Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC Gen 2 review: Super comfortable gaming headphones
Quick verdict: The Nacon Rig 500 Pro HC headphones have wide console and PC compatibility, Dolby Atmos licensing and a genuinely comfortable design, even for longer gaming sessions.
- Dolby Atmos on board
- Very comfortable fit
- Works with just about anything with a 3.5mm socket
- Short connection cable
- Dolby licence is only for 2 years
The latest set of gaming headphones from RIG, now under the ownership of Nacon, offer some genuinely good gaming sound thanks to the inclusion of Dolby Atmos. What's really impressive here is just how comfortable they are even after lengthy play sessions or if you've got a larger than normal skull.
It's worth making sure that you match the set that meets your gaming needs, as there's a pretty bewildering array of RIG 500 Pro models to pick from.
Nacon produces a wide array of RIG 500 Pro headphones with differing suffixes, but for most gamers the RIG 500 Pro HC will be the smartest purchase. That's because they're the multi-format pair, designed to work with PC, Xbox and PlayStation consoles alike. There's a feature bias towards PC/Xbox gaming thanks to a Dolby Atmos licensing tie-in, but unless your budget can run to a separate pair of the PlayStation-specific RIG 500 Pro HS, these will do the trick just fine.
RIG-branded headphones have been in the market for some years now, firstly under their original Plantronics branding and now under new owners Nacon, and the essentials of their design hasn't changed massively over the years. You're still looking at a set of over-the-ear cans with pop-out adjustable earcups primarily pitched as gaming headphones.
Getting the spacing right for gaming headphones is very important for a comfortable wearing experience. My own skull is a little larger than most, which means that many gaming headsets feel just a touch too tight for lengthy gaming sessions.
That has never been a problem with prior RIG headsets, and it's the same story with the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC Gen 2. All I had to do to get them to fit was to drop the cups to their lowest setting and drop the set onto my head.
The claim with the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC Gen 2 is that they're even lighter than prior RIG models, not that those were bricks to begin with.
The one catch you may find here, if multiple users are going to be gaming with them, is that the fit really does determine the comfort level. If it's too loose and you're putting them on quickly you can thump the more solid metal band into your head, and likewise, too tight and the softened band underneath it may push into the top of your skull. It's a totally solvable problem of course.
It's otherwise a very business-as-usual headset, with a drop-down microphone module connected to a flexible stalk microphone for your chatting needs. Audio levelling is handled with an inline slider that sits about a quarter of the way down the flat ribbon cable.
If you're planning on using the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC Gen 2 with a PC, it's worth noting that this model comes with a standard single 3.5mm headphone jack that does double duty sending through the microphone signal as well.
If you need a Y-splitter for headphone and mic diversion duties, budget extra or buy the PC-specific Nacon RIG 500 Pro HA Gen 2 instead. That model also ships with a longer headphone cable, but then the core idea here is that you're probably going to be plugging it into a controller you hold in your hands rather than a floor-based desktop PC in most cases.
The big audio selling point of the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC Gen 2, beyond its 50mm included drivers is that it ships with an access code for Dolby Atmos if you're gaming on PC or Xbox. Sony doesn't have that licensing agreement for the PlayStation as yet, and given Sony's own track record in headphones and audio production, it may well never be a feature open to PlayStation gamers.
Dolby Atmos can add a lot to your gaming experiences, as well as for wider media usage, although the balancing on the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC Gen 2 is most definitely game-centric, with focus on booming effects over more subtle sounds. You'll need to be playing games that support Atmos to make the most of this feature, although there is one catch to be aware of.
The Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC Gen 2's Dolby Atmos licence is good for 2 years of activation, after which you'd have to pay for a new licence.
Comparatively, the recently reviewed (and cheaper) Nacon RIG Pro Compact Controller comes with a Dolby Atmos licence that's good for the life of the controller. Naturally, Nacon would rather like you to match controller and headset to maximise its profits, and that does work rather well. Still, it's annoying to have a headline feature be time limited like this.
The dropdown flexible microphone works acceptably well with relatively good straight vocal pick-up in our tests. It automatically mutes if you flick it upwards, which is a nice touch, although it's clearly not a match for a fully dedicated microphone if you're more in the streaming space and want something pro grade.
For heated online matches your foes will be able to hear you hurling all those compliments you've prepared about their mother's impeccable moral standing with clarity. That is what you're planning to do, right?
The big appeal of the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC Gen 2 is that it is cross platform compatible for just about anything that can take a 3.5mm input jack.
So of course, I had to test that out properly. Naturally, it works just fine with the Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5, but you can push that further back down the console generations, although for some controller-based solutions a 3.5mm jack may be required.
I took it all the way back to 1989's Atari Lynx, and I can report – and I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest this is probably the only review of the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC Gen 2 that you'll read that went this far – that it plays a fine game of Toki on the Atari Lynx in audio terms.
The one caveat here is that the connection cable isn't super long, because the core idea is that you'll be plugging it into a controller. If your audio source is further away, you'll need a extension cable to comfortably do so.
Should you buy the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC Gen 2?
- Buy it if you want a lightweight durable gaming headset.
- Don't buy it if you want top-notch microphone audio or a long cable.
There's pretty much a Nacon RIG 500 Pro Gen 2 model for just about any modern console need, but the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC Gen 2 hits the sweet spot of working, and working pretty well across the board. For its $129.95 asking price, you really can't ask for much more than that.
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Images: Alex Kidman