Review: 1More Piston Earbuds & Voice

Disclaimer: Both the 1More Piston Earbuds & Voice were sent free of charge for this review after 1More approached us.

INTRODUCTION

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.

THE REVIEW

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.

It continues after the click HERE or below

Review: 1More Piston Earbuds & Voice
3.5 (70%) 28 votes

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Paul is a Kiwi from Down Under (New Zealand) and spends his time selling Lamb by day, and playing round with audio gear by night. He's a self confessed music junkie, with wide musical tastes and a penchant for female vocalists. He is not a golden eared listener, prefers to review armed with an SPL meter and objective measurements, and does his best to balance objectivity and subjectivity. Mostly though, he can be found with headphones on his head, and a smile on his face - lost in the moment.

    26 Comments

    • Reply October 27, 2015

      dalethorn

      I just bought the 1More Earbuds, so I can see how far off the neutral scale they are. I expect them to be better than the Apple Earbuds. Here are curves I did on the Apple Earbuds and Earpods (cable-controls versions), and the fascinating things is, in spite of the huge bass boost I did with the earbuds, there is no distortion or bleed etc. at strong volumes. It makes me think they have a low-cut filter:

      http://dalethorn.com/Photos/Audioforge/Apple_Earbuds.jpg
      http://dalethorn.com/Photos/Audioforge/Apple_Earpods.jpg

      • Reply November 1, 2015

        dalethorn

        The 1More earbuds are worse than the Apple earbuds.

        • Reply November 1, 2015

          Iulian Cioarca

          Can you please explain what the graphs/dots mean?Thank you very much!

          • Reply November 2, 2015

            dalethorn

            The green line is the actual EQ applied by the equalizer. The EQ curve is the frequency response upside down. Neither the frequency response nor the EQ curve are exact to anything, but should give you an approximation of where the sound has a major deviation from neutral.

            • Reply November 2, 2015

              Iulian Cioarca

              Ok. i suspect the actual freq response is derived from the step response and the postprocesed for equalization. I am intrigued by the steep rolloff of the bass and the hump in midbass.this is typical behavior of a stiff suspension and high spl.i ordered these earphones and I am planning to add a little bit of mass on the diaphragm

              • Reply November 2, 2015

                dalethorn

                I don’t have the in-ear IEM, just the earbuds. There are many earbuds on the market, and some of them have actual bass. There cannot be a “hump” in this earbud, as it has essentially no bass at all.

                • Reply November 6, 2015

                  Iulian Cioarca

                  I am still waiting for them to arrive. I will give them a try with the eq curve you provided and reply with my feedback.

                  • Reply November 6, 2015

                    dalethorn

                    If the sound isn’t lively enough with the big recess I did in the treble, try raising that value a little.

                    • Reply November 8, 2015

                      Iulian Cioarca

                      I finally received the 1more earbuds and tested them. First of all I want to thank you for the advice with equalizer curve. It worked great! Indeed if you listen to then out of the box they sound strange in the mids, I found them fatiguing. After applying the eq they are much more enjoyable,the soundstage is large and voices and instruments sound pretty natural. Guitar notes are precise, drums sound good too, they are punchy without slam. Speaking of slam and deep bass, no matter what I tried I could not improve the subbass. I cannot recommend these earbuds for someone who listens to heavy bass music, but I would definitely recommend them for casual listeners who want to enjoy music on the run. Musicality(if there is such term to describe headphones) combined with good looks, sturdiness and a good price make them a good choice,especially for people who cannot withstand that type of earphones that need to be pushed inside the ear canal.

                      • November 8, 2015

                        dalethorn

                        It’s a very interesting earbud. The build quality looks fantastic, the drivers take a lot of power, but the bass is essentially missing. Yet there are other earbuds (outer ear, not ear-canal types) that don’t look anywhere near the 1More quality that do have useable bass.

                      • November 9, 2015

                        Iulian Cioarca

                        Update for diy-ers. I took them apart to see the drivers. They have a very nice (rubber?) surround and the excursion is immense. This makes me think you need a lot of power to drive them. There is also an interesing dome on the middile of the diaphram(as shown in the exploded view on the official site) After listening them carefully you can tell the bass is there, and it is very precise, but dry, which made me think the motor is very strong(high sensitivity as well). After taking them apart i could tell the magnet was indeed strong. So I set up and did a bit of tinkering on them, by adding on each speaker a small copper ring(didn’t bother to measure the weight, it is just 0.5mm diam). The mids and highs were turned down and the bass was revealed. This time, the bass is punchy and strong and makes the soundstage more balanced. For me, this is definitely an improvement. I am currently testing different rings(because the 0.5mm one seemed a bit heavy and took away too much of the liveliness). This is an experiment. If you want to proceed do it with caution and patience. And steady hands.

              • Reply November 6, 2015

                dalethorn

                Update: If you ignore the deep bass, the EQ curve I did on the $20 earbuds produces a fantastic quality sound with enjoyable warmth. Really.

        • Reply November 6, 2015

          Brooko

          Yep.

    • Reply November 4, 2015

      dalethorn

      “…while I could improve the Piston earbuds, nothing I could do would really make them overly enjoyable. And for $20 it’s not like you’re going to spend a lot of time….”

      Actually I was surprised by what I got with my EQ of the earbuds. The end result was better than Apple’s earbuds, although the Apple Earbuds EQ was less radical. Using the iPhone 6-plus, with or without the Oppo HA-2, the soundstage is large and realistic, and the overall smoothness and musicality is excellent. But of course there is no bass ‘punch’ or ‘slam’, although most of my music that’s noted for bass sounds surprisingly good.

      • Reply November 6, 2015

        Brooko

        Don’t know if you’ve had the chance to try the Monk or Zen from VE Dale – but I’d recommend giving either a try. Looks like you spent quite a bit of time EQing these. I’d suggest most people won’t know where to start – and so they’ll be judging on OOTB sound. But even applying EQ – I didn’t like them. I’d take the Apple Earpods any day.

        • Reply November 6, 2015

          dalethorn

          Yes, radical EQ may make enjoyable, but some things will be missing that way. I tried an Edifier P180 earbud and it at least had bass and a good fit, so I’d recommend it for EQ’ers. I’m not going to put real money into a Zen, and the Monk – dunno – looks too cheap. Anyway, it’s just for fun – better things like the DT-1770 are on the way.

          • Reply November 6, 2015

            Brooko

            Don’t be fooled by the generic looks of the Monk. For $5 it could be the best value for money earbud on the market today. Sounds more like a full sized headphone than an earbud.

            • Reply November 6, 2015

              dalethorn

              Ha! (that’s what scares me). Explanation by analogy: A famous guy had some friends over for dinner. Those guys were working on the SDI/”Star Wars” project for the Reagan govt. The SDI guys told their host that they had just discovered that their project wasn’t space vehicles, it was an Earth penetrator. They said they felt like they’d been on KP for the past 6 years.

            • Reply March 13, 2018

              dale thorn

              Better late than never (or not) — anyway, I got several Monks and Monk-plus earbuds, and if I can deal with the tiny earpads, they are much easier to EQ that way, since they have a more even response with the pads on. Unfortunately, the pads are extremely difficult for me to work with, and they’re not completely consistent. Apple’s earpods have better potential, particularly in the bass where they have real impact when EQ’d.

              • Reply April 26, 2018

                Banagher Links

                What about the high,mid & soundstage?does 1more earbud better than Ve monk+?

                • Reply April 26, 2018

                  dale thorn

                  The 1More and Monk (and Monk-Plus) earbuds are so different there’s no easy comparison. I will say that the Monk and Monk Plus give a nice mid-fi sound if you can get the earpads on without tearing them. But you’ll have no deep bass and the highs will be soft. I left the earpads off and EQ’d them to get a better high-end sound, but the bass is even thinner that way, since the earpads are needed for the best bass (and the best bass isn’t very good).

                  I never tried earlads on the 1more Piston, I just EQ’d them, so I can’t be sure how they would compare. I liked the metal construction of the Piston much better than the cheap plastic of the Monk, but that’s probably not relevant to the sound. In any case, I wouldn’t use any of these for serious listening, and not at all outdoors since there’s no isolation.

    • Reply January 15, 2017

      Ghele Marlay

      Which the better 1More Voice of China Vs Mi Iv Hybrid Dual-drivers ?

    • Reply March 18, 2017

      Mukesh Sharma

      Never Buy 1More EarPhones they have worst customer service and quality too. My earphone stopped working in 1week itself from right ear sound is coming too high and from left ear too Low . I asked them to pickup and replace and it’s been 2weeks there is no response from them.

      WORST SERVICE AND QUALITY.

    • Reply September 3, 2017

      Marcus Lecroy

      Thanks for the in-depth reviews. Didn’t know you could get this information from a free site.

    • Reply March 13, 2018

      Eviatar Tovi

      I really liked these earphones and i think they are good but they deserve two out of five stars. The reason that i’m giving them such a bad rating is because they stopped working AFTER TWO MONTHS(!!!!!!!!!!).So don’t buy these earphones unless you want something for a really short time

      • Reply March 13, 2018

        dale thorn

        A lot of people buy from places that it’s not practical to return the product to when it’s defective. When prices are so low as these earbuds, it also makes it impractical to return them for repair. I’ve had several 1More products, and they all seemed to be well made, but it’s impossible to judge what is going wrong with them internally if you don’t return them, so the manufacturer can tell us whether it’s a product defect or failure from heavy use.

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