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Nacon RIG headphones review: 500 and 800 series offer clear pros and cons

Mike Diver

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Nacon RIG headphones review: 500 and 800 series offer clear pros and cons

Featured Image Credit: Nacon

Despite over a decade spent working in the music industry, I’m not someone who usually cares about having the very best headphones for my listening experience. And that’s largely carried over into gaming, where a simple and staggeringly cheap pair of in-ears has served me just fine on many a Switch-accompanied commute. But as the winter days darken and spending more time under a blanket with the Xbox on becomes increasingly appealing, I figure: why not check out some of these proper gaming headsets? Step forward Nacon, with a pair of RIG-brand cans to check out and spill some words about.

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Now RIG is rolling out new 300 Pro, 500 Pro and 800 Pro series headsets right around now - or has been over the last few months, as I’ve seen them for sale online, so you can toddle over to your merchants of choice and invest after reading this, if you so wish. But what I have here, in front of me, as I’m typing this are specifically the 500 Pro HC and 800 Pro HX models. The wireless 800 range is designed to be compatible with PlayStation 4 and 5 and PC in its HS guise; adds Mac to the ideal compatibility list with the HD variant; and the HX I have here is aimed at Xbox consoles. Three flavours, which mostly do the same thing.

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I’ve been testing the HX out on my Series X and, yeah, it all connects effortlessly. I love it when stuff just works, no need for a weighty manual or a thousand steps to follow on a companion app. The headphones come with a charging dock that you attach to your console via (micro! In 2022!) USB, or you can simply use the same lead that runs between dock and console to directly charge the headphones via a port on the left earcup. (Earcup? Sure.) Your choice, but the dock is the more elegant and tangle-free option. They’ll go from no power to a full charge in seven hours and will apparently run continuously for 24 hours without needing a top-up, not that I’ve had them on that long. There’s a power on/off button on the left side too - everything is positioned left on these things - and a little voice will inform you whether you’re turning the headphones on or off, the connection status between what’s on your noggin and the console you’re using, and what level the battery’s at. Handy.

The wireless element works thanks to a lil USB emitter thing that either plugs into the dock - if you’re the sort who wants to use it for easy pick up/put down charging - or directly into the Xbox. Presumably this is the exact same set-up for PlayStation, I can’t see why it wouldn’t be, but you’d best consult the full product info before making a purchase decision if you’re of the blue inclination. Not sure about the wireless range but, I mean, how big is the average room where these playthings are kept, really? In my old Victorian terrace, the connection is a-ok wherever I stand in the same space as the Xbox - and it’s not like I’m gonna use these from a different room. A self-adjusting head-strap and three positions for the cups means that the 800 HXs will fit just about any noggin you can throw at them, and while there is weight to them they sit firmly and comfortably, unlike other premium-end headsets I’ve worn (i.e., that I own but are back in the box they came in, now) that have a habit of slipping back or forth.

The RIG 800s in their dock / Credit: Nacon
The RIG 800s in their dock / Credit: Nacon
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Going up the left cup from the bottom-positioned charge point you get: a microphone monitor level control button; overall volume control on a stiff wheel; the power on/off button; and a mixer for setting your game audio and chat levels. The flip-down microphone does the usual mute-when-its-up, on-when-its-out thing, and you get an audio cue whenever you’re good to chat. Ergo, these have what you need to play your games, with your pals, on the internet. What the 800s don’t give you, though, is a solid low-end signal, the 40mm drivers getting all the mid-tones in any game right but never packing a real punch when it comes to bass. I haven’t tested every game going here - A Plague Tale: Requiem, FIFA 23 and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order were my main go-tos while using these (so far). But there’s definitely something a little reedy about the sound. It’s fine, and the overall build quality and functionality of these things is terrific. I just wish there was more oomph in here.

That same lightness of depth applies to the 500 Pro HC set - which have 50mm drivers but provide bass that’s on the thin side when it’s not distorting in the mix completely. Now, I should point out that in games, which these are primarily designed for, I’ve far fewer complaints regarding the clarity of the output; but for music through my laptop, played on YouTube and Spotify, these wired cans didn’t have my favourite music sounding quite right. Your mileage may vary as, naturally, the very mix of a song can affect how it sounds in different situations. And there’s certainly plenty of volume here, although the in-line slider control has an annoying top-end click that sees nuance lost when you’re trying to find that perfect spot for whatever racket’s pounding away in your ears.

Lighter than the 800s but satisfyingly chunky and solid-feeling in hand, the 500s have the same self-adjusting head-strap and three-point cup positioning set-up as their pricer counterparts. Both sets have double-layer cushioning on the cups that does an OK job of isolating your audio, but quieter moments will have any modest background hum bleeding through. Wearing both sets for about two hours at a time, the 500s were generally fiddled with less, although the wired design - and it’s a short lead too, at just over one metre - made sure I always knew I was sporting these things, which wasn’t the case with the wireless model. Unlike the 800s, the 500s have no built-in splitter for game and chat audio, so if that’s crucial to you make sure you have another option lined up; and the mic is essentially the same as the one on the 800s - it does the job in an admirably acceptable way - only it can be removed here, not that it’s in your field of vision when flipped up.

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The wired 500s / Credit: Nacon
The wired 500s / Credit: Nacon

The short length of lead on the 500s and their 3.5mm jack makes the pair a natural partner for the Nintendo Switch, and testing them with Streets of Rage 4 - a game with a most exceptional soundtrack - produces some impressive results. I actually pick up on details I didn’t hear before - for example, in the first stage there’s the distant rumble of trains that I never picked up on, either with other headphones or through my TV speakers. And the track that plays in the second, police station-set stage appears to have a lot more going on in it than I previously appreciated.

Sticking that jack into an Xbox pad for the same games used for testing the 800s, I find FIFA 23’s stadiums more alive than with the telly speakers but there’s no nuance to the noise - it’s like being permanently in the centre circle, with none of the turbulence, the waves of crowd chants and jeers, that you get at a real game. Though that’s possibly more the sound of the game itself than what these headphones are channelling from it. That said, when the ball meets boot, netting or advertising hoarding, it does so with a sharper ping, a crisper bite, than before. And the music in the game doesn’t suffer from the same imbalances as songs heard through my laptop, on either the 500s or 800s - again, perhaps that’s the gaming emphasis of the products in effect.

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Both the 500s and 800s come with an offer to get two years of Dolby Atmos support for nowt, which is nice for folk who want such very fancy things, but do note that’s limited to Windows PC and Xbox platforms only. And yes, I know what you’re wondering: how much do these things cost, anyway? Scouring the internet I’ve seen the 500 Pro HCs for between £50 and £70, and the 800 Pro HXs are retailing for up to £199.99. Now, to return to that first paragraph: I’m exactly the kind of person who wouldn’t spend that sort of money on headphones, usually. But, if the 500s were on sale, let’s say at £40, I’d recommend them immediately. They’d be a steal at that price. The 800s at the best part of £200 though, in this economy? They exude class from the moment you pick them up, and they might actually be the best headphones I’ve ever wrapped around my skull outside of a proper recording studio environment, but, again, that’s a lot of scratch right now. Ultimately only you’ll know if forking out that kind of cash makes sense to you, but I’ve gotta say that these are very nice indeed, and if I was actively in the market for some high-end listening gear, I don’t know if I’d do much better for this set of specs.

The products reviewed here were supplied by Nacon. You can find more information on them and other models at the official Nacon website.

Topics: Xbox, PC, Nintendo Switch, Opinion

Mike Diver
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