Release Date: Aug 24, 2018
Bluetooth?: No (wired audio cable only)
My old headset broke – the PlayStation Gold Headset – and it was time to look at alternatives. I wanted something in a comparable price range and decided to give the Plantronics RIG 500 Pro a try. What drew me to try Plantronics is that they have been making headsets for pilots, air traffic controllers, and astronauts for a long time, so clearly they must know their stuff (fun fact: Neil Armstrong wore a Plantronics headset during the moon landing). But can they make a $75 gaming headset work in the ever so crowded gaming market? Let’s find out:
Ease of Use – 7/10
The headset is easy to use. It comes with a removable microphone and an audio cable. Beware this is a wired headset (doesn’t work via Bluetooth). At the end of the audio cable is a volume dial that you turn left and right to adjust the volume. Just like any cabled headphone jack you can use it with PS4, Xbox One, PC, Smartphones etc. Simply plug it into the audio jack of your PS4 controller or any other device and it will work out of the box. No need to install any software. The only way to control the volume is through the dial on the audio cable, not the headset itself.
The setup of the actual headset is a bit strange at first, though. After I unpackaged it, I thought it was broken because the right earpiece was not connected to the headset-frame. Instead it was dangling on a cable. It looked like it broke off the headset, but actually you just need to click the ear piece into the headset-frame. There are 3 different positions where you can click it in, thus allowing for only 3 different height adjustments. Once clicked into position it holds tight.
As with most headsets the microphone can be attached / detached. Want to use it just as headphones for listening to music? You can, just pull out the microphone. To mute yourself just pull up the microphone towards your head or pull it out of the microphone jack.
The headset also looks nice, better than most others. However, one of the cables displayed in the instruction manual is very misleading – the manual shows a cable with volume control (+/-) in the middle of the cable, which I assume is from a different model. This model only comes with one audio cable that has the audio dial at the end where the jack is. At first I thought it’s missing a cable but you use the same one that’s for PS4 / Xbox One for any other audio jack. You’ll find it won’t fit, because there’s a piece of rubber over the audio jack. What purpose this serves is beyond me, all it will do is confuse people. Removing the piece of rubber where the volume dial is will let you fit the cable into any audio jack without issues. This should never have been part of the headset in the first place.
+ Works out of the box with any device
– Clicking system to adjust ear pieces instead of a sliding system. You have to take off the headset to adjust the earpiece positions.
– Wrong cable displayed in instruction manual. Instead, you must use the same cable for all devices, just remove the rubber around the audio jack where the volume dial is and it will fit. This rubber serves no purpose and only causes confusion, bad design choice.
Comfort to Wear – 4/10
There are two major red flags with this product.
First you only have 3 adjustable positions for the earpieces with the previously mentioned click-system. There is no sliding mechanism that would allow for fine-tuning how tight you want the headset to fit. Only 3 adjusting positions are possible. That leaves a lot to be desired. Every head is different and there should be more granular settings like any other gaming headset manufacturer uses.
Second, the headband is made out of very itchy textile. Just slide across it with a finger and you can feel how rough it is. Have that on your head for an 8 hour gameplay session and you’ll look forward to the moment you can take it off. There’s also a circle pattern in the textile mesh which only makes it more itchy. They should’ve picked a smooth surface, some padding or perhaps leather. If you only want to wear it for a few minutes it’s no big deal. But if you’re looking for something to wear regularly there are more comfortable options out there.
It’s also relatively heavy. So all in all, for extended use this is a clear No from me.
What’s positive is that it’s elastic, which makes it harder to break if you drop it. The big earpads cancel outside noise very well and have a lot of padding. However, they do get quite warm during extended use. In comparison, the PlayStation Gold headset does better in that aspect, while having less padding around the ears it also doesn’t get as hot, making it more comfortable to wear than the RIG 500 Pro.
+ Earpads provide fantastic noise cancellation from outside sources
– Only 3 adjustable positions for earpieces (up / down to control how tight you want the headset to be)
– Itchy headband
– Heavy weight, earpads get too hot, not ideal for long sessions
Sound – Headphones – 6/10
Powerful bass but muffled voices. The audio mix is way off. It sounds like someone holding a bunch of tissues over a phone speaker. Voices don’t sound natural. This is a category where the PlayStation Gold headset does a much better job. To be fair, I’ve heard far worse headsets, but it’s a long way from being acceptable.
+ Powerful Bass
– Muffled Audio (especially voices sound muffled, unnatural)
Sound – Microphone – 4/10
Sometimes, the microphone cuts off completely. When I moved the microphone just a little it stopped working half the time. The microphone’s sound quality is fair enough, but nothing that will wow anyone. I found it to be about the same as the PlayStation Gold Headset’s audio quality. Yet the PS Gold does it with a tiny mic built into the earpiece and the RIG 500 Pro has a bulky mic in front of your face. I was expecting more.
In all my testing the microphone had no noise cancelling effect whatsoever. It’s way too sensitive and picks up background noises like a PS4 fan that’s 2 meters away, resulting in a constant background noise that will drive teammates mad. Teammates could hear my every breath, that’s how sensitive the mic is. It honestly picked up so much background noise that it was unusable; I wouldn’t put my friends through that. In comparison, the PS Gold headset (while far from perfect in that aspect) did a much better job at cancelling background noise.
The RIG 500 Pro does nothing better than other headsets in that price range. Some odd design choices, muffled audio and an overly sensitive microphone are holding it back. There are better alternatives in the same price class. I’ll return my RIG 500 Pro and get another PlayStation Gold Headset.
A device was provided by the manufacturer for testing purposes and returned to them. Tested on PS4, Laptop, Phone, Tablet.
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