Disclaimer: Both the 1More Piston Earbuds & Voice were sent free of charge for this review after 1More approached us.
As a hobbyist reviewer, I’ve had the fortune to meet and interact with many wonderful people throughout the industry. The one thing we seem to all have in common too – is a deep seated passion for music. So when Lieven told me that Leon Zhang had contacted him, and asked if someone wanted to take their new Piston range for a spin, I put my hand up. The one thing I have found is that as long as the passion is there – good things can and do happen in all sorts of price ranges – so I was curious as to what 1More (Xiaomi) were bringing to the table.
SO WHAT IS THE 1MORE BRAND?
1More is a subsidiary brand of the Xiaomi Company in China (more recently known as Mi). Xiaomi was founded in 2010 by entrepreneur Lei Jun – and he had a simple but compelling vision – that high-quality technology shouldn’t have to cost a fortune.
So Jun Lei assembled a group of partners from a multitude of the top global technology companies – and his vision began to take shape. Mi now has multiple product lines spanning smartphones, tablets, televisions, accessories like power banks, and of course audio devices including headphones and earphones.
A lot of people will be very familiar with Xiaomi’s Piston range of earphones – and the earphones I am reviewing today are the result of some of that early development. This time they are branded under Mi’s “1More” brand – the Piston Earbud, and the Piston “Voice” In Ear monitor.
The one thing I really liked when researching their profile was Mi’s company mantra – “Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen”. With this in mind I was looking forward to trying the new Piston range.
PREAMBLE – ‘ABOUT ME’. (or a base-line for interpreting my thoughts and bias)
I generally tend toward headphones that are relatively neutral/balanced, but I have a fondness for clarity, and suspect I might have slight ‘treble-head’ preferences. I am not treble sensitive (at all), and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and DT880.
I have extensively tested myself (abx) and I find aac256 or higher completely transparent. I do use exclusively redbook 16/44.1 if space is not an issue. All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line).
I tend to be skeptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, have never heard a difference with different cables, and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences. I am not a ‘golden eared listener’. I suffer from mild tinnitus, and at 48, my hearing is less than perfect.
For the purposes of this review – I used both of the 1More samples with my iPhone 5S, and Fiio X3ii – mainly to mimic a common use scenario. I also paired the X3ii with the E17K amp to check if amping benefited either earphone.
In the time I have spent with both of the Pistons, I have noticed no change to the overall sonic presentation (break-in), but definitely acknowledge that my familiarity of their signatures has changed over time (brain burn-in). I measured the Piston IEMs when I first got them, and again after some 30 hours of listening in the last 3 weeks. The two graphs showed no significant changes.
This is a purely subjective review – my gear, my ears, and my experience. Please take it all with a grain of salt – especially if it does not match your own experience.
PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES
The Pistons both arrived in the first week of September in a single courier pack.
1More Piston Earbuds
These arrived in an intriguing 75 x 75 x 40mm grey outer box which essentially opens up completely into a cross shape. It has some specifications written in Chinese on the rear, and then each internal flap has instructions and information about the earbuds (again in Chinese). I was however able to get all of the required information from their website.
Inside a white plastic internal bag is a fully metal carry case (in 3 tone pink). It is very solid and ideal for protection. Inside this is 1More’s quite unique storage solution. It is black formed rubber with quite exact forming and internal slots so that the Piston Earbuds can be inserted and the cable wrapped around and neatly tucked inside. It is elegant, simple, and works incredibly well. The base of the rubber formed holding apparatus has a hollow – and the accessory bag was tucked inside this. It simply included 2 pairs of their ear stabilisers. I was genuinely surprised there was no foam covers included as well – but this was no issue for me as I already had some on hand.
1More Piston “Voice” IEMs
The “Voice” IEMs arrived in a more traditional black windowed retail box – measuring approx. 140 x 75 x 32mm. The front is windowed so you can see the IEMs – and the rear has specifications and instructions – again written only in Chinese.
Inside the box is a hard plastic rounded rectangular case 70 x 70 x 30mm, with another moulded rubber insert/winder for storage. Again, this is really well made, and fits the IEM’s perfectly. Underneath the mould is the tip selection – 4 sets of silicone single flange tips.
So for both Pistons – pretty simple and straight forward packaging – which is quite bare bones, but not inadequate. I would have preferred inclusion of foam covers for the earbuds, and some more tip choices for the IEMs, but in my case that is more of a wish than a need.
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