As we live in a world of increasingly binary choices, it feels like even gaming headsets are starting to fall into two camps: those that are trying to disguise themselves as regular headphones so you can take them on the bus, and those that many would find an embarrassment to wear when the curtains aren’t drawn with glowing, angular and industrial designs.
RIG’s headset skew towards the latter category. Their industrial faux-bolted steel headbands and webbed earpieces are not exactly a sleek modern look, but if you can look past the outward appearance, you’ll find that RIG are consistently building some of the best gaming headsets on the market, with barely an ounce of fanfare for doing so.
The RIG 500 Pro HX looks like any number of its predecessors, but some things have changed behind the scenes. Formerly a part of the Plantronics family, the RIG brand has now found a home with French uber-outfit Nacon, who seem intent on being all things to all gamers. Frankly, if they carry on the way they’re going, I’m happy to welcome our new Gallic overlords.
While this variant is marketed for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC, the 500 Pro HX is equipped with a 3.5mm jack, meaning you can plug it into any of your consoles that were made in the last ten years, or even an original Sega Mega Drive/Genesis if you’re so inclined. I’ve hopped into some NEO: The World Ends With You on PS5 and Monster Hunter Stories 2 on Switch with it and I can definitely confirm that the 3.5mm connector fits both of these particular 3.5mm sockets.
It’s attached by a thin, flat cable that’s a great length if you’re attaching it to something nearby – there’s no annoying excess to get in the way, but don’t expect to be wandering anywhere without whatever device you’ve got it plugged into. Halfway down the cable there’s a lightweight inline controller featuring a volume slider, while the only other physical control is the microphone arm attachment that mutes itself when you tilt it up out of the way.
It’s a removable mic arm, which remains a great feature in my mind since you don’t always want to play competitively, or always want to talk to other people when you’re gaming. When attached, the flexible metal mic arm can be positioned exactly where you want it to be, and it won’t shift around at all unless you want it to.
Voice chat is excellent; clear, crisp and with a natural tone that doesn’t make it sound like you’re talking through a cheap child’s walkie talkie. Friends confirmed that I sounded just like myself, though they could not confirm whether this was a good thing or not.
When you consider the pricepoint that Nacon are hitting with the 500 Pro HX, things really take a leap up. This is one of the best-sounding headsets out there in around its £70 price tag.
The incredible soundtrack of NEO: The World Ends With You sounded great through my time with it, carrying the vocals cleanly through atop a resoundingly hefty bass response. Similarly Monster Hunter Stories 2: Rings of Ruin sounded great while I played in handheld mode on the Switch. The soaring soundtrack, the sounds of battle, and the myriad array of Monstie’s calls were merrily transported to my ears by the 50mm drivers.
It’s little surprise that Avengers: Endgame and the new DC comic tie- in Death Metal – which only has a passing resemblance to actual death metal – also benefitted from the 500 Pro HX’s high quality delivery. The audio is easily a match for headsets that cost over £100.
After a long session of gaming, my ears were slightly warm, but the soft fabric on the inner side of the earcups made that less of a problem than it might be elsewhere. Overall the comfort levels are excellent; I love the floating headbands that companies like RIG and Steelseries have put to good use in recent years, and they’re certainly my preferred headband option.
The 500 Pro HX sticks with RIG’s patented adjustment setup where you can pop the earpieces out and shift them further up or down the fixed headband. It’s simple, effective, and seems to be suitable for both larger and smaller heads. You can be sure that it’s exactly where you left it too, which isn’t something you can say about every headset.
Thanks to their wired nature, you can indulge in a bit of virtual surround sound, depending on the platform you’re using. Both Dolby Atmos on Xbox and PC and the PS5’s Tempest 3D AudioTech worked impressively well with the 500 Pro HX, and if you’re needing a little bit of a boost to your competitive FPS-ing then you’re going to find it here, adding an extra layer of accuracy to footsteps and gunfire that’ll have you eating that chicken dinner in no time at all… or humble pie if your fingers and thumbs get in a tizzy.