There's no shortage of awesome, high-end gaming headsets available today, but surround sound and premium perks can run you in the hundreds of dollars. Luckily, there are some solid contenders for much, much less money, finally freeing you from the flimsy, awkward chat headsets packed in with consoles.
Astro's A10 Gaming Headset sees the celebrated headset maker dipping its toes into the budget realm, with a relatively no-nonsense offering that still keeps enough of the expected look and sound quality to warrant its presence alongside the company's pricier models.
As a wired, stereo headset, it won't blow your mind and it doesn't have any surprising tricks or features up its sleeve. But at just $59 (£69, AU$99), it's a comfortable, strong-sounding option that works across consoles and computers alike with absolute ease.
The A10 is arguably the least stylish member of the Astro headset family, but not dramatically so. It's hardly ugly, but it's a lot simpler and more spartan in design than its siblings, lacking the cool cutouts and coloring of the pricier models.
That's fine, though: it gets the job done.
Astro's design here has a steel headband along the top with a flexible, rubberized cover, along with its familiar rounded rectangular cans at the bottom. There's a small pad inside of the band that sits softly on your dome. Meanwhile, the cans have cushy pillows that just surround your ears.
As far as fit, each earphone can slide about an inch downward to fit around your head, and I found it to be comfortably snug – it stayed in place steadily without squeezing my head too hard in the process.
Thankfully, it also feels plenty durable. Without a lot of moving parts or flimsy style elements in play, it has a firm, solid build, while the flexible band ensures that it can take a little bit of abuse without cracking in half.
The microphone looks identical to the one you'll find on the pricier Astro A20 Wireless Headset ($149, £149, AU$249). It's a flexible, angular mic that extends down when you need it, or it can lay flush with the band when you don't want it in front of your face. And it's a flip-to-mute mic, so it stops picking up sound when you fold it up. That's super handy.
There are no buttons of any sort on the headset itself, although the detachable 6-foot 3.5mm cable has a handy in-line volume dial for quick adjustments. Since it's just a typical headphone jack, you can easily plug it into a PlayStation 4 controller, an Xbox One S or X controller, a PC or Mac, the Nintendo Switch, or a mobile device.
However, if you have an older Xbox One gamepad without the headphone port, you'll need either Astro's Mixmp M60 attachment or Microsoft's headset adapter.
As mentioned, the Astro A10s keep things simple with stereo sound, meaning you won't find the kind of 7.1 surround sound seen on some pricier headsets. That keeps the aural experience a bit less immersive than with some other devices, but that's not a knock against the A10: for the price, it's solidly impressive.
When gaming on both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, I experienced clear, crisp sound across a variety of games and scenarios. In Rocket League, the heavily electronic soundtrack had a nice, clear thump to it in the menus, while every shot and explosive goal rang through cleanly in the midst of the frantic battles.
Last year's Doom reboot sounded as brash and booming as you'd expect from such a chaotic shooter, even if it could be a little overpowering at times. And in Forza Motorsport 7, the intense roar of the engines and crunching metal of collisions sounded spot-on.
The A10's 40mm drivers pump out stellar and nicely balanced sound across the board, whether you're playing games, watching movies or TV shows, or listening to music. I could've used a pinch more bass at times, and given the stereo approach, the sound space can feel a bit confined. But even at louder volumes, I didn't feel like the output was muddled distorted. Given the price and what it's capable of, I'm more than happy with the results.
Likewise, the mic worked well, with friends and teammates reporting clear sound coming through, and the flip-to-mute feature working exactly as promised.
You have loads of options when it comes to a great gaming headset today, but most of the best ones start at $100 and jump up considerably from there. Anything less than that and you start making compromises.
Astro's A10 feels like very little compromise at all. Its stereo sound isn't quite as vast as you'll find in surround-equipped options, it's certainly not the glitziest headset around, and you're always bound to a controller or device with the wire. But for only the price of a new game, a strong headset like this definitely feels like a deal.