Plantronics RIG Gaming Headset Review

Gaming headsets are typically judged in three primary ways: Are they comfortable to wear for long sessions? Do the headset and microphone sound good? And of course, is the set affordable? The Plantronics RIG easily delivers in two of these three areas. The headphones are quite comfortable, and they deliver solid sound quality from both the speakers and the boom microphone. However, the mixer peripheral – the multitasking feature that Plantronics hopes will sell the package – solves a problem that I’m not sure existed to begin with. It’s also responsible for kicking the price point up to $129.99, which is rather steep for a wired stereo headset. Regardless, the RIG is a strong setup that is unlikely to disappoint in any other areas.

First impressions of the headset are positive all around. It’s an attractive-looking unit and is surprisingly lightweight. It fits snugly enough to feel stable but loose enough to avoid feeling tight. The ear cups are large enough to fit around the outer ears without leaning against them. They are also covered in a breathable cloth (as is the headband) making the RIG extremely comfortable to wear with minimal sweating compared to other heavier, tighter headsets. I can only wear my Logitech G35 set for an hour or so before my outer ear starts to physically hurt, but I was able to wear the Plantronics RIG for marathon sessions with little fatigue in contrast.

RIG Review 1The situation becomes slightly less luxurious when it comes to actually hooking the headset up to your PC or console. It’s plug-and-play with no proprietary drivers to load, making things a snap from a software perspective. However, there are several cables to contend with thanks to the puck-shaped mixer peripheral.

The mixer needs two connections to work properly: a USB connection for the microphone, and another connection for the game audio (3.5” or optical). It’s a little confusing at first; the included diagram doesn’t clearly specify which connector  (USB or 3.5”) is dedicated to the microphone and which is for the game audio. It’s confusing because the headset can operate through the USB for both audio and mic, but the mixer won’t work as intended in that configuration. The optical connector is the best choice for audio when using a console like the Xbox 360 or the PlayStation 4, but the RIG does not come packaged with an optical cable – an odd and frustrating oversight when the package costs as much as it does already.

After that, it’s smooth sailing. The headset attaches to the mixer via a flat 3.5” cable and you’re in business with booming game audio and crisp microphone communication. The mixer has an adjustable outer ring that controls overall audio volume, and also includes an easily accessible microphone mute button in the front. There’s a button that toggles between three EQ settings (Pure, Intensify, and Seismic), though the differences are subtle. The Seismic setting cranks the bass, and Intensify is slightly brighter, but all three are perfectly acceptable.

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In order to utilize the RIG’s multitasking calling card, you’ll use yet one more cable to connect from the mixer to the 3.5” jack on your smartphone. With the setup complete, you now have the ability to use the large rocking switch in the center of your mixer to choose which device (your phone or your game console) will receive the microphone input from the headset. If you’re in the middle of an online game and your phone rings, you’ll hear the ring in your headphones. Just hit the phone button on your mixer to answer and flip the rocker switch left to talk. You’ll still have the game audio in your headphones but the person on the other end of your phone call will only hear your voice; your in-game buddies won’t hear your mic again until you flip the rocker switch back. The functionality is topped off by individual volume sliders for the game and phone audio making adjustments quick and effortless.

The mixer works as advertised: you can switch between chatting on the phone or chatting in-game with the flip of a button, and you never have to remove your headset or stop playing. However, this seems to be solving a problem that doesn’t commonly exist. It’s sure to come in handy for long MMO raids or lengthy League of Legends marathons, but it’s debatable how many players will make regular use of this functionality, particularly with how much phone communication is accomplished through text messaging rather than voice.

RIG Review 2It’s also worth mentioning that this setup leaves you with a hefty amount of cables lying around. The included ones are long enough to allow for usage from a solid distance away from your PC or console, but you’re best served to be playing at a desk where you can comfortably sit the mixer for easy access – not as convenient from a couch or a bed. To top it off, if you’re playing a long enough session to warrant hooking your phone up, you may want to have your phone connected to a charger as well, which is yet another cable to contend with. You’d also better hope that you can easily set up the mixer to your left, as the cable connecting to your headset is fixed to the left speaker.

VERDICT: The Plantronics RIG headset is a solid unit. Lightweight and breathable, it might be the most comfortable gaming headset I’ve used to date, and nary a functional hiccup is to be found. However, you’re paying a premium for a phone multitasking feature that you might not use. The headphone and microphone audio quality are each great, but the $129.99 asking price typically offers wireless connectivity and surround sound features in other packages.

That said, if the audio multitasking sounds like a feature you’d make regular use of, it works flawlessly with the RIG. And even if you never make use of the phone connectivity, the mixer is convenient for easy access to master volume and microphone mute. If a wired setup isn’t an issue for you and stereo audio will suffice (and especially if you can find it on a sale), the Plantronics RIG is a recommendable choice for those marathon sessions where comfort and reliability are paramount.

Review sample provided by manufacturer.


  • Matt

    sennheissers or GTFO.

  • http://GodisaGeek.com/ Adam Cook

    Haha, aren’t they rather pricey?

    I’m trying out a pair of Turtle Beach PS4 headphones, but also really dig the Tritton Warhead on Xbox 360. That said, I find that for such an expensive set, there’s a lot of interference that gives me a headache.

  • Matt

    Turtle Beach and Tritton… I’m assuming you’re using the wireless models?

    Wireless headsets can’t match the quality that a wired source can provide… there’s always going to be something lost in the conversion into and out of the wireless signal. Wireless headsets offer convenience over performance which are the only positive thing about them.

    I recommend getting a pair of Astro A40/50′s… I haven’t tried the wireless version but I have no qualms recommending the A40′s. You can always buy the Astro Mixamp and pair it with some Sennheiser PC360′s which I highly endorse with all my thumbs.

    Me… haha. I bought the HD558′s which offer a little better sound stage over the PC360′s but don’t have a built in Mic which lowers the price considerably. I’ve been using them on PC with my Asus Xonar Essence STX using DH-1 and a custom 7.1 speaker shifter setup and I swear I’ve turned my head on more than one occasion when I’ve had something blow up behind me in BF4.

    One thing that F’s with me though is that my inner ear shifts… it’s a weird feeling but it’s because the sound positioning is so good it’s tricking my brain into moving whatever muscle it is in my ear.

  • http://GodisaGeek.com/ Adam Cook

    Oh I agree, wireless is a convenience thing, but the Warhead is *incredibly* expensive, and although in terms of comfort, it’s lovely, the audio quality is great but marred by the “wireless” nature.

    Originally £199.99, you see: http://store.gameshark.net/Warhead_7.1_Wireless_Surround_Headset_for_Xbox_360/5330/265?scid=trittonsite

    Have often heard people recommend Astros, I must admit!

  • Matt

    That site you linked just dropped the price to £129. I looked at the specs and it looks like your mainly paying for the wireless hub, rechargeable battery packs and the gloss finish, not the quality of the sound.

    One of the main things you want to take into consideration is the frequency response of the drivers. A bigger range means the drivers are capable of reproducing tones the way they were initially recorded.

    This is from the Warheads
    Frequency Response: 25Hz–20kHz

    I can already tell you the treble is dull and the bass is a little weak… back me up or tell me differently since you have actual experience with them.

    25Hz tell me the bass is toned back… bass response is actually detrimental to gaming and can muddy out the mids and highs but I do recommend a minimum of at least 15Hz but only if the top end is a minimum of 25KHz. Say a piece of glass shatters, a bullet ricochets or your listening to the crackles of a fire… with that 20KHz limit you’re getting quality sound but it’s missing a lot of subtle detail and it’s a lot easier for the bass to overpower it. The High end varies from person to person though… It mainly has to do with how old you are and how good your hearing is so keep that into consideration as well.

    I’m guessing on which Turtle beach your using… I can only find 2 models for the PS4 and that’s the PX4/4c. I’m finding it rather funny that both Turtle beach and Plantronics don’t post the frequency response on their product pages.

    PX4
    20hz – 20KHz (reference class aka Nominal Human hearing range)

    The Warheads sound clearer to you don’t they? Turtle beaches have always boosted the bass and judging by the driver response it must drown out the highs a little like I was mentioning earlier.

    Plantronics Rig
    20Hz- 20KHz

    Both the PX4 and Rig are common fair… there’s nothing special about the drivers at all. I figure they must sound similar to each other with the only difference being how the hub handles the source (either treble or bass boost). That’s where your job comes in and hands on experience is really needed to differentiate what each maker does to their sound profile.

    Here are a couple more examples of the profiles you can expect from different frequency responses.

    Bass (muddy)
    8Hz – 20KHz

    Bass
    12Hz – 22KHz

    Bass (crisp)
    10/12Hz – 28KHz

    Detail
    15Hz – 28KHz

    Full Range
    8Hz – 38KHz

    Treble (Dull)
    25Hz – 18KHz

    Treble (crisp)
    20Hz – 28KHz