Astro A20 Gen 2 – Design and Features
Like I mentioned, the Astro A20 Gen 2 doesn’t have a lot new going on style-wise. That said, it’s still a highly stylized headset, for better or worse. It has a boxy frame and a subtly curved headband. Much of the aesthetic is centered around hard angles and a tri-tone color palette, and it definitely borrows some ideas from the A20’s big brothers, the Astro A50 and Astro A40 TR, but feels like the edgier younger sibling.
The design unfortunately feels much cheaper. All the metal touches found in the A40 and A50 headsets are missing from this headset. It’s a very plastic affair, and it feels more like the sub-$100 headsets I’ve tried that take aspects of a brand’s more premium line and boil them down into something that’s affordable but still effective, like the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless. Fortunately, the Astro A20 Gen 2 does seem well-built, as it doesn’t creak a bunch when I twist and flex it.
That said, flexibility isn’t the strong suit of the Astro A20 Gen 2. There’s about an inch of adjustment to the sliders on each side, letting the headset fit large and small heads. Though for smaller users, the top end of the yolks will actually stick up like little horns. Height adjustment is about all the Astro A20 Gen 2 headset offers though. The earcups’ angle adjusts a little, but there’s no rotation to speak of.
The comfort situation doesn’t improve much when it comes to the cushioning either. The earcups have padding that doesn’t feel as dense as I’d expect at this price point. The headband is worse. The headband cushion has a rubberized surface, and because the headband is nearly flat (except for an odd angular cutout), it creates a pressure hotspot. I’ve got a shaved head, and that really lets those pressure points stand out. At 318 grams, the headset is also on the heavier side.
In terms of features, the Astro A20 Gen 2 offers a flip-to-mute microphone that has a decent level of flexibility, a USB-C charging port, three EQ presets, and an on-ear volume dial. The memory stick-sized wireless dongle offers support for gaming PCs and a select console, and it has a button for switching between the two. Getting a second dongle allows the Astro A20 Gen 2 to pair with both a PS5 and an Xbox Series X or Series S.
Astro A20 Gen 2 – Software
Many of Astro’s devices use the Astro Command Center. The software allowed adjustments to the EQ presets on the previous A20, but the current software at the time of testing failed to recognize my A20 Gen 2 review unit. That may change in the future.
Astro A20 Gen 2 – Gaming and Performance
Gaming lets the Astro A20 Gen 2 regain a bit of ground. With line-of-sight and a short range, the wireless connection is stable and latency-free. Astro claims a 15-meter range. I was able to go about 20-25 feet away with some walls in the way before the signal cut out. That said, when I put the dongle at the back of my computer, the range fell closer to 15 feet.
I did find the headset living up to Astro’s claim of a 15+ hour battery life. When the battery gets low, the headset makes it pretty annoying to keep using though. It begins to play a bassy SOS in morse code on a very short interval. Fortunately, the headset still works while it’s charging.
I tested the A20 Gen 2 headset on PC, and throughout hours of Overwatch and way too many hours of Genshin Impact, the sound was respectable. Even with the bass-heavy EQ settings, the audio mix remained clean enough to hear all the audio cues I needed. I wasn’t getting caught off guard because I missed a Reaper’s footsteps nor did those footsteps overpower communications with my teammates. In Genshin Impact, the audio quality held up, letting the impact of my characters abilities ring through right alongside the musical score.
I also like to give headsets a nice musical challenge to really test the mix. The A20 Gen 2 headset manages some serious oomph with the bass. The slippery bass lines in of Montreal’s Skeletal Lamping rumble with full force, but they don’t muddy up anything like the faint sleigh bells or trebly keys in Wicked Wisdom.
The headset is missing any sort of digital surround sound on PC and Xbox, something often found at this price point. It will feature surround sound enhancements with PS5, but I haven’t been able to test this.
Unlike the sound output, the sound input isn’t quite so impressive. My Discord pals never complained, as the mic does an acceptable job keeping down unwanted background noise, but my voice comes through a bit thin even with the mic positioned as close as possible to my mouth. It certainly feels like a step down from the likes of a SteelSeries ClearCast microphone or the mic on the Sennheiser GSP 370
The discomfort over long play sessions gets to be pronounced though. Astro may get an edge because it’s early to the game with a next-gen-ready headset, but many more will be coming. If the next-gen support isn’t a worry, the PDP LVL 50 offers better value and the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless outperforms it and costs less. And, when it comes to next-gen support, SteelSeries has the Arctis 7X/P which costs just a touch more but wins out, especially when considering the 7X will support both consoles, something that requires an extra $20 purchase for the Astro headset.
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