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Announced just one month ago, the Xiaomày Piston Pro (also known as the Xiaongươi Mi In-ear Headphones HD) are the new flagship in-ear headphones by Chinese giant Xiaomày. Made in collaboration with 1More, the Piston Pro mix a new bar for how good sub-30$ earphones can sound. These are possibly the best in-ear headphones made by Xiaomày lớn 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 to lớn be returned. You can buy yours from GearBest.com, who was so kind khổng lồ skết thúc me the pair I reviewed.

TL;DR: recap

Pros:

Great build chất lượng và 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 and Accessories

Keeping up with the firm’s famous simple packaging, the Xiaongươi 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 và 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 & far beyond what I’d expect to lớn see below 60$.


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Design và Comfort

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The Xiaomày Piston Pro are an evolution of the Hybrid Earphones launched during năm ngoái, both in terms of thiết kế and sound (which we’ll talk about later). The Piston Pro are very similar lớn the Hybrid: same aluminium housing, same blaông xã plastic strain reliefs, similar overall thiết kế with minor differences (tapering curve sầu 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, và remote buttons which are now aluminium instead of plastic.

The overall kiến thiết is very simple yet refined. The aluminium certainly has a big impact on the general feel of these earphones. The contrast between the blaông chồng plastic & cable & the silver aluminium parts makes it polished and nice lớn 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 kept a clean design.

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Although I am not very picky when it comes to in-ear headphones comfort, I have khổng lồ say these earphones are absolutely fantastic. I used them several hours a day to watch recordings of the math class from university and 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 aao ước the most comfortable in-ear headphones I have sầu ever tried!

Despite being in-ear headphones, the Xiaongươi Piston Pro vị 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 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 khổng lồ blochồng 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 and it can be avoided using a clip.

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The aforementioned remote hosts three buttons (vol+, play/pause, vol-) and a microphone. The buttons work perfectly on Android devices, while the only one working on 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 Xiaongươi Piston Pro for ~100 hours using an MP3 player with various songs on it. I then plugged them lớn a Zorloo ZuperDAC (connected to a PC) when listening khổng lồ them at home page, and khổng lồ a Lenovo Vibe Shot while out và about.

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

The Xiaongươi 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 lớn bass, the other one produces midrange sounds & the balanced armature takes care of treble. This allows Xiaomi lớn reap the benefits of both driver types: crip, detailed treble from balanced armatures and 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 & 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 mỏi 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 say which elements reveal these are low-kết thúc earphones, I would point at these two.

Bass is tight và well controlled, with very nice texture and 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 lớn it, thanks khổng lồ 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 & it blends with bass và treble while retaining its own space. It has very well separated low-mids, that bởi not mess with lows; this results in a decently open sound. There is some emphasis on the upper range, so vocals are bright and vivid – female voices are better portrayed than male voices – và mids are generally bright & sparkling. Details are somewhat lacking & tonality is on the warm side.

Treble is extremely articulated, while also being moderately emphasised and with a great extension. The Xiaomi Piston Pro can be defined “bright” without any doubt, up to 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 to lớn grow on you, but it turns out to lớn be extremely rewarding in my opinion. Treble-sensitive sầu people may find it excessive & fatiguing, especially during longer listening sessions.

In short, I would say that the Piston Pro have sầu an analytical treble. This also means that it is well separated from the rest of the sound, allowing you to better focus on it & 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 lớn be able to lớn clearly hear them in the forefront using the Piston Pro. That is up khổng lồ 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 chất lượng.

I found the Xiaongươi Piston Pro pleasing when listening lớn 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 Mã Sản Phẩm is in fact less balanced and has way more bass, but it also offers more spatiality & better stereo imaging. The Piston Pro are better at delivering high frequencies & are generally better at resolution và instrument separation. Midrange is also more relaxed và natural. I may say the Piston Pro are more balanced và they can better adapt khổng lồ different genres, while the Hybrid Earphones cater khổng lồ people who prefer a V-shaped sound signature (with all subsequent pros và cons).

Other earphones I can compare the Xiaomày Piston Pro lớn are:

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

Final Thoughts

The title may seem overstated, but I really think that Xiaomi 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 & – 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. And it is because you can have sầu 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 hàng hóa. You won’t regret it.