Review: 1More Piston Earbuds & Voice

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

(From website and packaging)

 1More Piston Earbuds1More Piston IEMs
RRP (USD)20.0030.00
TypeDynamic driver earbudsDynamic driver IEMs
Drivers13mm? single dynamic8mm? single dynamic
Frequency Range20 Hz – 20 kHz20 Hz – 20 kHz
Impedance32 ohm32 ohm
Sensitivity113 dB98 dB
IEM BodyAluminium alloyAluminium alloy (80%)
Body ColourRose goldGun metal
Cable MaterialOFC enameled copper, Kevlar reinforcedOFC enameled copper, Kevlar reinforced
Cable TypeFixed, 120 cm, cloth knit outerFixed, 125 cm, cloth knit outer
Controls (my sample)3 button remote and mic (Android)3 button remote and mic (Android)
JackStraight, gold plated, 3.5mm, 4 poleStraight, gold plated, 3.5mm, 4 pole
Weight14g15g

FREQUENCY GRAPHS

The graphs included are generated by a new measuring system I’m trialing – using the Vibro Veritas and ARTA software.  I don’t have the calibration 100% correct yet – but the graphs I am getting are relatively close to Innerfidelity’s raw data (on other earphones), and I think are “close enough” to get a reasonable idea of the frequency response for both Pistons. I’ve also used the graphs later in the review to compare the earbuds with others I have from VE (Zen and Monk) and HiSound Audio (PAA1 Pro).

What I’m hearing though:

1More Piston Earbuds

  • A big mid bass hump, but virtually no sub-bass
  • Sometimes confusing mid-range with reasonable lower mids, but slightly recessed upper mids
  • Relatively good detail – and no signs of sibilance
  • Hollow / echoic sounding vocal range

1More Piston “Voice” IEMs

  • Good bass presence – mainly mid-bass, but sufficient sub-bass to provide contrast (slow roll-off below 50 Hz)
  • Clean and clear cohesive mid-range with good transition from lower mids to upper mids
  • Good detail and clarity
  • Treble roll-off which remains clean and clear, and never approaches sibilance.
  • Smooth and warm sounding overall.

BUILD QUALITY / DESIGN

1More Piston Earbuds

These buds are really stunning looking.  They are made of a rose-gold alloy with brown trim (and cable).  The aluminium surface has micro knurling though-out, and it’s designed like this to minimise fingerprints. The actual build quality itself looks faultless – joins are smooth, and detailing is superbly defined. They have a meshed open back – similar to Grado full sized earphones – and if you put your finger over this large port when they’re playing, the bass practically disappears (again like a Grado). There are L/R markings on the stem of each earbud.  These are slightly difficult to pick up (against the rose-gold) and I wonder if the brown of the cable may have stood out slightly more. The actual diameter of the earbuds is 15mm, and they are approximately 15mm deep from the front face to the rear port.

The cable is woven both below and above the Y-split, is quite flexible, and looks really strong. The Y-split itself is the actual 3 button control and microphone. Unfortunately I’m an iPhone user, and the controls I got were for Android. But I did check with my wife’s phone, and the volume controls worked well.  I also tested with one call, and the microphone appears to be relatively good with clear audio transmission. With the iPhone, the centre button registers play/pause (1 click), next track (double-click) and previous track (triple-click). Holding the centre button activates Siri – which is quite handy, but I would have preferred the full iDevice controls. The jack and 3 button control are both finished in the same micro-knurled rose-gold finish. The jack is 4 pole, gold plated, and narrow enough to fit my iPhone with the case intact.  The cable has very low microphonics (up or down), and is reasonably well relieved at all major points.

It would be fair to say that looks and build quality for the Piston earphones are simply stunning for a $20 earphone.

1More Piston “Voice” IEMs

The “Voice” IEMs have a striking all black shell with red cable, and then black Y-split, controls and jack. They actually look pretty “modern stylish”.

The body reminds me of the Ath CK300 series IEMs, with a conical capsule shaped body, and then angled nozzle. Like the Piston earbuds, the build itself is smooth, clean, and very neat.  The finish is a smooth matte black which doesn’t seem to show fingerprints. The body is almost all aluminium alloy, 14mm in diameter at its widest point, and the body is approximately 15mm deep from rear to front (21mm if you include the nozzle).  The nozzle is approximately 5mm long, angled, and 4mm in diameter.  It is covered with a mesh filter.   The cable exit is at the end of a 20mm long arm which extends straight up (or down) from the IEM.  There is a single ventilation port adjacent to the nozzle on each IEM. L/R markings are on each shell and very clear and easy to read.

The cable is TPE coated between the IEMS and Y split, and cloth knit below the Y-split. The control unit is 3 button with microphone, and like the earbuds, I unfortunately got the Android version.  Again I tested it with Tania’s phone – and the volume buttons worked well. I also tested voice – and again it was clear and clean. With the iPhone, the same button configurations work as for the earphones (shown above).  The jack and 3 button control are both finished in the same black finish, but this time both have the same micro knurling shown on the earbuds. The jack is 4 pole, gold plated, and narrow enough to fit my iPhone with the case intact.  The cable has reasonably low microphonics (down), virtually none at all (up), and is reasonably well relieved at all major points.

So once again – very good build on a $30 pair of IEMs.

FIT / COMFORT / ISOLATION

1More Piston Earbuds

The Piston Earbuds pretty much fit like any other earbud, inside the intertragic notch, between the tragus and anti-tragus. As with most earbuds I’ve tried though, if you don’t have a semi seal, you can lose the bass altogether.  The Piston Earbuds do come with some silicone loops – which both help with the seal, and also provide a locking / stabilizing tab which slots inside your anti-helix to help keep them in place.  This works really well, and (for such a simple design) is very comfortable. You’ll notice from the photos that I’ve also added a set of foam doughnut covers from a set of VE Zen earbuds.  This just helps a little more with both comfort and seal.

With the stabilisers and foams fitted, I find the Piston Earbuds very comfortable.  There is virtually no isolation though – these are very open earbuds.

1More Piston “Voice” IEMs

The “Voice” IEMs are far more conventional, and due to their design, can really be worn down – with the nozzles angled forward, or cable up, with the nozzles angles back.  Cable down is a little more comfortable overall, but cable up does work quite well, and is probably my preferred position.

I have one ear canal slightly different to the other one (my right is very slightly smaller) – so I tend to find that usually single silicon flanges don’t fit overly well.  I initially tried the included large silicone tips, and unfortunately I couldn’t get a seal in my left ear. So I then tried Ostry Blues and Blacks, Spinfits, some DUNU Dual Flanges, and also Sony Isolation tips.  All fit pretty well – but I was getting the most consistent sound with the Sony Isolation tips – so that is what I used for the rest of the review.

Worn cable down, the “Voice” IEMs are very comfortable – even for long periods. Isolation is average for a dynamic IEM – and although I personally wouldn’t be using them for long distance travel, I’d imagine that moderate background noise shouldn’t pose too many problems. They do very slightly stick outside my external ear, so for me, they are not “sleepers”.  YMMV – as it is very dependent on personal physiology.

Sound on Page 3 HERE or the by clicking below

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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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