Review: 1More Piston Earbuds & Voice

AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

At 32 ohms, both the Piston Earbuds and IEMs are both easily driven from an iPhone 5S, and even when I tested with a Fiio X3 + E17K, I didn’t really notice any improvement.  The “Voice” IEMs are slightly less sensitive, so they do require a little volume bump, but for modern music around 40% volume on the iPhone leaves plenty of room for tracks with more dynamic range.

EQUALISATION

As I suggested earlier – 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 to try and get blood out of a stone.

The “Voice” IEMs on the other hand were extremely responsive to a simple touch of EQ. My ideal preference for mid-range is a little bump in the presence area around 4 kHz and a little recession in the 1-2 kHz area.  I also dropped the mid bass back a little and the result for my own individual preferences was just about spot on.  And seeing I had the E17K when checking amplification, I also tried a simple -2 on the bass and +2 on the treble, and the result was excellent.

VALUE AND SUMMARY

It has almost been a case of Jekyll and Hyde with the two offerings from 1More/Xiaomi. On the one hand you have the Piston earbuds which look absolutely gorgeous, but sadly have a sonic response that I really struggled with. And I stand by my comment that I can’t really see anyone actually enjoying their default sound.  It’s simply too strange and has no real cohesion.

The “Voice” IEMs are a $30 IEM done right though.  They possess very good build, comfort and looks, and wonderful SQ for such a low price.  They have enough bass to satisfy those looking for a warmer sound – whilst at the same time retaining clarity – but not at the cost of smoothness.

I found them good for almost any genre, and if willing to tweak a little with EQ, they should be able to suit virtually any preference.

Finally – my thanks to Leon for giving me the chance to listen to Xiaomi’s latest offerings (and finally giving me the chance to hear a pair from the Pistons family).  I can’t recommend the earbuds (even slightly), but I’d definitely recommend the “Voice” IEMs to friends or family with no reservation.  Great job!adequate.  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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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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