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PLANTRONICS RIG 500HS GAMING HEADSET REVIEW

Publish Date:

Monday, July 4, 2016 4:00 pm PDT

News Organization:

Xbox Enthusiast

Source URL:

Model: Plantronics RIG 500HS
Weight: 200 grams
Drivers: 40mm
Price: $69.99 $49.99

The first Plantronics product that I fell in love with was the Gamescom X95 wireless headset for the Xbox 360. It was the first time I was able to have a brand new headset that was specifically intended for gaming purposes. Its physical design was inviting, cushioning surrounded both ear cans, and the headband sported the same comfy design you would expect out of a piece of molded living room furniture. This was also the first time I realized that the company which holds most of its prestige in the form of business communications was more than capable of producing products for the gaming arena. Specifically, products that met the needs of gamers and their fickle habits.

During E3 2016, I had the opportunity to lend an ear to the Plantronics team and check out some of the products from the camp. One of those products was the Plantronics RIG 500HS headset. I had divulged how I had become a fan of earlier designs and was already a fan. The conversation continued and led to me acquiring of the aforementioned set. However, since my introduction to the X95’s, my headset collection has grown to include the likes of Turtle Beach, Tritton, and even quasi-newcomer to the gaming platform–Polk Audio. I was almost hesitant to take on the new set from a company that I had grown to admire, particularly due to my fears that the headset wouldn’t echo much of the success that the company has had in the past.

The most distinguishing feature of the RIG 500HS has to be its design. The headset takes every approach to be sporty. Usually when you purchase the sport option of a product, you often lose facets of elegance in exchange for performance. You might get trimmed down features, or even a rugged appearance. And it’s the same when you look at the RIG 500HS, revealing the meat-and-potatoes of a headset that’s designed for longevity and quality, grafted in in the lightweight realm.

The band of the RIG 500HS is a firm, flexible material with obvious durability. While this might seem like the innards of a headset, its more like an exoskeleton. There is a flexible headband strap that drops into the arch of the headset and turns out to be the only portion that touches your head. The design eliminates the vast majority of contents that you might see in a wireless set, or even high-powered wired ones. But, the most important pieces in a headset are the cans/ear cups, right?

There are cutouts on each side of the headset. These allow you to adjust the cup-placement based on your noggin. I don’t know how durable these might be if you’ve got multiple swaps happening on a daily basis, as in, you’re sharing with someone else, but I do think that the ingenious design delivers the intended result. That result being a customizable fit in an entry level headset that doesn’t sacrifice sound quality for a more minimal design. The same can be said about the mic.

The left cup of the headset houses the microphone arm. It can be dropped down for use, lifted up for mic-mute, or completely detached if you aren’t one to meddle with online interactions. I leave it plugged in for the occasional jabs that occur post-game in Rocket League.  The arm functionality is important as there is no in-line functionality with the RIG 500HS. So, you better have your headset adapter handy if you are using these on the Xbox One.

When it comes to an entry level headset, I dislike seeing the cheapening of the mic quality. Even my Turtle Beach X12’s have metal-wrapped wiring leading up to the mic, allowing you to bend and move the mic right in front of your mouth. I was initially turned off to the RIG 500HS when I saw that there was only flexible plastic on the arm. It also only reaches a short distance, not coming close enough to my mouth. But, having used it multiple times, my fears of it succumbing to the same faults as the Polk Audio Striker PRO ZX and its mic were laid to rest. Even if the design isn’t necessarily aesthetically pleasing, or causes anxiety that no one on your team will be able to hear you to lend a headshot or cover-fire, it’s more than enough to get the job done.

The most recent age in gaming has transcended beyond the traditional console market. You can play a game on Xbox One, pick up another on your PC, jump to your Nintendo 3DS, and or watch someone else play while laying in bed and browsing Twitch and YouTube. And, for the RIG 500HS, the ease of use allows you to play across all of these platforms seamlessly. Granted, you won’t be able to plug-and-play on the PC without another mic or adapter, but the cord length (1.3 m/4.3 feet) is enough to reach my PC and play The FatRat while I type this. Which also leads me into the best attribute of the set: quality.

I can say that without a shadow of a doubt, the Plantronics RIG 500HS is one helluva headset. During my review of the Polk Audio Striker PRO ZX model, I took them to the gym, wore them while cycling the city on my bike, and kept them on while playing Battlefront with friends. The same can be said for the RIG 500HS model as I treated them just the same. With their flexibility, I found that they heralded a noticeable punch with mids and highs, yet didn’t see a great emphasis on the lower tones. They also clocked in at 11.2 ounces. That is where the RIG 500HS delivers quality in its design, and is particularly impressive considering it clocks in at just over 7-ounces.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the low hums of bass tracks didn’t become distorted with the volume cranked up high. This is likely due to the “low-frequency resonators” that boost the bass response. In essence, these are bass tubes located in the cups, which is the same design your home subwoofer uses. Also, during hectic matches of Overwatch, it seemed like no explosion or succession of bangs left me thinking, “Man, it was all sounding good up until that.”

There is also a noticeable clarity in the spacial sound, hearing small tings and steps coming from back behind me and being able to easily differentiate between those and the firefight happening in the distance in front of me. The quality in sound fidelity never dipped. Which, for an “entry” level set, is more than surprising, it’s thoroughly pleasing.

THE BOTTOM LINE
The Plantronics RIG 500HS is an entry level gaming headset that offers flexibility. The headset can be plugged directly into any controller housing a 3.5mm headphone jack. Doing so allows mic capabilities, but with a caveat. There is no in-line volume control, so the headset performs best with the Xbox One controller using the headphone adapter. Any other volume is an extra task, like when used on the PlayStation 4 and having to do so through the menu.

The headset is stripped of a lot of luxury, but that isn’t a bad thing whatsoever. The light  frame and ear cups are swappable and adjustable. They are extremely comfortable, continuing the trend of quality in design that I’ve grown accustomed to from Plantronics. The 40mm drivers and interior bass reservoir design offer some of the most crisp highs, and surprisingly, tasteful lows.

While the headset can be deemed entry on many levels, there is surprising quality that can be found for a reasonable price.

Hardware Specifications
Mic frequency response: 100 Hz – 10 kHzMic sensitivity: -45 dBV/PaMic signal-to-noise ratio: >42 dBMic pick-up pattern: Uni-directionalHeadphone weight: 200 g/7 ozHeadphone frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHzHeadphone impedance: 32 ohmsHeadphone sensitivity: 111 dBSPL/VHeadphone maximum input power: 40 mWHeadphone drivers: Dynamic 40 mmHeadphone cable length: 1.3 m/4.3 ftHeadphone cable connector: 3.5 mmCompatibility: PS4, mobile, or handheldService and support: 1-year limited warranty

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