The Astro A40 TR and Mixamp Pro TR turn the volume up on pro gaming audio

astro a40 tr mixamp pro impressions review img 20190517 144413

Astro gaming headsets are synonymous with quality. If you’ve ever asked your gaming pals about recommendations for a good headset, Astro is a name you’ll likely hear come up. After years of wondering if this hearsay was all hype, I decided to find out for myself.

Easy to use with a subtle yet eye-catching design and the best sound I’ve heard from a gaming headset, the Astro A40 TR and Mixamp TR do not disappoint. However, the $250 price tag is difficult to justify. Although its capabilities are beyond those of your typical gaming headset, it comes at a price only competitive gamers, content creators, and streamers will understand.

Pay to pro

Inside the box, you’ll find both the Astro A40 TR headset and Mixamp Pro TR, along with a swappable boom microphone and auxiliary, Micro-USB, TOSLink Optical, and Digital Daisy Chain cables. All of these cables, sans the auxiliary, will only be used if you’re using the headset with the Mixamp Pro.

The headset itself is sleek and stylish, sporting two metal pipes on each side that allow you to adjust how high or low the ear cups sit, but also add some flair, resembling the exhausts you’d find on a truck. It’s actually kind of adorable, in a Transformers cosplay kind of way. The headset is also incredibly comfortable, with soft cloth cushions and ear cups that cover the entire ear. The ear cups didn’t press too firmly against the sides of my head, which is a plus, especially since I wear glasses.

The stock speaker tags, which are the removable plates on the back of the ear cups, are bland, but you can purchase flashy replacements on the Astro Gaming website. They can be swapped out with closed-backed noise isolating speaker tags using a mod kit, which you’ll again have to dish out additional money for.

Customization is a highlight of the Astro A40 TR headset. Everything from the cloth cushioning on the ears and headband to the speaker tags and boom mic can be replaced. The option to go from open to closed-backed is particularly cool, but it can cost you an additional $40 – $60 on top of the already pricey $250 you’ll spend for the headset and Mixamp. It would make more sense if a mod kit was included in this bundle, especially since the A40 TR touts itself as a premium gaming headset.

I do enjoy the Astro A40 TR’s minimalist design. It’s a wired headset that doesn’t have any onboard controls, save for an inline mute button found along the auxiliary cable. That means any kind of volume and preset control is limited to the Mixamp Pro TR. While you can purchase the headset and Mixamp separately, the duo compliment each other well. It might not bode well for players who want the ability to control their sound using the headset, especially when the Mixamp isn’t connected.

Costly but capable

Video game audio mixers, like the Turtle Beach Elite Pro TAC and Astro Mixamp Pro TR, are different from audio mixers you’d use for music or radio. They feature ports that are specific to gaming, and are most beneficial to competitive players and/or streamers and content creators.

That said, the Mixamp Pro TR is a nice piece of hardware. It has two dials: The bigger knob controlling volume and the smaller knob regulating the game/chat audio balance. This lets you prioritize the audio you want to hear more, whether it be the team chat or the video game. In between the knobs are four buttons, each with its own equalizer preset. Out of the box, the presets are fairly generic, but you can customize them to suit your own preferences using the Astro Command Center application on PC or Mac.

Along the back of the Mixamp are six ports. That might seem a bit confusing at first, especially if you’ve never used an audio mixer before, and the Astro A40 TR and Mixamp Pro TR don’t come with much in the way of directions. I had to find most of my information on a very useful Reddit thread, but once I figured it out, I was impressed with the possibilities.

On either side of the Mixamp are two ports marked by a chain symbol. These are for Digital Daisy Chain cables, which can be used to connect several Mixamps together. This is useful for teams that game side by side and want to communicate locally, much like you’d find in an esports competition. I was unable to try this feature out, as I only had access to one Mixamp Pro TR.

The optical port is for the Toslink optical audio cable and connects the Mixamp Pro TR to your console or PC, although it’s not a necessity for PC use (you can just use the included Micro USB instead.) The auxiliary port can be used to add an additional source (like your phone) to the Mixamp, so you can hear it in the headset alongside game audio. The Stream port is the niftiest of the group, connecting to either a PC or capture card and merging all of your audio into one source for streaming or capture. The USB port, of course, connects the Mixamp to either your PC or console.

True versatility?

astro a40 tr mixamp pro impressions review img 20190517 143923 1

We were sent the Astro A40 TR gaming headset and Mixamp Pro TR for the PS4 and PC. It’s also compatible with the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, but you’ll have to connect directly to these platforms via the auxiliary cable. This means you won’t be able to use the plethora of features available on the Mixamp Pro TR. The A40 TR headset continues to have incredible 3D audio even without the Mixamp, but you won’t be able to enjoy the mixer’s Dolby Audio processing.

The Astro A40 TR makes for a fine headset on its own but its true potential is fully realized when paired with the Mixamp Pro TR. The duo offer superb audio, customizability, versatility, and a considerable smattering of features that audiophiles playing competitively or working professionally in games can get substantial use out of.  

The price for the A40 headset and Mixamp is a sticking point, much like the C40 TR controller, especially for players who only plan to use the two casually. It’s worth noting, though, that the closest competitors — the Turtle Beach Elite Pro headset and Elite Pro TAC — total over $3o0, so if you’re in the market for a professional-grade gaming headset, the Astro A40 TR and Mixamp Pro TR are the more affordable options. They’re great, but anyone interested in the aesthetic and base features of the headset will want to stick with just that.

Mobile

Speed is everything: Using 5G in the U.K. on the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G

You can buy a 5G phone and connect to a 5G network in the UK right now; but what's it like when you do? Armed with a OnePlus 7 Pro 5G and a 5G SIM on the EE network, we've been walking the streets of London to find out.
Computing

I bought a four-year-old MacBook Pro instead of a new one. Here’s why

The new MacBook Pros have a ton of advantages over the older options, but when it came to buying a replacement machine for myself, I found myself returning to 2015 rather than picking up Apple's latest and greatest.
Deals

Amazon cuts prices on Microsoft Surface Pro 6 and Surface Go

The Microsoft Surface series is an excellent alternative to other tablets if you're a dedicated Windows user, and the superb Surface Pro 6 (our favorite 2-in-1) and its cheaper sibling, the Surface Go, are both on sale right now.
Computing

Mac Pro vs. iMac Pro: Apple's incredibly powerful beasts square off

Apple’s Mac Pro and iMac Pro are both incredibly powerful machines, but there are some key differences between them. Which one is best, and which one should you buy? Our guide lays it out.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Plant-based shoes and a ukulele learning aid

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

Put down the controller and pick up the best phones for gaming on the go

Which phones are the best if all you want to do is play some mobile games? We've done the hard work and put together a list of the best gaming phones on Android and iOS, so you can keep playing and winning.
Gaming

New Nintendo Switch models are reportedly already in production and coming soon

The rumored two new Nintendo Switch models have already reportedly entered production. Some of the components were moved out of China and into Southeast Asia, as Nintendo looks to limit the impact of proposed tariffs.
Gaming

Square Enix has no clue how many episodes Final Fantasy VII Remake will take

The initial release of the Final Fantasy VII Remake on March 3, 2020 will feature the part of the adventure that takes place in Midgar. Square Enix has no idea on how many episodes it will take to tell the full story of the original RPG.
Gaming

Nintendo 3DS nowhere to be seen at E3 2019, but apparently not yet dead

The Nintendo 3DS was missing at E3 2019, but it appears that support for the console will continue. No first-party games are planned for the device, but it offers a collection of titles that may still attract both old and new players.
Gaming

Microsoft reportedly wanted Halo: The Master Chief Collection on PlayStation 4

Microsoft reportedly considered launching Halo: The Master Chief Collection on the PlayStation 4 a few years ago. It remains unclear if the desire for the Halo series to make a platform jump is still there ahead of Halo Infinite.
Computing

Why OLED gaming monitors may be further from reality than we thought

Earlier this year, Dell showed us the promise of an exciting new future for gaming monitors with the reveal of the Alienware 55-inch OLED gaming display. We loved it. But according to new reports, it may never see the light of day.
Deals

Walmart cuts $300 off Dell Inspiron 5680 gaming desktop for gamers on a budget

If you're stashing money but want an upgradeable rig that will go a long way, then this solid deal on the Dell Inspiron Gaming Desktop 5680 with Intel Core i5-8400 is for you. It is now available for only $700 at Walmart.
Deals

Walmart drops sweet $20 discount on the Sony PS4 DualShock 4 Controller

Walmart is offering a $20 discount on the Sony PlayStation 4 DualShock 4 Controller. New features include the touchpad, speaker, and light bar. It's also compatible with Windows-based PCs. This controller was originally priced at $60, but…
Deals

Check out Walmart’s steep discounts on Dell and LG gaming monitors

If you're a gamer looking for high-quality computer displays, you definitely need to take advantage of this deals from Dell and LG. These gaming monitors will fit your budget and your GPU.