Astro Gaming A50 Wireless Headset: Accessibility review


The items used in this review were provided by the company at no cost to the reviewer.


Astro Gaming are often referenced in comparisons to their rivals at Turtle Beach. Whilst I have reviewed the Stealth 500X and Elite 800X headsets before, I've not had the opportunity to test Astro's products on a personal level. Astro have been making headsets for competitive environments for good while and I've wondered how accessible they would be without sight compared to their rival's offerings.

Thanks to the kind and very responsive individuals at Astro Gaming, let's start this review of the A50 wireless headset for Xbox One and PC with the unboxing of this high-end product.


Position the box so that the area with the line down the centre is at the top, facing upwards and the semi-circular section of that same area is facing away from you.

You should find an adhesive circle to the right of the semi-circular area which you can remove with a fingernail or scissors. If there is a second one to the left of this area as well, remove that too.

Rotate the box 180 degrees anticlockwise or clockwise depending on your preference and you should find a similar adhesive circle at the bottom of the outer sleeve and the inner packaging which can be removed in the same way.

The area you just removed that circle from is actually the opening of the box. Place your finger through the gap between the outer and inner layers, pulling the flap up and towards you.

Now comes a tough part. Holding the outer box with one hand, push the inner packaging so that the two elements separate and the inner packaging is completely disengaged from the exterior. You may need to do this in stages so you don't unintentionally break any packaging as you go.

Removing the headset and other components

With the exterior sleeve now out of the way, we come to the main box, which opens with no removal of adhesive seals being required.

Open the box so that the section containing the headset is on a flat surface. The headset, given that it's not secured into the box, comes away with a gentle removal via the headband.

The small circular plastic piece in the centre of the assembly contains an optical cable. This area also has a hole which can be used, carefully, to remove the entire plastic array from the box.

Removing the main plastic holder reveals printed materials and the long and unusual looking base station for the headset, on the side of the box that is towards you. On the other side of the box, underneath an ellipsoid plastic cover, is the final piece of the unit, namely the USB cable.


The headset is comprised mostly of a solid plastic, with metal being most noticed when looking at the adjustment system for the placement of the earcups. The headset's controls are on the right-hand earcup, consisting (from top to bottom) of power, Dolby on/off, preset select and master volume.

The base station is simply designed as well. With the ports facing towards you, there's a USB port, an optical in and out port and a 3.5mm port in that order.


After viewing this official Youtube video on the Astro Command Centre software, I began the process of hooking up the A50s to a PC via the base station. This is in order to update the base station and headset's firmware.

When you plug in the base station, it will automatically reroute the audio from your system to it. Unfortunately the only way I found to avoid this was to run my screen reader's output through an HDMI device, using a 3.5mm headset to listen to the output and navigate from there.

The software seems better equipped for accessibility than that of its rivals, however buttons and other controls still aren't correctly labeled for an easy user experience. However, I believe this could be patched in given that parts of the software already appear to use standard Windows controls such as edit boxes and buttons.


Connecting the base station to the Xbox One, though it might seem simple, is complicated by a lack of clear indications of which ports are the optical in and out on the base station. The rest of the instructions are readable in the PDF manual though, so that's useful at least in terms of calibration. For reference, the optical in port is the one closest to the Micro USB port, discovered in part via trial and error.

The Strange echoing you might experience is due to Dolby being set to on. Using the button below the power switch, you can disable the feature (indicated by a descending series of tones). The echoing should stop from here on out unless you repeat the above directions.

The microphone doesn't have a mute/unmute button, but works via pulling the mic downwards to unmute and fully upwards to mute it. Game and chat balance is handled via the front and back of the right earcup's shell, where pressing the front turns up the game volume and the back turns up chat volume.

Xbox One

The Xbox One setup process, as described in the fairly readable PDF file, is relatively straightforward. Once all your settings are calibrated and your base station is plugged in, you'll find that with Dolby deactivated the headset will output clear, crisp audio. The microphone in my party chat tests seemed to have no issues with quality either, in spite of not being prompted for a firmware update by the software.

Unlike with other wireless offerings, whilst the A50s do experience a level of lag, it's not severe enough that it will impact your performance to a large degree. The only issues I had were during tests with Killer Instinct, where the breaking of shadow moves requires very specific timing. This is similar to my experience with other wireless headsets and would likely abate with time and adjustment to the headset itself.

Playing Gears of War: Ultimate Edition via co-op with party chat was a painless experience, with the audio coming through loud and clear. I preferred the middle of the default presets, with enough bass that it was convincingly cinematic, but not too much so as to ruin the atmosphere. Adjusting game and chat balance with the front and back controls on the right earcup as previously mentioned was smooth and unobtrusive, save for when the headset beeped to inform me it was either at 50 % balance or at 100% either side. If these beeps, or for that matter the one indicating the unit needs a charge, could avoid cutting out the in-game audio that would be much appreciated as it can really distract from the in-game action. However, if that can't be patched in with a firmware update, it's still not too frustrating.


Connecting the headset to PC is even simpler than hooking it up to the Xbox One. You don't need the optical cable, just the USB and once the audio is correctly routed the first time, it appears to stay that way when unplugged and plugged back in. The sound quality on PC, unsurprisingly, is still top of the line and wearing the unit for extended periods of time was a comfortable experience, from listening to music to playing multiple games.

Mod Kit

The generous individuals at Astro Gaming also sent me an A50 mod kit, which provides additional noise cancellation through replacement synthetic leather earcups and headband.


With the hanger for stores facing directly away from you, look at the edge of the oblong box that is facing you. You should see an adhesive semi-circular piece that you can remove with a fingernail or cut with scissors.

The next part of the process might frustrate you, it certainly did me. You have to very carefully pull the tab that the adhesive was stuck to up and out of the hole it's in, making sure not to push too hard so as not to wedge it in place. My own approach meant that I had to push my finger further into the packaging than I would like, worrying about whether I'd actually be able to get into my product without breaking the packaging in the process.

Once the tab is removed, pull the flap that you've just unsealed outwards towards you, then move the plastic oblong in your way upwards and away from you so that it folds over

Before removing the modkit from its outer box, flip it over so that the earcups etc, when they are removed, are the right way up.

In the easiest and final part of this unboxing process, place your hand underneath the now correctly positioned inner holder for the products and pull smoothly from the outer sleeve.

Removing the components

Taking the earcups from the package is as straightforward as putting your hand through the edge and lifting them out. The headband is removed by placing a fingernail under one of the slightly inward curving edges of the packaging and lifting from there.

Replacing the existing parts

The existing Astro earcups are easy to swap out, simply via pulling the tabs at the top of each away from the side of the outer shell of the headset itself. The magnets holding them in place, whilst strong, will be easy to work with and replacing with the new components is just a matter of putting the new earcups in their place, tabs facing upwards as before.

The headband, on the other hand, has a rather frustrating replacement procedure. The first time I tried it, for fear of breaking the unit, I decided to get sighted assistance. However, though it might feel like you're going to break the headset, I will say that if you're careful you can replace the part with relatively little hassle.

Below is the advice I was sent by Astro regarding their recommended method for replacing the headband:

Step 1: Hold the headband with one hand. With the other hand, pull firmly outwards from the center on one side of the headband frame. The headband will pop out of place, allowing you to remove the other side of the headband from the frame of the headset.

Step 2: Align the Mod Kit headband tabs with the clasps on the frame of the A50 Headset.

Step 3: Firmly press the frame inwards to secure the Mod Kit headband in place. The headband will snap into place.

Replacing it is a matter of clipping the new part into place with the in-line grooves, but this can be made easier by lining it up with the old piece before its removal to see what way it should be inserted as the shape of the part is specifically meant to go in one way.

Reversing the entire process was very straightforward, with the replacing of parts with the previous instructions needing no sighted assistance.


Once I had the completed modkit installed and jumped into a prolonged gaming session, discovering that the synthetic leather, whilst being comfortable, also most certainly serves its purpose of reducing noise levels even further than the stock parts. However, this did have a slight drawback in that I found myself raising my voice rather more than usual, though I did eventually get used to this additional factor.

However, it must be reiterated that within the hours of time I spent with the modkit equipped, I had no issues in terms of comfort or hearing my game or those playing with or against me, as with the default experience.

The only issue I experienced whilst switching out the various pieces for the headset was a complete lack of any storage case, bag or holder for the spare components. I'm a little surprised that for the price of the modkit, something isn't included that can allow you retain your original components for later usage, should they be needed.





The Astro A50 headset may be highly priced, but the fact that it works with not only the Xbox One but PC as well is definitely a plus, in addition to its solid construction and ease of use. Moreover, the fact that you don't require the software to work with the headset (unless, of course, you want to adjust presets, which isn't entirely necessary) is certainly a positive. The modkit, if you want some extra noise cancellation is relatively easy to install once you understand the process and are careful. However, it would've been useful to have somewhere to store the additional components, such as a bag or case for the headset at large as part of either package.

If you're looking for a unit that you can wear for long periods of time without discomfort, delivering easy volume adjustments in a wireless fashion in addition to high sound quality, the Astro A50s might just be what you're looking for if you're a PC and Xbox One gamer.

I'd like to again thank Astro Gaming for providing both of the items for this review.

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