The fine people at Astro were kind enough to send a set of second-generation A20 Xbox headphones for evaluation, so I took a look at them in preparation for the Xbox series X I plan on buying…
Whenever stock becomes available…
At some undetermined point in the future…
Since Microsoft’s new hardware is still incredibly hard to come by, it’s worth noting that these are also compatible with the Xbox One, which is where I evaluated them.
SIDE NOTE: There’s an adapter you can purchase which enables these exact headphones to work with the PS4 and PS5 (there’s one that lets PS4/5 headphones work with the XBO/X/S as well) but when taken directly out of the box they only work with Xbox hardware. Unfortunately, the manufacturers did not send the adapter so I was unable to test these with my PS4.
The retail price of these headphones is approximately $120 — the box includes headphones, a USB dongle for wireless operation and a charging cable.
First impressions of the headset after removing it from the packaging is that it feels a little boxy and somewhat plasticky. Putting them on my head was all right, but they don’t feel especially form-fitting thanks to a strangely square headband shape. It feels fine enough, but it’s not the most comfortable headset I’ve ever worn and adjusting the earpieces by sliding them up and down higher up on the band than I’m used to wasn’t ideal.
The audio quality is great and the microphone works well, but I did have some issues with the performance and with the design.
In terms of performance, I found that the headset sometimes dropped the signal being sent from my XBO and I wouldn’t be able to get it back unless I unplugged the USB adapter. After removing it and then plugging it back in, the signal would come back. It didn’t happen often, but it did happen a few times during the evaluation period, and it was irritating.
In terms of design, the problem is that there are a series of buttons on the rear of the right headphone, and I found that I often hit them on accident when I was trying to adjust the unit. Maybe it’s just me, but my thumb went directly to the buttons every time I wanted to tweak the way the phones were sitting on my head, and then I would have to change the settings back. It might get easier to remember the buttons are there with repeated use, but it felt too easy to hit them.
The headset charges with a USB C which conveniently plugs into the Xbox One, and I never played long enough to drain the battery, so everything seems to be quite alright in that regard.
The unit does what it needs to do since it sounds great, but the chonky form factor strikes me as a little bit strange. However, this feels like a solid choice overall and the ability to use it with both PlayStation and Xbox consoles (with additional purchase of the adapter) is a great feature for those who want to avoid tech clutter in their living room.
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