Hardware Review: Nacon RIG 900 MAX HX Gaming Headset

27 Nov 2023

Not too long ago, I covered a then-recently released RIG headset, the 600 PRO HS. One of the cheaper items in the product line, it was pretty good, but a step back from some of their past models. Now, as we approach the holidays, I had the opportunity to look at Nacon’s highest end headset: The 900 MAX HX. It features an equally high end asking price that’s more than double the MSRP of the 600 PRO models, which is quite an ask. However, since this is supposed to be the top end product, let’s just get right down to it have a look and see what exactly you get for your investment.

Max it Out

Before you even take it out of the box, the lengthy feature list is apparent. A number of these features, like the included Dolby Atmos license, are common to the entire RIG headset line. Others, like dual-mode wireless (which lets you use the same wireless headset on different devices easily by using RF on one and Bluetooth on another) are new to this year’s products but not exclusive to the 900 MAX.

The one thing that stands out being exclusive to the MAX is Dolby Atmos’ new personalization feature, which this headset is the first to support. We will get to that in a bit, but first, I want to address what isn’t part of the feature list, because these might (depending on your preferences) be the most important.

One of my critical points on the 600 PRO was that the build quality wasn’t quite as good as some of their past products, with a simple foam pad on the headband and the lightweight (but cheaper-feeling) all-plastic construction, in contrast to the previous year’s 800 PRO feeling more solid and featuring a much more comfortable suspended headband. The 900 MAX brings this back and even improves it, featuring a sturdier metal headband and a less bulky but still pleasant suspension band. While it overall feels lighter than the 800 PRO did, it does feel like it would survive a gamer-rage moment, which may be an important consideration for some of the… well, let’s say more passionate gamers out there.

Where the 600 had a solid, fixed microphone that fit into the device’s housing (which also made it difficult to unfold from it), the MAX offers a folding mic that is outside of the housing which makes it much easier to use.

Overall, from a comfort, feature and fit-and-finish standpoint, the MAX is modestly improved over the 800 PRO, which up to this point has been sitting on my head at the computer for over a year. While that might not quite sound like glowing praise, the 800 was already a very good gaming headset, so the bar for improvement was pretty high already.

There’s also one more feature that isn’t listed: the wireless range. The product messaging doesn’t really cover it, but in RF mode (with the USB dongle), the range is considerably improved over all of Nacon’s past products. I can go almost anywhere in the house without the sound cutting out; no other headset I’ve used comes close. Even the 800 PRO HX I’d been using up to this point would cut out anytime I went to grab a snack, with Headset Lady constantly repeating “Headset not connected” or “Headset connected” anytime I would do so. Range is shorter in Bluetooth mode, though that’s up to the nature of Bluetooth more than anything.

Ear Candy

Before we talk about the sound quality, I would like to preface this with the disclaimer that I am NOT an audiophile. While I do enjoy good music and enjoy it even better when it sounds especially good, I am not invested enough in sound to pour extreme amounts of money into the pursuit of audio perfection. In fact, I’d probably consider the 900 MAX the most I’d probably be willing to spend on a piece of audio equipment (excluding musical instruments…). That being said, for the prices this thing can currently be found at, I think the 900 MAX is an incredible value, because it sounds, to me at least, as good as many headsets and speakers that cost considerably more, thanks to a combination of factors.

Right out of the box and plopped on my head, it just plain sounded the best of any of the multiple RIG headsets I’ve tried up to this point. No tweaks, before enabling Atmos, with my default Windows sound settings, it just sounds better. The bass is solid without being obnoxious, and without drowning out the treble or mid-ranges. That’s a great place to start, and it gets better from here.

The first of those “factors” I referred to is the included Dolby Atmos support. While its primary purpose is spatial sound simulation, I think it makes gaming sound better in general. Atmos provides (through its Dolby Access app) automatic adjustment of equalization and volume based on preference and whether you’re watching movies, playing music, or gaming (where an optional “performance mode” is also offered which prioritizes the accuracy of the spatial sound simulation over quality). You can set the equalization up yourself.

It is worth noting that you can purchase Atmos for use with any set of headphones, but the HX versions of Nacon’s RIG headsets all include Atmos so there is no need to do that. And while Atmos is not specifically unique to this headset, the personalization feature I’m about to describe is, at least at the time of the MAX’s launch.

If you’re willing to forego the privacy concerns of sending data about your face to Dolby, you can improve things slightly further (yes, slightly), because the 900 MAX is the first device to support Dolby Atmos’ new Personalization feature.

What is it? With the help of a phone app, you can have various specific photos of your head and ears taken and it will analyze them to optimize the spatial audio output. This is very similar in concept to what the Immerse Gamepack for FFXIV is supposed to do, but unlike that, this is not game-specific. I gave it a shot and went through the rigamarole of analyzing my head, and the result was… maybe a slight tweaking to the audio equalization. It did sound just a tad bit better in most cases, although when used with some 3D games that don’t use typical perspectives (Diablo IV in particular, with its top-down view), it can make the character dialogue sound more muffled, like the voices are coming from farther away than they should be. Your mileage may vary, of course. It is a neat exclusive feature though, and some people may find it more useful than others. It’s also nice that it can be used with anything, and not just a specific game.

One other positive factor for the audio experience is just the right level of noise cancellation. While it’s better for the quality of sound to eliminate as much outside audio as possible, there is a certain safety factor in being able to hear the outside world just enough. I think the 900 MAX strikes a perfect balance here. Put it on and your gaming or music will dominate over your environment, but not so much that you can’t hear anything else in case you might really need to. Thus it’s far better than basic headphones or ear buds (as well as previous models of the RIG lineup) that do little or nothing to suppress outside noise, but a certain level of safety is maintained.

Lastly, there’s the microphone. Typically I don’t have much to say about this. As long as my voice can be heard, little else matters to me, even as an occasional streamer. Having said that, while I have a minor quibble or two, the recording quality definitely feels higher on the MAX than any previous headset mic I’ve used. This is primarily down to picking up much less background noise, so my voice comes through more cleanly.

As for the quibbles: while the mic boom is much easier to access and move into position than on the RIG 600 PRO I previously reviewed, it is still a solid hunk of plastic. The previous year’s 800 PRO HX, which I’ve been using as my go-to headset ever since, had a flexible mic boom so you can more freely adjust it’s position. I would definitely prefer this style overall, but the 900 MAX’s boom will stay at whatever position you lower it to and is only muted when all the way up, so it’s still very usable, with the 800’s bendiness being a minor perk.

The Finale

The RIG 900 MAX HX lives up to its name quite well, checking off just about all the feature boxes that you can imagine. Once again, I’m really not an audiophile, but it also sounds great; better than any headset in its class that I’ve placed on my head. At the very least, it definitely outperforms the rest of Nacon’s headset line by a noticeable margin. Can you find something better? Probably, but you’ll probably have to spend a lot more on something professional grade to get it. Even then, it’s probably only going to be better for music or production work, rather than gaming.

With the holiday sales fast approaching at the time of this writing, if there’s a gamer in your life that needs a new headset, or even if you just want to treat yourself to a sound upgrade over those basic headphones, I can certainly recommend MAXing it out with the 900 MAX, as it has officially dethroned the RIG 800 PRO’s place over my eardrums

~ Final Score: 9/10 ~

Review unit and product images provided courtesy of Nacon. Screenshot taken by reviewer.