Toy blocks are fun. I grew up playing with toy blocks as a child, but never have I ever thought that a gaming headset would end up giving me the same enjoyment. I have never been entertained in simply unboxing a peripheral.

 

The Plantronics® RIG 500E is not simple, and even then that would be an understatement. It has parts that can be interchanged, and it has other parts that can be optional. Not only that, but parts can also be swapped with other ones that are available. Like I said, entertaining.

 

The set includes two kinds of headset caps, a headband strap, an optional microphone, two options for connection cables, and the headband itself.

 

The headset caps are interchangeable, but only one is available at a time. The first pair of caps is the isolated caps. They specialize on crisp and focused sounds, while also shielding the user from external sound sources, giving him more concentration on his computer. They do this by directing the sound inward, and blocking what comes in, thus “isolating” the ears from the environment. The other pair of caps, the vented caps, has a bigger preference on timbre and fatigue dampening. By expanding the focus of the sound, the user’s ears will be less tired and can take on louder sounds for a longer period, but at the cost of sound isolation.

 

The choice for connection cables is another interchangeable set, which can be changed via the connection at the lowest point of the cables of the headset caps. One option uses an analog cable, which would need a single connection to send both sound output and mic input. It is simple and could be used with consoles, not just PC. The other uses a USB 2.0 interface. It allows connection to a PC might an analog jack be absent, but it should allow both mic input and sound output in one go. Using the USB cable needs a specialized driver that is available for free in the Plantronics® website.

 

All other parts are more straightforward and require less thinking.

The freedom of choice of headset caps make this superior to other headsets as it is capable of multiple roles during use, from simple music to hardcore gaming. The headsets we see in business today are nothing compared to this one’s versatility considering that business headsets are only meant for one use (business) while this one is meant for possibly more (music, gaming, audio editing, etc.) than it advertises as a gaming headset.

 

The versatility is improved further when the cables are taken into account – an arena that business headsets simply cannot compete it – because the headset can also be used for consoles. I doubt your everyday call center agent’s peripheral can manage what this headset can when used on a Playstation® 4 or an Xbox One.

 

This contrast with average headsets is further improved because of its microphone. First of all, its microphone is removable. This makes it feasible as a headset to use while listening to music on the train or bus (and in this regard, it can be further improved with its choices in headset caps). Improving more on this is the option to use an analog (single) plug, making it a great alternative for phones. Outside of this, the microphone is still very effective. Since the headset uses its own device drivers when used with its USB interface, it makes the microphone input more tweakable. We found this most effective when we used the Voice Macro voice recognition app, and it executed all 50 commands that we input, giving it a 100% hit rate. Listening to the microphone in realtime playback also lacks the echo that some headsets create (other headsets do this because the voice input “spills” from the headset’s speakers, sending the sound back into the mic).

 

Verdict: 5/5

The Plantronics® RIG 500E is versatile, but it is probably one of the most complicated (yet entertaining) headsets on the market. The choices make it superior to your typical sound peripheral, gaming or otherwise, and its microphone is top-of-the-line.


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