Turn your game audio up to 11 with these Bluetooth cans | Cult of Mac

Turn your game audio up to 11 with these Bluetooth cans


These Astro 38s are easy to pair, last for hours, sound amazing. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
These Astro 38s are easy to pair, last for hours, sound amazing. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

I typically try out a new product for review without reading any of the documentation or media relations stuff that the folks who send us such things want us to look at. I want to have as pristine an experience as possible. Sometimes that leads to little surprises.

I put these new Astro Gaming A38 Bluetooth headphones on my head last week, and paired them with my iPhone to play a little music. After a few songs of various genres, I stopped the tunes and took these off my noggin. I suddenly realized that my girlfriend had been blending up a protein shake in the nearby kitchen. It was surprising because I honestly could not hear it with the headphones on my head and playing music at a relatively low volume – and our blender is really loud.

While they’re great for music, these are also fantastic sounding headphones that help you immerse yourself into any game on your iPad or iPhone, cutting down on the auditory distractions from the outside world when they’re powered up.

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This headset checks all the boxes here with a fantastic sounding, active noise-canceling, microphone-included feature set that just can’t be beat.

The active ambient noise-canceling ability of these Astro headphones is further enhanced by the on-ear speakers, which are soft and comfy and sort of nuzzle themselves right up onto your ears. It’s a very comfortable feeling, almost calming. I can tell when the active noise reduction comes on fairly easily, now that I’m listening for it, as it cuts the sound around me, including my own voice, by quite a bit when I turn on the power.

The sound reproduction is pretty spot-on, without any overly heavy bass response, and some fantastic high and mid-range sound reproduction without getting muddy or tinny. I was able to crank them up to high levels without any noticable distortion, which is key when you’re looking to blast the tunes or fully drop into a killer cinematic game like The Wolf Among Us or a MOBA like VainGlory.

The A38 headphones have a frequency response of 15 – 20,000 Hz with less than 0.1% distortion, and an active ambient noise canceling microphone along with an integrated mic for your voice that also cancels noise so your calls for help when getting ripped up in a shooter will be heard over the sounds of your toddler playing the drums on the pots and pans in your kitchen.

The headband is fairly tight, which may be an issue for some, but it has memory-foam material padding at the top, and is fully adjustable for various head shapes and sizes. The buttons for power/pairing and volume are on the rear of each headphone, which makes changing settings while wearing the headset a snap. The embedded Li-Ion battery is advertised as lasting more than 15 hours for talking, over 20 hours for audio, and more than 30 hours in airplane mode. They also take about five hours to charge, which isn’t too bad considering you can charge these bad boys overnight and then have a full day of use out of them while gaming or chatting on the phone.

Since they’re wireless, they’ve got a typical range of about 30 feet with line of sight; I was able to move around my house with them, but they’d static up once I went into different rooms or behind a closed door. They’re made to use with mobile devices, though they’ll work with anything that has a Bluetooth capability, like a Macbook or PlayStation Vita. They’re pretty comfortable, too, though they do start to feel a bit heavy after a couple of hours.

You can customize these headsets by replacing the “speaker tags,” the decoration on the outside of each ear cup. Extra tags — compatible with the wired A30 headsets as well — cost around $20 apiece and come with gaming themed images from Assassin’s Creed, League of Legends, Plants Vs Zombies, Watch Dogs, and more. It’s a fun way to give your headset a more personalized look.

If you’re looking to spend upwards of $230 on a pair of Bluetooth headphones, they better sound amazing, last for hours on a charge, and come in a protective case. The Astro Gaming A38 headset check all the boxes here with a fantastic sounding, active noise-canceling, microphone included feature set that just can’t be beat for the price.

DSC06489A38 Bluetooth Gaming Headset by Astro Gaming ($230)

The good: Fantastic active noise canceling headset with a comfortable on-ear design, the A38 is also easy to pair, use, and sounds amazing. You can even customize the outside ear cups with “tags.”

The bad: A bit heavy, takes hours for a full charge.

The verdict: If you want your audio fully immersive with a broad range of audio frequency response and a battery that will let you go wireless all day, the Astro A38s are the way to go

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