Tech Review: Plantronics RIG 800LX Gaming Headset: Big money, no whammies

For the longest time, I railed against gaming headphones across the board. As an audiophile, there was no part of them anyone did right. They were all huge, heavy and ugly with huge bass that blew the sound to hell. In the last couple of years however, I’ve found myself finally coming around on gaming headsets — or perhaps peripheral makers have finally realised there’s a way to court picky bastards like me. In their RIG 800LX PC and Xbox One headset, Plantronics have made a wireless unit that is very difficult for me to nitpick.

The RIG 800LX is a wireless gaming headset designed for use with your Windows PC or Xbox One console. Set up is minimal, just connect the wireless USB dongle to your device, turn the power on and you’re away. This is a big point in Plantronics’ favour in my book — if your setup process is longer than two steps then you’ve done something wrong. Even on the Xbox One, with its notoriously fiddly party and communication controls, the headset worked perfectly on the first try. It connected immediately and I had no trouble being heard through the mic.

Soundwise, you’re getting quite a lot for your $229 AUD. These are cans on a par with something like my old Sennheiser HD598’s. Its important that you understand that when I make this comparison, I don’t make it lightly. The HD598’s have been my favourite headphones in the $200-$300 price range, gaming or otherwise, for years now. For an audiophile like me, the value in finding similar audio quality in a gaming headset can’t be overstated. The low range is perfectly balanced against the high so that the bass doesn’t occlude the rest of the mix. The positional 7.1 surround works a treat and, if you have that good, good Dolby Atmos for Headphones subscription going, you can take advantage of it here too. It’s fabulous stuff, and lovely to have a wireless headset that lets you not only hear all the way to the back of the audio mix but also get lost in it.

If I have a gripe with the RIG 800LX its probably in its external design. These are exactly the kind of big, clunky looking headphones you come to associate with gaming peripherals. They look like something you’d expect to see in a science fiction movie which means they look extremely dumb when your ass is parked on the couch in your suburban living room. The good news is they are extremely lightweight for a wireless kit and the build quality is extremely strong. The ear cups are soft, comfortable and offer a reasonable amount of noise cancellation while playing. You’ve also got dials on the side that allow to play with the mic/game audio mix as well as volume which is nice. The microphone can be switched on by pulling it down or off by pushing it back up to a vertical position by your ear. It will make a physical click and an in-ear beep to let you know when the job’s done. The headset will also helpfully tell you how your battery’s doing every time you turn the unit on so you know when to charge it back up. The RIG 800LX packaging boasts a 24-hour battery life. This might be possible if you’re mostly idling I think, but on average I got about 12-16 hours per charge.

As a whole, goofy design aside, the Plantronics RIG 800LX is one of the best quality gaming headsets I’ve used. The price tag is at the higher end for a pair of gaming cans but you are certainly getting what you paid for. It’s already become an integral part of my home Xbox One setup and I don’t see that changing. Outstanding work.

Score: 9.0 out of 10
Highlights: Great sound; Lightweight; Good controls
Lowlights: Typical over-the-top “gamer” design
Manufacturer: Plantronics
Price: $229 AUD
Available: Now

Correction: An earlier version of this review listed the RRP of the headset at $249.95 AUD but we’ve been informed that this is not correct. We’ve corrected the RRP and have updated the piece to reflect this.

Reviewed using a loaned retail RIG 800LX headset provided by the manufacturer.