Plantronics RIG 500 PRO Esports Edition review: Nails the basics (and more)

Plantronics is a renowned headset maker with some of the best headsets available. The company has now doubled down on its attention with esports-grade products with the new RIG 500 PRO Esports Edition headset. But is it something you'd want to use at home too? Let's take a look.

What you'll love about the RIG 500 Pro

The RIG 500 Pro esports headset might be the most comfortable headset I have ever used. At just 323 grams, the RIG 500 Pro quite literally hovers on your skull, thanks to its floating headstrap. Its modular design allows you to move the earcups up and down in relation to the headband as you seek the perfect fit, almost completely getting out of your way.

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Frequency response20Hz to 20,000Hz
Weight323 grams
Speakers50mm Neodymium
Surround soundDolby Atmos code included
FeaturesUnique volume control nub for PS4 and Xbox OneAdditional cup optionsFlip-to-mute mic

As a more pricey headset, you might expect more premium design conventions, and Plantronics delivers in this area. The headstrap is made of steel, and while some other headsets I've used fall into a trap of conducting unwanted sound when using metal in their designs, Plantronics sidesteps any potential issues by keeping the ear cups separate from the metallic parts.

Few headsets I've used feel this nice in the hand. The ear cups also employ metal, hollowed out and cage-like to reduce weight, while protecting the speakers themselves from knocks. This headset is not delicate and dainty; it's industrial, almost military-style in its presentation. It looks great, combining carbon-fiber patterns with brushed metal, with both gloss and matte black plastics.

The Esports Edition includes both fabric and leatherette-style ear cups in the box. Both are high-quality and will serve your head well.

When it comes to audio, this headset is also rock-solid, delivering rich, tactile sound in every range. Those large 50mm drivers really deliver a well-tuned, distortion-free experience, even at the highest volumes.

The RIG 500 Pro doesn't sport any 7.1 surround solution, but it comes with a Dolby Atmos code in the box, which is almost as good as, if not better, in games that support Atmos directly. Sadly, the amount of games that support Atmos properly are few, but for the ones that do, your ears will thank you. With Atmos, the sound stage expands exponentially, creating a far richer, far more dynamic experience.

Another aspect the RIG 500 Pro excels at is microphone audio. This is often an area neglected by gaming headsets, but as an "esports" headset, it's not something Plantronics could afford to cheap out on. Thankfully, it didn't. The mic sounds crystal clear on both Xbox Live and other voice chat services, and while it has that signature comms "fuzz" that might prevent you from using it as a podcast or content creation mic, it will serve you will in party chat, cancelling out background noise well.

This is an excellent headset at every level, but it's not perfect.

What you'll dislike about the RIG 500 Pro

I'm not a huge fan of Plantronics's reliance on Dolby Atmos, considering very few games support the surround algorithm properly on Xbox One. The stereo experience is great, but virtual 7.1 support might have edged this headset a little higher for immersive qualities.

It's worth noting as well that this headset can be quite noisy for those in the room with you. If your goal is to isolate your game and chat audio from other people who might be in the room, this isn't the headset for you.

I also have to, once again, complain about the lack of mic monitoring. Some of the esports competitions I've seen that feature headsets without monitoring use Astro MixAmps to inject comms feedback, which you could argue stops the RIG 500 from being the "complete" esports package. The Xbox One's software mic monitoring solution is simply too quiet. If you're not a fan of mic monitoring feedback (where you can hear yourself speaking on comms), this won't be an issue.

Final thoughts on the Plantronics RIG 500 Pro Esports Edition

The RIG 500 Pro is an exemplary headset that satisfies on every level. It's hard to consider this to be a "complete" esports package with mic monitoring missing, but it's easily added with an audio controller, which would most likely be available in a tournament setting anyway.

As far as home use is concerned, the headset is quite noisy for those listening around you, but the audio quality is balanced and crisp, with an excellent mic experience. The flat tangle-free cables, flip-to-mute mic, and unique in-line mic controls also show nice attention to detail.

For home users, there are probably more feature-complete headsets to pick up in this price range, such as Plantronics's RIG 800LX, which is wireless, or Turtle Beach's Stealth 700, which has mic monitoring audio feedback and Bluetooth. As far as the basics are concerned — comfort, construction, and audio — this headset nails it.

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Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!