I've never really understood why gaming hardware needs to look like military or industrial equipment, but I love those looks, so bring it on. Plantronics is the latest company to release a piece of gear for gamers that looks like it came straight out of the pages of Soldier of Fortune. That's right—the headset company best known for its stodgy, business-friendly offerings also sells gaming headsets. The newest series is called the RIG 500 Pro, and like the rest of the RIG series it comes with downright aggressive styling.
Plantronics RIG 500 Pro (base model)
There will be four models in the RIG 500 Pro series: the RIG 500 Pro HX, the RIG 500 Pro HS, the standard RIG 500 Pro, and the RIG 500 Pro Esports Edition. The first two are simple: the HX is for the Xbox One, and the HS is for the Playstation 4. These models are almost entirely plastic, and come with handy volume dials on the controller-mounted plugs. Plantronics says the location of the “RIG Game Audio Dial” makes it easy to adjust a game's volume while playing in the living room.
The RIG Game Audio Dial and in-line volume slider
The standard RIG 500 Pro and the Esports Edition take things a bit upmarket with their metal headbands. The RIG 500 Pro's volume control moves to a more typical inline design since players don't usually have headphone jacks on their keyboards. The Plantronics says the Esports Edition is designed to be more durable, and so its entire frame (including the headband) is made from die-cast metal. That just sounds heavy to me, and indeed, this model weighs a couple of ounces more than the other versions. It also includes two cables so that you can use the inline volume control on PCs or the controller-friendly dial of the console versions.
Specifications for the RIG 500 Pro (base model)
Whichever version you buy, you'll get the same audio performance out of the RIG 500 Pro's 50-mm dynamic drivers and detachable microphone. Despite appearances, the earcups use a closed design, so the RIG 500 Pro series should be serviceable in noisy environments. Audio hardware specifications are even less useful than monitor specs, but if you're curious about the numbers Plantronics offers I've reproduced them for you above.
Plantronics RIG Pro 500 HX for Xbox One
If, on the other hand, you're ready to buy, you can order your RIG 500 Pro from Best Buy or Plantronics' own site. The console-gaming headsets will run you $80, the RIG 500 Pro will cost you $90, and the fancy Esports Edition goes for $150.