Astro Gaming A20 Wireless Gen 2 Headset

Astro Gaming is perhaps best known for its pricey, high-end A40 and A50 gaming headsets, but the company offers more affordable choices, too. The A20 is the company’s economical wireless headset, and it’s been refreshed for use with the newest game consoles. These $119.99 cans come in a PlayStation version that works with the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, and in an Xbox version that’s compatible with the Xbox One and Xbox Series S/X. If you own both next-gen systems, you can use the headset with both consoles by purchasing an extra transmitter for $19.99. Overall, the A20 Gen 2 boasts robust wireless sound quality, especially for its price, but it could use more padding for increased comfort.

The A20 Gen 2’s Design

The A20 Gen 2 is reminiscent of the A10 headset, just wireless and a bit larger. The square-shaped earcups sit on plastic struts that let them pivot up and down, struts that connect to a wide plastic headband with a soft rubber underside. The earpads are soft foam covered in breathable cloth, which results in a comfortable, snug fit that shouldn’t build up much heat over long play sessions. It doesn’t feel nearly as solid or quite as comfortable as the more expensive A50s, though, especially with the wide, flat headband offering little padding for the top of your head.

All controls sit on the right earcup’s back edge, and they include a power button, an EQ button, a volume wheel, and voice/game audio balance buttons. The USB-C port for charging can be found on the same earcup, facing down. The long, rubber boom mic is mounted on the left earcup, and can be flipped up to automatically mute your voice.

Astro Gaming A20 Wireless Gen 2 Headset Transmitters plug inadditional transmitters (for Xbox or PlayStation) for $19.99.

Using the headset with a PlayStation 5 and the optional USB adapter is easy, but you need to re-pair with the appropriate console’s adapter each time you want to switch the headset between them. You do this by holding down the pairing button on the transmitter and the power button on the headset for 10 seconds until both rapidly flash. This isn’t an issue when switching between PC and console using the same transmitter, but once you bring a second transmitter into the mix you’ll have to juggle them.

Don’t expect the A20 Gen 2 to deliver any virtual surround sound processing tricks. This is purely a stereo headset, with no internal simulated surround effects. If you want directionality, you’ll need to rely on each game’s mixing, or use an app like Windows Sonic for Headphones, Dolby Atmos for Headphones, or Razer THX Spatial Audio. Simulated surround sound is generally uncommon in console-focused headsets, but it’s very common in dedicated PC headsets.

Microphone Performance

The headset’s microphone is fairly clear and crisp, though I noticed some slight wireless artifacts in the form of a slight hiss in test recordings. This is an occasionally common effect, and it was minor; and my voice otherwise came through well. The mic is well-suited for voice chat, though it isn’t as clean as the mics found on the Razer Nari Essential or Kraken Ultimate. And, as always, we recommend a dedicated USB microphone for serious streaming and recording.

Music Performance

For music, the A20 Gen 2 is capable, with solid bass response. It handled our bass test track, The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” at maximum (and unsafe) volume without distortion, while producing a powerful, rounded thump with the bass drum hits. It won’t quite rattle your head, but it reaches low enough to offer satisfying force.

Yes’ “Roundabout” sounds very good on the A20 Gen 2, with the opening acoustic guitar plucks getting plenty of high frequency clarity to bring out the string texture. It’s a high-mids-focused sound that gives just enough low frequency response to the bassline to bring it out in the mix, while keeping the vocals centered. The guitar strums settle a bit in the background of the track, but can still be clearly heard in the busy mix.

The Crystal Method’s “Busy Child” lends plenty of energy to the backbeat of the track thanks to solid high-mids, and occasionally reaches down into the lower frequencies for the bass drum hits to sound properly ominous and full.

Astro Gaming A20 Wireless Gen 2 Headset profileYakuza: Like a Dragon sounds full and clear when played through the Xbox Series X. The jazz- and techno-infused battle themes are energetic, and all dialog and sound effects come through cleanly.

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla also sounds good on the headset. Snow crunches and wind gusts come through with plenty of presence, and the in-game audio mix does a good job of providing a sense of directionality for sound effects through the stereo headset. The game’s extensive dialogue can be heard very clearly, too.

Finally, Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered on the PlayStation 5 also comes through quite well. The sweeping orchestral soundtrack is full and bombastic, and the powerful thuds of encounter-ending punches carry a good weight.

Good Sound for the Price

The Astro Gaming A20 Gen 2 is a very capable wireless gaming headset that’s ready for the newest console generation. It sounds quite good, and works out of the box with Xbox or PlayStation (depending on the version you get). You can even ensure support for both consoles by buying an optional extra USB transmitter for $20, though you must deal with the re-pairing process each time you switch systems. The A20 Gen 2 doesn’t feel quite as comfortable as it could be, but light padding and a stiff feel is common in this price range; if you want a snug fit and plush feel, you need to spend a bit more than $119.99. You’d buy this headset for its wireless flexibility and full sound quality at a price that doesn’t break the bank.

Of course, both systems’ gamepads have headphone ports, so you can get a better-feeling headset for a similar price, like Editors’ Choice picks Razer BlackShark V2 or Logitech G Pro X, cans that also feature USB sound cards for simulated surround sound for use with PCs. If you simply want a wireless PC headset, the Razer Nari Essential is also an Editors’ Choice for its price, fit, sound quality, and mic.

December 4, 2020
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