The RIG gaming brand has been around for a while, developing a reputation for durable, modular products. Recently acquired by Nacon, the company is back with a refresh to an old favorite. The Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC features a less modular design than its predecessor, but maintains a similar sound profile and distinctive aesthetic.
Simpler gaming headsets are all the rage these days—how does this one match up?
Who should get the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC?
- Gamers who want something simple and affordable that works on every platform.
- At-home workers looking for a cheap, comfortable upgrade to their computer’s built-in microphone and speakers.
What is it like to use the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC?
From top to bottom, the Nacon RIG 500 Pro has the undeniable look of a gaming headset. From its suspension headband to its detachable microphone, to the rather bulky faux-industrial look of its headphones—this is a pretty conspicuous device. However, looking rather gaudy doesn’t make something bad, or hard to use.
This is a wired gaming headset that connects to your PC, mobile device, or console of choice via 3.5mm plug. While its build looks a little odd, it’s also pretty sturdy. The suspension frame is made mainly of metal, with a self-adjusting headband. If that doesn’t offer quite enough customization, the frame also has multiple connection slots for raising or lowering each headphone. Altogether, it makes establishing a decent seal around your ears pretty easy, especially paired with the mesh earpads.
Actually using Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC is pretty simple and lacks any companion software. There’s an in-line control unit for headphone volume, and you can mute the detachable microphone by flipping it up. However, this simplicity comes with a trade-off. Something we really liked about the previous generation of the RIG 500 Pro was its emphasis on replaceable parts—it made using the headset a little more complicated, but added a lot of value. The new generation jettisons things like replaceable ear pads and cords.
Where the old headset included multiple cords for PC and console use, the new one now comes in separate versions for each platform. There’s next to no difference between the hardware of the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC, HX (for Xbox), and HS (for PlayStation)—they all connect the exact same way, look nearly identical, and sound the same. The RIG 500 Pro HA is the PC model, and includes a longer cord and a mic/audio splitter—it’s also $10 USD more expensive than the other models. All of these headsets work on every platform and all but the PlayStation model include the 2-year support for Dolby Atmos (more on that in a bit), so it’s not entirely clear why there are so many models.
How is the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC for gaming?
The Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC Gen 2 offers a solid gaming experience, though its cord length limits how useful it is on PC. The lightweight build, suspension band, and mesh ear pads keep things from feeling too tight, too heavy, or too sweaty, which is great for longer sessions.
The headset sounds great using the PlayStation 5’s spatial audio feature, handling the soundscape of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales without issue. It also didn’t struggle to keep everything clear in the varied mix of gunfire, electronic music, and dialogue characteristic of the recently remastered Mass Effect 3.
Learn more: Sony PlayStation 5: What is 3D Audio?
If you like gaming on PC, the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC comes with two years of support for Dolby Atmos surround sound. Atmos is one of the better third-party virtual surround sound services, and not needing to pay for an additional subscription is a nice touch. However, even if your PC has a TRRS headphone 3.5mm headphone jack (this headset doesn’t come with a splitter), you may find it’s not a terribly convenient headset to use. The cord is just under 1.2 meters long, which means anyone playing at a desktop where the tower is below the table may find they don’t have much room to move. The PC-oriented Nacon RIG 500 Pro HA fixes that, but it’s still a rather strange decision for this headset, given its multi-platform targeting.
How does the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC sound?
The Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC 50mm dynamic drivers offer fairly accurate audio for a gaming headset, though a few things may prompt a raised eyebrow or two. For starters, bass response lacks the typical emphasis many expect out of a gaming headset, or any consumer-oriented headphones for that matter. Mid-range audio is also boosted considerably—by about 5dB at its biggest difference from our target curve. Like the bass, treble notes also lack emphasis up to around 7kHz, with an especially big drop between 4-5kHz. This dip may seem alarming but it’s strategic; amplifying this range could emphasize unwanted harmonic resonances that already occur within the human ear canals naturally.
This is far from a bass-heavy gaming headset.
Audio output like this means the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC could make your music sound a little off. In particular, you may find that bass-heavy music like EDM lacks the characteristic oomph that many listeners really enjoy. In Then Again by Mitch Murder, the laid back funky keyboards that punctuate a lot of the song come through clearly, but the synthesized hi-hats and bass drum, as well as the bass guitar part (which arguably drives the song) really don’t come through as loudly as they should. They’re not hard to hear, because the song’s just not that busy, but they’re clearly not playing the dominant role they otherwise would through a more accurate headset.
In game, frequency response like this shouldn’t necessarily get in the way—like the Mitch Murder song, it’s pretty rare for a game’s audio to be layered enough to severely mask certain sounds. In fact, the quieter bass may make it easier to hear subtler sounds like footsteps in games like Fortnite or Valorant. However, big narrative moments punctuated with orchestral swells probably won’t pack the same punch.
The Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC offers pretty average isolation for a gaming headset. It establishes a decent seal, but don’t expect this to block out anything more than the typical sounds of the home. The headset certainly won’t be able to isolate you from a noisy cafe or even most traffic noises of moderate volume, not that it’s exactly the inconspicuous pair of headphones many go for in those settings.
How is the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC microphone?
The Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC features a pretty standard microphone for a gaming headset. It transmits accurate and clear enough audio. However it’s very quiet, so you may find boosting your output is desirable if you’ve got the option. There are gaming headsets with better mics around, but give this one a listen for yourself:
Should you buy the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC?
If you want a basic and reasonably priced gaming headset, you should consider the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC. However, it’s hard not to feel like this is a little bit of a downgrade from its predecessor.
The Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC isn’t a bad headset. Its sound leaves a little be desired, but it’s not egregious. It’s also comfortable, well-built, and it works pretty much everywhere. However, it’s also considerably less modular than its predecessor—instead of different replaceable parts, like separate cords for PC and console gaming, now there are just different (nearly identical) product variations for each platform. The end result is something simple to use and affordably priced, but plenty of gaming headsets hit those two points.
What are some decent alternatives?
Gaming headsets like the Turtle Beach Recon 500, HyperX Cloud Alpha, and EPOS GSP 300 all check the same boxes as the Nacon RIG 500 Pro HC for under $100, and they all offer more accurate audio output. Recon 500 is within $10 USD, and offers a substantially better microphone, as well.
Keeping in the ~$70 USD range, wireless options are pretty much out the door, but a wired option USB like the Corsair HS60 Pro Surround offers a wider range of features on PC. And if you don’t mind aiming for a slightly higher price, the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless and Turtle Beach Stealth 600 Gen 2 offer all around better, wireless experiences.