Gaming is more mobile than ever. Whether it’s Android, iPhone, tablet or PS Vita, you can play games wherever you are. Waiting in the doctor’s office? Fire up some GTA. Even while on the bus, in a taxi, or on a plane, gaming now knows no bounds. But that doesn’t mean other people want to hear the game you’re playing. Brands like Beats by Dre have made their living in a market where consumers want quality headphones, even for a hefty price, that are still fashionable. Wires can get in the way while you’re on-the-go, so bluetooth is the way to go.
Leave it to a company like Astro — that always has the needs of the gamer at mind — to craft a bluetooth headset that can go 12 rounds with Beats, pack a punch, offer great sound, style and battery life, and all while appealing to demographic of on-the-go gamers.
The Astro A38 bluetooth headset is the best Bluetooth headset I’ve used, and between the beta model and retail one, I’ve had plenty of use with it — both at home and while travelling via taxi and plane. I used it with my iPhone, Windows Surface tablet, and my PS Vita. Don’t expect to be able to use these with your PlayStation 4 since it’s Bluetooth. You can’t. This is a strictly mobile headset. No PC. No console. That would be fine, except it leaves out one of the devices I game on — the Nintendo 3DS. With no Bluetooth option for that handheld device, and no 3.5mm/auxiliary cable input on the A38, the Nintendo 3DS gets left in the dust. That means when I travel and I want to use the 3DS, I’d have to either bring the A38 and leave my 3DS out of it, or bring two headsets (which isn’t reasonable). I brought that up when I tested the A38, and I’m a little disappointed that the concern wasn’t addressed.
But my disappointment can only last so long because the Astro A38 is a beast. The sound quality is superb. It handles everything you can throw at it, and puts out a respectable thump with bass. There’s active noise cancelling, but I don’t think that’s a fair description. It’s like a black hole for noise. You’re not going to hear anything. I’ve sat next to the engine on a plane and couldn’t hear it. That means you’re just focusing on your game, music, and movie audio. The ear cushions are very comfortable and squishy, and they sit on-ear. The headset itself sits snugs on the head without being too tight. And it has the same cushy padding to ease the weight on the top of your head. The earcups also rotate so the headset can lay flat in the nice carrying case that comes with it.
For customization, you can buy custom ear tags from Astro, as they’re just magnetic tags that change with ease. It’s a stylish headset that can compete with the culture created by Beats by Dre.
Syncing the A38 is really easy and requires just holding a button for three seconds. It can also sync to multiple devices. So if you’re playing on your Vita and get a phone call, you can take the call no prob. Yes, you can take calls with the Astro A38, as there’s a microphone built in. It’s not the best mic, but it definitely gets the job done with average quality. I actually tested calls, and was able to leave my iPhone 5s on my desk and walk around our office building while have a conversation through the headset. The audio and quality never dropped out. That’s great, as I was probably a good 50 to 60 feet away from my phone. What’s strange, though, is that while playing my Vita in bed right in front of me, sound would cut in and out very briefly ever so often. It never dropped or disconnected altogether, but I found it a little annoying when watching a show on Netflix. Oh, and don’t worry about battery life. The battery on this headset kicks a**. Astro claims it has 15 to 30 hours of life on a single charge (which takes five hours to charge), but it’s definitely toward the latter. I averaged about a charge a week, but people that use it a ton more might have to charge it twice a week.
Overall, the Astro A38 is a great bluetooth headset if that is solely what you’re looking for. For the price of $230, it’s a little boggling that it ignores the most popular handheld gaming console (the 3DS) and can’t be used with consoles or PC. This could be one of the best overall headsets if it just had a 3.5mm cable input. Instead, it’s just a nice alternative for those that want to identify with the brand, get great audio quality, be wire-free, and have some of the best noise cancellation I’ve ever had in a headset.
Reviewed with a provided unit from Astro.