Every year, it seems like gaming headsets just keep getting better. They’ve improved on build quality, sound, comfort, and even the microphones are providing crisper audio than ever before. Plantronic’s RIG 800LX, a $149.99 wireless headset designed for the Xbox One and Windows 10, is a robust performer in all those categories. Aside from one or two concerns, it’s downright close to perfection.
The RIG 800LX boasts a 24-hour battery life before needing to recharge. Its ear cups house 40 mm drivers and bass tubes. Audio controls are built into the headset. Four EQ modes are selectable. And it’s designed to work with Dolby Atmos.
Its box lists several welcome features, but don’t expect too much else inside it. You get the headset, of course – strapped inside a rather nice insert – and the USB transceiver, a charging cable, and a Dolby Atmos activation code. There is no detailed manual to read or configuration software to install. Everything you need to know, such as the names of the EQ modes, is found on the box itself. The RIG 800LX is largely a plug-and-play device.
It’s a good thing then that installation is quick and easy. After selecting either PC or Xbox One on the transceiver and connecting it to an available USB port on either system, the headset was instantly recognized. The last step was to activate and configure Dolby Atmos. After redeeming the code, the Dolby Access software guided me through that process and took me to the necessary menus. The code redeems Dolby Atmos across your Microsoft account, too, so you don’t have to worry about whether you should redeem it on the Microsoft Windows store or the Xbox’s.
Be aware that the headset will not work without the transceiver. If the battery is running low, there is no analog-to-controller option. It will continue to function with the charging cable inserted into an available USB port, however, but the cable isn’t long enough to be wholly practical for that purpose.
Thankfully, practicality is the name of the game when it comes to quickly changing audio settings. The rear of the left ear cup holds a game/party chat mixer dial, power and pairing switch, large volume dial, and a micro USB charging port. A button on the bottom of the right ear cup toggles between equalizer presets, and the headset will beep to denote the currently selected mode. Finally, muting the non-removable microphone is as simple as flipping it up, which I found easier than reaching for an in-line button and often forgetting later whether I was muted or not. The only complaint I have is that the volume dial can be a bit fiddly when attempting minute adjustments.
In terms of the RIG 800LX’s general design, it’s very sleek and mostly built of sturdy, black plastic; but what surprised me most was just how light the entire headset is. In fact, it’s one of the lightest gaming headsets I’ve recently tested. Logitech’s G433 still takes the crown when it comes to minimal weight, yet the RIG 800LX isn’t far behind. It applies very minimal pressure, as well, in part due to the plush, wonderfully soft ear pads. I never once felt I needed to adjust the headset or that it got too hot against my ears, even after hours of gameplay.
But does the RIG 800LX sound as great it feels during those long hours? For the most part, absolutely. I spent most of my testing using the Pure equalizer mode, and it delivered a balanced, rich performance free of distortion. The low rumbles of its bass were tight and physical without overpowering the other frequencies. I didn’t just hear the explosions in Call of Duty: WW2; I felt them.
The second and third equalizer modes, Intensify and Seismic, alter the low frequency to varying degrees. Bass becomes noticeably more impactful at the expense of the other ranges, depending on the source. I would avoid Seismic if you don’t want a loose, muddied experience. The third option, presumably Intensify, offers a better balance for bass heads. The final mode, Vocal Focus, brings the mids forward. It’s a good mode for separating dialog a little easier from the soup of other sounds.
A code for Dolby Atmos virtual surround sound is included with the RIG 800LX, and the box advertises the immersive 3D audio and competitive edge it can give you. And it does work beautifully. It was amazing to hear and pinpoint arrows flying over my head in Assassin’s Creed Origins. But there is one caveat to mention. Movies and games need to support Dolby Atmos for the listener to get the full effect. I couldn’t find a complete list, unfortunately, but it is supported in games such as Overwatch, Battlefield 1, Battlefront 2, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Sea of Thieves, Gears of War 4, and Crackdown 3. Just don’t expect to enable Dolby Atmos, boot up Call of Duty, and start hearing surround sound. That said, spatial awareness is still great on the RIG 800LX even when listening to two logical channels.
I really enjoy how this pair of cans sound in games, movies, and music, but I did encounter one peculiar issue. With the microphone in the up/mute position, and when few sounds were playing, I could hear constant, high-frequency beeps. They varied by length and loudness. They could be occurring because of my Wi-Fi-heavy environment – I couldn’t find any other users with this problem – but the beeps would disappear when the microphone was down. They weren’t as noticeable during busy games or songs, either. They were, however, somewhat irritating when I didn’t need the microphone enabled or muted myself during a conference call.
Speaking of speaking, the microphone is top-notch. There are few gaming headsets that transmit voice quite so clearly. The boom microphone is flexible, too.
I love cutting the cords when it comes to my gaming peripherals. I don’t like being dragged down and entangled in cables. The Plantronics RIG 800LX delivers almost everything I demand from a wireless device: lightweight, comfortable, a long battery life, exceptional performance, and good looks. The high-frequency beeps were distracting, but not enough to cost the headset a recommendation due to their occurrence only when the headset was muted and with few sounds playing. These are the cans I reach for when I’m storming the Western Front in Call of Duty. If you’re a wireless junkie like me, then definitely consider the RIG 800LX.
Full disclosure: A unit was provided for review.