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**2012 Gaming Headset of the Year** Meet the s, a high-end headset that is compatible with just about everything under the sun with a headphone jack. While they are quite pricy, you definitely get what you pay for, as the A40s are a well-performing, solid headset with a dizzying array of connectivity options. If you are a cross-platform gamer, these warrant a good hard look. Let's meet the Astro A40s, shall we?
HATS-Front Image
HATS-Side Image
Speaker Image

Here's the back of the cans, complete with Astro logo.

Back Image

The band of the s is a little difficult to adjust, but give it time. It is also very soft

Band Image

Bizarrely enough, the cable of the s is segmented into a couple sections, but is 6.56 feet in total.

This headset has many plugs. To start, there's what appears to be a dongle, with a tiny microphone plug and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Once you plug that into the extension cable, that in turn ends in an integrated 3.5mm headset jack. If that can't plug into your computer, then there's another accessory that splits the microphone and headphone elements into two separate plugs.

Plug Image

The cord guards seem to be made from a robust rubber that allows some movement, but won't allow your cable to be yanked out of the ear cup. Still, they can only handle so much abuse. No tantrums during a ragequit, please.

Cord Guards Image

Attached to the left ear cup is a unidirectional microphone boom that will allow you to trash talk with the best of them in your game lobby. Malleable and sexy, this boom can swivel out of the way if you just want to let your gameplay do your talking for you.

Additional Features 1 Image

Along with your headset, the packaging of the s contains an extension cord and a PC adapter.

In the Box Image

Considering that this headset is made from various plastics, it's more or less able to handle the abuse of a particularly irate gamer. We wouldn't go around chucking it after a bad match, however, as plastic bands tend to break easily.

If there ever was such a thing as a professional headset for gaming, this certainly looks the part. Jet black and sleek-looking, the absolutely fits the bill for what a serious gamer would like on their heads.

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Yowza. There's a glaring hole here, can you spot it? The mid tone ranges from 2-8kHz are extremely downplayed, and that may have to do with the fact that the sounds of most small arms live in these ranges. The downside? So do footsteps. If someone's sneaking up behind you, it may be a good idea to boost the volume a bit. That being said, you'll have to balance that with the maximum sound level of other ambient noise, because explosions will still rock you.

Frequency Response Graph

Click here for more information on our frequency response test.

Very little distortion here, which is a great thing to have.

Distortion Graph

Click here for more information on our frequency response test.

For most of the low end and mid tones, the s have an extremely even tracking, although there are a couple issues in the higher end. You'll notice them if you know what you're looking for, or if you're listening to a frequency sweep, but this is nothing terribly out of the ordinary.

Tracking Graph

Click here for more information on our frequency response test.

Overall, the s aren't that great for isolating you from the rest of the world. That being said, how many of you actually game in loud environs anyway? You'll be able to hear natural disasters and catastrophes, as the low end sounds will reach your ear canal unimpeded, but you probably won't hear people talking in the same room very well if you're in the middle of a death match.

Isolation Graph

Click here for more information on our isolation test.

While it doesn't do a great job of preventing outside noise from entering your ear canal, the s actually do a great job of keeping their own noise corralled in your ear, instead of for everyone else to hear.

Click here for more information on our leakage test.

In our labs, we measured a sound pressure level of 112.05dB before the s reached a level of 3% total harmonic distortion (THD). While that's good and loud, we'd like to remind you to never crank your cans that high, ever. You could seriously damage your hearing, and then how would you know if someone's sneaking up on you?

Click here for more on our maximum usable volume test

When you first put on the s, you'll notice at how little pressure is put on your skull and ears. On top of that, you'll notice that your ears don't hit the speaker element, as the drivers are properly angled, so there shouldn't be much heat buildup either.

Over time, the fit doesn't really change, so the s net the same amount of points here.

With the exception of buying a different model from the Astro website, there really isn't much you can do to customize your headset once you've purchased them.

As previously discussed, the cable is a segmented 6.56 foot long affair, with a split 3.5mm adapter for PCs.

Not only is there no included case for the s, but these cans are rather large and unwieldy. You'll have a difficult time trying to cram them in a bag or other case, so we'd suggest keeping these at home if you can, especially with the long cord.

Aside from being able to remove and re-attach the ear pads after a great effort, there really isn't a ton you can do to maintain your headset, so please, be careful.

Remote & Mic

On the back of the left ear cup is the microphone, able to be swiveled close to 270 degrees, and able to be articulated to meet your mouth. Because it's a unidirectional microphone, you'll have to make sure that it lines up well, but if you do, you'll notice that it does not pick up much background noise at all in-game, and that's valuable.

While they are both very similar designs, the A40s employ the use of a unidirectional and articulating microphone, as well as a litany of connectivity options. Both are attractive-looking, but you definitely do get a return on the extra money you shell out for it, especially considering that for the $250 version, you can have a headset that is compatible with almost everything under the sun.

Both have good frequency responses, but the A40s have a wrinkle: that dip in the mid-highs will make most small arms fire and electricity noises will be muffled quite a bit. This may be ideal for some gamers that tire of the incessant bursts of noise in this range, but some may not care too much; it's just a fact you'll have to weigh.

Neither headset had much of an issue with distortion.

Neither headset really had a perfect tracking score, but outside of only a few significant blemishes, you should not be able to hear the shifts in channel preference, and certainly not in-game.

Neither set of cans is a good isolator, but the Astros are technically better.

We usually recommend trying each headset on before deciding which is more comfortable for you because we all have differently-proportioned heads! While this is true, both headsets do have some nice features built-in for comfort, like the A40's angled drivers, and the Carcharias' light weight. If you have a chance, try them on for yourself before buying.

It really boils down to what you want in a headset to choose between these two. If you're an avid PC gamer looking for the most bang for your buck, the Carcharias is the obvious choice. However, if you're willing to invest a little more into your headset, and would like it to work with just about anything under the sun with a headphone jack, the Astro A40s warrant a close look.

As you can tell from the aesthetic design of the X12s, they are specifically marketed to XBox users, while the A40s are marketed to the "hardcore gamer" demographic. While it's all just different strokes for different folks, the X12s are far more simple by design, and really don't do much to set themselves apart from other headsets in a stunning fashion. The A40s are far more polished, but are far more expensive.

While the A40s do underemphasize a range of frequencies that is often quite loud and common in action games, the X12s don't really underemphasize anything, despite what the graph says about the bass (there's a bass dial that you can use to boost the bass).

The X12s have a super-high amount of distortion compared to other headsets, but it's still in the "only somewhat audible" territory.

Neither headset has perfect tracking, but only in very few instances will you hear anything, and you almost definitely will not hear it in-game.

Neither set of cans is a stunning isolator, but the X12s do block out more of the midrange.

Both headsets are very comfortable, but we recommend you try them both out before buying if you have the opportunity. Because we all have different heads, we all have different experiences with headphones; what's comfortable for you might be hellish and painful for someone else.

If you're looking for a cheap headset for the XBox, the Turtle Beach X12s fit the bill with only a couple drawbacks. However, if you're willing to shell out up to 5 times the coin, and you want your headset to work with just about everything, the Astro A40s are probably the headset for you.

At the end of the day, what you get with the s is certainly very impressive, if you're looking for a headset that can work with just about anything you can play games on. While it is very pricy compared to some of the lower-end headsets, you definitely get more headset for the extra cash.

While it does have that weird dip in the high midrange, it may not actually be a bad thing if you're accustomed to playing games with a lot of small arms fire or electricity noises, as those can get quite loud and distracting in-game. Aside from this, the downsides to buying this headset pretty much only lie with the total cost of the unit, which is quite expensive at $250 from the manufacturer.

Overall though, what you're getting with that money is a headset that performs well, is comfortable, and compatible with almost every possible platform. If you're looking for something that can do it all, and you're wiling to pay for it, the A40s are a great choice.

Meet the tester

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas

Staff Writer, Imaging


A seasoned writer and professional photographer, Chris reviews cameras, headphones, smartphones, laptops, and lenses. Educated in Political Science and Linguistics, Chris can often be found building a robot army, snowboarding, or getting ink.

See all of Chris Thomas's reviews

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