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- Astro A38 Wireless Headset
Look, mom! No wires!
There I was, walking in the midst of a chilly San Francisco night chatting with one of my roommates as I headed home from work, the street noise reduced to a nearly inaudible hum. Sure, I probably looked like a crazy person babbling about groceries because the A38s don’t look like a normal hands-free device you normally see people walking around with these days.
As soon as the call was over, the music I had been listening to faded back in and my mind settled back into the comfort of my post-work playlist. All of this was done without ever pulling my phone out of my pocket. It was an amazing experience being able to not have to worry about earbuds falling out of my ear or needing to pulling out my phone to skip from a different song or answer a phone call.
After using the Astro A40s and A50s, it's a nice to see a change in style, specifically in the material used on the earpad cushions. The material for the A38s' earpads is like silken sound clouds that contour to your ears perfectly. After a few hours of use, I sometimes found myself forgetting I had headphones on because they cause very little ear fatigue. I use them primarily at my job because it entails a lot of solitary work, doing routine maintenance on computer labs.
Most of the time I work alone, so listening to music or Pandora radio without having to worry about my headphone wire getting caught on something is a great experience. Even when I had to move equipment or crouch under desks to properly setup the cabling for a workstation, the headsets stayed put. It was also helpful because I didn’t have to have my phone on me the entire time. I could set my phone down at one side of the room as I went about my business and answer work calls without having to stop and pick up my phone. The 30-yard range of the Bluetooth 5.0 receiver held up well and I only had drop-outs when I forgot about my phone and went out of the range of the headset.
The A38s charges using a single USB Mini-B cable and can last 15 to 20 hours on a full charge which takes about 5 hours to complete. As much as I love the A50s and A40s, I don’t miss having to make sure the mix amp is always plugged in. The only way a mix amp could be beneficial with the A38s is if it functioned like the A50 mix amp and allowed for compatibility with a console. There aren't any settings on the headphones that allow you to customize sound settings, but I found that the default bass levels were more than adequate.
The primary functions on the headphone include a power/pairing button, volume control, and a multi-function control which is the primary tool for answering calls and shuffling through a music playlist.
My only gripe with the multi-function control is that it can get a little frustrating when you want to replay a song, but you accidentally end up skipping forward because there’s no function to skip back a song, only a function to skip forward. I know, first world problems. You can actually track back by holding down the skip forward button for a second and releasing.
The only downside to the A38s is an obvious one. At this point, there is no advertised compatibility with any of the top-tier consoles like Xbox One or Playstation 4. The devices it primarily supports are the PS Vita, PC/Mac notebooks or computers, tablet devices like Kindle Fire HD or iPad, and smartphones with bluetooth capabilities. Although it may not be fully functional as a gaming headset with leading consoles, being able to connect these to a computer can make them beneficial to PC/Mac gamers. I wasn’t able to pair it to my PC desktop because I do not have a bluetooth receiver built in, but I was able to get it to pair with a mid 2012 model MacPro tower I use at work quite easily. Its inability to function with next-gen consoles may be less appealing to certain gamers, but it’s incredibly beneficial to those who game primarily on a PC/Mac that supports bluetooth and also want to be able to use their headphones for mobile gaming and entertainment.
These headsets really changed my mind about bluetooth technology. Being able to take the power of an Astro gaming headset on the go is a great experience. Although these are only the Beta version of the A38s, they performed flawlessly so far and I highly recommend taking a chance on the Beta while you still can. It costs $119 to get the early-access version adding up to over $100 in savings since they’ll retail at $229.99 when they launch in October.