Plantronics RIG 500E (Hardware) Review

I never fully realized the importance of quality headphones until I purchased my first flat-screen TV (a modest little 22”). Smaller LCD TVs usually come equipped with a headphone jack, which at the time I loved simply because it meant I could competently game into the late hours of the night after everyone had gone to sleep. However, it wasn’t until I played the Wii re-release of the Metroid Prime Trilogy that I began to understand how important headphones are. Even with a basic pair of Sony surround sound headphones, I was given a level of immersion I had never experienced before. The combination of visor effects with sound coming from all angles, made me feel like I actually was Samus exploring Talon V.

From then on, my search for top quality headphones began. Between dabbling with Sony, Sennheiser, and the odd JVC—all with varying degrees of sound quality and comfort—it always seemed like I was getting close, but never to a level I wanted. Well, that search may have ended with the RIG 500E.

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The RIG 500E are beautifully designed, prioritising comfort and durability. The headset frame is incredibly flexible, and the secondary, extra-stretchy frame creates an almost gyro stabilized design so the phones sit comfortably on your head. Weighing in at 200 grams, they’re lightweight but without sacrificing durability, allowing you to wear them for several hours without forging grooves in your skull.

Given the official endorsement from the ESL, The RIG 500E are designed with gaming in mind. The RIG 500E come equipped with two sets of ear cups, allowing the user to customize their listening experience, and both cups come equipped with a removable headset jack. Versatility is the name of the game and the RIG’s overall design allows for easy customization, with cups snapping in and out of the frame. You’d think that this feature may cause them to be pretty flimsy, but this actually isn’t the case. The whole unit is incredibly sturdy, and the cups lock in perfectly to conform to the movement of your head while being interchangeable.

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Both the 40mm noise-cancelling and the vented ear cups fit beautifully around your ears and offer optimum sound at maximum comfort. Both cups have breakaway cables that allow users to switch between a basic headphone jack for every day use, or a Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound USB connection, paired with the RIG audio panel for pinpoint audio precision.

Personally, I found myself using the vented cups the most, as their open design and ultra soft padding made it feel like two clouds were sat upon my ears. From listening to music during commutes, to four-hour sessions of The Uncharted Collection, the RIG felt like a dream. The Dolby 7.1 boost in audio also makes a considerable difference, and creates a much more immersive experience in some frantic playthroughs of The Killing Floor 2.

Personally, my only real complaint came from the cups seeming too quiet. While listening to music, it seemed like I had to turn my volume up past the “recommending listening” level just to get it to a comfortable point. Even on my laptop it seemed I had to bring my volume up a bit higher than normal. However, this is only a minor complaint as even as I’m writing this, I’ve just noticed I’m still wearing them and I’m not even listening to anything; you just forget they’re there.

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Overall, I highly recommend looking into the RIG 500E headphones. Their versatility, sound quality, and most importantly, comfort, make them a necessary addition to any gamer’s toolkit. Priced around $149.99, they’re fairly inexpensive for higher-end headphones and well worth the investment. I can’t imagine I’ll ever take them off.