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.
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.