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Astro A40 TR
April 11, 2019
Original: $149 USD
20.3 x 19.7 x 9.5 cm (headset)
2m (3.5mm cable)
1.5m (PC splitter)
Audiophiles often champion wired headsets for their lossless audio transmission and usability, but what about the gaming community? The Astro A40 TR (“tournament ready”) was built with esports in mind. This open-back gaming headset has a closed-back look and features a 3.5mm headphone jack connector, microphone, and a solid plastic and metal design, which makes it feel sturdy and robust. It’s an enticing offer for a new gaming headset, and we spent a week with the A40 to see if it’s worth the price.
Editor’s note: This article was updated on November 7, 2022 to address some alternative headsets, update formatting, and add a microphone score based on the results of our reader feedback poll. Thanks for voting!
Professional gamers who want a headset that delivers on sound quality and modularity can embrace the expensive A40 TR. Additionally, anyone wanting a comfortable headset with a microphone and solid sound quality will like this pricey Astro headset.
What is the Astro A40 TR like to use?
The A40 TR is made primarily with plastic alongside metal accents used to hold the two ear cups to the frame. The headset also features extensive, moderately soft cloth padding on the ear cups and at the top of the headband. The plastic build makes the headset feel cheaper than it should, but does make it quite flexible. Unfortunately, all of this material puts the A40 TR on the heavy side at 369g. Despite this, the A40 TR is generally comfortable for long gaming sessions, up to several hours at a time.
The headset comes in several different colors, some of which are more subdued (like Black XB and Black PS), but our X-Edition review model features a vibrant red and blue color scheme. No matter which color option you choose, the headset is too large and gaming-oriented for on-the-go use. The microphone isn’t detachable, and the headphones don’t fold up—you can only rotate them to lay flat.
One design feature is a fascinating addition: the ability to swap out the plastic plates on the outside of the ear cups, easily detachable thanks to magnets. You can choose different colors for your headset with the A40 Mod Kit, but this will cost you an extra $59 USD. With the kit, you get synthetic leather ear cushions that improve passive isolation and an extra microphone, along with the closed-back headphone covers that have a silicone baffle to block out noise.
How do you control the Astro A40 TR?
The Astro A40 TR has extremely barebones control options (unless you want to spend a lot more on extras). Unlike some of its competitors using a USB cable and software to expand the features of the headset, the Astro A40 TR has nothing in the way of noise canceling or additional features. It even lacks any form of built-in volume control! The only control the A40 TR does have is a mute toggle integrated into the cable.
You can outfit the A40 TR with many accessories, among them is the MixAmp Pro TR which is a big module that lets you control the volume for voice and game audio. It’s ideal for streaming as you can broadcast from the stream out port in 2-channel Dolby surround sound. With this, you also get access to Astro Command Center, a software for PC/Mac.
How does the Astro A40 TR connect?
The A40 TR connects using a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, which opens it up to compatibility with any device that supports this long-held standard. This includes compatibility with the PlayStation 5 and PS4, Xbox Series S/X, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch (in handheld mode), Steam Deck, laptops, gaming PCs, and (some) mobile phones. The headset includes a splitter that changes the TRRS jack into a TRS audio output and TRS microphone input connector. Unlike some of its competitors, the A40 TR does have a detachable cable, although it may be difficult to replace due to its non-standard connector.
How well does the Astro A40 TR block out noise?
The Astro A40 TR is a semi-open back headset, so it’s not supposed to entirely block out your environment. Even though the headphone plates create a shield between you and the outside environment, there is no baffling on the inside with any kind of insulation (we’ve seen something similar with the HiFiMan Edition S). You get an open-back-like sound and the option to enjoy a closed-back experience if you purchase the aforementioned A40 Mod Kit.
Due to the lack of internal baffling on the pre-installed ear cup plates, outside noise such as street-level car engines and AC hum is barely impacted. You’ll be able to hear conversations and music in the same room will often filter through. Depending on the volume, people near you will also likely have no trouble hearing whatever you’ve got playing, too.
How does the Astro A40 TR sound?
The Astro A40 TR follows our house target frequency response curve fairly closely. The sub-bass is slightly lacking, and the low midrange is slightly exaggerated in a way that sometimes gives extra prominence to instruments like electric guitars whose fundamentals lie in the range 60-500Hz. The deviation in the high end of the frequency spectrum from 4kHz to the upper end of the headset’s range primarily impacts cymbals and hi-hats, but also affects the overall tone. This divergence doesn’t harm the headset too much for casual listening, but it does prevent it from being viewed as a serious contender when it comes to sound quality. This is okay—it’s not marketed as an audiophile’s delight.
Low, mids, and highs
The headset performs admirably when it comes to bass-heavy songs. Feel Good Inc. by Gorillaz sounds excellent thanks to its emphasis on lower frequency sounds, with the kick and bass shining through clearly. The headset falters with songs that have mixes that are more even across the frequency spectrum, however, such as Sleep Now in the Fire by Rage Against The Machine. Here, the bass isn’t as present and the guitars and cymbals aren’t conveyed with the tone and clarity that I’m used to, primarily due to the inconsistent treble response. The higher strings in an orchestral track like Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 also sound slightly less present than I usually expect. Games like Halo 3, Final Fantasy XV, and Fallout 4 all sound quite enjoyable, with a satisfying representation of each game’s soundscape.
How is the Astro A40 TR microphone?
The A40 TR’s microphone is well built for a gaming headset. It’s attached to the side of the headset and flips down, rotating around the ear cup. It’s easy to manipulate closer or further away from your mouth, which makes it easy to set a distance that works well for your voice. From a subjective standpoint, we tested it in several Discord calls where it performed quite adequately—the mic is loud and clear, though verges on audible distortion at times. Since there’s no onboard signal processing, noise from your surroundings won’t be suppressed at all. Listen below and judge the microphone’s quality for yourself:
Astro A40 TR microphone demo (Ideal):
Astro A40 TR microphone demo (Office):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Should you buy the Astro A40 TR?
The Astro A40 TR delivers on several key areas that are important for a gaming headset. It’s versatile, and usable with a wide range of gaming platforms and other devices. It has pretty good sound, as well as a solid microphone. The design may be off-putting to some, but the color scheme is definitely a matter of preference.
Unfortunately, the biggest issue with the Astro A40 TR is simply that it’s more expensive than other headsets that deliver on similar features. Plus, those who want even the most basic of extras will have to pay quite a bit more. If you’re an Astro fan, more power to you, but you might want to look at your other options first.
What should you get instead of the Astro A40 TR?
Our first recommendation for an alternative gaming headset is the Razer BlackShark V2, a headset that matches the A40 TR for sound quality and comfort, but exceeds it for features thanks to the USB connectivity and Razer Synapse software. Similarly, the Razer Barracuda X (2022) is also a good option while also being fully wireless. Another option is the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1, which also uses a 3.5mm connector and is one of the best options if you’re looking for a headset that emphasizes comfort.
Frequently asked questions about the Astro A40 TR
The A40 TR features detachable panels on either ear cup that are attached with magnets. Astro advertises these as “customizable speaker tags” that can be easily detached and swapped out to style the headset to the user’s liking. They’re exceptionally easy to switch out and change around without being so easy to remove that they fall off, and new parts are available from Astro’s website.