Plantronics RIG Headset Review
Have you ever had a totally tubular online gaming session, where you’re constantly pwning n00bz with noscope headshotz, and suddenly, your improbably attractive girlfriend calls you and invites you for a tofuburger? Neither have I, but if you have, the Plantronics RIG headset is here to fulfill a desire you didn’t even know you had: to take a call from your Mom while someone on the other line claims to have defiled your mom. Its big gimmick is that you can plug in the headset to your gaming console or your PC, meanwhile plugging it into your phone, and switch between in-game VOIP and your smartphone.
Here’s Plantronics’ adorable idea/product trailer of what online gaming is actually like:
I’m a USB kinda guy when it comes to headsets. I like to plug that mother in, let Windows 7 do its magic and then just run with it. Utilizing the RIG to its fullest potential involves a series of wires and plugging in to multiple devices and such. It’s not too hard, but its does make for some cumbersome arrangements of gadgets that most people would probably find a tad irksome and inconvenient. You ever snagged yourself on your headset because you forgot it was around your neck? Add your smartphone getting jerked around as well. Once everything is plugged in, the mixer works like a charm. You can easily swap between calls and your game, and well as changing levels for both of them while still in-game.
One critical failure in the RIG setup is there’s no packaged software for equalizing on the PC. For the Xbox/PS3, you can handle your levels in your TV with a click of your remote. For the PC, it’s nice to have more control over your levels, effects, and volume than the primitive Windows control panel.
Also, it was surprising at how exactly Windows identifies each device, considering the microphone plugs into the actual 3.5 mm port, and the headphones are USB. That was unexpected, but makes sense only after the fact. There’s a diagram included, but nothing more involved than that. Normally, a USB headset is plug-and-play, but the RIG is a whole new animal. Someone unfamiliar with using a headset is going to be absolutely lost. After about 10 minutes of finagling and testing in various apps, such as Winamp, Google Play, and some games, I finally got the headset up to snuff.
The headphones are rock-solid, solidifying Plantronic’s level of quality with their business-level devices. They get excellent range and tone, with thumping bass and crystal-clear highs and mids. Kudos to the RIG team for creating a solid set of phones. They’re very comfortable too, with a padded bridge and over-the-ear cups with adjustable lengths for various noggins. They have three tinny-to-thumpy profiles, made for voice or gaming built right into the mixer hardware, but a more robust equalizer would still be welcome.
The microphone has extremely clear quality as well, recording without hisses or pops. My main complaint with the microphone, other than the cumbersome setup, is sidetone. That’s when your microphone transmits your own voice into your headphones. It’s handy for when you’re talking in a room with other people, that way you can avoid blowing out their eardrums. But most people like myself find it intensely distracting and I spent a good hour trying to figure out a way to mute it. You can’t. Sidetone is permamently turned off, which for some people, might be a dealbreaker. You also can’t move the microphone out of the way, it’s permanently fixed and you have to swap out the connector is you just want to use the headphones by themselves. It’s a weird design choice.
The Plantronics RIG headset is a fairly unique idea that I’m not sure anyone has much use for, especially at its staggering $129.99 MSRP. I’m not sure if this is even an issue that I’ve ever thought needed to be fixed, but Plantronics sure does. Normally, I’ll just ignore a call instead of trying to multitask an online game and a conversation at the same time, which normally involves me unintenionally swearing at whomever’s on the other end. It’s a gimmick, not really as important of a core selling point as they think. I do have to applaud them for an excellent set of headphone and high-quality mic, as well as providing me with the following image, which I will cherish forever: