Hardware Review: Nacon RIG 800 PRO Gaming Headset
If you’re a modern gamer, you very likely have or want to have headphones of some variety so you can enjoy your favorite games (and often their music) to their fullest without disturbing others. Particularly in the last decade or two, numerous companies have taken on the challenge of creating a good audio experience from small speakers that is also tailored to a gamer’s somewhat unique needs. Particularly, creating a sense of direction with sound when you only have speakers directly adjacent to your eardums.
Nacon set out to take on that challenge with its RIG line of gaming peripherals by using an already proven tech, Dolby Atmos, to simulate positional audio with stereo headphones. Headsets I’ve owned in the past used their own proprietary methods of doing this. Dolby Atmos (which is also available for simple headphones connected to their line of controllers) means they don’t have to develop their own software to do this and thus will potentially allow for a solid audio experience for less cost.
Having said that, the RIG 800 PRO does MSRP for $149.99, which is pretty comparable to other wireless headsets with similar feature sets, so my overall expectations will be somewhat high. Nacon offers three diffverent versions, all of which are wireless: The HD for PC only, the HX for Xbox One and Series X/S, and the HS for PlayStation 5. All versions work on PC, but the PlayStation version uses PlayStation 3D Audio instead of Dolby Atmos. The HX model was tested for this review.
Fit and Finish
I’ve always found it odd how much goes into the appearance of headsets these days. After all, any headset is almost entirely out of the view of the person using it, and gaming headsets like this are only regularly seen by others when used on live streams or group gaming sessions. Despite that, many companies have gotten really creative with the look of their headsets and they, of course, have hopped aboard the RGB bandwagon as well with colored lighting that, again, the user can’t even see.
Having gone there, I don’t actually have anything against RGB, and the headset I have been using up to the point of doing this review did in fact have RGB. The RIG 800 PRO does not, opting for a basic black (though the HD version features some gold trim) look. If you’re not an RGB fan, this will check that No RGB box with pride.
As a piece of gaming equipment it looks nice without standing out too much, with a strong emphasis on hexagonal shapes and carbon fiber patterns. This headset uses a suspension design to naturally fit most people’s heads, instead of a simple band with earpieces that slide up and down to adjust fit. This is effective and comfortable, though aesthetically I think I prefer the simpler design.
Construction wise, it is on par with other headsets I’ve used in the past. It’s neither flimsy nor built like a tank. It’s not going to break if it somehow falls off your head, though it might if you throw it down in a fit of gamer rage (which I thankfully did not experience one while testing!). The dock on the other hand, despite being something that will generally just sit in one place, feels quite heavy and tough. Overall, no real problems here. The build quality is definitely better than most of the cheaper gaming headsets you’ll find in your big box store.
As I noted, the RIG 800 PRO series are wireless headsets. Typically these are charged by a USB cable, and my experience with these is, odd as it may be, the included USB cable will wear out long before the headset dies from frequent connecting/disconnecting unless you baby it. This headset, however, comes with a docking station which can play host to both the headset and the transceiver unit. Before receiving the review unit, I was actually somewhat concerned about this, since if the dock is required, that would mean you can’t charge the headset and use it at the same time, which might come into play if you game for long periods of time or stream.
The good news is, I discovered upon setting it up that the dock is in fact entirely optional. You can plug the transceiver directly into a USB port, and the headset has a micro USB port on it for charging, which means charging while playing is possible. This is great as some people may prefer the dock and others might not want it so they don’t have to stop playing if the battery gets low.
This brings us to one of the RIG 800 PRO’s biggest claims: an up-to-24-hour battery. If the battery can go the distance, then the dock would be ideal for me since it will always last through a gaming session and I won’t need to fiddle with a USB cable. I decided to fully charge the battery, and then used it without placing it on the dock until the battery was depleted. While I didn’t conduct this scientifically and measure the time of use every time, the device lasted through several gaming sessions ranging from just an hour or two to five or six, over the course of nearly a week without needing to recharge it (I made sure to power it down while not using it).
While I’m not certain if I got exactly 24 hours of use out of it, it certainly lasted far longer than my Corsair VOID Wireless did both when it was new and when I replaced its battery (not fun by the way) with a bigger one. This is probably what impressed me the most about the 800 PRO – the battery longevity combined with the dock made for a hassle free user experience and no being tethered to my PC. There was one minor issue where if you run the battery down very low, it won’t turn on the next time you use it unless you charge it. The Corsair VOID will still turn on after it “dies” and say “battery critical!” so you know it needs charging (and then die again shortly later if you don’t plug it in).
There’s also the voice/game dial, which adjusts audio balance between the game you’re playing and voice communications. While Windows and some games have their own features for this, it’s nice to have if you’re playing a game that doesn’t have a specific setting.
As noted, this headset uses Dolby Atmos. So as long as you have downloaded the Dolby Access app from the Microsoft Store on PC, it will just work. Since the app provides settings for gaming and custom sound equalizer settings, this headset doesn’t need any special software of its own.
It features verbal status messages for battery level, power on/off, and connection status. That last bit – while important to let you know it’s working – can get a bit irritating, since if you get up from your gaming to get a drink or something and walk near the limit of the transceiver’s range (It advertises ten meters/~30 feet, though walls will reduce this), you may end up hearing that female voice say, “Headset connected. Headset not connected. Headset connected. Headset not connected,” over and over. But this is actually better than previous wireless headsets I’ve used, as the voice is coming from the firmware on the headset itself rather than from the PC, which is why it still works when you walk too far away.
Finally, one small minus point I have to give is, somewhat bizarrely, the power button on the headset. You have to hold it down for three full seconds for it to turn on. I actually thought mine was broken at first when it didn’t turn on with a firm press. This button is really not press-able by accident, even if dropped, due to its location and the headset’s shape. A good solid press of less than one full second is all that’s necessary.
Moving on to the audio experience, I have to preface this with one note: I am in no way an audiophile. Despite being a (very) novice musician, my ears are not super attuned to pick up subtle sound quality differences. So I’m probably not the most qualified to evaluate the sound quality.
That out of the way: It sounds really good to me! The RIG 800 PRO is certainly up the task of general audio use, even if you’re not really a gamer. The Dolby Access app provides all the settings you need to tweak the sound, and noise-cancelling earcups will keep things like the fans on your graphics card from annoying you in intense gaming moments.
This is a mid-range headset from an audio quality standpoint. It definitely does not sound cheap; there’s no tininess or obvious audio defects, but its price point is obviously not in bleeding-edge audio perfection territory, and it doesn’t need to be. This is a headset for gaming. As long as the 3D audio simulation does its job to let you determine where sounds are coming from in 3D games, it is doing its job. And I already know it can do this, because it uses Dolby Atmos (I can’t comment on the PlayStation 3D Audio on the SX model, as I don’t own a PlayStation 5), which I already know works. While I’m generally terrible at them, I honestly have to say I feel like this feature improved my ability slightly in FPS games, because it was easier to tell what direction that bleeping sniper is coming from!
Having said that, however, even the most serious of gamers will want to just listen to music sometimes. While this headset is tailored for gaming purposes, it did quite a good job with my music library. The bass in particular is better than I could have expected, pumping out those deep lows like a champ, while not being overpowering. As mentioned though, you can adjust this to your liking like any competent audio device would allow. I wouldn’t mind this being my only way to play music if it came down to it; it sure beats those earbuds that probably came with your phone, something obvious even to my relatively ordinary ears.
The only sound-related weakness to speak of is the microphone. It’s okay, but it’s just okay. It seems to be naturally somewhat loud and the quality didn’t seem quite up to the rest of the device. It is, thankfully, a flexible boom design and I was able to bend it below my mouth instead of in front of it to offset the apparent loudness it had. Maybe the input volume in Windows was too high, but it was fine for my separate studio-style mic I usually use for livestreaming. Ideally I shouldn’t have to change this when switching devices though.
In most respects, the RIG 800 PRO HX was superior to most gaming headsets I’ve used in the past. There is definitely some room for improvement with some small design quirks like the power button’s obnoxiously long press requirement and the mic not seeming quite up to the standards of the rest of the device. It sounds really good though, and sets up easily compared to some other USB headsets with proprietary software. The battery lives up to its impressive claims as well, and for a headset that isn’t at a high-end price point, it sounds very good all-around, whether used for gaming or not.
Overall, Nacon did a good job with the design and it offers a good value for its price. I think they could potentially broaden the RIG 800 PRO’s appeal by offering a “lite” version without the dock at a lower price, since a more budget-minded gamer probably isn’t going to mind the minor hassles of using a cable for charging. That said, the dock was a nicer feature than I could have expected and justifies its place in the package, making it a very recommendable headset with only a few missteps.
~ Final Score: 8/10 ~
Review unit provided by Nacon. Images both courtesy of Nacon and taken by reviewer.