Plantronics RIG 500 Pro Esports Edition
Gaming Headset (Wired)
$199 RRP (Starting at $119)
Plantronics has quickly made a name for itself in the gaming headset space, where according to recent reports the company has taken a leadership position in the Australian market. As the rise of affordable and reliable gaming headsets has grown in recent years, this is no small feat. Although it helps when you have products like the wireless Plantronics RIG 800LX
. The latest headset from Plantronics, the RIG 500, comes in a few different flavours. A console edition that has an RRP of $119, a PC version for $129, a combination of the two, and finally a premium Pro Esports Edition. The version we were sent for review.
Why so many revisions of the same headset? Well, that’s easily explained when you look at the various platforms out there. Getting the Xbox One HX version nets you an Xbox specific Dolby Atmos code. The Pro Esports Edition, although technically identical to the rest of the RIG 500 line – features a more robust stainless-steel frame, multiple cables, a detachable microphone, and even a spare set of ear cushions. It’s the model aimed at those that game on-the-go, in addition to being designed for the professional or amateur esports player.
- Frequency response: 20 to 20,000 Hz
- Drivers: 50mm
- Impedance: 32 ohm
- Cable length: 1.5 m PC cable / 1.3 m Console cable
- Weight: 323g
- Microphone Pickup pattern: Uni-directional
- Frequency response: 100 to 10,000 Hz
Those familiar with the Plantronics line will no doubt be pleased to learn that the new RIG 500 features excellent audio response. Especially for the lower price point of the non-Esports Edition models. From the rich and clean bass to the crisp highs, even the most action-packed games sound clear and immersive thanks to the effort Plantronics has put into clean distortion free audio. Especially if said games are optimised for Dolby Atmos – the virtual surround that offers excellent results for titles optimised for the technology.
Although the frequency response of the RIG 500 may not be in the range of higher-end headsets, especially in the price range the Esports Edition just about falls into, the result is still quite impressive. And further proof to the idea that raw numbers tell only a small part of the story when it comes to headphones. Sub bass frequencies with the RIG 500 sound clean and, again, free of distortion. Which also plays into the heightened mid and high-range frequencies, that provide clean channel separation either in stereo or surround.
It’s clear the RIG 500 has been designed for the style of bombastic action that one usually associates with esports, with the welcome caveat being that a balanced, immersive, and clean sound for fast-paced titles results in excellent response across the board. From music to movies and even more leisurely paced games. There’s also a warmth to the Plantronics sound that is hard to dismiss, especially compared to headsets where highs sound overly harsh thanks to improper balance.
Design and Comfort
The additional cost associated with the premium Esports Edition of the RIG 500 comes down to the physical design, where the stainless-steel frame and aluminium earcups provide robust flexibility and durability over long periods. When coupled with the headband and the fabric ear cushions, the Esports Edition enters the realm of the premium headset – as it looks and feels every bit like a higher-end Plantronics product. From the adjustable ear height to the detachable microphone the RIG 500 is chock full of little design flourishes that although may not be essential, are certainly welcome. The Xbox One and PS4 cable that features a volume knob at the point of connection is a great touch – as is the flip to mute. And of course, something that we’d love to see become the norm, the detachable microphone. A feature so nice we just had to mention it twice.
The only real downside to the design is that the overall weight, at 323g, isn’t quite on par with what we’ve come to expect from Plantronics. Not that the RIG 500 is a heavy headset, the comfort is exceptional, and you could easily wear them a few hours without a problem. But compared to the company’s own flagship wireless headset the RIG 500 – the additional 35g is noticeable. Sort of.
As the only headset out there with Dolby Atmos bundled in each package one needs to be clear as to what the technology is and isn’t. Firstly, like with competing surround technology handled at the software level Dolby Atmos for headphones offers virtual surround. But, a form of virtual surround developed by Dolby that does result in excellent positioning where playing optimised titles like Overwatch results in being able to accurately pin point where a sound is coming from. Including, sounds above or below. For esports, we’re not too sure if surround at this level offers any sort of advantage but you get the sense that it kind of does. Now, take away the Dolby Atmos for games and movies, the Plantronics RIG 500 excels as a stereo headset too. Which in many ways is more of an achievement, as it’s easier to hide playback issues in a virtual surround environment.
For straight up high definition music playback the results are impressive across a wide range of genres, without any EQ or sound manipulation required for the best results. In stereo and surround the only area we noticed any variation was in the lower sub bass frequencies, which in terms of games results in explosions that sound authentically punchy without becoming overbearing. In the end it’s hard to fault the RIG 500 Esports Edition outside of the price disparity between the various models and the premium edition. But, the results are excellent and in line with Plantronics’ focus on delivering quality audio, a great visual aesthetic, and comfort.