Gaming headsets are making their way off of PC desks and out of pro gaming tournaments into the households of gamers everywhere. With mobile gaming becoming a larger piece of the puzzle all the time, companies are rolling out lightweight mobile headsets to address the needs of gamers on the move. Astro has released an in-ear headset they’ve called the A*Star to take on-the-go. Though they may seem pricey at an MSRP of $79.99, fantastic sound quality, functionality, and design make these a great purchase for mobile gamers.
The first thing you notice about the A*Star headset is its design. Astro makes an effort to design sleek, attractive yet functional products, and this headset fall into that line. The angular shape of the earbuds and flat wiring give the headset an innovative look that you don’t see in most headphones. The control medallion is sculpted to have an individual look, setting it apart from many generic-looking headsets. Even the carrying case is attractive to the eye; the small black-and-orange pouch uses a carabiner-style hook to attach to a belt loop. Still, each of the design choices is also highly functional in simple ways: the flat wiring minimizes tangling while the headset is in use or stored in its pouch. The pouch has an open slot on the front to hold an iPod or other MP3 player in addition to the headset. The medallion allows quick and easy access of volume, mic muting, and call answering/track skipping without a glance. And the earbuds’ slight upward-angle seats them more firmly in the ear.
Even so, a good-looking headset doesn’t mean a thing if it doesn’t sound just as good. The A*Stars certainly deliver in the audio department, utilizing 9mm drivers to deliver an uncanny amount of sound. I usually find myself disappointed in the amount of bass in-ear headsets give me compared to larger headsets; either the bass seems weak, or when the bass is strong the overall sound ends up feeling muddled. I’ve primarily used the headset for music and have been very satisfied with the playback, noticing parts of tracks I usually would have missed. The microphone itself also works well; I’ve chatted on both my iPad and laptop with it and have had no complaints about sound quality or background noise.
My only issue with the headset came from the plastic covering on the outside of the earbud. The first time I tried to switch out the insert on my right earbud the cover popped off, vanishing to realms unknown. As a result, a small portion of the wiring on my right side is exposed. I don’t think this is a typical defect; I’ve changed out the left earbud multiple times applying the same amount of pressure and had no problems, but for the money that’s not a situation you should have to deal with.
Though the $80 price point may be intimidating for newcomers, Astro’s A*Star model is a quality in-ear headset. Included is an adapter for laptop/PC use and three different sizes of earbuds, so they can be used in practically any situation. As a gaming headset, phone/laptop microphone, or just a set of headphones, the A*Stars perform superbly while providing appealing style for the casual and hardcore gamer alike.