As the gaming industries continue to grow, tech
companies are expected to jump into this market. Plantronics is one such
company. Known for their Bluetooth headsets and business-to-business headsets,
they are now entering the gaming scene with their RIG headsets, and we'll set this off with the RIG 500E.
The box comes with the usual documentation, an Electronic Sports League (ESL) sticker for e-sports lovers, a 1m 3.5mm audio jack, a Dolby 7.1 3.5mm to USB adapter, and parts of the headset itself.
RIG 500E is one of the most modular gaming headsets I've seen. You get two
sets of ear cups (semi open-back, and the other closed-back), cloth and
leatherette ear cushions, headband, and the frame of the headset.
Primarily made of plastic, the RIG 500E is light in both positive and negative ways. It doesn't fatigue your ears as much compared to heavier headsets although the RIG 500E does feel fragile. Despite that, none of the RIG 500E's modules were smashed with my careless handling.
The lightweight headband of the RIG 500E is soft and doesn't give any strain on my head while playing. It also does a good job of clamping the ear cups onto my head. Adjusting the fit is simple: there are three notches on both sides of the frame where you can choose where to attach the included ear cups.
I've mentioned that the Plantronics RIG 500E comes with two sets of ear cups.Â Both of them are decently sized, though they were a bit small for my ears. However, the cushions of both ear cups were soft enough that I didn't feel any strain or fatigue while playing games for long intervals. The RIG 500E also lacks an indicator for the right and left cup. This is mitigated, however, with the microphone plug located on the left ear cup.
RIG 500E is powered by a 40mm dynamic driver with a frequency response of
20Hz - 20KHz, an impedance of 32ohms, and a max input power of 40mW. The
closed-back ear cups do a good job of isolating noise from the environment to
let me feel even more immersed while playing. Bass is much more noticeable
compared to the semi open-back ear cups. The semi open-back ear cups do less
isolation but sound more natural since they give a feeling of "sound around
you" instead of "sound within your head" due to its wider soundstage.
To use the 7.1 Dolby surround sound, you'll need to use the Dolby 3.5mm to USB adapter as well as download the RIG 500 Audio Panel from Plantronics' website. You can edit the equalizer settings of the RIG 500E through the software. It also comes with a couple of presets with several slots for your own equalizer settings.
Since Plantronics is an official partner of the ESL, I decided to use the Plantronics RIG 500E in Blizzard's Overwatch. As a competitive multiplayer game, Overwatch demands the best in players and every advantage is a welcome sight to anyone. This is a field wherein the Plantronics RIG 500E did not disappoint. Using the headset in 7.1 Dolby surround mode, I felt like I had a tactical advantage against the opposing team in terms of sound. I can pinpoint where Tracer is whenever she uses Blink, and I can hear Reaper's footsteps much more distinctly so that I can shut him down before he unleashes his Death Blossom. Pharah's jetpack is also very detectable that's why I can grapple her with Roadhog's hook before she takes off to the skies. Â
Using again the 7.1 Dolby surround mode, I fired up The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt to see how the headset will perform. Turns out, the audio in single player games is also much more immersive with the RIG 500E. I can hear the random rambling of NPCs in the bustling city of Novigrad. The rustling of leaves and grass can be clearly heard while I'm in the picturesque vistas of Skellige Isles. My skin crawls with fear whenever I hear the screech of a Forktail over the horizon. However, I do feel empowered whenever the battle music plays due to the audio quality brought by the RIG 500E. I really feel in tune in battle whenever I hear steel meeting flesh while fighting monsters or humans.
RIG 500E does stumble a bit in the music department. Most gaming headsets
have pronounced bass and mids to boost footsteps and explosions in games. The
RIG 500E is the same kind of beast. I can definitely hear the bass and mids a
lot more than high notes while listening to music. I've definitely heard better
music quality in similarly priced audiophile-quality headphones in the market.
However, since the Plantronics RIG 500E
is focused on gaming instead of sheer music quality, the headset still performs decently compared to other gaming headsets.
The RIG 500E's microphone is a noise-cancelling, removable mic boom that can be attached to the left ear cup. It's relatively short but it manages to reach the side of my mouth. It did pick up my voice clearly. However, it was also able to pick up background noises such as the clacking of my mechanical keyboard as well as the hum of my electric fan. Other than that, I am still able to record my voice clearly and shout out commands to my teammates in Overwatch.
Officially priced at PhP 7,195, the Plantronics RIG 500E is something that I've never experienced before: a completely modular headset that's fully and easily customizable. Despite the RIG 500E's lightweight construction and average music performance, it delivers excellent gaming performance. If you want every tactical advantage in the digital battlefield, the Plantronics RIG 500E is a purchase that you would definitely not regret.