When it comes to gaming headsets, gamers are swimming in an ever-growing sea of options. The Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC is among the newer ones, a new addition to the RIG line of headsets that have been owned and distributed by Nacon since early 2020. The line, however, had been around for a few years already as a Plantronics brand. And, in that time, it has not only created something unique but also built a bit of a following among budget gamers.
The Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC might just be the perfect pair of cans if budget is your main concern. It has a uniquely industrial look that gamers will like without relying on flashy RGB lighting, is very lightweight, and provides mostly decent sound for those long gaming sessions.
If you’re not on a limited budget, then there are plenty of better options out there. However, if you want a good all-around gaming headset and only have $70 to spare, then the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC is one of the better contenders available. It does come with some issues that hold back its full potential, but that could be said for any headset in its price range. Considering the price, you’re definitely getting a bang for your buck.
RIG 500 PRO HC REVIEW: DESIGN AND FEATURES
Many headsets look like they came from the same mold with just a few minor adjustments. Not the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC. The 500 Pro, along with the rest of the RIG line, sets itself apart with an aesthetic that looks industrial, as if it would be Ridley’s go-to headset while fighting off xenomorphs.
That’s thanks in large part to the ear cups, which Nacon refers to as exoskeletons, having various polygonal shapes cut out of its plastic. The headband also sports several strategically placed holes to complete the look. Though it wouldn’t necessarily be my choice, I’m sure there are a number of gamers out there who will love such a design.
At least the design is functional. The cutouts on the earcups moonlight as weight relief, resulting in a fairly light headset. Meanwhile, those on the headband are used to adjust the ultralight steel headband’s height, so instead of sliding the ear cups up and down, you pop the ear cups into whichever hole corresponds with your preferred height adjustment. Unfortunately, each side only has three holes, which gives you only three possible height adjustments. This design also prevents any ear cup swivel, although the ear cups still offer the slightest tilt.
While I found the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC to look a bit basic, it didn’t feel cheap. The headband can be twisted this way and that, which helps if you want to adjust the RIG 500 Pro HC’s clamping force. Plus, even though everything outside of the headband is plastic, the plastic is very durable and would require a very heavy hand to do any damage.
Nacon went to great lengths to make the headset comfortable, with the foam earpads covered on the outside with pleather and a more breathable fabric where the ear pads touch the ear. The foam headband suspends the RIG 500 Pro on your head so that the metal headband never comes in contact with your scalp, keeping things fairly comfortable.
Unfortunately, the cable that runs from the left earcup to the right is fed through the foam headband, and we could feel it pressing against our head. If it weren’t for that, this would be a very comfortable headset.
One thing we are happy with is the removable mic, which is much better than what we would expect on a headset in this price range. Not only is it noise-cancelling, helpfully rejecting distracting background noises during gaming sessions, but its sound is also clear and fairly uncolored.
The Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC also comes with an interesting feature. Instead of putting a button somewhere on the headset to mute the mic, all you have to do is flip it up. When you want to use it again, you simply flip it back down.
The RIG 500 Pro comes in three versions: the HA is designed for PC gaming, the HX is designed for Xbox, the HS is designed for PlayStation and the HC (which I tested) is designed for multi-platform support. The HC also comes in a choice black and white versions.
As far as connectivity goes, Nacon is keeping it simple, using a 3.5mm analog connection. This means that you can connect it to a PS5, a PC, or anything else that has a typical 3.5mm audio jack. The cable itself is flat instead of the typical rounded cable to keep it from getting too tangled, which seems to work, and also has inline controls for volume.
RIG 500 PRO HC REVIEW: PERFORMANCE AND SOFTWARE
The Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC’s sound quality isn’t perfect. The low end is pronounced enough that it overwhelms everything else and audio can end up sounding muddy. Interestingly, that pronounced low end probably won’t make or break your gaming session so it’s still a good choice if you’re on a budget and want something specifically for gaming. But once you switch over to music or movies, it’s distracting.
The good news is that the high end is present without being tinny – something that most budget headsets can’t pull off – and the mids are full and present. The soundstage is also pretty good. It is a traditional stereo soundstage so you probably won’t feel like you’ve been transported into the middle of Cyberpunk 2077, for instance. However, it does a good job of placing all the audio elements where they’re supposed to be.
If it weren’t for that overwhelming low end, the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC would actually sound pretty good.
When fighting off angry wasps in It Takes Two, I was able to easily place any incoming attacks even when it’s coming from behind. It’s the same in Valheim where I again have no problem pinpointing incoming enemies. With Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, the headset retains all of the game’s disorienting and terrifying qualities in its sound design.
The Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC comes with a two-year subscription for Dolby Atmos, available through the Dolby Access app. Using this feature with any pair of headphones on PC typically comes at a price. Unless you actively dislike virtual surround sound, it’s a nifty feature that immerses you the way a traditional soundstage just can’t. And, unlike some other applications of virtual surround sound we’ve tested, we feel the sound quality doesn’t suffer or change when it’s engaged.
Through the Dolby Access app, which is limited to Windows 10 – the one instance where connectivity on this headset is not universal – you also get access to some EQ settings such as a 10-band EQ. There’s also a volume leveler that compresses the sound so that quiet parts are louder and vice versa, as well as a surround spatializer that turns the virtual surround sound on and off. It should be noted that you can actually use the app with any set of headphones, not just the RIG.
RIG 500 PRO HC REVIEW: PRICE AND VERDICT
The Nacon RIG Pro HC has a list price of $69.99 / £68.36 though at time of writing the Racon website is offering a discounted price of $59.99 / £54.63.
While it’s true that there are better gaming headsets out there – after all, this is not going to sound anywhere as good as something like the Audeze Penrose, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better performing headset for this price. The Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC comes with a few flaws, most noticeably that overly pronounced bass boost. Otherwise, it sounds good, has a solid soundstage, and comes with a mic good enough that you’ll have no issues being heard in your favorite Esports game.
If you’ve been planning to splurge, you may find its shortcomings not worth the savings. However, if you’re on a budget, you’ll find the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC to be a great choice for your next gaming investment.
RIG 500 PRO HC REVIEW: ALSO CONSIDER
There aren’t a lot of great options at that $70/£50 price tag. However, Razer does offer some of its stripped-down Krakens around that price. That said, the sound quality of the RIG 500 Pro HC is noticeably better. If you’re willing to spend a bit more though, the Razer Blackshark V2 offers better sound quality.
You could also consider some of the cheaper offerings from SteelSeries, a company known for its quality-sounding Arctis headsets. The Arctis 1, for instance, trumps the RIG in terms of sound quality but has a lower quality mic and skips the virtual surround sound entirely.