Plantronics RIG 500 PRO Headset Review
Plantronics is well known in the gaming industry for its gaming headsets and for good reason. They make great products at wallet-friendly prices and the RIG 500 Pro Esports Edition High-Resolution Gaming Headset(what a mouthful) is no exception.
The RIG 500 Pro (from here on out) is geared toward pro gamers emphasising high-resolution, pinpoint accurate sound and comfort for long hours of play.
Now while I’m not a pro–gamer by any means, I have been on a Destiny 2 Forsaken binge for the last three weeks, playing an average of 4–5 hours daily. That has given me plenty of time to experience these headsets comfort, audio quality and mic.
So, let’s get into it.
Plantronics RIG 500 PRO Review
Built like a tank, delightful to the ears
The RIG family of headsets have a very unique design that makes them immediately identifiable. They look almost militaristic, with a very bold industrial strength metal look that belongs in a bunker or command centre.
Few headsets scream Professional Gamer than RIGs. Plantronics wastes no time with RGB lights or any sort of flashy embellishments. The entire headset looks and feels says “I came to kick ass and take names.”
Expectedly, the RIG 500 Pro is large, easily covering all but the biggest of heads; though not sure how big your noggin would have to be to not fit in these.
A sturdy die-cast metal exoskeleton frame holds everything together with no flex. I have no doubt that these can take a fair amount of punishment. Fragility isn’t a concern. In fact, the flimsiest feeling thing about these headsets is the connection cable.
The RIG 500 uses a floating headband design which ensures that the headsets sit comfortably on the top of your head and while easily supporting its large size. I was surprised how little I actually noticed the headband on my scalp. Top marks here.
The large ear cups house 50mm drivers that power the sound. The ear cushions are fabric with a pair of spares in the box. The ear cups can be adjusted with an interesting clasp mechanism unlike the traditional sliding band that most headphones use.
To move them, simply press the clasp to dislodge the entire ear cup from the exoskeleton and then re-insert into any of the three slots. It’s not the best implementation because it limits fine control over positioning that might work best for your head shape and ears.
The ear cups give great coverage over the ears with decent sound isolation. If you wear glasses, you may experience some discomfort as I did. The left cup keeps pressing on the edge of my ear forcing constant shifting of the headset for relief.
Other manufacturers have ear cushions designed to accommodate bespectacled gamers. It would have been nice to have that here in a PRO headset. Otherwise, very comfortable for long periods.
The left ear cup has the connection point for the two bundled 3.5mm cables that lead to a console controller or other devices. The main cable has the new RIG pro dial which allows you to easily control the volume. This sits right on the lead where you plug into your controller. A special rubber adapter holds the dial in place so it won’t spin as you turn it.
The RIG Pro dial makes volume access immediately and conveniently available to you without needing to take your hands off the controller. In my everyday use, this isn’t a big a deal but if you are in a pro eSports match, you can’t afford to have your hands off your controller.
A tangled mess of wires
Perhaps my major complaint with the RIG 500 Pro is its wires.
I already complained about the wired limitation with the otherwise excellent Razer Wolverine TE controller I use. Now adding another wired connection for my headphones leads to a tangled mess. The cables provided with the RIG 500 are adequately long but ultimately inconvenient for a couch–gamer like me.
Almost every time I moved position, I would inadvertently yank the cable out of the controller. Either because its gotten tangled in my legs or with the controller’s cable. Not only that, but even slight tugs would cause the headsets to flicker or crackle because the pro dial became loose.
Admittedly, an eSports player uses a designated desktop setup and wouldn’t be bothered by this. But as a couch gamer, comfort and flexibility are more important concerns. You might have to be in a different seat because your kids have commandeered the couch.
That said, for what they are, the wired connections work flawlessly. The secondary cable designed for mobile devices has an inline mic and controls that work as expected. No complaints there.
Shockingly good sound
I won’t lie. I wasn’t expecting such great sound from the RIG 500 Pro touting itself as High Resolution but boy was I shocked.
I’ve been using them for at least 5 hours each day for the last month and I still get spooked when I’m playing a game and it sounds like someone or something is in the house with me. They are that good.
The RIG 500 has finely tuned acoustic chambers and 50mm drivers that produce impressive sound. While they aren’t 7.1 Surround, they do kick out a very crisp, accurate stereo with a nice wide soundstage. Spacial awareness is key for a pro gamer and these cans do a great job in giving a sense of sound in game space.
In Destiny 2 Forsaken PVP, the RIG 500 Pro clearly lets you know where your opponents are or where gunfire is coming from. Even the approaching distant footsteps sound eerily realistic.
On Mars, hunting special nodes that sing when you are approaching, I’m constantly amazed at how well I can identify how close or in which direction they are just off the sound.
Also, hearing gunshots ricochet and the visceral cutting sound when a Fallen scout slashes you is incredibly impactful.
If there is one complaint I have about the sound, particularly in gaming, is the horizontal nature of it. You can easily tell if something is in front, behind or to the left and right but not up or down. It’s a small gripe that hasn’t hindered my enjoyment but worth calling out.
Crystal clear Mic
A mic is what makes a gaming headset a gaming headset. The RIG 500 comes with a detachable mic that is made of a soft malleable plastic so that you can adjust it to your preference. It also easily folds upwards for easy stowaway and muting when you don’t need it. I found it convenient with a simple flick up or down when I needed it.
Sound through the mic was excellent. I used it for Fireteam chat in Destiny 2. People on the other end reported they could hear me very well even though I was often speaking in very hushed tones so I don’t wake up my sleeping kids.
However, Mic chat feedback was just ok. Despite changing the settings on my Xbox to favour mic feedback, I couldn’t really hear myself that audibly but it was sufficient to know I wasn’t shouting.
Plantronics headsets are Dolby Atmos compatible; which means you get more verticality in your soundstage. Included in the box is an activation code. Sadly, I didn’t have any games that are Dolby Atmos-enabled, so I can’t comment on the performance.
However, the Xbox Dolby Atmos app has some demos to try. I’ll be honest folks, I wasn’t impressed. Perhaps it’s the choice of content but I didn’t experience that over the head, surround sound that Dolby Atmos is famous for.
At the time of writing this, there are less than 10 games on Xbox that support Dolby Atmos but you can expect this list to grow with modern titles. For now, Dolby Atmos remains a marketing schtick that isn’t very useful to most players.
So should you buy the RIG 500? Maybe.
The RIG 500 Pro Esports Edition is a fantastic gaming headset when considered by its own merits. Excellent sound, comfortable with great build quality. The challenge is that it retails for AUD $199.
This puts it in an uncomfortable price point with some extremely stiff competition. Great headsets like the Razer Kraken Pro, Turtle Beach 700, SteelSeries Arctis 3, LucidSound LS25 and the highly rated HyperX Cloud Alpha. All of which, mind you, are cheaper than the RIG 500 Pro Esports Edition.
On top of this, there are two other versions of the RIG 500 Pro; the Xbox and PlayStation licensed Pro HX and Pro HS have like for like features for almost $80 less.
In that light, the RIG 500 Pro Esports Edition is disadvantaged by its market price. Dolby Atmos isn’t enough of a differentiator and the wired connection can be irritating for couch gamers.
Console owners should consider the cheaper HX and HS models but for pro gamers, the RIG 500 Pro Esports Edition is a fantastic addition to your arsenal of tools.
|Mic frequency response||100 Hz–10 kHz|
|Mic sensitivity||-45 dBV/Pa|
|Mic signal-to-noise ratio||>42 dB|
|Mic pick-up pattern||Uni-directional|
|Headphone weight||323 g/11.4 oz|
|Headphone frequency response||20 Hz–20 kHz|
|Headphone impedance||32 ohms|
|Headphone sensitivity||111 dBSPL/V|
|Headphone maximum input power||40 mW|
|Headphone drivers||Dynamic 50 mm|
|Compatibility||Cross Platform, Laptop, PC|
|Cable length||1.3 m|
This review sample was provided by Plantronics Australia and tested with an Xbox One X.
Plantronics RIG 500 PRO Esports Edition Universal High-Resolution Gaming Headset Review
Product Name: Plantronics RIG 500 PRO Esports Edition Universal High-Resolution Gaming Headset
Product Description: High Resolution stereo gaming headset
Built like military grade equipment
Shockingly good sound
Comfortable for hours at a go
Works well with multiple devices