Getting a device that does everything you want at a price that is affordable can be next to impossible without compromise. Plantronics hopes to buck this trend with their RIG headset by promising rich sound, modular design and the ability to take calls while gaming, all for just $129. This sounds like a fantastic deal! If only deals like this are as good as they seem.
The build quality on the Plantronics RIG is hands-down my favorite aspect. It has a sleek simple design, with the choice of either black or white models. The ear cups are made of a soft fabric that sits snugly over the ears and can be adjusted to fit most head sizes. The band, covered with a thin cloth coating works well at allowing the headphones to rest comfortably on the head without putting too much tension that would get painful over time. The overall design makes the Plantronics RIG one of the least flashy headsets available on the market.
The two interchangeable mics share the same design elements with slight variations: one, a simple inline design, and the other a boom style mic. Both give enough length to work and game comfortably without getting tangled thanks to the flat cored design. All this being said, the real seller with the RIG, is the small puck shaped acts as an audio mixer/amplifier. This little device can be connected via optical audio or standard 3.5 mm audio jack.
The major selling point of the RIG is how it connects to your phone so that you can answer calls with a simple click of a button while gaming. Overall this works. I was able to effortlessly take a call, talk to the person on the other end and go quickly back to the game audio easily. If I wanted to, I could lower the game audio and still listen to it during the call, but that’s really not my thing. Yet, with more and more people using mobile phones for everything, this is a very nice touch.
Don’t let this complicated set up fool you. The Plantronics RIG comes with a simple guide that shows the optimal way to set it up based on your currently gaming configuration. Overall there was little trouble getting the system up and running. We tested it on a variety of consoles. Overall the sound and mic worked without effort on most systems. The Xbox One currently will not work with the RIG for chat, but it did work for sound when using optical audio.
But, as with any headset, it all comes down to the audio quality. In this area, the Plantronics RIG fared well, although not as good as we had hoped. Since the headphones can be used with or without the base station we did tests with both configurations. Using just the headsets and cable, the headset worked with mobile devices, PC and PS4 with little to no trouble.
The overall audio quality was on par with mid-range headsets. The sound was clear, the bass was present all be it a tad overpowering, and the midrange felt good. The volume on the headphones was much more quiet then we would have liked. The volume had to be set near to the maximum level to get any kind of clarity when using the VITA or mobile. The issue that upset me the most was the poor treble performance. When you spend over $100, you hope to have a full range of sound through the earphone, yet Plantronics dropped the ball with the RIG. Although most sound felt crisp, the treble and mid tones were drowned out on most music we used during the test. In games it was less noticeable, although it was still lacking much of the richness that would be present through a surround sound system.
Using the RIG base station alleviated some of the problems we experienced using the headset on its own. The addition of three audio equalizer presets meant the sound did feel a bit more robust. Sound came through at an acceptable volume, and mids and bass felt more powerful. The issue with treble, although slightly better, was still a problem.
My biggest issue with the RIG Base Station is that since there is no dedicated power adapter for the device, it needs to be plugged into a USB port at all times for it to work. For this reason, using the RIG’s full set up with anything beyond a console or PC, was impractical.
It’s also important to note that the RIG, at this time, is only stereo. That means that even though it can take an optical signal, it is only capable of outputting a stereo signal. This is a non-issue for music or mobile. When comparing it to the competition, however, who do offer 5.1 options, it is good to keep this in mind when making your decision.
Now the real question is, is the Plantronics RIG a good investment at $129 even with the deficiencies in some areas? It all depends on what you plan to be doing with your headset. If you are okay with an all in one modular solution for your mobile phone and at home gaming, then the RIG is a great choice. The build quality and sound are fantastic. On the other hand, if you want a headset that gives uncompromising performance and you are okay paying the price tag, then picking up a 5.1 gaming headset may be a better investment. It all comes down to your needs, but all in all, the Plantronics RIG is a great choice for the casual gamer on the go.
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