15th Jan 2014 | 23:41
A jack-of-all trades headset
Plantronics has been in the headset industry for quite some time now so its no rookie when it comes to creating great gaming audio peripherals.
Owners of next-gen consoles have pretty limited headset choices right now and are left with expensive sets or ... non-existent ones. The RIG, so far, seems to be a worthy headset - and an affordable option to boot with the price being slashed down to only $99.99 (about £60.83, AU$111.63).
The RIG works with the PS4, PS3, Xbox 360 and PC/Macs to chat with other players but like many other headsets, it doesn't quite have Xbox One support. Rather, there's only side chat available - though you can still use the headphones with the new Xbox console.
The design is simple and unassuming but does not take away from the fact that these are quite comfortable over-ear headphones. The cups are cloth and made with memory foam to better fit to your ears - plus probably won't feel sweaty after hours of usage. Cleaning the cloth may be a problem though since the cups don't seem removable. Tearing is also something to factor in but the cups seemed durable enough.
The headband doesn't look like much yet feels comfy - but more time is needed to see how well the headband holds up after hours of music on-the-go or gameplay to determine whether or not they'll end up squishing your head.
A bit more time is needed to also test out the durability of the headband especially since they're touted to be portable. The RIG cups can turn and lay flat for easy storage, and comfortability when you want to leave them around your neck. It's a simple feature many headphones lack and it isn't a huge miss but really is a great perk.
A simple feature that I feel many headphones lack is the ability to lie flat. It's not a huge issue if headphones don't have it, but it really is useful and a great perk that comes with the RIG. If you want to leave your headphones around your neck for a minute, your face won't hit the giant cups since you can flatten them. Additionally, you can just place them on a table and flatten them out for more room.
Another nifty feature are the two different interchangeable mics - one is for gaming which can be taken off and replaced with an inline mic so you can use the headphones anywhere with your phone or other music device. It was a simple switch that didn't require too much effort which seems to be the point.
Using the RIG to take calls also seems to be an important selling point and one of the main functions of a Mixer you get with the package. You can hook your phone up with a simple 3.5mm jack then switch over to it with the push of a button if you get a phone call. The game continues without pausing and effectively allows you to multi-task.
The Mixer is less complex than the Astro MixAmp but still seems quite capable in comparison - you can set the sounds to three EQ profiles which Plantronics calls "Pure, Intensify and Seismic" plus plug in your phone or tablet.
I was able to test this out with music from my phone while playing FIFA 14 on the PS4 and it worked really well. With a turn here and there, I was able to listen to my music only or balance it out, in addition to pushing the EQ button for varying intensities.
A quick test of the three modes while running around Battlefield 4 in single player sounded great over the din of the CES crowds. I didn't even have to turn the volume up on the RIG to hear gunfire whizzing by with remarkably clear highs. However with the limited time, it was difficult to tell how well each separate setting worked.
One of the issues with the Plantronics RIG is the fact that it's wired. It may not be a big deal on PC but it might make couch gaming a bit difficult if you're sitting far from your console. It means no charging is needed - though the length of the wire and its reach is questionable.
But the best part of the RIG is that you're getting a really good deal for a great price. The RIG probably isn't like the top-tier $300 sets but well worth trying out for everything it brings to the table. With the inline mic and ability to make and take phone calls thanks to the Mixer - which is included in the price - it seems to have an edge over the competition by trying to be a headset you can use beyond gaming.