The RIG – All things to all people, nearly…
The importance of a good quality audio setup to enhance the gaming experience cannot be understated. Whilst a decent surround sound speaker setup may be the thing to aim for in a dedicated gaming room, or man cave, for most gamers a good quality headset is the order of the day. Something that is comfortable, gives good quality sound and doesn’t involve too much messing around when it comes time to connect to a console would be good.
But wearing a headset brings with it a big problem, especially if you happen to be a popular type and keep getting phone calls. The frustration of having to pause a game, especially when playing online, and remove a headset, just to answer a phone, is not too be sniffed at. If only there were some way to listen to your game and instantly switch to your phones audio to take a call.
Plantronics hear your pain and rise to save the day with their RIG Stereo Headset. In fact, the RIG will go beyond just allowing you to answer your calls while gaming. It will even go with you on the move and provide all of your wired handsfree kit functionality. It really does try to do anything.
Out of the box, the RIG may look a little confusing with its comprehensive collection of wires and doodads. But everything has its use, and setting up is relatively painless.
First up comes the choice of microphone as the RIG comes with two. There is the more traditional gaming headset boom mic which can be plugged in to the headset for the more serious gaming session. Then there is also an inline mic with mobile phone controls that may be of more use when out and about. It’s all about choices here, with the boom mic obviously more suited to team chat and such due to its larger form factor.
The real magic comes with the included mixer. Shaped like a puck or clay pigeon, the mixer needs to find a place to sit near the player before it can work its magic. For the living room console gamer, this may be a slight problem and even reduce the RIG’s appeal. But on a desk for PC gaming, the RIG really shines. The mixer has a socket for plugging the headset in, and then cable going out to the PC/console. Console connection is fairly straight forward to anyone who has wired a headset up to their console before, but full instructions are given if this is your first time. There is also an optical port available, but no optical cable included.
There is another connection coming from the mixer, and this is the one that will make all of the difference. This connects to the users mobile phone, meaning the headset can switch between the two devices with ease. No more taking the headset off to answer a call, the mixer even has buttons that will answer or hang up the call. The buttons on the mixer will also mute the microphone and change between preset equaliser settings. Big, easy to hit in a moment of frustration, buttons in the centre switch between the PC/console audio and the mobile phone.
The ring around the mixer acts as the master volume control, and is very satisfying to use, while on the inside of the ring are two sliders that operate volume for the mobile and the PC/console, each of which have a nicely coloured light up arc. With the mixer in the right position on the desk, it makes switching and adjusting very easy to do without thinking, preventing as much distraction as possible to your gaming session. The living room gamer will miss out on this comfort, but it is still much easier than pause and remove to answer the phone.
While the mixer is the real star of the show, the overall quality of the headset should not be underestimated. While it is perhaps a little plain to look at, and not exactly displaying the quality it has, the RIG headset is well made. It is actually lighter than some of the other headsets I have tried, while still being sturdy. It is also, thanks to the weight and the padding on the headband and earcups, incredibly comfortable to wear. The RIG is easy to forget about while sitting on your head.
And the audio quality, whether listening to music or enjoying some multiplayer Call of Duty action, is very good. Music reproduction may not be as natural as dedicated music headphones, but as the RIG is aimed more at gaming you wouldn’t expect it to be. However, music sounds good enough for most. When it comes to gaming though, the RIG performs excellently. Voices are nice and clear, and come through well on the other end thanks to the boom mic, and sound effects are atmospheric.
The only issue that many will come up against when considering the RIG headset, is the price. Currently available on Amazon for £79.99, they are not exactly cheap. It is possible to get a dedicated gaming headset, or dedicated music headset, that performs slightly better in those areas for a similar price, although you may struggle. But the Plantronics RIG performs admirably in both of these areas, making the slightly high price instantly more attractive.
The Plantronics RIG Stereo Headset is a quality piece of kit that tried to be all things to all people. Answering phone calls without removing the headset is a definite plus. It may not be the best option for music lovers, or for console gamers who may be better served with a wireless solution. But if you are looking for one headset to answer all of your audio problems, the RIG may well be the one for you.