Plantronics is a weighty name on the audio market, and as gaming grows, the company could not ignore this segment. Despite the fact that we do not hear about Plantronics for gaming lately, the company has been producing such peripherals since 2014, and the RIG 500E seems to be the most balanced model in its current product range. We talk about a pair of headphones made for fans of "eSports" in partnership with the ESL (Electronic Sports League), which includes in the pack just about everything needed for an experience that suits every player in any situation
Construction, design, ergonomics
The Plantronics RIG 500E headphones come in quite a voluminous package, but there is a good reason for that. In the box we can find the fully disassembled headphones and not just a pair, but two pairs of cups. Basically, the RIG 500E is not a single headset but a headset for gaming. Depending on your preferences, you can opt for airy cups that do not isolate speaker sound or closed cups for moments when you do not want to hear the surround sound and you do not want the headphone sound to be heard by the others.
Thus, the first thing we find in the package is a soft, easy-to-flex plastic frame that looks very durable in time. Then we have the headband, built with fabric and elastic, to provide comfort and easy to place on the head of the user, regardless of its size (there is no "classic" size adjustment system).) The two pairs of cups and all connecting cables are the following in a row
The "open" cups use fabric covered cloths designed to provide added comfort in long use sessions, while "closed" cups come with leather-covered sponges that isolate ambient noise. One cable ends with a USB plug and a wired controller, while the other cable comes with a "combo" jack, allowing headphones to be plugged into a smartphone. The microphone is removable and must be moved to each pair of cups.
From a design point of view, the RIG 500E headphones seem to be very well thought out. Basically, the cups catch through a very simple system in the hexagonal holes on the side, changing between the two models is extremely fast. Each PC connecting cable has a jack plug in which the pair of cups used must be connected. The entire interchangeable system is simple and easy to use, switching from one pair of cups to the other is a process that only takes a few seconds.
Probably the only disadvantage of these headphones is the lack of volume control on the wire. Neither the jack and USB cables offer buttons or a volume knob, the only button available is the one that turns Dolby digital processing on or off. Also, those who want to use the headset on the PC using the audio jack cable will need either a combo jack on the PC or a separate splitter that turns the usual jack into two jacks (one for the speakers and one for the microphone.)
Installing and configuring the RIG 500E headphones is simple, but slightly different, depending on the cable you choose to connect. For those who choose to use the headphones using the audio jack, the audio card software will handle the configuration, which may vary depending on the model. Those who use the included USB plug will also have to install the Plantronics RIG 500 Audio Panel software.
The software then automatically starts when the headphones are connected and provides access to some basic settings. On the left, we have the volume for the microphone along with the sidetone setting, which controls the voice volume of the users that can be heard in the headphones for monitoring. Also, there is a virtual button on the top to enable or disable Dolby processing, which can be directly controlled with the physical button on the USB cable
In the right part of the application, we have a standard equalizer, which is implicitly configured on the "Pure" profile, with all frequencies on zero decibels. But there are two other profiles, one quite well balanced, useful in most usage scenarios, whether we are talking about gaming, music or movies, called "Intensify" and a profile for low frequency fans called "Seismic".
There is also the ability to set up the equalizer at will, saving four personalized profiles within the app. Along with the RIG 500 Audio Panel icon in the system tray, Plantronics also puts a real-time microphone volume indicator next to it. So, you can see at any time whether the microphone really works, or if the volume is too small.