Platforms: Xbox, Playstation, PC, Mac, Smart Device
Category: Multipurpose Gaming Headset
Type: Supra-aural (on-ear)
Connection: Stereo 3.5mm, USB
Phone Controls: Yes
Retail Price: $129.99
Plantronics continues their line of gaming related headphones and mics with the Rig. Plantronics is well known for their telephony products so if your work happens to involve using the phone quite a bit it’s very likely you’re already using some sort of Plantronic products. But we’re here to talk about gaming and the Rig!
So is the Rig worthy of your hard earned ducats?
The Rig combines a stereo headset, microphone, and mixer while being compatible with Xbox, Playstation, PC, Mac, as well as tablets and smart phones. You can choose from two different colors: white or black. The big selling point for the Rig is the mixer which allows you to answer calls, Skype with friends, listen to music (or apps) all while continuing whatever gaming pursuits you may be in the midst of tackling. The Rig can also be disconnected from your gaming gear to be used as a standard headset on the go.
Once you crack open the box you’ll find the headset, a boom mic, an inline mic, the mixer, and a plethora of cables to be utilized in hooking up your gaming rig to the Rig. The included quick start guide is a tad less than comprehensive (thus being called a quick start guide) but the diagrams provide enough info to hook up everything rather quickly and easily. Where the documentation included is lacking is in explaining how to utilize each feature or setting. For example the equalizer has three settings: pure, intensify, and seismic. Uh huh… And those mean what exactly?
I don’t mean to imply this lack of comprehensive detail is the fault of Plantronics as it seems these days nearly all accessories are supplied with a mindset of, “Well, you bought it. Go knock yourself out and figure out how to use it.” Thankfully, I’m a bit brighter than a small appliance bulb and not averse to screwing around with something to experiment. The equalizer settings, for all intents and purposes, pan out – in order – to music, gaming, and movies.
The headset itself is plastic, with fabric covers for the drivers, but still feels solid and comfortable; it doesn’t matter how good headphones sound if they feel like you’ve strapped two bricks to your noggin. The left ear piece has a port for connecting either of the mics, the boom for home gaming and the inline for using the headset on the go. I’d say the microphones are quite a bit better than what you find on many gaming headsets these days and that would only make sense since Plantronics is well known for telephony equipment. The boom does a nice job of cutting down on side noise although I’ll admit I wouldn’t personally use it for recording audio for mass public consumption although the mics perform more than yeoman’s work in their intended purpose; talking on the phone and online. Keep in mind the Rig is built with sidetone functionality, meaning the sound from the mic is fed back into the headphones. Some folks might not mind that aspect while others may hate it. Personally, I dislike sidetone and I didn’t run across any way to disable that function.
Sound quality is solid for a multipurpose headset, although you’ll want to take note the drivers are 40mm as opposed to a more common 50mm (as you may find with other headphones) and, since the drivers are stereo only, don’t expect to hear 5.1 surround sound. Also the design of the ear cups doesn’t block out a lot of environmental noise either so you certainly can’t consider the Rig to have anything close to noise cancellation. On the plus side, I didn’t experience any hiss while connected to my PC which can be a real issue with other headsets.
As I mentioned the big selling point of the Rig is the table top mixer. Suspiciously looking like a hockey puck, the mixer allows you to connect two audio inputs (say your console and smartphone, tablet, or laptop) in order to monitor both at the same time. The layout for the mixer is well done and the buttons for answering a call, muting the mixer, or setting the equalizer are easily found and you get used to where everything is placed pretty quickly. The mixer also has two modes: Mobile and Game wherein you can take calls or engage with friends with in game chat. Since you can utilize the two inputs at the same time you can even load up any of your apps on your smartphone, say Pandora or Sirius or even a TGG podcast, and listen while also catching all the game audio as well. Switching between and adjusting volumes for each feed is a snap too.
The Rig is completely wired and, depending on just what you have hooked up to it, you might find there’s a bit of cord clutter going on. I’ll guess somewhere down the line we’ll see a Bluetooth version of the Rig but currently you’ll have to jack everything in which you want to utilize. This clutter could be a turn off for some as well.
I have to admit I’m far from someone who can be classified as an audiophile but I do spend quite a bit of time recording and editing audio so I might have a bit more experience with sound than the average Joe on the street. With that disclaimer out of the way, I have to say there’s quite a lot to like about the Rig. While it might not knock it out of the park for every usage aspect (especially in the opinions of those Bose equipment buying music lovers) the ability to use the Rig not only for gaming but also as your go to headset for home and road is a major plus in the Rig’s favor. While it may not pack the punch of other headphones out there, and you lose out on surround sound, I love the fact I can take calls or chat on Skype all while continuing to game away to my heart’s content.
While the Rig carries a $130 price tag, which seems a tad high, it’s certainly worth a buy for anyone looking for a multipurpose gaming headset. I would however recommend giving the Rig an in store test drive though, just to make sure it’ll fit your individual needs, before picking it up.
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