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TECH REVIEW | Plantronics RIG Vs. Kingston HyperX Cloud

By
Posted on May 19, 2014 AT 05:58am

Nowadays a hundred dollars can go a long way when it comes to good gaming peripherals. For years we’ve had to spend hundreds of dollars for a decent headset to play our titles and speak to our fellow players. Last October the folks over at Plantronics unleashed the RIG, a gaming headset that also works to multitask between your games and your mobile devices. This past month, however, Kingston Technologies released their very first headset known as the HyperX Cloud, which promotes itself with the concept of gaming in comfort. Which of these two headsets seems the most worthwhile? Let’s being the testing…

THE LOOK:

Both headsets are large in appearance, but are fortunately light enough for those who like to game when they travel (especially for those pro gamers out there). Figuring out which way to wear the headsets will only take a second to figure out, as the setup of both the RIG and Cloud have easy tells as to which earbud is which. On the RIG the letter “R” appears on a tag to coincide with the right ear piece, whereas the Cloud’s mic jack appears on the left side to show that this is where the left ear goes. The RIG’s ear cushions and headband are made from a soft cloth material, whereas the Cloud is made from a memory foamed-based leather material.

COMFORT ZONE:

I’m amazed that it’s taken a good amount of time for headset makers to create ear cushions that feel comfortable to wear, and what both Plantronics and Kingston have done with their headsets should become the standard of ear cushion comfortability. Even as I wear my GameCom Commander (another headset from Plantronics) I still feel the pressure of the cushions being pushed down, leaving red marks all along my ears after I’m done wearing them. With both the RIG and the Cloud, however, the cushions cup around the ear to avoid any sort of pressure on either side. The question remains, though: which is the most comfortable of the two?

Kingston’s HyperX Cloud has a much bigger advantage thanks to its memory foam technology. When wearing the Cloud both my ears and the top of my head are nicely snug between the headset, with the memory foam cushioning any sort of heaviness that may come from wearing a headset like this for a set amount of time. While the Plantronics RIG is definitely comfortable around the ears it’s the headband area that shows the design’s weakness. After roughly half an hour I start to feel the headset pushing down on the top of my head, forcing me to either take a short breather or readjust it so I can feel comfortable wearing it. It’s still pretty comfortable, mind you, but the Cloud takes the concept of “feeling like you’re wearing nothing” to the next level more-so than the RIG does.

ASSEMBLY:

I was a little taken aback when I opened the box to the HyperX Cloud, only to discover there were no set of directions to be found anywhere. With that being said figuring out how to piece it together takes only a couple minutes. Attaching the mic takes one click, and piecing the mic and headphone jacks to either extend their reach or use the remote volume control takes only a couple seconds to assemble. Unfortunately there is a downside to its audio/mic jacks: the lack of a USB adapter, as my Mac does not have a regular mic jack. If you can find a good mic/headphone jack-to-USB connect (which there are plenty of) then you’ll have no problem whatsoever with using the Cloud on a Mac. (Having a USB adapter also lets you use the Cloud on the PS4.) There is also one bonus little adapter that I haven’t seen often in headsets: an airplane plug for when you are listening to audio from whichever flight you are on, meaning no need to waster a couple bucks on some poor quality headphones that won’t work anyplace else.

It’s a good thing that the RIG comes with instructions, as there are a lot of parts to the headset. As it’s designed for the PC, Mac, PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, and mobile devices the RIG comes with special attachments for each of these systems. It even comes with two kinds of microphones: the boom one for gaming and an in-line setup for your mobile. The headset then connects to the RIG Mixer, which is where you’ll fine-tune the audio for when you both game and have to take a call in-between, which is then in return connected to whichever console/computer you are using at the time. There is also an Xbox Live chat cable that plugs into the 360 controller. While reading the instructions I came across a part that mentioned the requirement of either an optical cable or, for those with HD TVs, an AV HDMI adapter. Nowhere on the box does it mention these items are sold separately, which may lead to some very frustrated gamers who lack these items. However as an alternative you can use either the audio output option or a headphone jack if your TV has one, which will work no problem at all. Still, if there’s something that’s not included that players may need, it should be mentioned on the box. (The same goes for the HyperX Cloud regarding a USB adapter.)

SOUND QUALITY:

Both the RIG and the Cloud showcase great sound quality blaring through the ear pieces. Whether it’s hearing the sounds of bullets whizzing by in either Spec Ops: The Line or Killzone Shadow Fall or listening to music on your iPod or stereo system what comes out of both headsets will have you feel like you are one with what it is you’re listening. However the RIG has the advantage with being able to give you more game sound and less game chat, or vice versa. There’s also the ability to balance the game sound with the audio from your cell phone, thereby not having to worry about missing a beat from your game while you chat with your friends and family. The audio quality from a received call also comes in pretty clear, but you’ll need to set your phone’s volume to near-high volumes to fully hear it.

Audio Test (From top-to-bottom: MacBook Pro standard built-in mic, Blue Yeti Microphone, Plantronics RIG, Kingston HyperX Cloud)

MIC CHECK:

So if both headsets sound great, how well do they make you sound? For this test I recorded myself performing Edgar Allen Poe’s classic poem “A Dream within a Dream” on four different microphones: the built-in mic from a standard MacBook Pro, the Yeti from Blue Microphones, the boom mic attachment for the Plantronics RIG, and the one from the Kingston HyperX Cloud. All four microphones were set on their highest volumes to ensure the best possible capture. As you can see from the picture above even with the microphone turned all the way up the audio that comes out of the Plantronics RIG is very low.

On the other hand the microphone from the Cloud captured my voice very well, almost as good as the Yeti does. However there are issues with audio clipping and lacking of a filter, meaning it can sometimes come in a bit too loud if you don’t adjust the volume to a lower setting. Still when it comes to gaming I’d prefer to come in loud on the HyperX Cloud instead of trying to be heard on the Plantronics RIG. Below you can hear the audio from all four readings so you can compare the quality yourself:

TRAVEL-FRIENDLY OR NOT:

When on the go there are pros and cons to having either the HyperX Cloud or the RIG. As the RIG has a lot of peripherals that come with it I was very surprised to see that it didn’t come with its own case to store everything in a neat little package. I worry that without something like this I could easily lose a valid component to the RIG, which may be hard to replace in the long run. The Cloud, on the other hand, does come with its own carrying case, but it’s on the light side and not recommended for placement in something like a suitcase (backpack may be fine, though). The RIG has a neat little trick for those on the go and needing a moment to take the headphones off: the earbuds can turn sideways so they can rest on your chest with much comfort around your neck. Sadly the Cloud’s ear cushions are stationary, meaning when you slide them off your ears and onto your neck they’ll be squeezing your left and right side.

GETTING WHAT YOU PAID FOR:

Both the Plantronics RIG and the Kingston HyperX Cloud go for $100 in most stores, with one trading in one quality for another. From the Plantronics’ perspective they are giving you a headset that helps you to multitask both your gaming and social activities, something that the RIG does very well. Kingston, on the other hand, decided on a route lacking real bells and whistles, and instead delivered on a headset that built to high quality in both comfort and audibility.

Plantronics RIG (left) and Kingston HyperX Cloud (right)

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Depending on what kind of gamer you are both the Plantronics RIG and the Kingston HyperX Cloud deliver on big quality when it comes to what you hear around you in a game. While the RIG performs wonders when it comes to being able to multitask, it faults on having a subpar mic and a headband that — while comfortable — does start to feel heavy after only a short amount of time. The HyperX Cloud, however, is all about playing a video game with a luxurious feeling, and while it may not be compatible to as many consoles as the RIG it makes up for those shortcomings by being a much-better fit for those lengthier play sessions. In short: if you are all about performing multiple tasks then the RIG is a good fit for you; but if you want to feel the most comfortable while gaming then go for the Cloud.

FINAL GRADES:

Plantronics RIG: 7.8 (out of ten)
Kingston HyperX Cloud: 8.5 (out of ten)

Review units for both headsets provided by Plantronics and Kingston Technology

Evan Bourgault is an accomplished music, anime, and video game critic. His passion for discovering new bands, developers, and Japanese pop culture began in his college radio days and continues on today. Evan joined the ElectricSistaHood team in 2008, where he is a contributing editor and host of one of the network's weekly podcasts. Follow Evan on Twitter at twitter.com/King_Baby_Duck




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