Plantronics Rig 600 Review: Killer Versatility

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For a headset coated in black and gold, the $99 Plantronics Rig 600 is surprisingly basic. That's not entirely a bad thing -- its 40mm drivers offer excellent audio out of the box, and its lightweight and cozy design makes it ideal for long hours of play. It even packs swappable cables that allow it to work effortlessly with game consoles, mobile devices and PCs. While it lacks audio customization and 7.1 surround sound, the Rig 600 is an enticing value for anyone seeking a no-frills headset that sounds great with just about any device.  

Design and Comfort

With a black-and-gold paint job and perforated holes all over the place, the Plantronics Rig 600 looks like it wants to be classy enough for a subway ride but breathable enough for a long day of competitive gaming. Plantronics' new headset is essentially a classier refresh of last year's Rig Flex LX, with more breathable ear cushions and an attractive layer of faux-leather on the outer earcups.

The Rig 600's cozy cushions and light weight make it supremely unobtrusive — I used the headset to marathon through Destiny: Rise of Iron for hours at a time, and often forgot I was even wearing it. The headset's plush, faux-leather-coated ear cushions feel snug without getting too hot, and thanks to its feathery 9.6-ounce frame, I never really got the urge to take it off.

You can adjust the headband about two inches up or down -- as part of a hilarious Plantronics tradition, you'll see graphics on the side of a person whose afro gets larger as you raise the band. The Rig 600's earcups swivel up and down to adjust to your head, and can be laid flat if you want to throw them on your desk or hang the headset around your neck.

Gaming Performance

The Rig 600's 40mm drivers are designed to offer clear bass and vibrant treble and mids, and they absolutely deliver. Plantronics' headset sounded great on both my PS4 and Xbox One, whether I was driving around the Australian outback or breaking my virtual opponents in half.

The Rig 600 did an excellent job balancing space-shooter Destiny's epic orchestral soundtrack against the legions of aliens trying to kill me from all angles, adding an extra layer of immersion to a particularly intense campaign mission. When it was time to test myself against other players in competitive multiplayer, I had no trouble pinpointing where enemy footsteps and gunshots were coming from.

Plantronics' headset held up just as well when I switched gears (not sorry) to the open-world racing action of Forza Horizon 3. The sounds of revving engines and screeching tires were crisp and satisfying, and I could hear the finer details of every surface I raced on -- whether I was drifting on a smooth road, knocking over bushes in a forest or skidding along the water on a beach.

I then moved to Mortal Kombat X, a game whose brutally beautiful sound design makes it one of my favorites to test headsets with. The Rig 600 preserved every bit of the brawler's visceral audio effects, from the bassy thuds of every punch and kick to the disturbingly detailed sounds of my enemies' broken bones and ripped limbs.

Credit: Plantronics

(Image credit: Plantronics)

The Rig 600 doesn't have any companion software or changeable sound presets, so what you hear is what you get. I personally didn't mind this, since I prefer my headsets on the simpler side (and since the 600 sounds great out of the box). If you're on Xbox One, you can nab Plantronics' $49 LX1 audio adapter and enjoy some really great audio controls and three EQ modes.

Music Performance

Considering Plantronics' headphones expertise, I wasn't surprised to find that the Rig 600 was perfectly suitable for rocking out to some tunes. The headset had no problem balancing the buzzy guitars and rollicking bass and drums of Taking Back Sunday's "Death Wolf," and made it easy for me to appreciate each detail of the lush, dreamy soundscapes found in The Dear Hunter's latest album. It also serves up healthy helpings of bass, as I discovered while playing Kendrick Lamar's thumping "King Kunta."

Microphone and Cables

The Rig 600 is wonderfully versatile. It packs two interchangeable 3.5mm cables -- one that packs a boom mic for use with PS4 and Xbox One controllers, and one with an inline mic that lets you make calls on your mobile device. There's even an included splitter adapter that lets you plug the Rig into the separate headphone and microphone jacks on your PC.

Credit: Plantronics

(Image credit: Plantronics)

The headset's flexible boom mic held up fairly well in my testing. My colleague had no problem hearing me while we chatted over Skype on Xbox One, though he was able to hear the background fuzz created by my air conditioner.

The inline cable worked just fine with my iPhone — I had no issues pausing, playing and skipping tracks with a tap of a button while jamming out on Google Play Music. The inline remote also packs a mute switch, so no one will have to hear you yawn during a boring conference call.

Bottom Line

The Rig 600 has two main purposes: to deliver great sound, and to work on just about any device you own. Fortunately, it excels at both, with immersive, detail rich audio for both games and movies and a set of swappable cables that make it both a gaming headset and a pretty good pair of headphones.

If you like tinkering with sound presets, though, the barebones Rig 600 might not be for you. The excellent $99 HyperX Cloud II offers virtual surround sound over USB, while the $119 SteelSeries Sibera 350 packs excellent software options but doesn't have a 3.5mm jack for consoles or smartphones. If you prefer hardware versatility over the ability to customize your sound, the Rig 600 is easily one of the best sub-$100 options out there.

Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.