plantronics rig unboxing 01 640x424Plantronics is launching a new gaming accessory called RIG, and it is essentially a sound mixer with a switch that will let you configure your gaming audio, gaming chat and mobile audio (or any other source connected via a jack 3.5mm) in one easy setup.

When you’re playing, you want a complete immersion, so headphones are great, especially if the loud speakers aren’t an option late at night. But as you play, you still want to be able to hear notifications or calls from your phone. That’s where RIG comes in: it can mix three sound sources (PC/console speaker + USB audio + mobile) at any given time, but the large switch button in the middle will allow you to switch in two different modes.

How does it work?

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This shows you the incoming audio sources

Game mode

The “Game” mode will mix all three sources. This is the one that you will use during gaming sessions. I have setup that one to have the game music/effects and USB audio (for a concurrent Skype chat) to be dominant, while the mobile sound is just loud enough for me to hear calls. Nothing prevents you from cranking the sound on all three but that may defy the purpose.

The dual USB + speaker input is very useful, especially if the game doesn’t have a built-in voice chat feature. You can use whatever VOIP app works for you and your friends. When in game mode, the headset microphone goes to the USB audio input device.

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Choose between “Mobile” or “Gaming” modes

Mobile mode

"JUST SWITCH, NO NEED TO THINK ABOUT IT"   Upon receiving a call, you can switch to the “Mobile” mode to get a louder phone sound and switch the headset microphone to the phone audio input. The microphone input switch is the most important part since you buddies on the other chat won’t hear your phone call. You don’t need to think about it. During my test, I did setup that mode to have the mobile phone audio to be dominant, but I could still hear enough of the game to stay alert, just in case an enemy creeps in.

Switching from one to the other is done in one quick flick, so I don’t need to remove the headphones or do anything else to answer a call. That sounds like a dream accessory for some tech support people that I know (yes, I know what you’re doing!).

This is essentially what the RIG mixer does, and while I suspect that most people will use it like I did, you should be able to set it up in a few different ways. Check the photo gallery to see the options from the documentation.

Industrial design

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The RIG Mixer is made of plastic, but it feels a little heavier than it looks, and seems sufficiently robust. The base is very solid and I really like the rubber pad that prevents accidental slips while using it. The main button and outer ring control feel “plastic” (because it is plastic…), but I don’t think that they would be easy to break during normal usage (who knows that an angry gamer can do though).

As you can see in the photo gallery, there are quite a few cables that come in the box to accommodate the many scenarios that RIG has been designed for (PC/Xbox/PS3). All the cables are flat, so they won’t get tangled up, even if you throw them quickly in a bag and run to a LAN party.

The Headset is lighter than it looks. It also feels a bit plastic, but it is comfortable and doesn’t lead to pressure to the ears (I’ve been wearing it for about 1h30 now). I haven’t done any ruggedness tests, but I would be a little careful about shocks and pressure, especially at the hinge where the ear cup meets the headband.

The optional microphone design is pretty cool: If you don’t plan to chat online (in a flight, for example), you don’t have to have the microphone around. This is a nice touch for those who want to use the headset for more than online chats.

The sound quality is good for the value, and you need to take the price () into account, so this is not really a headset for “audiophiles”. I wish that there was a good way to “benchmark” sound quality on those headsets, but if you can’t picture this, it’s just best to try them on for yourself in a store. Outside the subjective opinion, I was glad to hear that there was absolutely no background noise (or “hiss”) of any kind when there was no sound coming from my PC. Believe me, it happens more often than you would care for.

Conclusion

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I don’t play enough to have come up with the RIG idea, but I can imagine how people who spend a significant amount of time with headphones on their heads could have a use for this. Although it is a “gaming” accessory, I believe that non-gamers could also benefit from it. I’m thinking about my DJ friends, or other audio professionals who wear headphones very often."NON-GAMERS COULD ALSO BENEFIT FROM RIG"  

Since this is a Plantronics product, you may expect some kind of Bluetooth support, so I should point out that Bluetooth is not supported in this version. It’s not hard to imagine that other versions could be built with fancier options at some point, but for now, it’s all wired.

Plantronics RIG: $129 MSRP (Headset + RIG)

Overall product rating: 8/10
Filed in Audio >Gaming >Reviews . Tags: plantronics.
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