Astro set expectations high with the price of the A30 gaming headset and while overall this is a great pair of headphones for most gamers, it lacks the next-level components to really impress.
the good bits
Multiple connection options
Strong battery life
Great overall sound
the not so good bits
Poor quality materials in places
Not the most comfortable
Lacks immersive bass and depth
Astro A30 Wireless Gaming Headet
When you think gaming headsets there’s a few brands that spring to mind, one of those is almost certainly Astro. They’ve been around for years with a strong back catalogue of quality headsets and a reputation for delivering the goods.
The Astro A30 sits towards the top end of the range, just the big time A50 above it. It still carries a premium price point for a wireless headset however, £229.99 is no small investment so expectations will be high from the outset. On paper it looks promising though, a bunch of audio connection options, long battery life, dual microphones – the building blocks are there.
There’s quite a lot to talk about with the design of the Astro A30 gaming headphones. Not so much from a visual perspective, they largely look like you’d expect a gaming headset to look, but there’s a few build design choices to ponder.
Firstly, colourways. There’s two choices here; white or navy, and while I’m testing the former, it’s the latter that I’ll applaud. It’s nice to see brands embracing dark colour options that aren’t just black or dark grey.
Whichever you choose you’ll get the same striking oil slick design on the outside of the ear cups which are a stark reminder of the A30’s intended gaming use. Even with the frosted plastic speaker tags in place they’re a bold splash of colour it’s hard to miss. I’m not knocking it, I actually quite like the flair they bring, it’s just probably a little much for wearing on the bus. Astro don’t currently offer alternate speaker tags for the A30, though you’d expect they can’t be far away because the simple magnetic attachment is screaming customisation.
The fit is fine without being notably comfortable, there’s not something specific I can point to as to why, it’s likely a handful of small factors rather than one glaring issue. The clamping is very tight at first which stood out, though I found it did lighten up a little with more use so it could be a case of just needing breaking in. The headband offers a decent range with smooth adjustment rather than being stepped which allows you to really hone in on sizing. Once you find it though there’s no way to lock it in like you see on the RØDE NTH-100 so you’ll likely end up making little adjustments every time you put them on.
The rectangular earcups feel pretty large which meant there was more room to slide around my ears than I’d have liked. They’re covered in a faux leather like material which while admittedly soft and pleasant when new, often has a tendency to degrade pretty quickly so I always grimace when I see it. Who knows, maybe Astro have found a way to stop that happening and the earcups will look and feel good as new for life – I’d have rather seen something like Alcantara at this price though.
It’s the start of a trend of confusing and disappointing material choices that plague the Astro A30 gaming headset. There’s just too much cheap plastic on show here for a headset running you the best part of £230. The earcups are the worst culprit, there’s no excuse for toy-like shiny plastic on a premium headset like this. The headband is nicely rubberised and feels great, which is almost more frustrating. Astro, you’ve got the solution already – use it! If the same matte rubberised coating was all over the plastic of the A30s I’d be singing their praises.
The buttons (of which there’s more than plenty) suffer the same fate. Wobbly, cheap plastic buttons rather ruin the experience of turning the Astro A30 headset on for the first time. It’s these little touches that make such a difference to the overall feel and are an opportunity for easy wins so it’s a shame to see Astro cutting corners here.
I’m confused, because there’s real care and attention been put into other 1% areas. The packaging for example is appropriately premium with cute design touches inside and out both the box itself and the sleeve. How are you going to the effort of putting full colour artwork inside the packaging sleeve but then rolling out the cheapest external plastic on the headset itself?
There’s a carrying case included which is great to see. It’s nice too, hard moulded plastic with a tough feeling fabric coating that I’m confident will stand up well to trips in a backpack. The soft neoprene style fabric lining should look after the headset itself, with a clever island that’ll both hold the headset in place and store your cables too. Great stuff.
Ultimately of course the measure of a gaming headset is how it sounds, not how it looks. The Astro A30 headphones are a case of being great without being anything special.
In truth, this probably should have been expected because even in their own website marketing copy – Astro never big up how the A30 headset sounds. It’s a unique approach, the focus is fully on the other things the A30 offers, and admittedly does well, rather than audio performance. There’s no one thing to cling on to here, for all intents and purposes they’re a pretty standard set of headphones. I was left wanting a little more, given the high end price point.
Having connected it to my Xbox via the required USB adapter (thanks Microsoft) I found the Astro A30 headset offered clean and detailed audio in open world games like Far Cry though it wasn’t particularly immersive. Clarity is high on the agenda here at the expense of particularly deep, engrossing bass. Even when faced with gun battles and explosions the sound just felt a little thin. Sharp sounds like footsteps or crackle from a raging fire
Jumping over to Forza Horizon 5 and hoping for my soul to be filled with engine rumble I was left a little disappointed. Again, while everything was clear and sharp there wasn’t enough meat in the soundscape to really engross me.
Connecting to my phone via Bluetooth was a similar story. Listening to music was pleasant enough without wowing me or producing a particularly enthralling sound. There’s no ANC on offer here so you’re a little at the mercy of your environment too.
In both scenarios I’m nitpicking. Nobody is going to pop these on and think the A30 headset sounds anything other than great on the whole. But it comes back to the expectations set by price, if I’m going to hand over £230 for a gaming headset I’m going to want to find something to brag about to my friends.
Connections are one area the Astro A30 headset does excel however. Not only do you have the freedom of Logitech’s LIGHTSPEED wireless tech for ultra low-latency PC or console gaming, there’s Bluetooth and 3.5mm auxiliary support too. Even better, you’re not limited to just one at a time. This worked well in my testing and it was simple to listen to my own music off my phone while still hearing each axe thump in Stardew Valley.
There’s a pair of microphones on offer, both an internal and detachable external option. Both work pretty much as you’d expect for a gaming headset, you’re clear enough and audible but you’re unlikely to draw my compliments on your voice and it’s definitely not up to being a streaming mic. Having a fully detachable microphone is a nice touch and it’s simple to click this on and off, it’s a shame there’s no movement available once it’s attached though. There’s some bend in the mic arm itself but no vertical adjustment potential or the ability to move it right out of the way.
The Logitech G app brings a handful of customisation options though it’s likely to be the kind of thing you set up once and then don’t open again. There’s a couple of preset EQ choices that prioritise immersion or footsteps, the differences are subtle and even min-maxing the five custom EQ bands it’s hard to notice a huge shift in the overall sound.
The Astro A30 gaming headset is great without being exceptional and all the while it’s joined by a rather large, price shaped elephant in the room. At £229.99 it’s fighting for premium real estate and while audio performance is more than satisfactory across the board, it’s nothing to brag about and disappointing build quality lets it down.
If it was a footballer it’d comfortably make the team sheet every week, but you won’t see many fans with A30 on the back of their shirt.