The MixAmp Pro retails separately for £100, so in a sense, the headset only costs £100 as part of the bundle - a saving of about £30. It offers 7.1 Dolby Digital surround sound plus a host of audio ports. There's obviously one for the headset and or stereo speakers plus an auxiliary input for connecting your smartphone, tablet pr PC to play music through the MixAmp Pro too. Xbox and PS3/PS4 owners can use the included optical cable to hook their devices up to the Mix Amp Pro, while there's also an Xbox live chat port as well.
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There's a stream port that's essentially a secondary output so you can connect a set of speakers to the MixAmp Pro at the same time as the headset, plus there are two daisy chain ports, allowing you to connect several MixAmp Pro's together to create your own voice channel. This, Astro claims, has far lower lag and higher quality than using Xbox Live for example. There are a few physical controls on the MixAmp Pro too. The large volume dial is certainly more convenient to use than tiny media controls on your keyboard.
Sadly, while it has a great-feeling, resistive, smooth feel to it, the unit's weight and its grip on a desk aren't quite enough to prevent it from rotating the whole thing as well, which is a shame. We actually got used to resting our hand on the MixAmp Pro while we adjusted the volume, though, and this solved the problem. There's a power/standby button at the top left plus an equaliser mode button too, which allows you to cycle through four presets, while you can also toggle Dolby Surround Sound on and off using the button opposite too. Finally, the dial at the bottom allows you to adjust the game and chat voice levels, obviously when you're using the MixAmp Pro as your primary audio device.
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The MixAmp Pro is certainly a very useful bit of kit, but it's the audio quality of both it and the headset that go the furthest in justifying the price. If there's one word that sprang to mind when we first headed to Spotify for some high-quality streaming, it was clarity. The A40 is particularly clear across the whole audio spectrum. We started out with a few thumping tracks to check out the bass, which is sharp, punchy and had plenty of depth, but never seemed to dampen out the mid-range and high-end. The clarity also lends itself to the 7.1 surround sound - there are only single drivers here but there's a discernable difference in games when it's applied.
Vocals and instruments had excellent balance and once again were beautifully clear and detailed. Having done the rounds in a range of songs and a few games, we came to the conclusion that whether you're looking for the detail of bullets flying and explosions echoing round vallies, listening to classical music or drum and bass, the A40 won't dissapoint. The presets included with the MixAmp Pro made subtle changes that you might want to take into account when using it, although switching between them is tricky as it's not clear which one is selected.
Anyway, the Pro setting, which is indicated by the preset light appearing in the top left of the button reduces bass and emphasises mids and highs. Core mode is indicated at the the top right of the button and applies no equaliser effects, while the bottom right and bottom left light positions apply to Media and Astro/Lan modes respectively, which emphasises the low and mid-range and the latter mode applies microphone noise cancellation for noisy environmens. We also perfomed a few microphone tests in Skype and didn't pick up any issues here either - the recordings were slightly muffled but generally free from noise and were otherwise perfectly clear. It's also very flexible yet is able to hold its position very well once you've bent it to shape.
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The majority of the headsets we've reviewed recently have slotted into the £50-100 category but none include an external audio device as capable as the MixAmp Pro either. The latter has its limitations both physically and functionally too but overall it works very well, even if you just use it for volume and game chat control. That said, it does cost £100 so you'd need to think carefully if it's worth the investment.
The headset is brilliant and is close to being epic. It's one of the best-sounding we've had the pleasure of using and is a particularly potent allrounder. Only less than perfect padding limits its appeal but we're arguably being picky here as it's still very comfortable and well suited to long gaming sessions. Most of these niggles can be overcome, though, but they are enough to limit the review to an Approved rather than Premium Grade award. However, the audio quality is premium all the way.