Plantronics RIG Surround Gaming Headset Review
Subjective Listening: Music, Movies, and Games
Not everyone hears the same as each other. Peoples ears are different and preferences dictate our style. The subjective listening tests in our reviews not only compare the product with other gaming headsets, but also audiophile-grade headphones. Those who dont regularly listen with higher-end equipment may not notice the sound quality deficiencies we are able to notice.
The RIG Surround consists of two units the headset and the mixer, from which an array of varying sound quality results were noticed depending on usage. Since the 2014 mixer does its own audio processing unlike the 2013 mixer, the newer mixer is effectively an external sound card and not just a big inline remote.
As a result, the mixer has a noticeable effect on sound quality. Unfortunately, the quality of the output brings down the capabilities of the headset possibly as a tradeoff for virtual surround. Compared to even humble onboard motherboard audio, the 2014 RIG Surround mixer falls short on audio detail. It wont be immediately obvious and it even may never be noticed by a RIG Surround user unfamiliar with crisper audio due to the RIG headsets inherent precision and energetic character. It is when plugging the headset unit directly or by workarounds into alternate audio sources and comparing the sound does it become clear that the RIG headset can do so much. The solid bass response and bright trebles the headphones provide do lots of work to make up for the RIG Surround mixers limitations.
Movie audio is arguably less busy than music and so its rare for at least any decent headphone to ruin the movie experience. The RIG Surround is no exception and its Dolby Headphone implementation actually works to some extent to fleshing out virtual surround, a rare feat for a headphone and sound card. However, the RIG Surround mixer doesnt have the tight accuracy needed comfortably reproduce any sound with a fast attack and thus the impact from explosive audio effects is nullified. On the note of that, take the mixer out of the equation and the standalone RIG headset explodes with liveliness with its surprisingly good detail.
Since the new RIG features few changes over the original, the RIG Surrounds tuning lends itself more to immersive game audio than accurate positional audio. The bass and treble from the headphones give lively energy to the sound at the tradeoff of squashing out subtle directional cues. The mixer sound card with Dolby turned on does give a faint sense of audio coming from behind and the sound quality is passable. Overall, the RIG Surround (and RIG) is designed to be more fun than for competitive gaming.
The microphone doesnt underperform of what is expected from a high-end gaming headset. Recorded voice was recognizable and crisp and because the RIG mixer processes and amplifies the microphone input, the user wont have to worry about not sounding loud enough. This result didnt come as a surprise to us since the entire headset unit is unchanged from the previous years RIG, to which we also gave positive remarks.