Xiaomi’s popular Piston V2 earphones are at least now available directly from Mi.com Singapore store after the initial period of frequent low stock. For a relatively low cost pair of in-ear earphones that in my humble opinion look and sound better than a number of other popular brand name IEMs that cost 2x-3x the price. How is it possible? Well Xiaomi has been making waves for low-cost yet offering high value devices.
Xiaomi’s packaging has always been pretty functional – the small carton box that holds the pistons is a one piece design that unfolds to an instruction manual. The actual box holding the golden in-ear earphones is well packed, It is all about first impression, and you wouldn’t be disappointed here. Selected from a pool of 6000 products from 55 countries around the world, the Piston 2.0 is claimed as the first product designed in China to win the iF Design Product Design award. As you open the box, you will find a piece of molded rubber insert that houses earphones, inline remote, a plug, a cord which gets wrapped around. Underneath on the bottom of the box you will find 3 bonus sets of eartips and a really cool shirt clip (an original design). Once you take the earphones out, you can’t help but notice how super lightweight these are and how detailed is their design. Everything from headphone housing to in-line remote (which also serves as cable y-splitter) and 3.5mm connector is made out of lightweight aluminum alloy material with a gold finish and laser etched circular lines. Everything feels solid, durable, and very premium quality. The cord itself is tangle free, and the portion between splitter-remote and 3.5mm plug has a threaded coating which almost looks like a shoelace. The part of the cable from the splitter-remote up to headphones has a durable rubbery coating attached to earpieces with a decent strain relief. All these are premium quality parts than many other more expensive IEMs offer.
But how about the sound quality? I was pleasantly surprised on first listen, even without ‘burning the earphones’ in. Although it did sound better after a day or two. Featuring a patented beryllium diaphragm, I found these dynamic drivers to cover quite an extended frequency range. I found the rich deep bass to extend nicely to provide a powerful sub-bass layer while still having a well controlled punchy mid-bass. Of course, the selection of a proper eartip size to create the best seal with your ear canal is extremely important. I found the bass to be well controlled and not too overpowering. At the other side of the spectrum, treble was very clear and smooth. It was well-balanced and not overly bright. Mids might be the weaker part of the earphones – a bit recessed, but still leveled enough to enjoy vocals. Overall I felt the sound was bright and balanced for most music genres. The soundstage was above average thanks to semi-open design with a port on the back of these headphones. Despite that, they actually had a decent passive noise isolation, but as I mentioned above a good seal with a proper eartip is very important to achieve that.
Another aspect I liked about the Pistons was the inclusion of the in-line remote. Most remotes are designed for Apple iOS and you would be hard pressed to find a remote for Android devices. Xiaomi is perfect in this regard, offering a design specifically for Android Phones. Volume controls, mic, answer button, etc. Even “OK Google” search integration with my LG G Pro 2. Furthermore, multi-function button worked great for play/pause/call with a single click, skip next with a double click, and skip prev with a triple click, and long-press for Google Now. No additional software was necessary, everything worked by default.
Just retailing at S$19.90 – add $5 for shipping if the total cart is below $50, makes this a no-brainer purchase decision. But be careful though, make sure you only buy directly from Xiaomi as there are a whole bunch of fakes out there. Just be careful, and now that they are constantly in stock, you should just get it direct. A good way to avoid the $5 shipping fee is to pool purchases with colleagues and friends. Xiaomi’s other extremely popular accessory is the Powerbank, offering 10400 mAH for only $13.90.
If you are from America, it’s going to be tough – as Xiaomi is pretty much restricted to Asia countries for now. However, there is a Amazon reseller that had pretty good reviews. With the positive reviews, at least more assurance that it is the real deal on Amazon selling the Xiaomi Pistons.