XIAOMI PISTON

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Announced just one month ago, the Xiaomi Piston Pro (also known as the Xiaomi ngươi In-ear Headphones HD) are the new flagship in-ear headphones by Chinese giant Xiaomi. Made in collaboration with 1More, the Piston Pro set a new bar for how good sub-30$ earphones can sound. These are possibly the best in-ear headphones made by Xiaomi to date và one of the best cheap headphones you can buy right now.

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Disclaimer: the sample I received does not need lớn be returned. You can buy yours from GearBest.com, who was so kind to send me the pair I reviewed.

TL;DR: recap

Pros:

Great build unique and nice materials;Superb comfort;Remote with microphone;Relatively neutral sound signature;Highly articulated treble;Affordable price

Cons:

May sound too bright for someIsolation is not great

Rating: 8/10



Packaging & Accessories

Keeping up with the firm’s famous simple packaging, the xiaomi mi Piston Pro are presented in a cardboard box which contains a transparent plastic box và another, smaller cardboard box. The plastic box holds both the earphones and the eartips (four different sizes, ranging from “XS” to “L”), while the cardboard one contains a tissue bag.

Although simple, packaging is nothing short of premium và far beyond what I’d expect to see below 60$.


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Design và Comfort

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The xiaomi Piston Pro are an evolution of the Hybrid Earphones launched during 2015, both in terms of design and sound (which we’ll talk about later). The Piston Pro are very similar to the Hybrid: same aluminium housing, same đen plastic strain reliefs, similar overall design with minor differences (tapering curve radius, aluminium/plastic ratio, strain relief position). There are a few differences, though: the cable is now covered in rubberized plastic, with fabric nowhere lớn be found, và remote buttons which are now aluminium instead of plastic.

The overall design is very simple yet refined. The aluminium certainly has a big impact on the general feel of these earphones. The contrast between the black plastic và cable & the silver aluminium parts makes it polished và nice to see. The shiny finish of the plastic is aesthetically pleasing, but it also means it is a fingerprint magnet. Channel letters (R/L) are a bit hard lớn see at first, but choosing this position xiaomi mi kept a clean design.

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Although I am not very picky when it comes khổng lồ in-ear headphones comfort, I have lớn say these earphones are absolutely fantastic. I used them several hours a day khổng lồ watch recordings of the math class from university & I never felt any fatigue, nor in the ear canal nor in the pinnae. This may not apply khổng lồ everyone, of course, but I feel safe saying xiaomi has done a fantastic work here. They are among the most comfortable in-ear headphones I have ever tried!

Despite being in-ear headphones, the mi Piston Pro bởi not offer good isolation; this is true regardless of the earplugs used, as I got similar results even using Comply isolation tips và double-flanged RHA tips. Using them lớn watch recorded math classes I noticed they aren’t good at excluding sound efficiently: I could easily hear what happened “outside”. That’s especially true with quiet music and video clip content, but it is less noticeable with “louder” music. Using them on public transport you can definitely hear most of the noise, while they are in fact able to block out most of the ambient noise in more silent environments.

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The 1.25-m cable has a bit of microphonics, however it is not too distracting và it can be avoided using a clip.

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The aforementioned remote hosts three buttons (vol+, play/pause, vol-) và a microphone. The buttons work perfectly on app android devices, while the only one working on tiện ích ios devices is the “play/pause” button. The microphone is good và I could always be easily heard by the person I was on the phone with.

Sound & Specs

I burned in the mi Piston Pro for ~100 hours using an MP3 player with various songs on it. I then plugged them to a Zorloo ZuperDAC (connected lớn a PC) when listening to them at home, và to a Lenovo Vibe Shot while out & about.

Xiaomi Piston Pro
Frequency response20 – 40,000 Hz
Impedance32 Ω
Sensitivity98 dB

The xiaomi Piston Pro follows the footsteps of last year’s Hybrid Earphones by offering a multi-driver setup made by two dynamic drivers và one balanced armature. One dynamic driver is dedicated to lớn bass, the other one produces midrange sounds & the balanced armature takes care of treble. This allows Xiaomi to lớn reap the benefits of both driver types: crip, detailed treble from balanced armatures & warm, full lows from dynamic drivers.

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The company claims the diaphragm of the dual dynamic driver is made of graphene, but that seems highly improbable – graphene is still confined in high-tech labs and it seems very unlikely that the company would be able to use it in low-cost headphones as a “world’s first”. Research on the matter is still ongoing & we are years away from a widespread commercial release.

Instrument separation is among the biggest features of these earphones, as it is incredible in this price range. Soundstage is not very wide và this also influences the stereo imaging; if I had to lớn say which elements reveal these are low-end earphones, I would point at these two.

Bass is tight và well controlled, with very nice texture & decay. It is just shy of neutral, with just a bit of emphasis on the mid-lows that adds a bit of warmth to lớn the sound. It lacks depth, as the deepest notes are just hinted at without being thoroughly portrayed. It is otherwise pleasing listen khổng lồ it, thanks khổng lồ the fact it is smooth as silk và it sits in just the right spot when it comes khổng lồ quantity – khổng lồ my ears, of course!

Midrange is relatively upfront và it blends with bass và treble while retaining its own space. It has very well separated low-mids, that vày not mess with lows; this results in a decently xuất hiện sound. There is some emphasis on the upper range, so vocals are bright and vivid – female voices are better portrayed than male voices – and mids are generally bright và sparkling. Details are somewhat lacking & tonality is on the warm side.

Treble is extremely articulated, while also being moderately emphasised và with a great extension. The mi Piston Pro can be defined “bright” without any doubt, up lớn the point of being sharp, but this means it also offers lots of details in the upper frequency range. This creates a sound signatures that takes a bit of time khổng lồ grow on you, but it turns out to be extremely rewarding in my opinion. Treble-sensitive people may find it excessive & fatiguing, especially during longer listening sessions.

In short, I would say that the Piston Pro have an analytical treble. This also means that it is well separated from the rest of the sound, allowing you to lớn better focus on it và catch every nuance. While detail is not extreme, it is well beyond what most sub-$100 in-ear headphones offer. Higher frequencies are often overshadowed by mids & lows in consumer headphones, so I think it is especially nice to lớn be able to lớn clearly hear them in the forefront using the Piston Pro. That is up to one’s taste, of course, but this is a different take on music than what most headphones offer.

While most people describe these as having a V-shaped sound signature, I think bass is not emphasized, even when compared lớn slightly V-shaped headphones such as the 1More EO323 or the Meze 11 Neo. If there is emphasis, then it is very slight. Of course this may be because of differences in how each person perceives sounds, but if this is V-shaped, then it’s very high quality.

I found the xiaomi mi Piston Pro pleasing when listening khổng lồ jazz, folk/celtic music (i.e. Empyrium, Ulver, Vàli, Nest, Faun…), electronic music and rock. Truth be told, I did not find any genre they were not capable of playing with discrete results, as even modern genres sound nice. Those wishing for a more impactful sound may prefer V-shaped sound signatures, though.

Comparison with the Hybrid Earphones is inevitable and yields unexpected results. 2015’s mã sản phẩm is in fact less balanced & has way more bass, but it also offers more spatiality and better stereo imaging. The Piston Pro are better at delivering high frequencies & are generally better at resolution & instrument separation. Midrange is also more relaxed & natural. I may say the Piston Pro are more balanced và they can better adapt to different genres, while the Hybrid Earphones cater to people who prefer a V-shaped sound signature (with all subsequent pros and cons).

Other earphones I can compare the xiaomi mi Piston Pro khổng lồ are:

RHA MA750i: RHA’s lowest-priced Hi-Res certified headphones are an overall better alternative thanks to lớn their response being more neutral. They are a better alternative when it comes lớn detail retrieval, balance and soundstage, but in my opinion they are not better when it comes lớn treble – which I prefer on the Xiaomi.

Final Thoughts

The title may seem overstated, but I really think that xiaomi mi has nailed it with the Piston Pro. I would expect in-ear headphones to lớn sound this good in the $100-150 price range, not in the sub-$50 range. Not only that, but their balance, their resolution & – last but not least – their comfort is well above what I’d think possible in this price range.

I am usually not in for superlatives & exaggerations in describing audio products, but this time it’s different. Và it is because you can have a glimpse of what “superior” audio means spending just $40. That’s why I heartily recommend buying these earphones if you are on the market for a cheap albeit good-sounding product. You won’t regret it.