And the sound?

Of course, all that would be worthless if the A50 sounded like Apple earbuds, but thankfully it lives up to Astro's pedigree.

Its 40mm drivers proved more than capable of handling anything we could throw at it, be that online games of Halo: Reach and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier or aurally-dense levels of Journey and the pounding beats of Deadmau5's Sound Shapes levels. The bass thrums heartily, and high frequencies are pristinely clear. More importantly, you'll notice new details in every game—even if it's just the layered whispers of the wind—that you may never have picked up on otherwise.

The ear-encompassing headset does a decent job at noise-canceling, and the Dolby 7.1 surround sound (activated via a switch on the transmitter) is executed shockingly well. It performed perfectly in our standard surround sound test of chucking grenades behind us and listening for the "boom."

That said, we did experience some audio hiccups and stutters, and they were worse in some games than others. Astro has released an easily-applied firmware patch to address the glitch and informed us that retail units won't have the issue at all. We can't confirm whether the patch works, since occasional audio drops still occurred even after we applied it, though we suspect the problem may lie with our console.

There are also three sound presets accessible via a toggle switch above the volume wheel on the right ear: one standard, one for gaming, and one for general media. These don't allow for much customization, though Astro's announced plans to add custom profiles in a future firmware update.

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