For some gamers, the peripherals they use to indulge in their favorite hobby are every bit as important as the games they play. This includes gaming headsets, which are now more popular than ever thanks to the advent of live streaming. One of the companies who has long been at the forefront of gaming headsets is Plantronics. The company recently released the RIG 500 Pro series of gaming headsets. These devices are perfect for gamers looking for top-quality headsets at an affordable price.
The RIG 500 Pro series comes in four different configurations. The HX for Xbox One ($79.99), HC for consoles ($79.99), the RIG 500 Pro for PC ($99.99) and the Esports Edition ($149.99) for both consoles and PC. For this review, I checked out the HX and Esport Edition.
Aesthetically, both headsets are virtually identical, albeit with minor differences. The headband on the HX is plastic while the one on the Esports Edition is die-cast aluminum. Underneath both headbands is an elastic cushion that stretches around the top of your head. This not only protects your nogging from the headband, but also helps to keep the headset firmly in place. Going with this type of design was a wise decision considering how everyone’s head is different. The elastic cushion also just feels great, which is a big plus.
Both headset have removable ear cups. There are three slots on either side of the headband where you can place each ear cup. Those with smaller heads will want to place the ear cups on the higher slots, while those with larger domes will want to place them lower. You can even place the right ear cup in the second slot and the left ear cup in the third if you so desire. The headsets provide users with a good amount of customization options no matter how big or small their heads are.
Each ear cup has snap-in ear cushions. The HX headset only comes with one set of dual-material memory foam ear cushions while the Esport Edition comes with two. One set of cushions is covered in leather on the outside and has fabric on the inside. The other ear cups are entirely made out of fabric. The ear cups surrounded by leather do a better job of cancelling ambient noise while the full fabric ones have more breathability. Since both ear cups have fabric on the inside, your ears won’t notice much of a difference in terms of how they feel.
Detaching the ear cups is a bit tricky. The included instructions suggest you place your index finger inside of the ear cups and pull outward. However, when I did this it felt like I was actually ripping the fabric from the metal casing around the ear cup. The best way I found to remove the ear cups is to slide your nail along the outside of the ear cup and pull. This isn’t an elegant alternative, but it’s better than the alternative. Thankfully, snapping each ear cup into place isn’t as cumbersome (or hazardous).
The headsets come with a detachable microphone and an audio cable with adjustable volume control. Thanks to the volume control on the cable, it’s easy to adjust the loudness of the game volume on the fly. You can easily snap both the mic and audio cable in place on the left hand side of the device. Users can mute the microphone by simply lifting it upward away from their mouth. The Esports Edition comes with two separate cables: one for PC and another for a console controller. The HX only comes with a cable that plugs into a controller. The main difference between the two audio cables is that the PC cable volume control is a slide, while the controller volume control is a dial. Both are intuitive to work with, so you’re good to go whether you’re playing on PC or on a current-gen system.
The headsets not only look and feel good, they sound fantastic. This is thanks to their 50 mm performance drivers which provide wide-range frequency response. To test out the sound quality of the headsets, I played Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 and Assassin’s Creed: Origins on PS4. On PC, I tried out the Sega Genesis Collection, Doom, and Kingdom Come: Deliverance. For Xbox One, I played Virtua Fighter 2 and Cuphead. All of the old-school 16-bit music and sound effects from games like Mega Man 7 and Sonic the Hedgehog come through perfectly. The sounds are easy to distinguish from one another and don’t become jumbled. In some cases, it was easier to hear sounds that would otherwise get drowned out by louder sound effects.
Modern games fare as well, if not better. Open world titles like Assassin’s Creed: Origins and Kingdom Come: Deliverance have a lot going on sonically. This isn’t a problem for the RIG 500 Pro series. Ambient sounds like wind or distant animals came through as clearly as the din heard within a packed city. The sounds of combat pack a particular punch. Sword slashes and melee attacks feel very impactful. In Doom, the bombastic sounds of monsters growling and guns tearing them to pieces sound especially brutal.
No matter if you’re playing an old or new game, the headsets do an respectable job of putting you in the middle of the action. The only slight drawback I noticed is that the headsets come up lacking in the bass department. Though everything is perfectly audible, the weak bass leaves something to be desired. The headset sounds are decidedly mid-range. High-range sounds come through just fine, but bass isn’t what it’s supposed to be.
The microphone serves its purpose both on console and PC. I recorded a few words on my PC and found that my voice sounded thin. That being the case, I came through loudly and clearly. A friend who I invited to chat with me on PlayStation 4 said I sounded fine, if somewhat thin. The headset has no way of letting users adjust their mic volume. If they want to do that, they’ll have to do so through the volume settings on console or PC.
If you want to listen to music with the RIG 500 Pro, you can, though I would not recommend it. Like I said before, the headsets don’t have much bass. This makes whatever music you’re listening to sound thin and lifeless. But no one is buying these headsets to listen to music so this should not be an issue.
The Esport and HX headsets come with a free voucher for Dolby Atmos for Windows 10 and Xbox One. With this program installed, you’ll get to experience sounds beyond stereo. This app is no doubt the reason why sounds came through clearly no matter how loud and crazy things got. With that said, Dolby Atmos didn’t have a huge impact on sounds overall. The PS4 doesn’t have this app yet sounds came through as intended. But if you plan on using the headset for PC and Xbox One, it’s a nice addition.
Plantronics’ RIG 500 Pro series of gaming headsets live up to the company’s excellent standards. Despite being “budget” headsets, they’re surprisingly high-quality. Not only do games sound great on the headsets, the devices are extremely comfortable to wear for hours on end. There are certainly higher-end headsets on the market, but for the price, it’s hard to top this series. No matter which current-gen system you own, you should definitely check them out if you’re looking for a reliable gaming headset. Overall, I am more than impressed by this latest addition to their RIG 500 lineup.