The ASTRO MixAmp 5.8 is a hardware device that allows you to enjoy your games while using wireless technology to put 7.1 Dolby Surround Sound audio though any set of headphones that you bring to this party, of course that is if the headset you use supports this. The ASTRO MixAmp 5.8 uses a secure 5.8 GHz wireless format to transmit the audio, this is a much better idea then using the typical 2.4 GHz band that tends to be crowded now with all the wireless devices out there that use this. Alright, I think it’s time to get into this review now so you can decide if it’s really worth it.
Packaging: I did an unboxing article a few days ago for a reason, ASTRO did a great job with this. The box not only has a great design to it but the design of how everything put together is clean, crisp and done to show off the actual unit itself. ASTRO packaging was similar to the way most Apple products are done, except, instead of all white they went with clear plastic and a great design on the box. Everything in the box was done to highlight the actual design of the products, to showcase them and they achieved that because you just sit and look at everything before you take them out, just to enjoy how nice it looks visually.
Installation: Here is the setup, you take the base unit, plug it into the power outlet, and then take the optical cable and plug it into your console of choice. Now you turn it on. Done. That’s really it, it couldn’t be any simpler. That was for the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3 has two more things you need to do, first you have to connect them together through USB if you plan on using voice chat, and then you need to select the unit in the PS3 menus. The base unit and the Rx unit come together already paired so you don’t need to do anything there. This might seem shorter of an explanation then what you were looking for, but that is just because there just isn’t anything else about this, it’s extremely simple and was only 2 steps for me.
Usability: The base unit has a Dolby Surround Sound button on it, push that if your headset supports it, that’s how you will get your surround sound, otherwise you can expect stereo. The Rx unit has two dials. One of them is for overall audio, it’s the nice big one so you don’t have to look for it while you are playing. The other dial is for mixing game audio and chat audio, it’s a simple way to do on the fly adjustments that works. The Rx unit has three ports on it, a USB port for charging if you pick up the rechargeable battery that they sell for $19.95. Then it has a port where you to plug in any headset you want to use and one that’s used if you are gaming on the Xbox 360, you just have to plug in the Rx unit to the control if you want to use voice chat. All this is seen in the picture below. The ASTRO MixAmp 5.8 also comes with an adapter that will convert any standard PC headset that separates game chat and game audio into two jacks, back into one. And for you bass lovers, there is a bass extender button on the Rx unit as well so you can up your bass, all you have to do is push it, once again ASTRO just made it easy. One last pretty unique feature that I didn’t get a chance to try out because I don’t have four Rx units, you can actually pair four Rx units to the base station so if you have friends over, all of you can wireless game audio.
Audio Quality: I tried the MixAmp 5.8 with four different sets of headsets, all with varying quality to see how they functioned. The first set I tried them with was the Plantronics GameCom 777 headset, I can’t say enough how impressive these were. Great game audio, chat worked great and the surround sound was amazing. Seriously, no one snuck up on me and I was able to pin point locations at ease on Call of Duty: Black Ops with just the game audio. I really want to try these with the ASTRO A30’s because I could only imagine how great they sound. I’m sure the A40’s would be equally as great as well, I just like the portability of the A30’s. Anyways, the surround sound with the GameCon 777’s were just amazing and it was so nice to not have a long wire from the base unit to me across of my living room. The next set I tried the MixAmp 5.8 were a set of Audio-Technica’s ATH-M30 that I use for podcasting and audio mixing. Now these are not Dolby Surround Sound so I wasn’t using that feature. The stereo audio was once again just amazing. ASTRO’s MixAmp was just doing it’s job and doing it great. There was zero lag in game or chat audio and most importantly, I experienced no background noise, no hissing, no popping, nothing at all, just the game audio.
Just for fun I tried a set of Skull Candy ear buds and a set of Apple headphones that I own as well. Once again, they worked great, I just plugged them directly into the Rx unit and I was up and running. The game audio was ok and once again, voice chat worked exactly how it was suppose to as well just using the inline mics that were on those units. I wish I still had my set of Beats Solos to try with the ASTRO MixAmp 5.8 but unfortunately those snapped in half because of a design defect.
Steve’s Final Say: If you own a nice set of headphones that you would like to use with your consoles wirelessly, buy the ASTRO MixAmp 5.8, you will not be disappointed at all. If you are looking at a full wireless system for your consoles, check out what ASTRO has bundled with the MixAmp 5.8. I’ve played with the A40’s for a quick second at a convention before and they were very impressive, you can’t go wrong with those and because of how ASTRO is known for quality, I’d imagine the A30’s are just as great. The other nice thing with the ASTRO MixAmp 5.8 is the price, right now they are carrying a $99.95 price tag and if you have looked at surround set gaming headsets in the past then you know how nice of a price that is. That price is minus the headphones but if you already have your own PC set, then you are good to go. Amazing audio, no hissing, excellent design and an extremely simple setup, the ASTRO MixAmp 5.8 is a must have for any gamer that wants that wireless audio freedom.