Guardian video game reviewer Peter Galvin tests out technology designed to enhance the gaming experience.Product was provided for review purposes.
Someone once labeled current gaming headset star Astro Gaming the "Beats of gaming," referring to the enormously successful Beats by Dre product line of consumer headsets. It's a comparison Astro itself seems eager to encourage and, while aligning your company with such a ubiquitous brand name makes sense financially, more discerning audiophiles are quick to point out that most of the cash you shell out for a pair of Beats is for name-brand style rather than for sound.
However, Astro Gaming seems to be looking to the Beats phenomenon more as a guide to positioning itself at the top of the industry for premium gaming headphones. The market isn't exactly teeming with game-specific headsets, so when I say the new Astro A50 (Astro Gaming, $299) headphones are some of the best money can buy in this category it doesn't automatically mean they're mind-blowing. It does suggest that Astro's first big release in three years is conclusively about looking towards the future rather than playing catch-up.
A local San Francisco company, Astro has made a name for itself by selling headsets solely on its own website, and, with the release of the A50, it hopes to expand the web store into a downtown retail space. Gaming is in the process of legitimizing itself for mature players and Astro wants a place in that richer realm, not just for posterity's sake but because we're talking about a market that's growing every day. As the average age of game players rises (currently somewhere between 30 and 35 years old), the industry has seen a rise in gamers and tech enthusiasts with considerably deeper pockets.