Gaming headsets have become an indispensable peripheral by gamers, especially the professionals. Just like a great monitor, it has to give the gamer the most accurate input. The change in a player’s in-game footstep to changing terrain for example, when unheard can mean the difference between life and death.
With a dizzying array of headsets, even a seasoned gamer will be hard pressed to pick the right one for gaming. The Rig 500 from Plantronics enters the fray and delivers just about everything a gamer needs albeit a few compromises.
Upon unboxing the Rig 500, I was first taken aback by an unassembled headset. There’s a thin self-adjusting headband. There’s a pair of earcups which are only joined together by the input jack’s wiring. And then there’s the plastic frame which one can only assume brings it altogether. It may look intimidating at first but putting it together is as easy as just referring to the box image or the instruction manual that came with it.
Design and Build quality:
You will notice that Plantronics wanted to build an ultralight frame when they designed the Rig 500. A good portion of the mid-section of the frame has been carved out to reduce weight. Despite its thin profile, the frame seems it can stretch to accommodate large heads. The frame has three modular slots on each side of the frame where you can plug-in the earcup depending on your head-size or comfort level.
The self-adjusting headbands has a garter inside which keeps the headset in place. “Garters on headsets?” you may ask. Yep, but it works well. The garter is covered by a mesh sleeve and is of the breathable variant and doesn’t tangle with your hair.
The earcups are generously padded, about ¾ of an inch thick. In contrast, the mesh that protects the drivers from directly contacting your ears is thin and membrane-like that you can already see the drivers themselves.
The stem of the microphone is made of hard glossy plastic with the numbers “500” printed on the side. The other half of the microphone is made of rubber, which flexes a bit from side-to-side. I like that there’s a soft “click” when you pull the microphone up to let you know that it’s locked in place when not in use.
Being lightweight, the Rig 500 easily can be your “wear and forget” choice for gaming marathons. The frame clamps on your ears with just the right tension and weight is well-balanced. The padding on the earcups gives enough room for your ears to breathe without touching the drivers themselves. The opening on the earcups though is a hit or miss affair and would depend largely on the size of your ears. I have pointy ears, and I can feel that the foam in the earcups have to accommodate its shape.
The Rig 500 performs as expected of a gaming headset. I was pleasantly surprised with the sound quality when I used it for Uncharted 4: The Thief’s End. I can hear the splatter of mud clearly when the jeep slides on wet terrain. While walking in the jungle, the Rig 500 let’s you hear the enchanting chirp of rainforest birds. While playing The Division, gunfire is accurate enough for left-right positioning. I have played for hours on end on each game, though warm on the ears, it’s light and not cumbersome.
The mic performs just as well. I even tried making a few calls with it and the person at the other end of the line can confirm that my voice is clear.
The noise cancelling feature it touts is not as great as I’d hope it to be. While playing, I can still hear the ambient conversations in the room. Though not audible, the Rig 500 falls short in keeping background noise to a level where I can say it works as advertised. Some noise cancelling headsets are far better in keeping you sealed in your game. Perhaps this is due to the thick foam in the earcups that, although breathable, can still let ambient sound in.
Plantronics’ Rig 500 is what you come to expect from an excellent gaming headset. It’s slim and light profile, great fit paired with great sound makes it your go-to headset for those gaming marathons. The noise cancelling feature isn’t that great but, hey, you can always tell people inside the room to keep it down.
For this review, the author mostly played Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Tom Clancy’s The Division and Garden Warfare 2 on the PS4. The Rig 500 was also tested on the Ipad with PVZ2 and Mario. He cranked up the volume while listening to Spotify on a Macbook Pro and was impressed with the ‘oomph’ in bass heavy tunes.