RIG 500 Pro HC Gen 2 Headset Review: A Smart Beginner's Headset

The RIG 500 Pro HC Gen 2 offers slick style and some features normally out of its price range, but it's best used as an entry-level headset.

While controllers are compatible with most headphones that use the 3.5mm jack, there comes a time to step up one's game and invest in a real gaming headset. Eventually, for a certain kind of player, your earbuds just won't cut it anymore.

Once you've made that leap, the wide price range can be daunting. Gaming headsets can start from as little as $20 to as much as several hundred, so the buying proposition is less about cost and more about value. 

I've used many high-end headsets in my time, and they tend to hold up. I've also used some cheaper options, and they can come with their share of issues too great to justify. But that's not the case with the RIG 500 Pro Gen 2. For those getting their first pair of gaming headphones, or for those who need a versatile backup plan, it makes a strong case for your attention.

RIG 500 Pro HC Gen 2 Headset Review: A Smart Beginner's Headset

Right away, you'll maybe notice the RIG 500 Pro has a very similar form factor to the 700 Pro, which has become customary for RIG's products over the years. The nice thing here is that the 500 Pro, despite being half the price of its allegedly better sibling, features a partially metal frame. This is totally lacking in the 700, but the Gen 2 design of the 500 feels sturdier and more mature as a result. 

RIG wants to stand out from the Astros and Turtle Beaches it's next to on every in-store and digital shelf, and in your hands, the 500 Pro feels like a wiser, safer choice.

It's comfortable too, offering the brand's traditional self-sizing head strap that retracts or extends to fit virtually anyone's head. My eight-year-old son and I have been sharing the headset during my review time with it, and it's a small but appreciated feature to not have to resize it with each swap.

Another nice feature it has that the 700 doesn't have is a flip-to-mute mic. In live multiplayer, it's always better to have such a feature than search for a mute button on your earcup. The 500 Pro features inline volume control and reliably locks into place at full volume if you want it to, so no brushes against your shirt or from pets climbing on you can adjust your settings.

When you don't need the mic, it detaches easily too. I'm someone who plays even my single-player games with a headset just for their immersive qualities, so I like being able to take off the mic when it's not needed.

Certainly, the very best part about the 500 Pro is its two-year Dolby Atmos activation key included in the package. While this is a step down from other recent RIG products that offer lifetime access, the 500 Pro is best used by beginners looking to get their first gaming headset. With that in mind, you may want to replace it or make it your Plan B before that license expires anyway. Of course, if you wanted to extend it, you could do that by using the built-in app on consoles and PC.

In today's landscape, 3D audio is absolutely critical for a good headset, and it's pretty remarkable to see a peripheral like this  with an MSRP of $60  offer such a standout feature. Having said that, the audio quality overall is a step down from the RIG 700, which makes sense given their price delta, but it still came as a bit of a surprise, since in several other ways this is actually the better value between the two.

There is a distinct drop-off in audio fidelity with the 500 Pro  ambient noises and those at the forefront of a game blended together more  which isn't what you want in a headset. Like its doubly-priced sibling, the 500 Pro also doesn't cancel external noise as well as it should.

RIG wants to position itself as a brand for competitive gamers, but I can't recommend the 500 Pro to such players, because they'll still have to battle in-house distractions like garbage trucks outside, kids running around the house, or whatever else may be in one's vicinity. That's not to mention a competitive setting. 

One of my favorite genres is battle royale, so I always run every review headset through the battle royale test. In that genre more than all others, I feel directional, crystal-clear audio is vital.

I only made it a few rounds with the 500 Pro before I swapped to another similarly priced headset, albeit one that lacks some of the 500 Pro's better features, like inline volume. But ultimately, that sound profile is key to separating the good headsets from the great ones  those you can rely on to deliver critical in-game info, and those that are just putting speakers on your head  and in that way, the 500 Pro will maybe let you down.

Still, it's odd to see how this headset does sometimes outperform those in its own family that are allegedly better. You could get two 500 Pros for the price of one 700 Pro, and given the 500's versatility, maybe you should.

The 500 Pro HC works with not just Xbox and PC, but also PlayStation platforms, laptops, phones, and anything else really. In tethering players with a 4.9-foot wire, the 500 Pro maybe doesn't seem as cutting-edge as some other headsets, but it's able to stay multifaceted, and at $60, you're probably not going to find a wireless headset anyway.

RIG 500 Pro HC Gen 2 Headset Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Durable, comfortable frame
  • Dolby Atmos 3D audio at a bargain price
  • Flip-to-mute, detachable mic makes for a great starter headset

Cons

  • Lacks proper noise cancellation for competitive play
  • Inline volume slide feels out of place and cheaper than the rest of the headset

The RIG 500 Pro HC Gen 2 offers a better form factor and some desired features that its more expensive sibling and some competitors don't have, like the flip-to-mute mic and Dolby Atmos 3D sound respectively, but it ultimately doesn't deliver a sound profile reliable enough to convince me this should be anyone's preferred headset for games like Warzone, Overwatch or PUBG. 

When the game is on the line, the 500 Pro may leave you hanging. However, as an entry-level headset, with a price tag that of a single new game and a shelf life of at least a few quality years of social multiplayer or immersive single-player, it's a much wiser choice.

[Note: Nacon provided the RIG 500 Pro HC Gen 2 headset used for this review.]

Our Rating
7
The RIG 500 Pro HC Gen 2 offers slick style and some features normally out of its price range, but it's best used as an entry-level headset.

Contributor

Mark is a dad, husband, bicyclist, animal rights activist, and a gamer, of course. You can find him on all platforms covering co-op, indies, horror, battle royale, or whatever else he's obsessing over right now. In addition to GameSkinny, he's been published on GameSpot, IGN, GamesRadar, EGM, Escapist, Official Xbox Magazine, and a bunch of other great outlets.

Published May. 28th 2021

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