The Plantronics RIG 500E ‘e-sports edition’ headset provides superior comfort, portability, and it boasts excellent noise isolation for a headset as light as it is. It’s a strong choice as a desktop PC headset, although not without some minor caveats.
A key feature highlight for the Plantronics Rig 500E is its extremely lightweight, modular design. The Rig 500E can be broken apart into its individual components: the ear cups, plastic headband, microphone, USB Dolby sound controller and cable, and the suspension headband.
The Rig 500E Surround USB includes 2 types of ear cups: vented, for better breathability and comfort, or isolating, for reducing external background noise. The vented ear cups are lined with soft cloth covered memory foam. The isolating ear cups are lined with ‘pleather’ covered memory foam. Either pair of ear cups can be easily snapped into or out of the plastic headband.
Rig 500E features and technical specifications
- 40mm drivers
- USB Dolby Sound processor
- Detachable, flip-to-mute noise-cancelling boom mic
- 7.1 Dolby surround (with software)
- 24-bit audio support
- 2 types of ear cups: Vented for breathability and heat-dissipation, or isolating to reduce background noise
- USB and 3.5mm analog connectors
- Microphone Freq. Response 100Hz-10khz
- Headset Weight: 200 grams (7 ounces)
- Frequency response 20hz – 20khz
Comfort and Design
The RIG 500E is supremely comfortable thanks to its ultra-lightweight, modular design, and it weighs only 200 grams, or about 7 ounces. It easily ranks alongside the most comfortable PC gaming headsets such as the SteelSeries Siberia V2 (or V3) and may even surpass it slightly if only because it’s so light.
The snap-in ear cups make adjusting it slightly less convenient than typical adjustable headbands, but at least they are easy to remove and replace.
The break-apart, modular design of the RIG 500E makes it more portable than your average full-sized headset, although it’s perhaps a little less elegant than a fold-up design like the V-Moda Crossfade M-100 headset. It’s also far less durable, although unlike typical headsets you can replace the parts for the RIG 500 easily should the need arise. And Plantronics clearly plans to introduce a variety of headbands, ear cup designs, and other after-market customizations and options for the RIG 500E, provided it sells well enough to support it.
The isolating ear cups do a very good job of cutting external noise. Considering how lightweight and comfortable the RIG 500E is, I’m not sure you’d ever really need the vented ear cups (I never did), but they do look a little sharper.
The flip-to-mute microphone design is also a superior solution to finding and pressing a switch on an inline controllers. Conversely, the RIG 500E’s lack of an inline controller for quick volume adjustments was a bit of an annoyance.
The Rig 500E delivers good audio quality overall, with good clarity and above-average bass.
Unfortunately, the 500E doesn’t get very loud.
It gets loud “enough”, which is probably to say just slightly below what you probably like if you’re prone to crank your music/games/movies to high levels. Granted, equipped with the isolating ear cups, the Rig 500E arguably doesn’t need to get too loud—but its 40mm drivers could definitely be stronger. (Maybe Plantronics will introduce optional, more powerful ear cups as an after-market upgrade.)
Note: This review is for a pre-release version of the RIG 500E, so Dolby 7.1 surround sound software was unavailable for testing. I’ll update this review after the software is made available.
The 500E’s microphone seemed to do its job well enough for conference calls via Skype—no one complained about being able to hear me or dropping words, for example.
The RIG 500E is very lightweight, provides top-tier comfort, and its break-apart, modular design makes it a good traveling companion with potential room for expansion or upgrades later in its life—if you don’t mind dropping more money on upgrades/customizations for the 500E after its $149 initial asking (launch) price.
An inline controller for quick volume adjustments and louder drivers would be good improvements, but unlike other headsets you could (potentially) upgrade the RIG 500E depending on what Plantronics decides to release. Plantronics could easily introduce an inline controller and/or louder ear cups for the RIG 500E as after-market accessories/upgrades.