Todays review comes in the form of the Plantronics Rig 400HX, costing just £45, can these perform better than their low price point?
In the box
With the 400HX you get
- The microphone
- Isolated ear cups
- One Black frame
- The documentation
- An Xbox code for Dolby Atmos
Design and Build
Plantronics have done well with their design cohesion as all the Rig headsets share some similarities that make them theirs. They do offer some unique features though to make the different even whilst in-keeping with the ethos they have.
The main frame is all Black, made from a durable plastic like the other Rig headsets and its only really unique identifier is the Green Rig logo on the side. But like the other Rig headsets the frame is replaceable, this means you can swap out the frames to change the style of them. The frames will set you back £11.99 each and come in a few different variants. There is Black, Black/Grey Camo, fashion Camo, Sand Camo and Translucent. So you can add some extra flare if you’d like. You can also buy the HX in the Urban Camo if you do prefer that. It will set you back an extra £10 though.
The frame design also allows you to remove the headband padding as well as the ear cups. So if you so happen to have say another set like the Rig 500E, you could swap out the padding if you do prefer. Unfortunately Plantronics don’t sell the padding separately, which is a shame as that would be great if you aren’t keen on the stock one.
Speaking of the padding its large in quantity and perforated to help reduce heat build up. I’ll cover this more in-depth in the comfort section of the review. The ear cup is also the same and again will be covered further down in the review.
The ear cup design again ties in with the Rig ethos but manages to be different to set it apart. The cups feature a heavy textured pattern with the Rig logo and model on them. There is also a nice ring accent that is finished in a faux brushed steel which looks really nice and it makes them look quite grown up.
Also on the ear cup is notch section which allows them to installed and removed from the main frame. This is a simple design but it works well and means you can take these ear cups and install them on a different Rig frame or just to simply make the headset more compact for travel.
On the left ear cup is the microphone, this is flexible and removable which is big bonus. It uses a 3.5mm connection but as the port is uniquely shaped you can’t add a different mic to it. The mic features a rigged design that matches nicely to the ear cup. It also uses two mics, one is for noise cancelling and the other for voice.
Next up is the cable and these are none removable. Luckily though the cable is plenty thick and feels robust, so this shouldn’t pose an issue. Strain relief on the cable is good too and is featured on the all main areas where its needed.
On the cable there is also the inline controller. With this you can mute the mic and adjust the volume. Its made from plastic which again feels very durable. The mute toggle is again plastic but feels good, its heavily textured too so its easy to identify and get a good grip on it. The volume control is one the side and again is textured. This is a bit small and can be difficult to use, especially if you need to change the volume mid game.
Overall the 400HX is a nice looking headset that is well built for the price point. At this stage in the review there is really no negative feature to point out. Onto comfort.
And again its good, the ear cup padding is brilliant. Its soft, well padded and because its perforated your ears don’t get too hot after use. Yes eventually they do build up heat, but even after a four hour gaming session my ears where not that fatigued at all. Usually at that point I would have had to have stopped and removed the headset to let my ears cool off. With these I probably could have gone even longer if I had the time to.
The opening isn’t massive, so if you do have larger ears then they may not fit fully within the padding. My ears (average sized) just about fit nicely but again those of you with larger ears may find that they are a touch small for you. On the plus side the material fabric is soft and smooth so it shouldn’t cause any chafing or rubbing on the tops or bottom of your ears. Also the clamping force is nicely judged too, they aren’t overly loose nor too tight and for me are just about perfect. I will admit that they were a bit tight at first, but the frame did loosen over time and no its bang on. Another big plus point is the ear cup padding is removable to that you can clean them if you need to, you could possibly even find third party ones if you’re not overly fond of the stock ones.
The padding on the headband section is again generous and equally as soft as the ear cups. Its thick, well padded and does a great job of not causing any fatigue at all. Also because the headset is so light (210g) there is barely any weight to distribute across you head so you don’t get that heavy bared down feeling you can often get with heavier headsets. The material is again nice and for me it posed no issue at all. If you have a bald head then they could be a bit slippery and the finish is really smooth, but it shouldn’t cause any rubbing or fatigue.
Using the 400HX for almost two weeks has been great. Although the HX is designed for XBOX it actually works great on PC as well. This is because it uses a 3.5mm jack which means that they are cross platform to a certain degree. Out of the box the audio from the drivers will work so you’ll get game audio, however the microphone won’t work as its just a single pole 3.5mm. To get the mic to work you will require an adapter like this one UGreen Audio splitter, don’t worry this will only set you back £6, but it does mean that they are then fully cross platform between PC and XBOX.
The cable does pose a bit of an issue in some cases. Its only 1.3m long and that is fine for the XBOX, but if you do so happen to want to use it on PC its a little short. Of course with the HX not being designed for PC this is fine, but its something to take into account if you are wanting to use these cross platform.
While we’re on the cable the in-built controller is a bit of a mixed bag too, the mic mute is great, but the volume control is a bit fiddly to use. Because of how its located it makes it a little tricky to use in game. If you’re familiar with the games you play you could set it before hand, but if you’re venturing into a new game and are unfamiliar with it then a good volume controller does come in handy. This works, but is just a bit tricky to adjust on the fly.
Isolation and Leak
Noise isolation on this headset is okay, it doesn’t block out too much noise nor does it let a lot in. It nearly almost fully blocks out the noise from my keyboard and mouse when on PC and on XBOX its great as there isn’t a whole deal to block out. Its the same if you’re gaming somewhere a little noisier then it does let in a fair amount of noise. In some cases this could be a good thing as you may need to keep that bit of situational awareness. If you want to be fully immersed in your game then depending on your situation they may not deliver that.
Leak again doesn’t really matter when you’re gaming solo, but if you share a room or are gaming in a group it becomes a bit more important. And well they perform good, they don’t leak massively even at good volumes. Of course you can still hear them a little when really pushed, but its nothing that would easily distract anyone else.
- Frequency response: 100 – 10,000Hz
- Mic sensitivity: -45dBV/Pa
- Mic signal to noise ration: >42 dB
- Mic pick up pattern: Uni-directional
- Noise cancelling boom
The mic of the 400HX isn’t its strongest suit. Its decently loud given enough gain and audio boost, however the quality is a bit disappointing. Its very nasally and there is quite a lot of noise pickup in the background. Your voice is quite clear but its low end pickup isn’t amazing and it sounds a bit thin. It would be okay for discord and game chat but I wouldn’t use it for streaming to YouTube or Twitch.
The noise cancelling is pretty decent, it does a good job of removing most of the fan noise from my PC. I think this feature is probably the reason why the audio quality isn’t as impressive as it can be as I know that it can impact the overall quality, which can be heard in the samples included. The samples below are unedited and uncompressed straight from mic and captured via PC so you can listen for yourself.
Sample 1: +30dB gain, 80 volume
Sample 2: +20dB gain, 90 volume
On XBOX the experience is pretty similar with just the volume not being as loud as it is on PC. Unfortunately I couldn’t capture the audio from the mic on XBOX to give you a sample but its pretty much indentical to the PC, just a bit quieter.
At the price point of the headset its decent. Of course it compare to a dedicated microphone but like I mentioned for chat its fine.
- Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
- Impedance: 32ohms
- Sensitivity: 111dBSPL/V
- Drivers: 40mm dynamic
The 400HX in this department really do impress. They are loud, clear and detailed for the price.
The bass is good, but bass lovers and those that really enjoy a punchy deep bass may be left wanting more. For games like Fortnite and Overwatch where you don’t require much bass these are great as it doesn’t impact those keys areas you need. But if you are playing games that do warrant a bit of bass these just lack that real powerful punch, don’t get me wrong its got punch, just not in as punchy as some. The bass is deep enough to provide a bit of body to the sound but its just missing some potency. For example gun shots and explosions don’t have any impact and for some games that is fine, but for others it is a bit of a let down. I guess its all dependent on the types of games you play.
On the plus side its very smooth, clean, detailed and clear. This means that it doesn’t muddy the mids and it allows you to hear footsteps and less prominent noises a bit easier. Of course if you do want some bass you could always tweak the eq settings on your PC, for XBOX though I’m not sure that will be possible unless you download a third party application.
The mids are great, they are open, clear and pack plenty of detail. This makes them great to be able to hear what is going on around you and it allows you to keep a bit of an edge in more competitive style games. The soundstage is pretty wide too and in sound separation is great. Again this is brilliant for titles where you need that clarity and clearness. So in Overwatch it makes picking out your enemies position really easy and for Fortnite and PUBG you can hear direction and where the enemy is based upon their movement. Its all really clear. For games that you want total immersion they do great too, you can still hear sounds in your environment as well being to focus on the primary task.
Voice is another things that comes through clearly without impacting the other areas of your sound. For example in Forza when you get prompts. You can hear them really clearly as well as being able to to hear the sound from car. Also in games like Shadow of mordor they can help you identify a stationary enemy simply by being able to pickup there voice.
All in all for some games they fair better than others. For titles like Overwatch, Fortnite, PUBG and similar titles they are great. This is due to the clarity and openness of the mid and higher frequencies. For titles like GTA V that you want that bit of depth and punch they just don’t really deliver enough of it.
To hear a sample of some game audio captured from this headset, check out this video
To summarise. The Rig 400HX is a brilliant gaming headset that will work on both PC and XBOX. The price point of £45 is just about spot on and I think they are great value for the money. They are nicely designed, well made, very comfortable, sound great and offer some customisation options. They aren’t without their flaws though. The minor downsides are the noisy and nasally microphone as well as the slight lack of bass depth and under potent punch. But other than that, these are a fantastic gaming headset that are well worth the money and your consideration if you’re after a mutli-platform headset that pretty much has it all.
Pick up a pair here via Amazon UK
Plantronics RIG 400HX Gaming Headset (Xbox One)