Fantastic audio quality at an affordable price.
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I was recently given the opportunity to review some new hardware from RIG (they are owned by NACON now). You already saw what I thought about the RIG Pro Compact Wired Controller. It was a solid device with a lot working in its favor. Now, we are looking at the second generation of their 500 Pro headset. Specifically, this review is about the 500 Pro HX, a headset designed for use with the Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Windows 10.

While my set was "designed for Xbox," it seems as though most of the recently released Gen 2 variants can be safely used with pretty much any device that has a 3.5mm audio jack. In comparing spec sheets between the HX (Xbox), HS (PlayStation), HC (general "console gaming"), and HA (PC) models, there were only minor differences spotted on the specification sheets.

For instance, the PC specific HA model has a slightly longer cable length, and it comes with a Y-splitter to separate the single 3.5mm connector into separate headphone and mic connections for use on the PC. It also sports some copper accents on the headset itself instead of the light grey found on the other units. The HA model is going for $79.99 (USD), or $10 more than the $69.99 that every other model is retailing for. Most every headset includes support for Dolby Atmos out of the box. The one exception seems to be the HS (PlayStation) model. The HS offering may not come with a redemption code for two years of Dolby Atmos. However, the PlayStation set does obviously include support for PlayStation 3D audio. Keep in mind that PlayStation 3D audio should work with any stereo headset, and this isn't a feature specifically built for this device.

Beyond those very minor differences, the headsets all include the same base specifications. They all come with the same memory foam based, noise-isolating, over the ear cups. They are super comfy to wear for long stretches of time. These are not noise cancelling, but they do an adequate job of removing most of the low-volume background noise that may be present in your immediate vicinity. The 500 Pros all include a durable metal headband. They all weigh the same (281g without the mic), all have the same frequency response, the same impedance, the same detachable mic, the same inline volume controls, and the same base color scheme (black). The full list of provided specifications can be found below for reference.

Specifications
Ear Coupling Around (over) ear
Color Black
Weight 281 g
Wireless No
Headphone Frequency Response 20 Hz – 20 kHz
Impedance 32 ohms
Headphone Sensitivity 111 dBSPL/V
3D Audio Dolby Atmos
Headphone Driver 50 mm
Mic Frequency Response 100 Hz – 10 kHz
Removable Mic Yes
Mic Sensitivity -45 dBV/PA
Mic Pickup Pattern Uni-directional
Mic to Signal Ratio >42 dB
Connectors 3.5 mm
Volume Control Inline volume control
Cable Length 1.3 m

Right from the get-go, the RIG 500 Pro HX felt extremely comfortable on my head. The stretchy, padded headband that sits below the outer metal headband, conformed nicely to my gigantic mess of a head. The way these are designed mean that the headband stretches to fit around your head without the need for additional manual adjustments. They were also very lightweight, coming in at just 1 gram heavier than my typical daily drivers, the V-Moda Crossfade M-100s. I was able to wear these for hours at a time without any issue.

While we are on the topic, why don't we do just a few additional comparisons to the M-100s? Both devices include 50mm drivers. The M-100s have a slightly larger frequency response (5Hz – 30kHz), but the M-100s are also over three times the price of the RIG 500 Pro models. For the life of me, I simply could not tell that the 500 Pros had a slightly narrower frequency response in comparison to the M-100s. This is with both devices hooked up to the FiiO E10K DAC Amp. The biggest difference between the M-100s and the 500 Pro can be found in the intensity of the bass produced by both devices. The M-100s are very bass heavy, so much so that I utilize an equalizer to produce a more balanced audio soundscape in my day-to-day use. With the RIG 500 Pro, I did not need to use the equalizer. They felt adequately tuned right out of the box. The listening experiences across movies, games, and music were extremely pleasant for the hours that I have spent testing.

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The 500 Pro's general aesthetic probably won't be for everyone. They have a very "industrial" style design with a lot of angular holes cut here and there. The matte black base color and grey accents complements each other very well and was pleasing to the eye. I frankly had no issue with the industrial design of the headset. It is something that sits on my head and I'm really not one to get all flustered over how headphones look so long as they feel nice and do a good job of pumping high quality audio to my ears.

Though I don't mind the look of the headset and its industrial design, the headset does have some shortcomings that I must talk about. The included 1.3-meter cable is flat when I would have preferred a sturdier feeling braided cable. On the flip side, this cable is supposedly kink resistant, which is always welcome. The cable is also shorter compared to what I am accustomed to. Of course, as these are designed with console use first and foremost, you must figure that most of these will be plugged into the audio jack on the controllers you are holding directly in front of you, meaning that having a long cable length really isn't much of a concern.

In addition, I do have an issue with the fact that the ear cups don't twist left or right and only barely rotate up and down. This is a very minor complaint in the grand scheme of things as I the headset still felt extremely comfortable to wear for hours at a time. You can at least pop out the cans and move them up and down on the headband to adjust for smaller or larger heads. The optional, lightweight microphone took a fair bit of effort to attach the first couple of times and even more effort to remove due to its dual-pronged connector. After those first couple of times, it was considerably easier to attach and detach. You can leave it attached if you desire as it does flip up out of the way. Out of sight and out of mind.

Speaking of which, the microphone does mute itself when flipped up. However, it lacks any sort of click or notification to let you know that it is in the "muted" position. The quality of the microphone audio is good and on par with other high quality headset microphones. I found that it worked out very well in Discord when talking with friends. Using the same volume setting (71) within Windows, I recorded two comparison clips to give you some idea of how it stacks up to a standalone USB mic (ATR 2500-USB).



You will probably notice that the USB microphone is louder and a bit crisper sounding in comparison. However, the 500 Pro mic still holds its own even if it's a bit on the quiet side. This can be adjusted by increasing the input volume in Windows if needed. It is also important to keep in mind, of course, that the USB mic I use is currently going for roughly $50 more than the entirety of the RIG 500 Pro with included microphone and Dolby Atmos license. When you look at it that way, it's hard to ignore how good of a value this entire package is.

Just like the case is with the Pro Compact controller, the RIG 500 Pro HX comes with access to a Dolby Atmos license, a $15 value on its own. Unlike the controller, which seems to be a lifetime license for the life of the controller, the license included with the headset is good for just two years. This can be redeemed through your Xbox or for Windows 10 via the Microsoft Store. Dolby Atmos allows users to experience 3D spatial audio in games and apps that support it like Netflix. As I noted in my Pro Compact review, I am a big fan of software based spatial audio solutions like Dolby Atmos. Though Dolby Atmos works with any pair of stereo headphones, pairing it with the 500 Pros with its high-quality audio output is a great match. Having a license to use Dolby Atmos, even if just for two years, is a very welcome bonus. If you are not using spatial audio yet and you wear headphones, you owe it to yourself to give it a go. Just be sure to avoid using the inferior "Windows Sonic for Headphones."

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Whew! I think I have covered just about everything there is to cover on the 500 Pros. Again, I am rocking the HX model here, but I feel as though my numerous praises and few complaints can easily apply to any of the available models. I think that for the price of the console-focused models (HX, HS, & HC), $69.99 is a great value. I think the biggest hang-ups people will have with any of these headsets are the industrial-style design and the fact that these are wired. For a wireless solution, you will have to check out NACON's RIG 700 Pro Series, which start at $119.99 (USD).

The audio quality on the 500 Pro HX is on par with more expensive headphones and the entire thing sits very comfortably on the head. It is super lightweight and doesn't fatigue the neck even after multiple hours of use. The mic quality is above par and produces clear voice quality in Discord or when using in-game VOIP. This is all rounded out by the price that is set in the "oh so tempting" sub-$100 ballpark that should make it attractive to a lot of gamers out there.



Score
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Additional Information
  • RIG 500 Pro HX Gen 2
    • Designed and manufactured by: NACON
  • Price: $69.99 MSRP
  • Platform reviewed on: PC
  • Also available for: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, with additional models designed for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and other consoles
  • Release Date: May 20, 2021
  • This headset was provided to Total Gaming Network for review purposes.


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