For years, the RIG line of headphones has been revered for featuring not only high-quality audio, but also durable and comfortable designs. Plantronics carved a niche out for itself as a low-key provider of fantastic gaming headphones, but was never quite able to reach their full potential. With Nacon buying out the RIG brand name last year, it opens the door to the RIG name finally getting the recognition it deserves — and the 500 Pro HC is their newest universal gaming headset. It’s also their first to include Dolby Atmos support, and a two year subscription to the service is provided with the purchase of a headset.
The 500 Pro HC works out of the box with the Xbox One family, Xbox Series family, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 consoles alongside PC — so owners of many different kinds of gaming devices can use one headset for multiple devices. It’s a big value proposition and the headphones themselves are fantastic for any kind of usage even outside of gaming. Since they use a 3.5mm audio jack, any device with that port is compatible — so if you’re on the go and have a Tidal subscription and want to listen to high-fidelity music on the go, it’s easy to do. No matter what hardware you have, it’s a plug and play setup, although the Dolby Atmos support is app-reliant for Xbox or PC users and takes a couple of minutes to set up.
The headphones themselves are well-crafted with a metal frame and a thick head cushion that strikes a balance between being thick but also being comfortable to use for long periods of time. The removable boom mic is fantastic because it snaps in securely without much effort, but if a pet happens to just destroy that one piece, you can just order that part alone and not have to buy a whole new headset because the mic is built into the design of the headset itself. The mic itself is attached to a pipe cleaner-like connector that allows the users to move the mic with ease and the mic also has a removeable cover so you can keep it free of grime. It’s bright and easy to see before a gaming session so you don’t accidentally leave it on before playing.
Audio quality in-game and over the mic is fantastic – after hours of play, no one complained about not being able to hear me clearly and it was pleasantly surprising to not experience any fatigue after long sessions. With both my Logitech and Astro A20 over the ear headphones, playing for 2+ hours resulted in fatigue. It was nothing major, and paled in comparison to my on-air A30s, but it was still there. Being able to have a nice, high-quality set of over the ear headphones and not have to worry about fatigue made it much easier to enjoy longer play sessions than normal — especially for games that really benefit from a high-quality audio setup.
The first game tested was the underrated original Xbox gem Black, which was renowned in its time for focusing on home theater systems and having a high degree of focus for its sound design. Playing it with the A30s back in the day allowed me to experience some of the surround sound, but nothing brought out the punch of the gunshots like the RIG 500s. With these on, it was possible to get a better of idea of where enemies were at in relation to my character and then experience things like their chatter letting me know objective information without having to try and remember it, while being impressed at how boomy the sound is for all guns and how different they all sound. A pistol gives off a satisfying sound, while a sniper rifle offers up a satisfying thump from long range.
For more modern games, both Titanfall games excelled with this headset as well. Both games benefit from the surround sound by being able to get a far better read on where enemies are when combining the franchise’s best-in-class mini map alongside spatial audio letting you know where they’re at, how many are roughly in a group and allowing the player to have a bit more time to plan out an attack. The various titans also gave off a more satisfying thud when they landed, and it was easier to get a sense for the difference in speed and overall size from one titan to the next just based on the sound each one makes when they land. As with enemy groups, this lets the player know what kind of anti-titan weapon to use faster than usual and can make a big difference in a close match. Sports games also excelled, with EA UFC 4 allowing for light hits to truly stand out from shots that hit flush just off of the sound each makes. For more light-hearted romps like Shovel Knight, the headphones brought out the depth in the game’s legendary chiptunes soundtrack and showcased a level of instrumentation that can be easy to miss just playing it casually. Rare Replay was another fantastic game to play with these headphones as the variety in that collection allowed not only Killer Instinct’s classic soundtrack to shine, but also the fast-paced punching and kicking of the Battletoads arcade game to come through better than ever.
The Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC is a a good-looking headset, but what impressed us most is just how comfortable it is for long play sessions. A headset may feel fine for half an hour, but if it starts to feel uncomfortable during hour+ play sessions, then it’s only going to serve so much of a purpose. One of the best parts about getting a nice, high-quality headset is being able to kick back on a day off and talk smack to friends online while playing games all day and the 500 Pro HC makes that a breeze to do. You may wind up losing a game or two here and there, but you’ll do so while enjoying some of the best game audio imaginable — especially if you’re playing with a group that enjoys a wide variety of games. This headset excels at bringing out the best in a game’s sound design.