I’m not gonna lie and say my upstair’s neighbor with his shit for brains and guacamole for dinner was the main reason for my purchasing this amazingly well designed set of hardware. If I did I’d be giving him more credit than he’s worth.  Although he was the catalyst, if you know me, you’d know I’m always looking for a good excuse to pick up a great piece of tech.  You’d think the pounding this guy gets in his ass every night would prepare him for the frequencies coming out of my sound system’s sub woofer but if Juan Gabriel is any indication of what Mexico has to offer then I guess I don’t blame him as my system can wreck some shit, or fudge.  Man, fuck that guy!

Achievement Unlocked - Passive Agressive Vent

Cutting straight to the point, Astro Gaming’s (http://www.astrogaming.com/products/3/Audio-Systems/) A40 Audio System is a definite alternative, if not outright replacement, for your home surround sound theater system, more so if you live in an old folks home where ROCK is a bowel movement.  Unless you simply can’t justify the $250 wallet-weight-loss system to the wife, since that’s usually months supply of Huggie’s, or you just don’t care about experiencing next-gen gaming in all of it’s aural splendor, then there’s really no reason not to pick a pair of these up.  

The A40 Audio System supports true 5.1 Dolby Digital by way of optical or coaxial input, Dolby ProLogic via standard RCA connection and to my surprise, Dolby Headphone.  Let me point out that Dolby Headphone is an attempt at making consumers believe ANY set of headphones can provide 5.1 sound.  I called bullshit.  Tried it.  Sucked.  Sounded worse than listening to Nickelback on mute.

While the headset and MixAmp can be purchased separately, it’s a better deal to purchase as a bundle since not only does the MixAmp provide for greater compatibility it’s also required for console use.  The headset alone sells for $199 and feature’s an over-the-ear design with an open back.  I wasn’t too keen on the open back design at first but after hours of use it’s a welcomed feature that provides significant comfort after hours of ear poundage from the Master Chief or [insert your video game poundage here] .  

The A40’s MixAmp is powered by 4 AA batteries, an optional battery back that’s rechargeable via USB, or simply via USB.  You can daisy chain multiple units together for a LAN session and even plug in an external audio source such as an mp3 player to play music while the shit hits the frag.  HA!   The control layout provides the user with with two buttons, one to power the unit on the other to toggle 5.1 on and off, as well as two knobs, the most prominent one controls overall volume while the smaller one controls the mix between GAME and VOICE.  Astro Gaming provides you with just about all the cables you need right out of the box.  Simply connect the 2.5mm Xbox controller cable from the MixAmp to the input of the headset on your Xbox 360 controller and you’re golden.   The removable boom mic can be set to any side of the headset left or right.  In my experience I’ve generally had a nice balance between GAME and VOICE mixing.  Occasionally though, you will get that friend who still uses the same worn out headset because they’ve grown the fuck up and had kids which causes you to turn that knob full VOICE attempting to understand what’s being said rendering the headset useless.  However if his words are more about the wife than strategy simply mute the bastard and return it back to KICKASS.

In terms of appearance Astro Gaming allows you to customize the headset with various Speaker Tags, which are plastic plates with magnetic tips that rest above the speaker housing.  I went with the obvious choice. 

Overall I feel Astro Gaming did their homework and did it well.  The A40 Audio System, while a bit pricey for the grown up, responsible type, those without a ball and chain will undeniably fall in love with these the second they experience a  plasma grenade flying over their head.

Main image was borrowed from AstroGaming.com.