Dylan Tweney

Polyamorous Headset’s Got Love for Xbox, iPhone and Skype

Review of Astro’s A30, a multipurpose headset descended from the company’s popular A40 gaming headphones.
Dylan Tweney 2 min read
Polyamorous Headset’s Got Love for Xbox, iPhone and Skype
Polyamorous Headset's Got Love for Xbox, iPhone and Skype

Astro’s new A30 headset has more options than a room full of Wall Street executives. Want to use it with your Xbox 360? No problem. Using Skype on your PC? Plug in the boom microphone. Hitting the road with an iPhone? No problem, there’s an inline microphone, too.

It’s designed to go from gaming console to mobile to computer with a maximum of flexibility, and it works. The Astro A30 sounds pretty decent for music, too.

Astro Studios made its name as the industrial-design firm behind the Xbox 360, Alienware computers, the HP Blackbird and Firebird, and more. And the company’s $200 A40 headset quickly became standard-issue at Major League Gaming tournaments after it came out in 2008. The A40’s an impressive, over-the-ear headset, but it’s a bit bulky for everyday use, and its open-back design means sound leaks out. That’s not ideal for an office environment.

So Astro followed up this month with the A30, a smaller, more consumer-friendly headset. It sits on your ear (instead of enclosing it) which means it’s not as comfortable for extended periods, despite the soft plush pads. But it’s a closed-back design with less propensity to subject your officemates to stray beats.

The A30 includes a removable boom microphone that’s easy to plug in or unplug, so it serves well as a Skype headset. An inline microphone means it’ll work as an iPhone headset too, if you’re bold enough to wear the thing outside. And if you do wear it out, you’re probably the type to be interested in Astro’s swappable speaker covers: They click into place with magnets and you can order stylish replacements on the company’s website.

The company doesn’t stint on extra cables (and they’re not the skinny, flimsy kind that come with most headphones; these are substantial 1/8-inch thick cables.) The whole kit comes with a sturdy traveling case, and you’ll need it if you’re going to carry all this stuff.

Sound is good, with strong (if slightly excessive) bass and clear, bright highs. The earpads block most office sounds, so you can focus on your music instead of your neighbor’s.

The A30 is a little fatiguing for long periods of wear, but it’s a good, all-purpose headset for a wide range of uses. If all you care about is sound and classic good looks, a cheaper headphone is probably going to do you just fine.

But for listening to music, Skypeing and playing games, the A30s are a competent all-around utility headset.

WIRED Optional, plug-in boom microphone plugs into a jack right below the left speaker — why don’t all headsets work this way? Inline microphone for when you’re using your iPhone on the bus. Huge complement of extra cables and connectors. Good, balanced sound for music, games or VoIP.

TIRED Inline controls are limited in utility and confusing to use. No inline volume control. Headset is on the bulky side, especially for street wear. Can be tiring to wear for more than an hour.

Astro Gaming A30 Headset | Wired.com Product Reviews.

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