Updated: Oct 4, 2022
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.