Plantronics RIG 400HX Review: The Good, The Bad, and A New Headband Pad

The budget headset with the most neutral sound

I’ve already reviewed and loved the original RIG 400.

The RIG 400HX is largely the same headset…but with a different headband pad and different styling, and a free Dolby Atmos code in the box.

It seemed silly to fully review it again, but I still wanted to talk a bit about it…so here now is whatever this is.

OVERVIEW

Part of a refresh of the RIG lineup from last year, the $49 RIG 400HX is branded for Xbox and Windows gamers…but it’ll work on anything that supports a 4-pole 3.5mm wired connection.

If you need a splitter for your PC, you’ll have to provide your own.

THE GOOD

Sound Quality

This is still one of the best-sounding headsets at any price, let alone the $49 price point of the RIG 400. It’ll please audiophiles, with enough detail retrieval and accuracy that it sounds more “correct” than bass-dominated consumer gear. Its smooth, extended bass response and gentle upper mids will please average listeners who want something fun and nice to listen to.

Plantronics is still one of the only audio companies to print their sound signature right on the box.

Soundstage and imaging are both great as well, and it’s easy to hear why Microsoft chose to team up with Plantronics to show off their new spatial sound tech. It’s a perfect match for Windows Sonic and Dolby Atmos.

If you’re a “sound quality first!” sort of person, and you need a good deal on a gaming headset, you just found your new favorite thing.

Turns out this headband pad is really great! And modular/removable, just like the old suspension strap.

Comfort

The RIG 400HX is light and flexible. It’s perfect for long listening sessions, and the clamping force is just strong enough to keep it in place on your head.

Ear pads are circular, but quite soft and made from a true memory foam. Unlike the original RIG 400, which used a suspension headband, the HX uses a big old traditional headband pad.

I was worried about that pad at first. I have a stupidly large head, and I was concerned that the girth of the headband pad would prevent these from fitting me right, since I have to use the cups in the biggest wearing position.

I shouldn’t have worried. The headband pad is soft and tremendously squishy, and it’ll happily mold to whatever head shape you shove in there. In fact, I think it’s even more comfortable than the suspension strap from the original model.

Modular Design/Build

The RIG series uses a modular headband system, allowing you to pop parts on and off for visual customization. The 400,500, and 800 series all use the same headband frame, so if you buy more than one pair from the RIG lineup, you could swap things around if you wanted. Plantronics sells different headband frames too.

On first touch, the RIG 400 seems too light and a little flimsy…but its strength reveals itself over time. The frame is nicely sturdy, as are the snapping mechanisms for popping the ear cups and the headband into place.

I probably won’t ever be swapping parts around on my pair, but it’s nice to know I have the option if I ever want a new look or if something ever breaks.

Microphone

The RIG 400 has an exceptional microphone for this price bracket, and it’s removable!

It’s a little less warm-sounding than the Astro A10, so if you prefer a boomier tone you might like that headset more. But it’s still very good and neutral, and beats other budget offerings like the Cloud Stinger.

And it has wonderful background noise isolation.

Here’s a link to the mic test I recorded for my original review.

Now, I originally intended to do my newer quiet and loud room tests on this mic, but when I got to the coffee shop I normally use as my loud room…it was really quiet.

Oops!

So here is the quiet test I recorded this morning. I use my mechanical keyboard at one point during this file, and you can barely hear it…which is great!

THE BAD

Adjustability

The RIG 400, 500, and 800 headsets all only have three positions for the ear cups to sit in. Three different sizes is a much lower degree of adjustability than other headsets on the market.

Now, the headband does help a little bit with its extreme squishiness. But if you’re someone that’s found a particular headset or headphone either too big or too small in the past…you might want to buy from a place with a good return policy.

I think Plantronics has chosen a good middle ground on the sizes here, and the uppermost size does fit my large head comfortably…but if you like to tweak and dial-in your fit, you won’t have as much room here.

Visual Design

Aesthetically, the RIG 400HX sits halfway between an angular gaming headset and a regular pair of headphones. It’s a look that certainly won’t be for everyone’s tastes…even though I personally like it.

The plastic backs of the ear cups have textured grooves cut into them for no readily apparent reason. All I can think about is how hard that must be to precisely manufacture.

The headband is made out of angles and holes.

Color-wise…the HX is black with some light white accents, one orange Plantronics logo, and one green RIG logo. It’s more subtle-looking than the original black-and-gold RIG 400, and I like it.

The weird thing about the look of these is that they scream gaming headset…until you put them on your head. They conform pretty nicely up there and just kind of look like a pair of headphones, and the boom mic is small enough to look discrete even when attached.

I like how Plantronics split the difference here, but it’s also the definition of an acquired taste.

Non-removable cable

The RIG 600 I reviewed recently has a big leg up in the cable department, since you can remove the cable.

No such luck here.

Now, the cable is of a decent quality…but it goes to both ear cups. There is a nice remote and mic mute control at the point where they adjoin. But if you must remove your cable, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Isolation

These don’t isolate as well as some other gaming headsets…though weirdly, they isolate a little better for me than the RIG 600’s did.

But maybe that’s just down to the way each pair fits my personal head.

I didn’t expect that given the leatherette used in the 600’s pad covering…but I think the foam in the 400’s does a lot of the heavy lifting.

Wearing these will give you about 50 percent more isolation than a fully open pair of headphones. You’ll still be aware of your surroundings, but you’ll be isolated enough to enjoy your audio. If you need a fully sealed “cut off from the world” experience…you want to look elsewhere.

These pass my “Acceptable to use when working in public” isolation tests, but just barely.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Plantronics took the already-good RIG 400, changed up the colors, added a nicer headband pad, and put a free Dolby Atmos code in the box.

There’s a version of this branded for PS4 as well (RIG 400HS), but unless you really want the blue accent…the HX version is worth it just for that Atmos code even if you don’t own the right platform. You could give it to a friend with an Xbox or PC.

If you value sound quality, comfort, and mic quality…this is the perfect place to start your budget headset search. It’s better than the other $49 products out there, and competes well even with the higher-priced stuff.

My Other Writing: Medium, Twitter, www.worldbolding.com