- Lightweight frame
- Choice of vented or sealed cups
- Incredible sound quality
- USB and 3.5mm jack connections
- Not wireless
- Review Price: £99.99
What is the RIG 500E?
While I may have been apprehensive about reviewing mice, when it came to reviewing a headset I was raring to go. Over the years I’ve used them all; desktop microphones and in ear headphones, tiny call centre headsets, enormous over the ear monstrosities. I know what I like, I know what works and I know that the RIG 500E is the best headset I have ever used. Let’s dive in.
There a number of elements to consider when purchasing a headset, especially for online gaming; comfort, quality of the microphone and the quality of sound are paramount. You want something that will convey the deafening quake of a building collapsing in Battlefield 4, the crack of an AWP in Counter Strike: Global Offensive and the broken, emotional voice of a downed team mate in DOTA 2. The RIG 500E does this immaculately, and with a number of options for you to customise that sound as well.
Related: Best Gaming Headset 2016
Plantronics RIG 500E – Design and Features
The RIG 500E is designed with comfort in mind. Whereas most headsets opt for a single band across the head to help balance it (with some slight padding) the RIG 500E has two. One larger arch goes over the head for balance and fixation, while a second, smaller band across the top of your head for comfort.
Usually these kinds of headsets trigger a warning in me; the bigger it is the more uncomfortable it’s likely to be. It’ll be heavy and weight down on the ears and, over a longer period of use, could cause a bit of pain. Trust me, those marathon 10 hours sessions of Final Fantasy XI when I should have been studying for my GCSEs has taught me a lot about ear pain.
That never happened with the RIG 500E. It’s extremely lightweight and comfortable, meaning that no matter how long the gaming session (or audiobook, or album) I never experience any discomfort at all. The strap is fitted and padded, the ear cups provide incredible padding as well – but do nothing to dampen the sound quality.
It’s not just the headband that’s crucial though, but the ear cups as well. The RIG 500E comes with two sets, and is the first feature to really differentiate this incredible headset from the multitude of imposters I’ve had gracing my noggin over the years.
Related: Best PC Games 2016
The two sets of earphones are markedly different. The first is a set of vented earphones that allow for maximum breathability. This means that longer playing sessions never become uncomfortable while they still maintain impeccable sound quality.
The second set, the isolated ear cups, provide even more immersion, blocking noise and allowing you to focus in intense matches and tournaments.
Both provide excellent sound and comfort, and I have a hard time picking a preferred option.
For standard use, Teamspeak, YouTube and light gaming, the vented earcups are perfect.
But, for the intense grind of a DOTA 2 match or the concentration sapping CS:GO ranked game, however, the isolated cups are ideal.
The microphone, too, not only provides excellent quality (allowing my glorious tones to boom over the internet as I bellow orders and team mates) but also has a fast mute feature. You just push the microphone arm up. Done. Muted.
The RIG 500E doesn’t do anything fancy, because it doesn’t need to, it does all the essentials fantastically well.
Another brilliant feature that I almost overlooked is the ability to swap the input between USB and standard 3.5mm audio allowing you to use these headphones across any number of devices. Are you listening to your iPod on the tube? These are perfect. Hunched over your PC late at night because that DOTA 2 match just won’t end? The RIG 500E is the one. Even if you’re struggling through Freedom Wars on the Vita while you’re in bed, I cannot recommend these highly enough.
The RIG 500E are wired, the advance in technology coming from the 7.1 surround sound and the support for 24 bit audio. That’s the trade-off you need to consider going into this purchase; do you prefer the mobility of a wireless headset with a sacrifice on sound quality? Or are you happy to be plugged into your device, but get exceptional sound quality in the process?
Related: Best Gaming Laptops 2016
Should I buy the RIG 500E?
For me the appeal of wireless headsets has never been enough of a draw to shell out the extra cash. I’m happy at my desk, leaning back and playing games – never feeling the need to make a sandwich while listening to my friends chat on Teamspeak. To that end the RIG 500E are perfect.
Everything just works. You clip the ear cups in and out as you see fit, the frame is lightweight and flexible and the microphone is even detachable allowing you to use these as solely headphones or to swap the microphone to the other side. Every design decision is made from a usability viewpoint; making this a simple and sophisticated piece of hardware.
With incredible sound quality, a great feel and the comfort to allow extended use, this is one best headsets I have ever owned.