I’ve looked at a lot of headphones this month (there must be something in the water, because everyone’s releasing them all at once), but only two really stand out as a pair that I would consider ditching my venerable Plantronics Gamecom Commander for. You literally cannot get a set of these for love or money these days - they were a limited run and cost $350 at launch, and frankly they’re the best gaming headphone I’ve ever used.
But they’re also five years old, so it makes sense that cheaper, modern headphones are catching up. And of the ones I’ve looked at, Corsair’s wireless H70s come close (great sound, wonderfully convenient), and it shouldn’t be surprising that Plantronic’s own new RIG Pro 500 Esport does too.
There’s the usual RIG features - they’re a lightweight set of cans with earcups that can be moved up and down slots in the headband, rather than having a slotted headband itself - it’s bit of a gimmick, but it also works. The detachable mic mutes when folded up, offers somewhat iffy noise-cancelling to offer clear comms, but it does still pick up ambient sounds, like music. Still, it’s clear enough.
The Pro features are pretty neat, though. An aluminium headband and beautiful cup-backs offer strength and style, and a spare set of ear-cushions offer a dual material option for isolation, or memory foam for comfort. The really cool feature, though, is a dedicated widget that lets you plug your mic headphones into an Xbox controller, with a built in volume control. The inline volume control is a simple slider, but it can lock at top volume - if you just want to ignore the headphones, and maintain volume either in-game or via a keyboard control or in Windows, it’s a nice touch.
Features aside, it’s the rich and very detailed soundscape that makes the RIG Pro 500 such a killer choice. The 7.1 sound may be virtual, but the 50mm drivers and Plantronic’s own wizardry deliver the most clear spatial sound I’ve ever heard. In PUBG you can locate gunshots near or far, footsteps as they approach and run past you, and even pick up sounds that my beloved Commanders have never managed to catch, like the jingle of your equipment as you run. The bass isn’t over-powering, either. Gunshots and other intense sounds are satisfyingly punchy, but you can still happily listen to music or movies without feeling like you need to dial it back.
And they’re light enough that you can easily wear them for extended sessions without feeling like you’re head’s being squeezed in a vice.
And all for $199, which is kinda on the money for the features. I think Corsair has the overall better offering, but the RIG Pro 500 Esport has a lot of features of its own to recommend, like Dolby Atmos - and they even come with a free code.
They're a great set of cans.