The Astro A20 wireless gaming headset tackles a problem we are all too ashamed to talk about. I'm talking about having too many damn headsets.
Before I started reviewing headsets for a living, I was notorious for having 3-5 headsets in my rotation for daily work and gaming use. I'd have a pair for working out, a pair of noise-canceling headphones to drown out my coworkers in NYC, one with a good mic for online gaming and a separate one I'd use solely for listening to music, or the wireless one for gaming while standing at my desk. I think it's safe to admit that I have a problem when it comes to headphones and decided I needed one for every possible scenario. I have been trying every day to cut that 3-5 number down to a modest 1-3. It's… been a process.
Like many PC gamers out there, I own both an Xbox One X and Playstation Pro with plans of upgrading both to their next-generation counterparts later this year (opens in new tab). I've known the headache of living a multiple headset lifestyle. The Astro A20s look to simplify the lives of multi headset gamers all around the world by offering a single headset that works on all three platforms. Wild, right?
If you've owned a pair of wireless PC gaming headsets, or even shopped around for them, you'll notice that headsets either come for PC/Xbox or PC/PS but never across all three platforms. This is mostly because the firmware for Xbox and Playstation consoles is different.
What most of us end up doing is getting a second pair of headphones for whatever console gets left out of that equation which can get pretty expensive. Astro found a novel solution when designing the Astro A20: The Gen 2 USB Transmitter is specific for each console as opposed to having the firmware in the headset itself. In layman's terms, all you need to do to use the headset on your PC and on each of your consoles is just pick up this $20 dongle and pair it with your headset.
Unfortunately, since it'll be about another month or so until the new consoles are released, I can't quite test the claims of cross-compatibility just yet. What I can talk about is how well they work on the most important part of the setup, the PC.
Driver-type: 40 mm Neodymium
Frequency response: 20–20KHz
Wireless frequency: 2.4 GHz
Microphone frequency response: 100–16,000 Hz
Design style: Over-ear
Microphone: attached uni-directional
Connectivity: USB 2.0 High Speed over USB-C
Battery Life: 15 hours
Price: $120 (opens in new tab)
$120 is an appealing price for a wireless gaming headset that you can use across all your gaming machines, especially when the accompanying USB dongles cost only $20 extra. The A20s retain the typical Astro aesthetic with square ear cups. The white design with blue accents (green for Xbox) gives the headset a lighter, more-playful feel to them. And speaking of light, the headset weighs just under 12 oz (317g), which makes sense considering the entire is a mix of hard plastic and rubber.
The A20s are a very comfy thanks to the soft fabric ear cups and plastic frame, which means they can sit on your head without any discomfort for long stretches of time and feel pretty great with glasses on, too.
The right ear cup houses the controls which consist of a volume knob, EQ, and power buttons. EQ cycles between three sound presets Pro, Studio, and Astro. Pro has a more balanced sound. Astro cranks up the bass which I found best for the bass-heavy music listening and for giving explosions that little extra kick I prefer. Studio is best for watching movies if craving more accurate sounds.
I've been playing far too much Star Wars: Squadrons recently, the A20's admirably recreated each laser fire pew from X-wings and the hum of a TIE Interceptor's fully powered engine to my nerdly delight. The gaming audio didn't disappoint either with this headset providing decent bass for music.
The microphone, on the other hand, isn't that great. You can hear from the recording above, that there's a slight hiss. Playing Star Wars: Squadrons, my teammates complained that I could not be heard clearly and sounded distant more than a handful of times.
The Astro A20s promise at least 15 hours of battery life, which is about accurate according to my usage and on par with headsets in its price range. The auto-shutdown is a nice feature that will turn off the headset after 10 minutes of non-use to conserve battery. The A20s charge via USB-C which more headsets should do (the less micro-USB, the better).
I was pleasantly surprised by Astro's consumer-friendly solution to a problem we've had for years. A wireless gaming headset that works on PC, Xbox Series X, and PS5 is kind of a big deal. I look forward to checking back in with the A20s once I get my hands on the new consoles. Even if you're not picking up these next-gen consoles anytime soon, it's good that the only thing you'd potentially need is just a $20 dongle.
Though I wasn't crazy about the mic, the Astro A20s still offers a comfortable and good sounding listening experience for less than $130.