Astro A20 Review | ‘A solid headset that thrives on its ubiquity’

ASTRO A20 REVIEW. Gaming headsets aren’t as ubiquitous as they could be as they’re sometimes tied to a specific set platform. Astro has been pretty forthcoming about its plans to open its doors for more systems and the Astro A20 Gen 2 headset is an embodiment of those ideals. It may not be Astro’s most extensive piece of audio equipment, but it is a solid headset that thrives on its ubiquity.

One big happy family

Astro A20 Review | 'A solid headset that thrives on its ubiquity'

At least, it thrives on its potential to be ubiquitous. Each A20 comes with a USB transmitter that corresponds to one family of consoles and the PC. It’s pretty standard stuff. However, buying the $20 USB transmitter for the opposite family of consoles opens up that same headset for your other systems. The headset, despite its blue or green hue, is essentially agnostic; the USB stick is what binds it to the platform.

And this works not only for current-gen systems but next-gen as well. The PlayStation dongle works for PS4 and PS5 while the Xbox dongle works for the Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S (but, again, both work with PCs). This, combined with the new $120 price tag for the A20s, puts the headset at an incredible value because of how easily it can change with your current and future gaming setup. You don’t need to have different headsets for everything now and that is a thoughtful, forward-thinking prospect.

But it’s still not the easiest process. Going from one system to another is likely to confuse some and annoy others since you have to pair it each time by holding down both the button on the transmitter and the power button on the headset for multiple seconds. You can’t just plug in the transmitter, turn it on, and go. It’s not a huge deal, but it does add some small, somewhat hidden procedure to something that could be more streamlined or obvious. Ideally, it would be just one single button press on the plugged in USB dongle.

The transmitter oddly also cuts all audio when it’s plugged in, regardless if the headset is on or not, which is an odd and slightly annoying quirk. Remembering to unplug the transmitter when you’re not using it just something you’ll have to do each time. You also can’t plug the A20s into the Astro Command Center on your PC to customize your audio profiles. It just gives you three pre-made ones you can easily switch between using a button on the side. Neither of these are particularly big issues but small shortcomings worth pointing out.

The ins and outs

Astro A20 Review | 'A solid headset that thrives on its ubiquity'

Aside from these minor stumbles, the headset itself is pretty solid all around. Its sound quality is excellent with all the depth and range you’d expect. The soft ear cushions make them comfortable to wear even hours on end. Even the part that rests on your head is squishy, even if it doesn’t appear so, which is more aesthetically pleasing than headsets that don’t hide the top foamy cushion.

Adjusting the height of the headset is also simple as is the concept around the flip-to-mute mic and game/chat audio balance. Most of this is pretty standard but Astro’s standard is relatively high so meeting that is perfectly acceptable.

The A20s do make some steps forward though. The battery life is pretty good — around 12 to 15 hours — but it’s more remarkable because of the USB-C port. This allows the headset to charge more quickly and, when combined with the longer battery life, equals a headset that has very little downtime. This is essential since it sadly has no 3.5 mm jack on it, meaning that you can only use it wirelessly. A 3.5 mm jack would have been nice to better round out the headset, but it’s not a deal-breaker.

Astro A20 Review | The final verdict

Astro A20 Review | 'A solid headset that thrives on its ubiquity'

Essentially, there is no one single deal-breaker as the Astro A20s are a decent headset that balances price and functionality quite well. They sound great and won’t break your bank (similar to Astro’s Ao3 high-end earbuds) But the aspect that gives them the edge is their ability to work with different systems, despite the need for a second USB transmitter and slightly tedious switching process. While it’s impossible at the moment to definitively say how it will work on the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, it’s a good headset already that will satisfy most people and work with them if they decide to jump between platforms.

Astro A20 review unit provided by Astro.