Astro’s been in the gaming headset space for a very long, putting out some of the most popular headsets on the market. In 2018, the company put out a new version of its Astro A10 gaming headset, targeted specifically at the Nintendo Switch. This A10 comes adorned with Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild-themed accents and a custom splitter to handle the Switch’s rather, ah, unique voice chat requirements. It’s dangerous to go alone, but should you take this?
Editor’s note: This review was updated on July 31, 2020 to include an expanded list of alternative recommendations in the conclusion.
Who is the Astro A10 for?
- Gamers looking for a unified audio solution for their console gaming needs, especially the Splatoon-obsessed.
- People with glasses looking for something reasonably cheaper and comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
What’s in the box?
The Astro A10 comes with a few bits and bobs in the box. On top of the detachable 3.5mm TRRS cord, it also comes with a rather odd 3.5mm splitter (more on that in a bit).
What’s the Astro A10 like?
This probably isn’t the gaming headset get if you want something to wear while out and about. Pretty though it may be, the Astro A10 is still covered in gold highlights and Legend of Zelda branding. Plus the mic isn’t detachable. If you need something to wear for a long time huddled over the controller of a Playstation 4 or Xbox One, or you want something for playing games undocked on your Nintendo Switch, this might be for you.
The Astro A10 is an all plastic gaming headset with. The band is flexible and it maintained a fairly loose fit on my head. The headphones don’t move around much—there’s only a very small vertical hinge for some slight tilting adjustment—which would be a little uncomfortable if not for the soft velour earpads. All told, this is a pretty comfortable headset. I never ran into any distinct discomfort, however I noticed the plastic frame created a rather loud echo noise at the slightest bump, whether on the band or headphones.
The built-in controls for the headset are fairly intuitive, if a little bare-bones. There’s a volume wheel in cord and flipping up the microphone mutes it.
Setting up the Astro A10 is fine on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but otherwise far more complicated than it needs to be. Ultimately, it all comes down to how the Nintendo Switch is designed. Currently, the console doesn’t support mic and game audio passing through a single TRRS jack for most games, despite having one on the top of the console. If you’re playing Fortnite or Warframe, just plugging in the headset will work fine. For everything else, you’ve got to use the rather… unique… splitter included with the headset.
Unfortunately, this is no normal splitter. It doesn’t work plugged into a PC—this is a splitter specifically meant for feeding mic audio into your phone for the Nintendo Chat app. In short” if you’re planning on using this headset for playing Splatoon or Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and you want voice chat—prepare to plug into two devices at once. It’s extremely clumsy, and basically requires playing at a table or desk so there’s room to lay your phone down. The splitter cable itself is a little under two feet long, so everything needs to be relatively close.
It’s worth noting that some of this isn’t strictly the headset’s fault. The Nintendo Switch includes a 3.5mm TRRS headphone jack, but most games don’t have permission to use it. In many ways, the A10 is making the best of a bad situation, but it doesn’t do much to alleviate it.
If there’s one thing saving you from having to go through all this, it’s that no one else really wants to either. Finding people to talk to through this connection method is basically impossible. If you want to play multiplayer Switch games with your friends, just start a Discord call on your phone, it’s simpler and it works better anyway.
Gaming with the Astro A10
Once you’ve struggled through setting up the headset, the Astro A10 offers a completely fine gaming experience. As I mentioned before, the headset is comfortable—even for gamers with glasses—and I never ran into an issue during multi-hour stretches. This stereo headset shouldn’t have any trouble with most games.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Pokemon Sword on Switch don’t provide the most strenuous test of a headset’s capabilities, but everything sounded just right nonetheless. Normally you’d be missing out on surround sound for a game like Fortnite, but Fortnite doesn’t even support the feature on Switch in the first place.
Using the headset on other platforms was similarly consistent. It worked great playing games like Dauntless on Playstation 4 and connected without issue. Once I found a different splitter, PC gaming was completely serviceable as well. Talking on Discord using this method was similarly fine, though a little quiet.
How does the Astro A10 Sound?
The Astro A10 headset offers audio reproduction that’s a little all over the place, but not necessarily in a bad way. While there are a few dips here and there, the headset outputs fairly accurate bass and high sounds, and actually boosts mids.
In music, the increased mids means sibilant and fricative vocal sounds will likely come through very loudly, while sounds in the high range, like some string instruments and cymbals, may not sound as distinct.
In Nerv, by Brian Altano there’s a persistent mid range whirr that punctuates the songs. Where normally it sits kind of in the background, filling in the gaps between the instruments, on the Astro A10 it totally takes over the song, drowning out most of the cymbals and horn sounds.
For gaming, this kind of audio balance isn’t bad at all. If voice chat is something you intend to suffer through on Switch, you shouldn’t have much issue hearing what your friends have to say (though admittedly the quality of their mic has a lot to do with that too). Unlike most gaming headsets, this doesn’t over-emphasize bass range sounds, so the deep rumblings of explosions won’t come across louder than they should and drown out any more sound than appropriate.
This headset offers pretty poor isolation, and a big part of why this is comes down to how difficult it is to get an adequate seal. The minimal vertical hinges I mentioned earlier made having a gap in the seal above my ears a pretty regular occurrence.
The Astro A10 will struggle to keep even the sound of a fridge whirring in another room out. Most of the time this won’t be an issue in the home, as there are typically fewer sources of competing noise. However, this really isn’t the kind of gaming headset to take outside—even ignoring the somewhat arcane method for setting up voice chat on the Switch.
The setup process might not be so hot, but the Astro A10’s microphone is pretty standard for a gaming headset. De-emphasizes bass sounds, which means people with deep voices might not sound quite right, but otherwise it sounds more or less fine.
Should you buy the Astro A10?
The Astro A10 isn’t an awful gaming headset, but it’s just bad enough at what seems like the things it focuses on that buying seems like an exercise in frustration. This is a Switch-focused gaming headset, but using the mic with a Switch just isn’t practical—though admittedly a big part of that is down the console’s particular hardware limits. The included splitter doesn’t even work with a PC, so an additional expense is required for that.
If you want something that works well on Nintendo Switch—and everywhere else, for that matter—and doesn’t require such an arcane connection method, the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless sounds far better, and it’s only a little more expensive. If Switch compatibility isn’t actually such a big deal, wired headsets like the Turtle Beach Recon 70, the Razer Kraken X and the Corsair HS60 Pro Surround all sound better and offer better isolation.
The Astro A10 is pretty reasonably priced, comfortable, and it covers the bases a gaming headset should. But then, so do most headsets, they don’t take so much work to set up.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Just plug the Astro A10 into the 3.5mm headphone jack of your Xbox One controller and you're all set—no splitter needed.
Yes. Just plug the 3.5mm cable into the controller and you're all set.
If your phone has a headphone jack that supports a TRRS connection, the Astro A10's microphone should work just fine.
Right now some third-party, cross-platform games allow native voice chat using the Nintendo Switch's 3.5mm jack via the Astro A10. Currently, Fortnite, Overwatch, Warframe, Dauntless, Smite, Paladins, DC Universe Online, Friday the 13th (no cross-platform chat), and Killer Queen are the only games that support this.