You can always count on Plantronics to do something different and at this past E3, they did exactly that. Introducing the Plantronics Rig 500, a fully customizable headset geared towards the e-sports world. Whether you are looking for a sound-cancelling set up or something that lets in more ambient sound, this is the first headset that can fulfill everyone’s needs and wants all in one package. There has never been another headset quite like this one and it presents the gamer with lots of different options, styles and configurations. It is truly a unique product and we think this is a headset on the cutting edge of design.
For that purpose, we can’t review the headset the way we traditionally review headsets. Since this headset is modular, if you don’t like a particular earcup, there are others to clip-in and try. If the headset isn’t comfortable for you, you can add, adjust or remove supports altogether which makes this a very dynamic product, but one that doesn’t lend itself to a final, formal design. Since there are so many customization options that speak to a very broad user experience range, we’ll speak more about our experience with the headset and what we think about each talking point rather than how it may apply to everyone as a consumer base. This review will sound a lot more personal, but one that should certainly give you an idea of what to expect if you decide to look closer at the RIG 500.
As you’ve probably heard by now, the biggest talking point for this headset is it’s modular design. You can strip this headset down to the frame and rebuild it with your favorite components from the earcups to the head strap. This headset is meant to appeal to everyone with a slight focus on the e-sports crowd. At launch, there are just a few options to choose from, but over time we’d expect there to be a number of new products that are meant to work with the RIG 500 system. We were able to get our hands on the sound deadening closed ear cups and the open back ear cups with only one band and one support strap. Even with only two options in one area of the headset, it is easy to see the potential in the system as a whole, but even those two options offered two very different experiences.
The first set of earcups we used were the closed earcups which offered a very quiet platform for your sound. The earcups we used were passive so there were no active sound cancelling systems in play, but the headset did a nice job of keeping the outside world quiet while you were listening to your games. movies or music. Plantronics released this ear cup design for those looking to get into e-sports on a smaller scale and we could easily see that application. Sure, these cups are not going to keep a rousing crowd of 50,000 gamers like the Commander was designed to do, but it will still keep a room full of gamers quiet while you are trying to listen to the game chat during a game. The other side of these earcups are that they can easily be installed or removed by anyone without any tools and be finished within 20 seconds. It is incredibly easy to understand and master and can be accomplished in a short amount of time. While you generally want to stay away from using the word “perfect”, this system comes pretty close to perfection.
The second set of earcups we experienced were the open back earcups which is something you’ll be more likely to use in your day-to-day setup. The headset lets in a little bit of ambient sound so you can still hear someone talking or hear the phone or the door bell without needing someone to interrupt your gaming experience. This earcup is also a little lighter to wear and it is a lot better with heat management. You can rest assured that if you wear this earcup for long periods of time, you won’t have any sweating or fatigue issues which you will probably experience sooner or later with closed earcup designs. With an open design, you won’t do well in noisy environments, but you’ll get a better general experience. The beauty of the RIG 500 is that the headset adapts to your needs on the fly so no matter what you need, the RIG will adapt to you.
While you have plenty of choice when it comes to the ear cups, the support strap only comes in one variety at this point in time. However, the support strap can be removed completely if you don’t like it, or you can remove the strap and mount it higher or lower on the frame depending on your preference. In addition, the strap uses an elastic suspension system that works great. Generally, I do not prefer elastic on my headsets, but in this case the suspension system works really well and feels great in any configuration, which is rare for it to work so well. There are also several aesthetic options available where you can represent your favorite gaming brands with a branded support wrap. It is just for show, but the option is there for those looking to make their headset that much more fancy.
Finally, the RIG 500 comes with the ability to use a standard 1/8″ stereo jack for PC and PS4 applications or the inline sound card with a USB connection. If you use the inline sound card, the headset will use Dolby 7.1 surround sound which is a must for those looking to be competitive in the gaming space. Either way, the headset can be used in a number of different applications in the gaming space which is the most important thing to consider when buying a headset. Rest assured that eventually new modules will come out that will allow this headset to connect to even more devices which is only a good thing for those who jumped on the bandwagon and that is something that most other headset companies can’t compete with. In addition to the several connection options mentioned, the headset also comes with a removable, sound-cancelling boom mic which is a must for the gaming space. This mic connects to either earcup configuration you use, so you’ll always have what you need, when you need it.
Overall, the Plantronics RIG 500 is an extremely flexible headset that covers all the bases for those looking for a new gaming headset. Whether you prefer open or closed headset environments, the RIG 500 has options to cover everyone. Even if the RIG 500 doesn’t have what you need as far as connections or features, there is always a chance that the feature will be added using a different module. Most headsets are final in their design and whatever you see is whatever you get. However, the RIG 500 is meant to adapt to the times, there are already two unique earcup configurations and there may be even more in the future. If you want something that is extremely flexible, affordable and something that customizes itself to you instead of the other way around, you can’t go wrong with Plantronics RIG 500.
- Modular Design
- Reasonably Priced
- Great Build Quality
- Not Enough Options at Launch