The Yonex Astrox 88S Pro and the Astrox 88D Pro is here! In this post, we are going to take a close look at these Yonex's latest products. Are they better than Yonex's other rackets? How are they different to their previous generation? How do they feel on the court? You will find the answer to all these questions and more below.
The significant difference in external features
Let’s look at the Astrox 88S Pro first. At first glance, you won’t see too much difference compared to the last generation but, actually, almost everything has changed!
The most obvious difference is the stringing pattern, alongside the number of holes and grommets on the racket. The previous generation of the Astrox 88S had 4 sets of single pass grommets at 2 and 10 o'clock positions of the racket frame. Single pass grommets have been a consistent feature amongst top end Yonex rackets, but the Astrox 88S Pro has now taken on an old school stringing pattern, removing the single pass grommets and welcoming back the classic shared holes.
Yonex also mentioned the use of bigger grommets to allow for better string movement which should provide more hold time for the shuttle. Not sure if us mere mortals would be able to feel the difference in shuttle hold time though.
The next obvious difference is the support cap. The previous generation's support cap was more boxy but the new generation features a more ergonomic feel for your thumb when you grip or squeeze on the racket.
Then there is the new frame profile. The older Astrox 88S featured a recessed frame profile on the top half of the racket whilst the Astrox 88S Pro has a fully recessed frame profile all the way through to the bottom of the racket. This profile is similar to that of the other models that boast super fast and smooth swings, such as the Astrox 100 ZZ and the Nanoflare 800.
Also, it wouldn't be a new Yonex racket launch if there aren't any new materials being used in the racket. Something called "volume cut resin" which is a new type of glue is being used in 3 locations of the racket --- at the bottom, the T-joint and top of the frame.
To me, the Astrox 88S Pro looks like a completely new racket and this makes me wonder why Yonex has retained the Astrox 88S model number and just added a "Pro" behind it. I guess thats marketing for you.
We now look at the Astrox 88D Pro. When compared to its predecessor, it didn't look like it has changed much, unlike the S model. The stringing pattern and number of grommets on the racket remains the same meaning it retained 4 sets of single pass grommets on the racket. The length of the racket also remains the same. However, the new glue material is used in the Astrox 88D Pro as well and it also has a new frame profile and a new support cap.
Both Astrox 88S Pro and Astrox 88D Pro have slimmer shafts compared to their previous generation. The new generation shaft measures at around 6.6mm in diameter whereas the previous generation come in at 7mm. Shaft length was also different on the new model where it was shortened from 22cm down to 20.5cm for the Astrox 88S Pro and 21cm for the Astrox 88D Pro. There is also a very slight increase in frame thickness at 10mm but the frame height and width are maintained so the overall frame size remains pretty much the same.
The wooden handles for the rackets have also changed in this generation. The new rackets feature a longer wooden handle at 17.5cm, compared to 16cm for the previous Astrox 88S and 16.5cm for the previous Astrox 88D.
Stringing the new Astrox
So after spending a couple of hours with both rackets, I can honestly tell you, hands down, I prefer the Astrox 88D Pro and I'll explain why.
The Astrox 88S Pro has a different stringing pattern compared to its previous generation. It has lost all its single pass grommets at 2 and 10 o'clock positions on the frame from the previous generation and now has shared grommets.
For consistency, I strung the Astrox 88S Pro and the Astrox 88D Pro on 66 Ultimax strings at 27lbs tension for the mains and 29lbs tension for the crosses to make my usual 28lbs in overall tension. You can listen to what they sound like after stringing in the video below.
When you look at a completely strung Astrox 88S Pro, one thing that doesn't necessarily stand out immediately is the change in distance between each string along the racket for both the mains and cross strings. Let me show you what I mean.
On typical Yonex rackets, you can see the gaps in between each string are pretty consistent. For example, on my Arcsaber 10, the gaps are typically between 7.2mm to 7.8mm for the main strings, and 8.4 to 9mm for the cross strings. These gaps are consistent across the whole racket, except for first or last 2 strings as you're not really supposed to hit the shuttle there anyway.
If we now look at the Astrox 88D Pro, the gaps for the mains strings are somehow consistent around 7.2mm to 8mm. But the cross strings around the centre of the racket have bigger gaps at around 9.4 to 9.9mm. The gaps then become less than 8mm around the 2 and 10 o'clock sections, and growing back to around 9mm at the top and bottom of the racket.
For the Astrox 88S Pro, the centre area of the mains strings are around 8.5 to 9.5mm, but for the last 5 mains string on both sides, the gap size decreases significantly to around 5.8 to 6.5mm. For the crosses, the centre region measures around 9.5 to 9.8mm, similar to the Astrox 88D Pro in that regard.
The difference in gap size for the mains strings for the Astrox 88S Pro created a somewhat minor inconvenience during stringing for my 5-prong stringing clamps as it's a tight squeeze sometimes when the distance of the gaps are small. This issue might not be present on stringers who are stringing with 4-prong stringing clamps.
Nonetheless, once I was done stringing both rackets and have stencilled them with logos, they look good and the gaps instantly doesn't feel that big anymore.
It's play time!
First up is the Astrox 88S Pro. My usual racket is the Arcsaber 10, which is an even balanced racket, and I was surprised that the Astrox 88S Pro doesn't feel head heavy at all! The sample I have for the Astrox 88S Pro is a 4UG5 model and it just feels very responsive.
You can certainly feel the sweetspot on this racket is a lot bigger than the older rackets and I think this makes the racket super easy to play with. So far, I have yet to have the strings break on me but I have a sneaky feeling that the durability of the strings might be slightly less than usual due to slightly wider gaps and lower density of strings in the sweetspot area, especially if you're a big slicer.
Defensively and counter attacking wise, this thing is crazy fast and an absolute joy to play with. Anything mid court or front court, you're going to be absolutely all over the shuttle. Defensive blocks, lifts, drives and net shots were all amazing and can be played with relative ease.
An area where it is lacking quite significantly is the raw power at the rear court, but the funny thing is it feels as nice when you are smashing at the rear court as when you are counter-attacking in mid court.
Next up, the Astrox 88D Pro, which is another beast! It is stiffer, and you can instantly feel that the racket is longer compared to the Astrox 88S Pro, although it is only a 5mm difference. The head is also heavier but it doesn't impair the speed of the racket much. Swings aren't as fast as the 88S Pro but still buttery smooth. This thing feels so solid and steady, it carries a lot more power and bite into the shuttle compared to the Astrox 88S Pro.
My hitting partner also mentioned that there was a significant weight difference in my shots when I was using different rackets, with the shots using the Astrox 88D Pro being a lot heavier compared to the Astrox 88S Pro. So when you get into the power shots situation, this thing will come alive and reward you with plenty of amazing easy power and smooth swing generated by a stiffer construction compared the Astrox 88S Pro.
I also think the Astrox 88D Pro's sweet spot region is slightly smaller than the Astrox 88S Pro but not much different to the other Yonex's high end rackets, so no problem there. When you are doing defensive shots, you can certainly feel that the Astrox 88D Pro is slightly slower than the Astrox 88S Pro, but its not slow by any standards.
My final verdict
Overall, the Astrox 88D Pro is 100% hands down my favourite out of the two.
Both rackets are really nice and easy to play with, the Astrox 88S Pro is faster and more user friendly but the 88D Pro being more solid, steady and powerful. I think the Astrox 88S Pro felt like it is too fast for its own good sometimes. There's a difference in timing between the 2 rackets and the Astrox 88S Pro is way ahead in terms of timing for your shots.
However, I have to add that I only felt these differences because I was able to swap between the two rackets whilst testing. If you're only playing with one of them, you might not find notice these issues at all.
What are your thoughts on both rackets? Have you tried them yet? For the complete review of the rackets, check out the videos below!
Full review video:
Thank you again to YCSports for sending me these samples to test out and show you guys. They are amazing people, go check them out and use code 'CKYEW' for an additional discount too! Pick your rackets below:
See you in the next one!