1UP’s Hands-on With the MixAmp 5.8 and the A*STAR Headset

01 Nov

Our friends at 1UP were fortunate enough to get an exclusive look at our new MixAmp 5.8 wireless solution and our A*STAR earbuds. Check out what 1UP Editor Mike Nelson had to say!

I’ve mentioned in the past that I have become quite a fan of headphone gaming. Living with a girlfriend and having neighbors who don’t appreciate a good subwoofer rocking the apartment will do that to a person. So when I was invited by Astro Gaming to come check out two of their newest products, I started to feel a geeky tingle of excitement in my knees to see what they’ve been cooking.

ASTRO MixAmp 5.8

The first product that I had a chance to try out is the MixAmp 5.8 Wireless Audio Transmitter and Receiver. This device is an improvement over the existing MixAmp, but now provides many of its features as a wireless device.

It’s a two device product, one being called the TX Unit which is what you plug your gaming console, or PC soundcard (optical output required) into. Additionally, the back of the device has a second optical port that can feed to your home theater system. It also has an AUX input for a USB Chat Cable (sold separately) — used primarily for PS3 and PC gamers who need to use voice chat — and two USB ports on the back for what is listed as “future accessories.” No word yet on what these future accessories will be.

The second device is known as the RX Unit which is powered by 3 AAA batteries (or a rechargeable battery that’s sold separately), and can turn any pair of headphones into a surround sound headset. That, frankly, is what got me the most excited about the device.

The demonstration featured a slick pair of A30 Headsets, and while this system and the company as a whole prides itself on creating high quality products for gamers, I wanted to see how well the MixAmp 5.8 worked with my cheap pair of RCA headphones back at the office. I played a few minutes with Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II and Call of Duty 4 with my RCA’s plugged into the device and they worked pretty damn well, giving very good positional surround sound. Color me impressed.

Next up was testing the wireless range. For that I asked our trusty MyCheats contract worker, Jobert, to see how far away he could stand and still pick up the wireless signal. We don’t have a tape measure on hand, but it’s probably close to 15 to 20 feet away. For those of you with a large living room, you’re in luck. This will work fine.

So if you’re tired of having wires strung around your living room (much like how my living room looks using my Tritton AX 720’s), this is a nice accessory to eliminate the clutter. It also provides some pretty good surround sound if you don’t have any existing equipment like that. The MixAmp 5.8’s are set to go for about $99 when they hit market soon (you can pre-order starting today), and if you’re really lucky you could actually win the MixAmp 5.8 right now as part of our contest over at UGO today.

ASTRO A*STAR In-Ear Headset


* Drivers: 9mm
* Transducer Principle: Dynamite, Closed
* Frequency Response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
* Nominal Impedance: 32 ohm
* Characteristic SPL: 100+/-3dB at 1kHz
* Distortion: Less than 1 percent at 1kHz
* Connector: 3.5MM jack with PC splitter

The other device I was allowed to sample is the A*STAR in-ear headsets that are high quality earbuds. These are designed more for mobile phones and devices like the PSP and Nintendo DS. Instead of the spaghetti-like cables that I’m used to seeing with earbuds (or headphones in general), these will have flat cables that resemble something more like linguine (What? I like pasta). These types of cables, I’m told, are more durable and are practically tangle-free. There is also a control device that is being called a Medallion (see below) which has a microphone built into it, as well as call answering/hang up features, play/pause, mic mute and volume control.These aren’t available yet (you can pre-order them in mid-November from Astro Gaming’s site but won’t be available until early December) so I wasn’t able to bring them back to the office to try out with some of our other media devices. However I was able to listen to the music quality these headphones delivered when they were plugged into an iPhone 4 during the demo. What struck me immediately was the deep bass response. The highs in the music cut through clear as well, but I honestly didn’t think earbuds could deliver bass that deep.

I’m not a typical earbud user. I don’t have an iPod or an iPhone. When I listen to music I like to use big headphones or listen to it on my speakers at home. These are not going to make me abandon my headphone wearing for the time being, but for those gamers who have been looking for some solid earbuds for their portable games, you only have to wait about a month to try these out.

Want to see the real thing? Click here to read the original review!

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