Category Archives: Hardware

No custom EQ for ASTRO Gaming’s A50

There’s so many headsets to choose from, and a whole heap of brands too – cost and loyalty certainly play a huge part in deciding where you invest your hard moolah – for me though, I have landed on ASTRO Gaming after trying pretty much all the headset brands out there. Some may be put off by their cost, but in my opinion their quality is indisputable – but there’s always room for improvement.

In my latest hardware review, I took a look at ASTRO’s A50 wireless (Gen 2) Xbox One headset – it’s an incredible piece of kit – but like most things, there were a few things that I felt could be improved – namely the EQ settings.

The headset features three preset EQs, two of which often overpower the bass. After digging around the ASTRO forums it seems that the EQ settings have been a subject for discussion for quite sometime, with ASTRO staff promising that custom EQ settings will make their way to the A50 – that is until now…

Unfortunately we will not be releasing the custom EQ presets as we promised for the A50 Wireless Headset. We did post this on a few threads a couple of months ago but you may have not seen it. As we developed the software and the firmware required for the operation, it became clear that we could not deliver on the quality or functionality that everybody was expecting and we wanted to place our name on. We understand that it may be devastating to hear especially after waiting all this time but it’s something we have learned from and will never promise again unless we can deliver 100% on it and are working to build it into our future equipment so it works as you would expect without being compromised. [July 16 at 1:21 PM]

This is a real shame, particularly as there are other similarly priced headsets that do offer custom EQ settings but it’s not the end of the world – the A50 sounds superb, and the build quality is easily worth the money. Custom EQ would have made a superb addition to the A50 but isn’t a deal breaker for what I believe to be the best Xbox One headset on the market.

Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller reduced in the UK

Elite Controller

GAME are exclusively selling the Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller in the UK and today they have announced a cut in the asking price.

Originally going on sale at £129.99 – the Elite will now set you back £119.99 and is expected to launch sometime in October.

In close collaboration with professional gamers, Microsoft created the Xbox Elite Controller — a pro controller designed to take gaming to the next level. Players can customize everything from trigger sensitivity to button mapping to game-specific setups, and use it with their Xbox One and Windows 10 devices with a custom app that offers gamers the opportunity to further modify the controller for any gaming scenario. The controller features a premium design that guarantees long-lasting quality with stainless steel features that are built to withstand hours of intense gameplay.

Forza Motorsport 6 Xbox One console announced

A Forza Motorsport 6 inspired Xbox One was announced yesterday.

The console not only boasts a cool blue design with matching controller, but it also has a 1TB hard drive in there too.

It also features customised sounds For when you press the power and eject buttons. The controller will also be released as a standalone product to purchase.

The Xbox One Forza Motorsport 6 Limited Edition console is available for pre-order now at Microsoft Stores and select retailers alongside the release of Forza Motorsport 6 on September 15, 2015

Our very own Aceybongos gives you full low down in the video below.

E3 Microsoft Conference – Xbox Elite wireless controller

Microsoft have just announced the Xbox Elite Wireless controller. Think an Xbox Pro gaming pad from the likes of MLG and SCUF, but officially made by the team at Microsoft. From the brief glimpse we saw, the controller comes with custom flipper triggers underneath it, rapid-fire and hair-trigger locks, precision thumbsticks and fully customisable buttons.

This is a serious piece of kit for serious gamers.

Saitek unveils special Farming Simulator controller

Big fan of Farming Simulator on PC? Well, your experience is about to become more immersive as Saitek and GIANTS Software announce the new Farming Simulator Wheel, Pedal and Vehicle Side Panel bundle.

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Currently only available to preorder in the United States and Canada, the bundle is currently listed for $299.99, and includes everything you need for your Farming Simulator experience.

They are also offering the Wheels and Pedals, and Vehicle Panel individually, at $149.99 and $149.99 respectively.

New Orange/Dark Grey A40 from Astro

As you’ve likely noticed, we love our Xbox One accessories here at This is Xbox, and we especially love headsets. Our friends at Astro Gaming dropped some news into our inbox yesterday letting us know the A40 has received an updated colour scheme!

Headset

Inspired by ASTRO Gaming’s home town of San Francisco, the Orange / Dark Grey A40 brings a unique look to your Xbox One set up. Like all A40 headsets, this version features pro sound quality and is lightweight and easily adjustable, providing hours of comfortable wear. By attaching the MixAmp™ M80 directly to your Xbox One controller, you take full command of your game sound and chat audio for an integrated and uninterrupted gameplay experience.

If you haven’t already make sure you read Rich Berry’s ASTRO Gaming A40 + M80 Mixamp Xbox One headset review.

Specs

The Xbox One controller is getting a dedicated 3.5mm audio jack

If you ask any Xbox One owners what they would like to change on the controller, it would be the fact you need to spend another £25 on the chat adapter to get your headset working.

Well they can rejoice at the fact that new controllers will come with a dedicated 3.5mm audio jack. In fact it’s already listed on the Xbox Support Site.

There hasn’t been an official announcement from Microsoft yet but no doubt we’ll hear something soon.

Meet the new Guitar Hero Live controller

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So, we’ve seen the Guitar Hero Live announcement and we’ve had some time to digest the changes in the game and how the new controller works with the changed game mechanics.

Let’s have a little look at the new controller, culminating with a short video presentation from FreeStyle Games’ Jamie Jackson, recorded at the presentation event held in New York.

guitarherolivecontroller

So, here it is. As a plastic guitar fan, I think it looks very functional. The major change is that gone are the coloured buttons, replaced by a sleek looking set of six near the headstock, stacked for chord playing.  The keen-eyed among you will notice the “Hero Power” button where the bridge is on a real guitar. This can only mean one thing. Gone will be the note-missing instrument shake which was, let’s face it, sketchy at best. There’s also a cool new whammy-bar.

Don’t take my word for it, have a listen to the controller presentation below which explains the reasoning why the change has happened.

So, what do you think, like it, or loathe it? Let us know in the comments below.

Guitar Hero Live is hitting your home stage this autumn.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bolwf2q9Vb8

Turtle Beach Stealth 500x headset review

Just over a month ago I got to review the Turtle Beach XO Seven Pro headset, it was brilliant. It was one of the most comfortable headsets I used in a long time, it looked good, sounded great now keeps me company at work when I’m designing.

There were two things missing for me on them though, Surround Sound (even though the superhuman hearing feature was cool) and having to use wires to chat. Thankfully both those issues have been resolved thanks to the Turtle Beach Stealth 500x headset.

I couldn’t wait to open these bad boys up, the packaging is simple yet elegant, coming in a plain white box with a shiny silver white Turtle Beach logo on them. Inside you’ll find the headset, wireless transmitter, digital optical cable, charging cable and mobile lead.

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Setting up couldn’t be simpler, the transmitter is powered by USB and you’ll also need the digital optical cable, they both plug into the Xbox One. It’s then a case of making sure the console to ensure that the digital audio matches the information in the guide that came with the headset, then all you need to do is turn the headset on and you are good to go, you shouldn’t need to pair them to the transmitter.

The Stealth 500x is a nice looking headset, though I was a little disappointed with the outside of ear cups, the shiny plastic and buttons feel a bit cheap, considering this is a higher end headset (with high-end) price, I would have expected a bit of a better build, thankfully this is my only real complaint about the headset.

The mesh lining and foam cushioning make for very comfortable gaming sessions, they are also fairly light, so you never feel like you are being weighed down by them. The battery life is excellent, the most of managed is 14 hours, which is better than any headset I’ve reviewed previously. You get an audio notification when the battery is running low, and you can use them while they charge. It would have really helpful if you could have charged the internal battery using the plug and play kit for the controllers, but instead you need to use a mini-USB cable.

Of course what you really want to know is how they sound, to which the answer is brilliant! I’ve been testing the headset for four weeks across a huge range of titles, new and old and was really impressed with the performance. The DTS Headphone:X 7.1 sound is excellent and to make things even better there are loads of custom presets that will enhance your gameplay experience. It takes a bit of time to remember which preset does what but there is a handy guide available to help you remember. The different modes really do make a difference to your experience, whether you are gaming, listening to music or watching films.

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The Stealth 500X can also be updated via Turtle Beach software which you download to your PC, you’ll need two USB ports available so that you can plug both the transmitter and the headset at the same time to get new firmware updates, but it is worth doing to fix any bugs or add additional features. You can then download different sound profiles to your headset too to try out some of the different presets that are available.

I recently reviewed Slender: The Arrival and was really looking forward to seeing how the sound would scare me senseless, and it worked brilliantly, the 500x’s made me acutely aware of my surroundings, especially when being chased by the Slender man. For comparison to the XO Seven Pros I had to try out my go to game, FIFA 15, again I was expecting some great results but it’s fair to say I was blown away by how much detail they picked up from the crowd. With the recent release of the awesome Forza Horizon Fast and Furious game it was a perfect excuse to see how some of the greatest cars in the world sounded from the comfort of my lounge, again I couldn’t fault what I heard, especially from the in-car view, the different mechanical sounds from each machine could be heard and you felt like you were right in the action.

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Typically when you get immersed in a game world you are prone to raising your voice a bit too much, especially when you are playing with your friends. Turtle Beach have really perfected the mic monitoring and everything I use a new headset I am more impressed, the Stealth 500x has the best monitoring by far, there are two modes, one for use in quieter rooms and one for louder ones. The sensitivity on the quiet room mode is superb and makes a huge difference to how loud I am! The microphone is much better too, firstly because it is completely wireless, you don’t need to use the chat adapter on the Xbox One controller, everything is managed on the earcups, and it works perfectly. Friends that I have gamed with have commented on how much the quality has improved. The boom mic is removable but the socket for connection the boom isn’t as subtle as some of the other TB sets I’ve used.

I’m really impressed with this headset, build quality aside, the audio is excellent, it’s easy to use and the mic monitoring is the best it’s ever been, it might be an expensive set but you will be paying for an awesome headset that you will use for years to come.

Saturday Fight Night: ASTRO vs. Turtle Beach

VersusASTROvTB

In the blue corner, weighing in at £170 we have Rich, rocking the ASTRO  A40 + M80 Mixamp. In the red corner, weighing in at £129.99 we have Dave, sporting the Turtle Beach XO Seven Pro. Now… let’s make this a nice clean fight discussion.

Rich Berry (RB): The A40 has to be the most comfortable headset I’ve ever worn. I’ve never owned a pair that has fitted so well. The ear cups are really soft and are cosy to wear. The headset can also rest around my neck by swivelling the ear cups, which is a neat addition when you do need to take a break – plus they look pretty nifty hanging loose around my neck.

Dave Moran (DM): You see I could say the same about the XO Seven Pro, they have a nice leather finish to the ear cups and never get you feeling too hot and bothered on long gaming sessions. There is something nice about putting the headset on and feeling this coolness around the ears. They also twist to sit round my neck and l do look pretty awesome walking down the street in mine, even if do say so myself!

RB: But what about customisation? ASTRO are renowned for their Speaker Tags, which magnetically snap onto the left/right ear cups. Even though I really like the crosshatching design of the ones packaged with the A40, there are some sweet Battlefield, Dying Light and Halo Tags that I’m sorely tempted to purchase.

DM: Ah my friend, Turtle Beach saw you coming. At the Evolve launch event everyone was rocking XO Seven Pro headsets that had some sweet looking Evolve plates on them, they could have (accidentally) ended up in my pockets… I wouldn’t have really, but you know what I mean.

RB: I guess it was about time that other brands caught up with ASTRO’s Speaker Tags! It’ll be interesting to see what other gaming brands Turtle Beach will bring to their tags – and how well priced they are.

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DM: The thing I love the most about the XO Seven Pro is the magical button that sits on Turtle Beach’s own version of the chat adapter. By day, the headset is a simple stereo headset playing my tunes while I write, but by night it develops Super Human hearing, letting me hear the roar of the crowd on FIFA, the moans of the zombies as they track me down on Dying Light and footsteps of my opponents as they try to sneak up on me on COD AW, the button also glows too. The headset also includes audio presets for game and microphone, which can be found at the bottom of the chat adapter.

RB: Well, while I can’t boast about a “superhuman” hearing function, the A40 does come with the M80 Mixamp. Unlike previous versions of ASTRO’s Mixamp technology, the Xbox One edition of the A40 has combined the Mixamp into the chat adaptor that includes its own ‘magic’ button.

The button cycles between three preset EQ settings that between them deliver all the sound optimisation you could ask for in a stereo headset. While stereo can never replace the pinpoint accuracy of a surround sound headset, the directional sound of the A40 is pretty impressive – no Evolve monster is safe from me when I’m up high listening for their whereabouts.

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RB: I must also admit to using the A40 as my go to headset for when I’m away from my console, not just because they sound superb on my iPhone, which has a nasty habit of making the best headphones sound a bit weak, but because ASTRO have their own iOS app! Complete with custom playlists and full control over EQ, the app makes a nice companion to the A40 and can even be used with other headphones, oh and it’s free!

DM: Well, there is no app to accompany my headset, which is a shame, but they do also make my music collection sound even better on my iPhone. The XO Seven Pro is also great at blocking out the hustle and bustle of my office while I work, which is lovely!

There’s a swappable cable for mobile that comes with the headset that has an inline mic which means I can also take calls, pause my music and skip tracks.

RB: Yeah, I’m not sure my wife appreciates how isolated I become when surrounded by glorious game/music sounds when I have my ASTROs on – they do pack a nasty amount of sound leak though which means I probably wouldn’t be able to use these in the office without disturbing my colleagues!

The A40 didn’t come with an inline controller, but you can buy one for next to nothing from the ASTRO website.

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DM: Let’s talk about… talking!

Once I had fiddled around with the balance between game and chat volume, the XO Seven Pro worked really well through the party chat. The removable boom mic is a great feature and by all accounts I sounded clearer than I did on an older more expensive set. The fact that I don’t have to worry about changing batteries is pretty awesome too, running the headset through the Xbox controller is a great innovation.

The other thing Turtle Beach pride themselves on is the mic monitoring. As a dad with two little ones who sleep badly, knowing that I am talking at a normal volume without waking the small people is a bonus point for me with the wife! The mic monitoring works really well and actually leads me to believe I have a voice for radio… we both know I certainly have the face ha ha!

RB: Yes, the less said about your ‘good’ looks the better! I must admit to also being impressed with the way that headsets connect to the Xbox One – with only a wire running to the controller I don’t get tangled like I did back on the Xbox 360.

The Mixamp comes up trumps for balancing voice and game volume, but then you’d expect nothing less, especially because the official Microsoft Chat Adaptor can do this, although where the Mixamp excels is that the button placement is spot on – gone are the days of fumbling about for the right button. Not only have ASTRO perfectly squeezed their Mixamp technology into a smaller unit, but they’ve created a really nice looking device that puts Microsoft’s efforts to shame.

The mic is great on the A40, it’s not too sensitive and can be connected to either the left or right ear – or removed altogether if you don’t want to chat. Voice Monitoring… yeah I envy you on that! I had voice monitoring on my Tritton headset and it’s a feature I really miss and one that seems to be absent from several headset brands. That said, I did find that the A40 didn’t completely block out my voice nearly as much as some of the other brands I’ve used, so while voice monitoring would have been ideal, I could still judge how loudly I was speaking.

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RB: When it comes to headset choice the biggest thing for me, apart from the amazing sound, is the build quality. I’ve owned plenty of different headsets over the years, which span across all the brands we all know and love – the thing that hit me most about the A40 was the build quality. They are simply stunning.

From the attention to detail in the packaging, the little touches on the headset branding to the actual build quality of the headset itself – the ASTRO A40 feels like a premium product. The ear cups are sculpted rather than just flat padding and the wires twist around the headset prongs making the A40 look space age.

In gaming circles, the A40 is a fashionable piece of kit and everyone would recognise them should you wonder around an expo or eSports tournament with these around your neck.

DM: Talking of eSports the XO Seven Pro pro headset are now used quite heavily on the MLG Pro circuit, so they must be doing something right. It seems that Turtle Beach and ASTRO are really focusing on the players.

The packaging of the XO Seven Pro also had that wow factor when I opened them up, and as I mentioned earlier, I’ve happily worn these out on the streets of London while listening to the Spic… I mean Oasis.

I’ve had issues in the past with the build quality of the older Turtle Beach headsets, but the customer service was superb – they’ve come a long way since then and I’m more than happy with the build quality of the XO Seven Pro. The price is perfect for what is a brilliant multi-purpose headset and I’m looking forward to a long and happy partnership with my XO Seven Pro.

RB: It sounds to me like the two brands are really close in terms of what each headset offers. Brand loyalty will certainly play a huge part when picking a headset, and while I feel ASTRO might be ahead of the game with the large community they have invested in, which includes several big names in the eSports scene, it seems like Turtle Beach are hot on their heels in getting their new Pro series into tournaments.

It will be great to watch these two great brands battle it out – but what of the other headset brands… can Tritton, SteelSeries, Razer, Gioteck or even Polk take a piece of the pie? Only time and how deep your pockets are will tell.

Check out the full reviews of each headset:
ASTRO Gaming A40 + M80 Mixamp
Turtle Beach XO Seven Pro