Despite the cost of gaming hardware and peripherals, you shouldn’t have to spend almost as much on a decent headset as you would on a new console. Unfortunately, most of the headsets that exist in the sub-$100 market are difficult to recommend at best. Thankfully, Astro – well known for making excellent headsets — has introduced the A10, a new model that costs the same as a newly released game but delivers sound quality on par with headsets twice its price.
Out of the box
Opening the A10’s package lacks fanfare, and that’s to be expected for a device that costs just $60. The light cardboard box slides open easily, revealing the headset. There are no accessories included. The only other pieces in the package are a 3.5mm cable and user literature, so unboxing is quick.
Installation couldn’t be simpler. Plug the included 3.5mm cable into the headset and the other end into your PC, console controller, or mobile device, and you’re set — there are no drivers to download or software to install.
The Astro A10 sports a slightly bulky frame and large boom mic design that immediately give it away as a gaming headset. It’s not gaudy, and is mercifully devoid of garish decals or plastic adornments, but the A10 won’t pass for a pair of headphones. Surprisingly, the earcups lack any sort of mic or volume controls like you find on most headsets. While disappointing, it’s hardly a deal breaker.
If there’s one criteria where the Astro A10s belie their price, it’s the comfort. Compared to other headsets, the Astro A10’s clamping force is higher than average, which can put pressure on the ears and side of the head, leading to discomfort after prolonged use. The padding on the earcups is higher quality and more comfortable than what you’d expect for $60, but that’s undermined by the pressure on and around the ears.
Additionally, some may find the headband to be under-padded, with just a small strip of padding keeping the plastic band off your head. Depending on individual head shape, some may find the headband rests uncomfortably on the sides of the head, but in our testing we didn’t have much trouble.
The sound quality on the Astro A10 is, simply put, remarkable.
At sub-$100 price points, you’ll often find that headsets are made mostly from plastic, often with hollow, brittle frames or flimsy joints. Thankfully, the A10 features a plastic headband with flexible reinforced steel for support, and no joints or swivel on the earcups, which removes a potential point of failure from its design. The plastic material is not only strong and sturdy, but is highly flexible to allow for quite a bit of bend and bounce in the headband — this won’t easily break unless you make a pointed effort.
The last point to discuss is the mic. The boom is long and slightly malleable, and can be swiveled upward, both to engage mute and keep it out of the way — all positives. However, a removable or collapsible design would have enhanced the headset’s versatility. That said, this is very much a gaming headset in looks and execution; this wasn’t designed to be worn on your commute to work. To that end, we’re willing to forgive the “sore-thumb” design.
While these complaints about the A10 are worth considering, it’s also important to point out that, at $60, the A10’s physical design is similar, if not better, than other headsets around this price point. If these were $100 or more, these issues could be more damning; at $60, they’re simply concessions that come along with an inexpensive headset.
While the comfort and design are standard for an entry-level headset, the sound quality is, simply put, remarkable on the Astro A10. Astro has included the same drivers found in its $250 A40 and $300 A50 model. That means you’re getting ~$300 sound quality for far less.
This headset won’t easily break unless you make a pointed effort.
The highs in the mix are clear with a slight punch, perfect for the sound of most games. The low end, while underpowered compared to bigger, more expensive headsets like the Sennheiser GSP 350, still has enough oomph to give explosions impact.
We played a few different titles across multiple platforms while testing. Hearthstone was our mobile pick. The subtle, chilled soundtrack and tavern-like ambience was present and detailed, while the satisfying crash of a defeated opponent felt appropriately powerful. We tested the A10 on the PS4 by playing Persona 5. The game’s upbeat, infectious funk and jazz soundtrack felt vibrant, and dialogue was clear. Finally, on PC, Quake Champions’ chaotic action, driven by an arsenal of outlandish weapons, was big and powerful. At points, the multiplayer frenzy became slightly muddied when multiple opponents were firing off rockets, chaingun rounds, and beams of lightning, and in those instances we felt the lack of surround sound features which could have helped maintain accurate directionality.
We found the mic to be clear and consistent in voice capture. However, we wouldn’t recommend these for streaming or podcasting. It’s rare that a headset mic reaches the level of quality a professional streamer would need, and that’s especially true of the A10s. Still, it’ll serve you well for coordinating your payload pushes and point captures, and that’s the important part.
Overall, we were impressed with the A10’s performance. Sure, the headset lacks many of the features you’d find on the best headsets in the market – such as 7.1 surround sound that would help maintain directionality in competitive first person shooters like Quake Champions or Overwatch – but as we’ve said numerous times already, for $60, this is an impressive device.
Astro offers a one-year limited warranty for faulty workmanship and defective parts on all its products, including the A10 headset. Return shipping and labor costs are included.Our Take
Despite looking and feeling like a sub-$100 gaming headset, the Astro A10 gaming headset has the best sound quality of the entry-level headsets we’ve tested.
Is there a better alternative?
The Astro A10s are not the only decent headset floating near the $50-$60 price point, but we’re struggling to think of any we’ve tested that sound as good. If you want something more comfortable, there’s the SteelSeries Arctis 3, but they cost $20 more. Similarly, the Arctis 3 would also solve the minor design woes and lack of 7.1 on the A10s.
How long will it last?
As discussed, the A10 is highly durable thanks to the flexible frame, so there’s little risk of it breaking. However, even with the excellent sound quality, this is still an entry-level product. You could very well stick with these for years, but there’s plenty of room to move up from here.
Should you buy it?
Yes. While there are several great options at this price point, none match the A10’s performance quality.