mucks up the detail quite heavily, making the presets worthless.


Mids: Due to the heavy bass emphasis, mids are drowned out a bit. The mids are distant, but not lost. For the purpose of gaming, the mids are fine, but ultimately not forward. The bass light preset brings out the mids a bit more, which is helpful.


Treble: With the good preset, treble is crisp and bright. It can get sibilant, but not many instances where I see treble being problematic. The natural sound of the A50s don't have much treble to begin with.


Soundstage: Somewhat closed in. It's not going to win anyone over based on size.


Positioning: Due to the closed sound, and not so large a soundstage, positioning isn't great, but it's not bad. It's passable, and sometimes even good.


Amping: No possibility of being amped, as the transmitter can only take a digital signal, with no way to attach an amp. The A50 is fairly sensitive in either case.


Value: This one isn't hard. It's $300. That's a hard number to swallow. The main benefit of the A50 is that it's wireless. You do get everything you'll ever want in one headset, but sound quality is clearly lacking. I prefer the sound quality of the SLYR, A40, AX720, PC360 by a considerable margin. The A50s are left behind on sound quality. If sound quality is important to you, I'd advise you get something else. It's that simple. In good conscience, I can't recommend the A50s.


Final Impressions: The A50's quite honestly make a better stereo headset than a Dolby Headphone one. I find it enjoyable for music off my PC, but not so much for gaming w/Dolby Headphone. Whether it's the drivers, or the internal amp in the headset, they put out bass oriented, and muddy sound for gaming.


Final Scores...

Fun: 6.5. Very decent. While the bass is strong, the only preset worthy to be used is the one with extra detail, and ends up sounding heavily processed, which detracts from enjoying non-competitive games to their fullest extent.

Competitive: 6.5. Very decent. Again, the only preset worth using brings out the detail which helps quite a bit, but the headphone is still on the bass heavy side which detracts from focusing on details. The soundstage and positional cues aren't great, and the sound overall feels closed in, but for most gamers, the A50s would be more than passable.

Comfort: 7.5. Very good. A pretty comfortable headset all around.

Edited by Raven Crimson - 12/28/12 at 11:28am
post #5007 of 5440
Hi Guys

Completely new to gaming headsets so I am looking for some good advice. I have the new Turtle Beach Call of Duty Blacks Ops 2 xray headphones and tried them last night. Sound was good however I was really missing the base. Comfort was not great after a couple of hours. Any recommendations? I would prefer a wireless solution if possible that works for both the 360 and ps3.

Thanks
post #5008 of 5440
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tacklebary View Post

Hi Guys
Completely new to gaming headsets so I am looking for some good advice. I have the new Turtle Beach Call of Duty Blacks Ops 2 xray headphones and tried them last night. Sound was good however I was really missing the base. Comfort was not great after a couple of hours. Any recommendations? I would prefer a wireless solution if possible that works for both the 360 and ps3.
Thanks
I have the Warheads. If you want bass heavy cans, these are much heavier than my TB X41's were.
post #5009 of 5440
Thanks for the suggestions. Who makes the warheads? I would prefer something that would be comfortable without feeling like my head has been in a vice the whole time.
post #5010 of 5440
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tacklebary View Post

Thanks for the suggestions. Who makes the warheads? I would prefer something that would be comfortable without feeling like my head has been in a vice the whole time.
Tritton. They're plenty comfortable, but pricey($300 retail).
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