Hands-on: Plantronics RIG gaming and mobile headset review

Gaming headsets aren't famous for their ability to help you be sociable. Plantronics aims to change that with the RIG. Using a hub system you can game and, at the same time, be alerted to anything incoming on your mobile - and respond with the flip of a switch. And with Plantronics' experience in microphone development it can all be done with crystal-clear sound. So, is this worth my money?

The first thing you notice about the RIG is design. We were pleasantly surprised to see it looks really good. Not only are the cans lightweight but they also feature soft memory-foam ear-cushions which are comfortable - at least for the short time we wore them. They apparently stay that way even at the back end of a heavy gaming session. The high-grade headband materials and the RIG's overall flexibility show it's made with a gamer's rage-induced throw-at-a-wall treatment in mind.

The 40mm drivers create big, immersive gaming sounds while also balancing music nicely, thanks to the 20Hz to 20kHz range - meaning your money isn't just going on a gaming headset but on stereo headphones you can use for anything.

The RIG comes with two mics: one boom mic for gaming and one in-line mic with mute and call controls for on the go use. The boom mic is malleable enough to bend perfectly into shape so you forget it's even there. And thanks to the dual-mics all background noise is cancelled so you can hear your own voice clearly and without distortion.

Although we didn't get to scream, "PWNED, YOU GOT PWNED SON!" at the top of our lungs in a Hilton hotel bar – we can only presume it handles all ranges.

The RIG mixer itself is the heart of what makes this special. Plug in your headphones, your phone, and any console, PC, or even tablet with an audio-in and USB port (used to power lights but not needed). Then using volume sliders control the balance between gaming music, sound effects, microphone chatter, and even a phone.

So if you want to hear your mates' voices and turn down the in-game effects you can find a perfect balance. Or if you wanted to get pumped with some Iron Maiden while hearing the sounds effects of fragging your foes, that can be done too.

If you receive any notification from your phone, be it a call, text, social update, email, whatever - it will come through over the game. To take the call just (literally) switch the RIG mixer to phone mic so only the caller hears you, while still keeping an ear on the gaming action in the background. It's impressive how clearly everything can be balanced for perfect clarity.

Little touches really show this is a product Plantronics has spent time planning and developing. The size settings on the headband features three different afro sized heads that made us chuckle on first discovery. It's fun in a self-aware way – as a gaming device should be.

Another small, but appreciated touch, is the EQ button right on the mixer. Tap to shift between Pure, Intensify and Seismic to suite your game, or music choice.

If you decide to drop £110 on the Plantronics RIG gaming headset you'll have to wait. It's due out in early November.



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