I’ve struggled a lot with this one! I’m sure the folks who sent me this gear noticed (sorry!). I didn’t quite realize what it takes upstairs to forge an opinion on things like audio and equipment when you don’t speak the right language. You can tell from this interview when I totally overshot the distinction between “competitive” and “professional.” That said, after spending several weeks with RIG and NACON’s competition-oriented headset and controller, I’ve come to an odd relationship with these devices. They're both an essential part of my work setup now, even with some of the little quirks involved.

NACON RIG PRO Compact Controller and 500 PR Gen 2 Headset

The PRO Compact controller is… weird! It’s smaller than a “normal” Xbox controller, and while everything is bunched together slightly as you’d expect, the handles don’t adapt well. If I hold the controller the way I hold other controllers (only index fingers up in the trigger/bumper space) it gets really uncomfortable. But if I put the extra finger up there it molds almost perfectly to my hand. So while using the PRO Compact I’ve actually adapted to a new (for me) way to hold a controller. Is that intentional? Is that what makes it “competitive?” It certainly seems more efficient for games that have you using all four top buttons often.

That said, while the controller’s shape contours well with my hand in that specific grip style, that doesn’t mean it’s comfortable. There’s a grip texture on the entire back of the shell, and I’ve found my ring fingers rubbing up against it quite a bit. In longer sessions even despite trying to be more aware of that, I’ve come away from playing with some uncomfortable friction on that spot. It also seems to retain human hand residue much more aggressively than, say, a DualSense.

Look, I take care of myself and clean my controllers when they start to, you know, need it. But this thing got… significantly less white in an alarmingly short time. Cleaning it wasn’t an issue, but it seems like I’ll be cleaning it more often for the sake of my reputation. Or get some Gamer Goo… yeah I’ll just clean it.

Related: Interview: RIG’s Peter Petrides Tells Us Why the PRO Compact Controller and 500 Pro Gen 2 Headset are Competition-Level Gadgets

For me, there are two standout features. First, the cord. The Pro Compact is a wired controller, therefore it needs a direct connection. This controller’s cord is long, encased in cloth, and even has a breakaway point for easier travel. I have to watch out for my finger skin, but can sit however the heck I want! The second feature is the marquee selling point in my opinion - built-in Dolby Atmos.

If you’re getting into 3D audio for the first time or just want an easy way to have it, this controller comes with a permanent Dolby Atmos license out of the box. I didn’t even need to redeem a code! Just plug a compatible headset in the jack and boom, Atmos. Considering that’s a purchase you have to make otherwise, that’s a pretty incredible bang for your buck. There’s also bespoke software for the controller on the Xbox marketplace, which has so many different tweaking options I’m pretty sure I could turn the Pro Compact into a can opener if I tinkered long enough.

So there are some comfort issues with the PRO Compact, or potential ones. Hand sizes vary all around, but if you’re looking for a new controller with cool features, bear in mind that you may have to adjust to its shape and size. Other than that, this is a totally great piece of third-party equipment that has an ahead of the curve pack-in software. It arrived with perfect timing with the new-gen consoles as well.

Sort of the inverse, I can’t think of a single bad thing to say about the 500 Pro Gen 2 headset. Except for the Atmos situation! This is probably the most comfortable headset I’ve ever put on my head parts ever. To be fair I’ve never dropped a bazillion dollars or Beats or Sennheisers or what have you, but man. I can wear this thing with my large, plasticy nerd glasses and not feel the same kind of eventual discomfort during long sessions.

As noted in the interview, RIG strives to use as few parts as possible for these headsets. That makes them incredibly light, but the plastic piece holding everything together is both flexible and sturdy. For comfort there’s a small, stretchy cable encased in a thin padding, which will contort itself as you adjust the whole device. The actual headphone coverings also use a combination of leather-like material and cloth, with the perfect amount of give while still doing its job. It’s the most comfortable goddamn thing I’ve ever put on my head.

Otherwise, this headset is nice and straightforward. Headphone jack, volume slider, conveniently detachable microphone. The only weird thing is the Atmos inclusion, which seems to be a big part of the whole package for either of these devices. It comes with a code that’s good for two years, so eventually in regular circumstances you’ll end up having to pay for it anyway. With the PRO Compact you can just plug it in and not even think about it, presumably as long as Atmos is a thing.

My solution has become, whether or not I’m actively using the controller, to keep the 500 Pro Gen 2 plugged into it instead of my PC. Somewhat inelegant, definitely privileged. So if your headset upgrade involves planned use of 3D audio, that’s a point to keep in mind. Of course, with the PRO Compact’s massive cord, I can adjust how I have that tied up as needed and not even know it’s there if I’m not playing a game.

This is a lot of words that can be summed up pretty succinctly. The PRO Compact controller and RIG Pro Gen 2 headset are extremely high quality. Not only is the headset unbelievably comfortable, its 3D audio compatibility is just as advertised. The time-limited Atmos code is weird, but only because the PRO Compact controller doesn’t have one. That said, aside from some comfort issues with my own hands the PRO Compact is a feature-rich controller that is clearly designed for fingerly efficiency. If you need a 3D-compatible headset or a new wired controller, these items are definitely worthwhile. The fact that they pair so well together is an unexpected plus as well!

These devices were provided by the manufacturer for coverage