Plantronics RIG 500 Pro Esports Edition: Full, in-depth review
- Great price
- RIG Dial is really cool
- Limited Dolby Atmos support
- Wish noise-cancelling was better
For the more-affordable price, the RIG 500 Pro picks all the right fights and ticks all the right boxes.
Price$ 200.00 (AUD)
When it comes to gaming headphones, Plantronics haven’t always triumphed. But they have always had one specific, practical, edge over their competition: design.
Plantronics' products tend to privilege the realities of gaming over the fantasy wrapped around it. To them, things like hi-res audio, plush materials or neon-laced aesthetics are a luxury. By necessity, they have to come second to the parts of the experience that actually matter. The tangible things that have a direct impact and effect on everyday players.
The new RIG 500 Pro series embodies this approach and its associated tenets to a tee. Available in Xbox, console, PC and a universal ‘Esports Edition', Plantronics’ RIG 500 Pro are nothing if not uncompromising. They're heavy on value and fierce in their feature-set.
Weight: 323 grams
Drivers: Dynamic 50mm
Compatibility: Playstation 4, Xbox One X, Nintendo Switch, Mobile, Laptop and PC
Connectivity: 3.5mm audio cable
Noise Cancelling: Yes
Built-in Microphone: Yes
Cable length: 1.3m
Pack Ins: Dolby Atmos code, RIG Audio Dial, fabric earcushions
Though it definitely has its strengths, I haven’t been a massive fan of Plantronics’ headphones in the past. Yes, the detachable ear cups found throughout the RIG range are wicked-cool. They present a new avenues for customization and increase the raw durability of the products themselves. Yet, these gains have often come at a cost when it comes to ambient noise pollution and audio quality as a whole. And that's not a price I'm keen to pay when I play games.
The Plantronic RIG 500 Pro does little to address this. The caliber of noise-cancelling here was definitely better than it was in RIG 800XL. But not by enough of a margin that I’d say the hurdle itself has been overcome. A lot of outside noise still made its way into the mix, to the detriment of whatever game I happened to be playing.
Still, after using the RIG 500 Pro for a good couple of weeks, I have to admit they are starting to win me over. Keeping the $200 price-tag at the front of my mind, I find it hard not to recommend them in spite of my reservations about the noise dilution. There's just-enough value-adds here to tilt the scales against the few compromises and shortcomings.
For example, the RIG 500 Pro let you actually choose between memory foam or fabric-laced ear cups. That might not sound like a big deal - but when you're in it for a long drawn out game of League, these small comforts matter.
Then there's the RIG Audio Dial accessory that comes included with the RIG 500 Pro. It’s a small, ring-like nub that you squeeze between the 3.5mm audio input and the port on your controller. Once set-up, you can twist and turn the ring to quickly change the volume. It’s a small, but nifty, addition to an already great package.
When used to play shooters (like Overwatch) or strategy games (like Phantom Doctrine), the RIG 500's 50mm drivers delivered a soundscape both crisp and immersive. I wouldn't necessarily say it sounded like a game-changer but, for the price, these headphones really impressed me. I could absolutely see myself using these consistently and comfortably - even over longer gaming sessions. They lack the bass radiators found in the RIG 800-series - but that's about it. When it comes to fidelity, they sound like you want gaming headphones to sound. The dialogue is clear, sound-effects feel accurately-placed and the ambient music is crisply-balanced.
Unfortunately, as with the RIG 800XL, the Dolby Atmos side of the equation remains a little bit of a mixed bag. Yes, this aspect of things is a little outside of Plantronics' control. But it’s hard to emphasize it too much as a bullet-point when the list of games that support Dolby Atmos playback is as limited as it is.
When it comes to Xbox One, there’s about a dozen games that have support for the feature. When it comes to Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch, there is no support at all. When it comes to PC gaming, the onus is on the individual game developers to implement the necessary support. It's a bit of a patchwork situation that undercuts the feature as a whole even if, taken on its own terms, the feature can sound quite good.
By contrast, the microphone on the RIG 500 Pro proved a somewhat more-consistent strength. It’s flexible in all the right ways, allowing you to find the right fit without too much fuss. Unfortunately, it did also tend to pick up a noticeable amount of the audio coming out of the RIG 500 Pro’s ear-cups. This which wasn’t ideal - and it sometimes made in-game communication a bit more difficult than it needed to be.
The Bottom Line
Like the moniker suggests, the RIG 500 Pro headphones are a sharper take on everything Plantronics have dealt out in the past. That doesn’t mean that these headphones aren’t great. But it does mean that you have to keep your expectations in line with the company’s past precedents.
No, the RIG 500 Pro don’t sound as good or feel quite as comfortable as a Sennheiser. No, it doesn’t have the RGB integration of a Razer. Still, for the more-affordable price, the RIG 500 Pro picks all the right fights and ticks all the right boxes.
I don’t know if I could commend the RIG 500 Pro on the strengths of few its select innovations. But if you’re looking for a gaming headset that comes pretty close to doing it all, the price makes this one a whole lot easier to recommend than most of the others.
Join the newsletter!
Samsung QLED 8K TV
Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB 3000
Cartier Calibre de Cartier Diver Watch
Ballistix Sport AT
Apple iMac Pro
Bang and Olufsen Beoplay A9 Speaker
Toys for Boys
ESET Cyber Security Pro for Mac
Osmo Coding Awbie Game
ESET Internet Security
ESET Smart Security Premium
Tivoli PAL BT
Nix Pro Colour Sensor
Little Bits DROID Inventor Kit
Oregon Pro WMR500 Weather Station
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker
SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3
Naztech Xtra Drive Mini + 256GB microSD Card
Ikea RIGGAD work lamp with wireless charging
TimeFlip Magnet Simple Time Tracking Device
So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy Watch review: Brilliant but not quite a breakthrough
- 2 HP Omen 15 (2018): Full, in-depth review
- 3 HP Envy x360 13 (Ryzen): Full, in-depth review
- 4 Dell G5 review: Easy to live with
- 5 D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD DSH-C310 review
Latest News Articles
- Jabra amplify enterprise offering with new Evolve 65t earbuds
- CES 2019: 3D Audio was one of the loudest trends on the show floor
- CES 2019: Nura miniturize with new NuraLoop earbuds
- CES 2019: HyperX takes aim at Razer's lineup with CES offering
- CES 2019: HyperX claim their latest gaming headset can even woo audiophiles
PCW Evaluation Team
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
- CES 2019 Round-Up:
- Razer Phone 2 review: One for the fans
- Samsung’s Galaxy S10 will launch on Feb 20
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies