Performance Without the Flash
Too often there seems to be an inverse relationship between the level of gamer accessory designers are targeting and the more juvenile or toy-ish the product looks, but the RIG 500 Pro HX Gen 2 proves that there’s still room for some subtlety in the pro gamer accessory market. Inside the box, the headset comes nestled in gray eggshell cardboard packaging. It’s compact and unassuming, eschewing the fancier, “premium” presentation of more expensive options. It’s a worthwhile tradeoff, though. While the headset may lack some of the superfluous extra’s seen elsewhere, it’s got the goods where it counts, delivering a fantastic listening experience on par with far more expensive options.
First impressions are important, and the 500 Pro makes a strong one. With the exception of the RIG name in light grey on each ear cup and the headband, everything is a nice, clean black accentuated by a small bit of texturing. It’s actually an accessory that I would be comfortable being seen wearing, which isn’t something I can say about all of my gaming accessories. The materials feel great, too. Most of the headset is lightweight plastic, but doesn’t at all feel cheap. The main headband is a flexible metal that adds a little sturdiness to the set without sacrificing flexibility. The ear cups opt for a hybrid design, consisting of faux-leather sides and a soft cloth interior.
A Comfortable Fit
The first thing I noticed after actually handling the headset a bit more and putting it on, is that this set is surprisingly light for how sturdy it looks (and is). Coming in at 281 grams, or just under 10 ounces, it’s not a headset that’s going to weigh you down or become cumbersome during long gaming sessions. I’m always a bit nervous when I try new headsets because, to be frank, I’ve got quite the noggin. I almost always have over-ear headphones and headsets on their largest setting, which, sometimes, seems to compromise sturdiness a bit. You can imagine my elation when I put on the 500 Pro and it fit me right off the bat. I wasn’t entirely sold on the set’s auto-adjusting headstrap, but it really does work well. The rigid upper band sits above the sliding fabric strap that actually sits on the head, which both makes it a great option for all head sizes and also takes some of the weight of the set off of the wearer’s ears. Plus, if that isn’t enough, each ear cup snaps out of the headband frame and can move up or down about an inch and a half. I know it sounds weird to say, but I’m someone who has pretty sensitive temples to the point that I can’t always wear sunglasses or headphones for more than an hour or so without starting to feel pain. Yet, in the hours that I wore the 500 Pro for this review, I never felt even the slightest bit of discomfort.
Solid Sound Performance
As happy as I am with the look and feel of this headset, none of it matters if the thing doesn’t make both my games and music sound good. I did test this headset on both my Xbox Series X and PC, listening to a variety of music and playing a variety of games. I also used the mic to make some audio recordings. To start things off, I went with what I know. I re-listened to Mountains (the Interstellar soundtrack), Star Gazing (Kygo), Moving in Stereo (The Cars), and Nuthin’ but a G Thing (Dr. Dre) on my everyday wear headset, an old HyperX. I then switched over to the 500 Pro HX to see how the songs fared. In short, the headset sounds great, especially considering its sub-$100 USD price point. Powered by a 50mm driver, music comes through just like it should. Highs and lows sound good enough, but it’s output really shines with mid-range audio, which sounds crisp and clear even when there’s a lot going on. Things got a bit more muddied when a lot was going on up top, but, outside of expensive headsets costing 2-3 times the cost here, that’s just kind of how it normally goes.
My experience was similar when I booted up some games. My go-to titles for audio testing are Star Wars: Battlefront II, Overwatch, and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, and each one sounded crisp. Battlefront II, in particular, sounded fantastic with its plethora of mid-range shots and explosions. Audio also sounded fine. It’s obviously not going to (and wasn’t designed to) compete with a dedicated microphone, but, again, the 500 Pro punches above its price tag, sounding just as good as more expensive headset options. The icing on the cake is that the headset comes with two years of Dolby Atmos for headphones, which works on both Xbox consoles and PC. Just download the app, plug in the set, and the app will unlock itself without you having to enter any kind of payment option. The list of games that support Atmos is small but growing, so, for the best possible audio, make sure you’re actually playing something that supports the app.
Wired headsets aren’t quite as popular today as they were even five years ago, but, for those looking to keep things tethered, the RIG 5600 Pro HX Gen 2 is a great headset that’s friendly on both the ears and the pocketbook. While it may lack some of the bells and whistles that more expensive products bost, it’s sharp design and competitive-level sound performance make it an easy recommendation for anyone looking to up their audio game.
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