CES 2016

Plantronics RIG 500E Gaming Headset Review

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Plantronics RIG 500E Gaming Headset Review

Comfort and Performance

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At just a mere 200 grams in weight, the RIG 500E feels as if it’s not even there. The headset’s grasp on your head is so gentle that it makes you question if it will even stay on. Only an insensibly violent head shake would actually dislodge it from the top of your head. Yet the hold just tight enough to give you confidence that it’s not leaving anytime soon. It was great for long sessions. Considering that I play with glasses on at home, I should mention that I felt almost no frame-pitching. So you Gunnar users may be fine in that regard.

As expected (and advertised) there are notable differences in comfort levels between the closed back and vented ear cups. Both ear cups house the same memory foam, so the difference lays in the texture your ears and head come in contact with. The leatherette skin on the closed-back cups has a nice soft feel to it, and as intended, forms a perfect acoustic seal. Here’s where I noticed slight rubbing on my frames, which is why I mentioned “almost” no frame pinching before. Comfort is definitely significant, but leather will do what leather will do. Luckily, the RIG 500E’s light grasps keeps this from being too much of a burden.

Now, the vented ear cups have that more slick mesh covering its memory foam, allowing for optimal comfort. They aren’t designed for sound isolation, so sound will leak in and out, especially since these cups are vented to combat fatigue. I won’t take much of anything away from the closed back ear cups in terms of fatigue after long periods of play. Closed back has always been my personal preference and my gaming sessions are usually in 4-5 hour blocks. So you could say that I’m used to it. But the comfort of the RIG 500E with vented ear cups is something to behold. Forget fatigue after long periods of time. The RIG 500E with vented ear cups produced no fatigue at all.

Sound is clear and crisp with both ear cups. Low frequency sounds such as bass, floor rumblings, and thunder roars resonated quite well. Those sounds were a tad more profound with the closed-backs. Isolation will do that. When not gaming, music listening was a delight with either acoustic choice. Just choose your acoustic preference and either ear cup choice will provide you a balanced and enjoyable listening experience, as we’ve come to expect from Plantronics. Although, I felt a slight lean to both low and high frequencies over mids, it made sense given the sounds you want to focus on in gaming such as explosions or footsteps. In-game spoken voice, the mid range, tends to hold little value over the action sounds.

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Why, yes! I DID max out the sidetone setting!

Spoken voice in chat, however, projected as well coming in as it did going out with the RIG 500E. The noise canceling mic did well to mostly restrict transmissions only the speaker’s voice. This experience was easily enhanced with minor adjustments to Teamspeak thresholds and even more so with the free downloadable software, the Plantronics RIG 500 Audio Panel (shown above). The Plantronics RIG 500 Audio Panel is a simple interface for making EQ tweaks and adjustments for your RIG 500 headsets. Choose between presets or make manual adjustments as needed and save those adjustments to custom profiles. As usual, I welcomed the addition of sidetone controls to help keep me aware of my own voice volume to ensure that I spoke instead of shout.  Other than playing around with my mic gain, I felt the default EQ settings were just fine as they were. It was good to know that they were there to be changed if one ever needed to enhance specific sounds for specific games.

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The USB 7.1 Dolby Surround Sound card allowed the RIG 500E to present sound to its fullest potential. As expected, once the 7.1 Dolby Surround Sound was in play, sound and game immersion was enhanced even further. Once activated, I was inclined to leave the setting on indefinitely. Not everyone like surround sound features, so it was an appreciated add-on to have it toggle-able with the press of a button.

Take the RIG 500E on the go with the 3.5mm cable if you wish. You’ll enjoy what you hear. However, know that the RIG 500E plays the absolute best when connected through the USB sound card to your PC.