“Plantronics” isn’t any extra—no less than in concept. Having acquired Polycom in 2018, Plantronics took the chance just a few months again to ditch its outdated identify and rebrand as “Poly.” Why’d they alter it? I can’t say. I assume somebody preferred it higher that method.
But, uh…apparently the parents who designed this headset’s packaging didn’t get the memo: The field touts this because the Plantronics RIG 700HD, a follow-up (kind of) to the RIG 800LX we reviewed just a few years in the past. Barely extra sturdy, barely cheaper, and I’d say, barely higher.
Solely barely, although.
Notice: This evaluate is a part of our roundup of greatest gaming headsets. Go there for particulars on competing merchandise and the way we examined them.
Branding change or not, the RIG line continues to really feel prefer it’s been kit-bashed collectively out of spare components.
The sizing system is the wrongdoer, I believe. The earcups don’t merely slide up and down the headscarf such as you’d anticipate. As a substitute, there are three holes machined into all sides of the headscarf. It’s a must to pop the earcups out, acutely aware the entire time that they’re held collectively on this in-between state by a single fragile wire, after which fastidiously punch them again into a brand new slot to make changes.
It’s wild. Reviewing the RIG 800LX, I stated it had “one of many strangest sizing programs I’ve ever seen.” That’s underselling it although. I used to be baffled the primary time I noticed it, and I’m much more baffled that Plantronics has caught with it for therefore lengthy. It looks like a prototype, held collectively by 3D-printed plastic and prayers.
That stated, it’s a really light-weight “prototype.” If I needed to guess, that’s why Plantronics developed this technique within the first place. It eliminates the burden of a steel headband and strengthened hinges, leading to a RIG 700HD that weighs a mere 8.5 ounces. Battery, transmitter, all of it only a hair over half a pound. Miraculous is what we name that. It’s even lighter than the RIG 800LX, already one of many lightest headsets I’d ever held—although that comes at a price, as we’ll get into later.
And Plantronics has refined its ad-hoc aesthetic considerably through the years. The RIG 700HD nonetheless seems tough across the edges, but improves on the outdated 800LX by abandoning the floating headband model for a extra conventional padded band. The distinction in consolation is minimal given the RIG 700HD’s mild weight, and it ends in a sleeker silhouette total.
Plantronics additionally scaled again on texture this time, abandoning the ribbed plastic of the 800LX for clean piano black planes and curves. It’s simpler to seek out the built-in controls in consequence, although the again of the left ear continues to be very crowded: quantity wheel, one other wheel for mixing the sport and chat ranges, an influence button, a MicroUSB charging port, and a mute button, all on one ear.
The chatmix wheel is a very welcome characteristic on a $130 headset. Not so way back, these have been reserved for the very best of the very best. These days it’s a extra widespread characteristic, seen on Turtle Seaside’s $150 Elite Atlas Aero amongst others, but it’s nonetheless a premium contact on the decidedly budget-friendly RIG 700HD. I solely want it have been simpler to inform which was the quantity wheel and which was chatmix with out taking the headset off. Having one wheel per ear could be much more intuitive.
But total, it’s a good redesign for Plantronics. Don’t get me mistaken, the RIG 700HD doesn’t look good—but higher, for positive. A powerful brand, a splash of brushed bronze on the ears, these are a marked enchancment to the RIG line. I nonetheless want Plantronics would select a brand new design language, but perhaps that’s for “Poly” to type out.
Onto the sound, which is the place I had probably the most hassle with the RIG 800LX. To cite our earlier evaluate:
Good headsets normally sound good throughout music, video games, and movies, whereas the unhealthy headsets normally sound universally unhealthy. The RIG 800LX is a conundrum as a result of it doesn’t comply with these guidelines. I’d say most likely 80 or 90 p.c of what I threw on the Plantronics RIG 800LX, it dealt with effectively…
…The RIG 800LX’s bass presence is busted although, as is the highest of the treble vary. The drivers actually can’t sustain.
Thus heading into the RIG 700HD, these have been the points I used to be most eager to check. And I’ll say this: Sophisticated mixes with lots of overlapping sounds are nonetheless an issue for Plantronics. The RIG 700HD hasn’t totally mounted the difficulty, and songs like “Really feel Alive,” which I used to check the RIG 800LX, nonetheless sound a bit skinny by means of the RIG 700HD.
That stated, the rattling and distortion that I seen final time has been mounted, no less than. It’s nonetheless not probably the most vibrant headset, but there’s extra bass presence within the RIG 700HD and with out all of the nasty mechanical issues of its predecessor.
And less complicated mixes nonetheless shine on the RIG 700HD. Stripped-down songs, like piano-and-voice tracks, come by means of nice because of the RIG line’s heat mid-range and open sound. The latter was one in every of my favourite points of the RIG 800LX, which featured a width to the stereo combine that rivaled HyperX’s greatest efforts. Plantronics has duplicated it for the RIG 700HD.
Now, for the RIG 700HD’s faults. First off, the Dolby Atmos assist within the RIG 800LX has been stripped out for the RIG 700HD. As a substitute there may be Home windows Sonic encompass, presumably as a result of the license is cheaper. You continue to get a spatial encompass sound answer, but in my testing, Sonic isn’t as natural-sounding as Atmos. Your opinion could range, as that is a kind of hot-button subjects audio individuals prefer to debate, but I want Plantronics had sprung for the Atmos license.
The RIG 700HD additionally makes use of a detachable microphone, changing the flip-to-mute design discovered on the RIG 800LX. It is a little bit of a lateral transfer, but the RIG 700HD and its dongle are too cumbersome for use anyplace besides at a desk, thus negating any want for a detachable microphone. You’re not sporting these out and about, and muting the microphone is extra of a ache this time as a result of the button’s so small. Awkward too, with the best way it’s positioned on the underside of the left ear. Urgent it causes the entire headset to shift because the RIG 700HD is so light-weight.
Worst of all, Plantronics has carried out sidetone (the power to listen to your individual voice by means of the mic) in a method that doesn’t routinely disable while you depart the microphone unplugged. I spent hours considering the RIG 700HD had a continuing background hiss, solely to understand it was suggestions from the empty 3.5mm mic port. Tapping the mute button mounted the issue, but it’s weird Plantronics didn’t set the RIG 700HD to try this routinely at any time when the mic is unplugged.
Lastly, battery life. I discussed earlier that the RIG 700HD’s decrease weight got here with a value, and the worth is about half the battery capability. The RIG 800LX was designed to final 24 hours per cost, respectable but not very outstanding. The RIG 700HD is designed for 12 hours, which is…not nice. I can undergo 12 hours in a single day, albeit an extended one. Most individuals received’t, but it nonetheless means remembering to cost the RIG 700HD each evening or two.
Nowadays, I really feel like 20 hours is the naked minimal I’m in search of in a wi-fi headset until there’s a artistic charging answer, e.g., the Astro A50’s uniquely handy charging stand. Even then, the nearer a headset involves the Sennheiser 370’s magic 100-hour runtime, the higher. The RIG 700HD falls far quick.
It’s not fairly one step ahead, two steps again. I nonetheless suppose the RIG 700HD is a greater headset than the RIG 800LX. Each the audio and construct high quality have been improved in methods large and small.
That is an incremental improve although, not the leap wanted for the RIG to vie head-to-head with Logitech, HyperX, and even Turtle Seaside. Reviewing the RIG 800LX, I wrote, “The $150 value tier is a massacre as of late…and competitors is fierce.” Two years later that’s more true than ever, and Plantronics simply can’t appear to catch up. I’m not disillusioned with the RIG 700HD per se, but it’s onerous to suggest when $20 or $30 extra can get you a headset that’s better-built, better-sounding, or each.
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