The $50 Plantronics RIG 400 is My New Favorite Headphone
A budget headset flew in out of nowhere to become my *Shudder* Daily Driver.
If you’ve been following me online recently, you’ll notice that I went through a whole spate of reviewing gaming headsets instead of “standard” headphones.
I’m not done either! Before the end of the year, I have plans to look at the HyperX Cloud Alpha, the Razer Thresher Ultimate(if I can find one), and the new RIG 800 wireless model, among others.
I’m not done with regular headphones, but I’m on a real headset kick right now.
For years now, the prevailing opinion in the headphone listening community regarding headsets is that they are stupid and you should instead pair regular headphones with a dedicated mic.
Well, I think that opinion is stupid. Because they’re all the same damn thing.
THERE’S *NO* DIFFERENCE OUTSIDE MARKETING
Gaming headsets sometimes look a little angular and garish, I’ll grant you.
But they’re totally just headphones. With microphones attached to them.
And it’s not always true that you’ll spend less money if you buy these things separately.
Case-in-point: The Plantronics RIG 400 headset.
Yes, it looks a little bit angular and weird. But it has so many qualities that I love.
I’m a regular, daily headphone user. I use them at home, and at a coffee shop where I write these articles when I’m not doing my “real” job in radio/audio production. I want something that sounds good and is super comfy…and I hate to spend too much money.
The RIG 400 packs an incredibly balanced sound, a super comfy fit, light weight, replaceable modular parts, and a totally decent microphone into a box that costs $50.
I’ve loved way more expensive headphones in the past. And I still love a bunch of them. The Sony MDR-V6/7506 is a classic studio headphone I still use weekly. The DT770 is one of the best headphones I’ve ever heard. The M50X is a love-it-or-hate-it icon. The Bose QC35 has noise cancelling that is still impressive to this day. The Logitech G line packs incredible new driver technology into affordable packages.
But none of them come anywhere close to costing just $50. And that cheap price makes me feel much more comfy with carrying them around.
PRICE IS OFTEN EVERYTHING
I know that the audiophile community likes to chase the dream. It’s fun to get sucked into the endless rabbit hole of looking for better audio quality and better headphones.
I’ve done this for years now. Which is a little weird to think about. It’s weirdly compelling…but only for a small hardcore userbase.
The average consumer doesn’t do this. Most people either want a pair of Beats so that they can look cool and have a certain feature set, or they just want something cheap that still sounds good.
I think that’s why companies like HyperX and Plantronics have had such dramatic success in the gaming space.
For as much as I enjoy the audio performance of some DT 770’s or Sennheiser gear…I could totally do everything I need to do with these $50 headphones that were made for gaming. I’m not joking. These are perfect for writing remotely, doing critical listening, and even basic recording. And of course, for gaming.
They’re not “top-of-the-line,” but they’re close enough in every way that matters, even for a picky person like me.
And that’s a perspective I try to carry with me, both in my life, and as I write these reviews. It’s why I self-fund every headphone review, and why I try to only focus on products I’m genuinely personally interested in. I want my content to reflect how I really feel on a day-to-day-basis, and not be too clouded by hype, marketing, and unnecessary bulk that’s designed to sell me stuff.
I don’t always achieve this, but I try.
Have you found any budget headsets or headphones you think are awesome? Please let me know in a reply so I can take a look at them!
A FOOTNOTE ABOUT THE SHUDDER IN THE SUBTITLE
I don’t like using the term “Daily Driver.”
Not one bit.
It came from the car world, and now it’s all over the tech world too. I get why it’s useful and what it means…it just makes me feel like a horrible person every time I say it.
The fact that I have the chance to choose from a small pile of headphones every time I go out to write means that I’m in a position that’s not necessarily representative of the average person. And I want to keep that in mind.
I’m firmly in the lowest possible rung of the middle class. By many metrics in fact, I’m technically unemployed. All of the work I do get paid for is on a contract basis, because I do voice work and writing work on a project by project basis. So I promise you that I’m nowhere close to rolling in dough, and that I’m firmly aware of what a daily hustle is like.
The term “daily driver” has weird elitism to it, and I wish that we could do away with it altogether in spite of its utility.
Maybe I should write more about this.