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Disclaimer: the sample I received does not need to lớn be returned. You can buy yours from GearBest.com, who was so kind lớn send me the pair I reviewed.
Pros:Great build chất lượng 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
Packaging and AccessoriesKeeping up with the firm’s famous simple packaging, the xiaomi Piston Pro are presented in a cardboard box which contains a transparent plastic box & another, smaller cardboard box. The plastic box holds both the earphones and the eartips (four different sizes, ranging from “XS” to lớn “L”), while the cardboard one contains a tissue bag.
Although simple, packaging is nothing short of premium and far beyond what I’d expect khổng lồ see below 60$.
Design & Comfort
The xiaomi mi Piston Pro are an evolution of the Hybrid Earphones launched during 2015, both in terms of design và sound (which we’ll talk about later). The Piston Pro are very similar lớn the Hybrid: same aluminium housing, same black plastic strain reliefs, similar overall kiến thiết 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 khổng lồ be found, and remote buttons which are now aluminium instead of plastic.
The overall thiết kế is very simple yet refined. The aluminium certainly has a big impact on the general feel of these earphones. The contrast between the đen plastic và cable and the silver aluminium parts makes it polished & nice khổng lồ 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 to see at first, but choosing this position xiaomi mi kept a clean design.
Although I am not very picky when it comes to lớn in-ear headphones comfort, I have lớn say these earphones are absolutely fantastic. I used them several hours a day to lớn 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 lớn 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 xiaomi Piston Pro vì not offer good isolation; this is true regardless of the earplugs used, as I got similar results even using Comply isolation tips & double-flanged RHA tips. Using them to 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 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 lớn block out most of the ambient noise in more silent environments.
The 1.25-m cable has a bit of microphonics, however it is not too distracting và it can be avoided using a clip.
The aforementioned remote hosts three buttons (vol+, play/pause, vol-) & a microphone. The buttons work perfectly on app android devices, while the only one working on quả táo devices is the “play/pause” button. The microphone is good & I could always be easily heard by the person I was on the phone with.
Sound & Specs
I burned in the xiaomi Piston Pro for ~100 hours using an MP3 player with various songs on it. I then plugged them khổng lồ a Zorloo ZuperDAC (connected lớn a PC) when listening khổng lồ them at home, & to a Lenovo Vibe Shot while out và about.
|Xiaomi Piston Pro|
|Frequency response||20 – 40,000 Hz|
The xiaomi Piston Pro follows the footsteps of last year’s Hybrid Earphones by offering a multi-driver thiết lập made by two dynamic drivers & one balanced armature. One dynamic driver is dedicated khổng lồ bass, the other one produces midrange sounds và 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 và warm, full lows from dynamic drivers.
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 và it seems very unlikely that the company would be able lớn use it in low-cost headphones as a “world’s first”. Research on the matter is still ongoing and 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 and 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 and 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 lớn the sound. It lacks depth, as the deepest notes are just hinted at without being thoroughly portrayed. It is otherwise pleasing listen to it, thanks to lớn the fact it is smooth as silk and it sits in just the right spot when it comes lớn quantity – to my ears, of course!
Midrange is relatively upfront and it blends with bass & treble while retaining its own space. It has very well separated low-mids, that do not mess with lows; this results in a decently xuất hiện sound. There is some emphasis on the upper range, so vocals are bright & vivid – female voices are better portrayed than male voices – and mids are generally bright and sparkling. Details are somewhat lacking and tonality is on the warm side.
Treble is extremely articulated, while also being moderately emphasised and with a great extension. The mi Piston Pro can be defined “bright” without any doubt, up to 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 và 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 and 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 and 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 khổng lồ 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 & 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 model 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 and are generally better at resolution & instrument separation. Midrange is also more relaxed và natural. I may say the Piston Pro are more balanced và they can better adapt lớn different genres, while the Hybrid Earphones cater lớn people who prefer a V-shaped sound signature (with all subsequent pros and cons).
Other earphones I can compare the xiaomi 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 khổng lồ detail retrieval, balance and soundstage, but in my opinion they are not better when it comes lớn treble – which I prefer on the Xiaomi.
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 khổng lồ sound this good in the $100-150 price range, not in the sub-$50 range. Not only that, but their balance, their resolution and – last but not least – their comfort is well above what I’d think possible in this price range.
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I am usually not in for superlatives & exaggerations in describing audio products, but this time it’s different. & 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.