Performance and comfort
This is the part where everyone has been asking me for months – is it good or not. I know that Xiaomi did make Malaysian shudder and excited as the earphones are inexpensive, but then again most inexpensive things have very poor performance and build quality anyway.
Weighing in at only 12 grams, it doesn’t feel like I’m wearing anything at all since the entire earphone itself is very light to be noticeable.
Xiaomi is kind enough to provide a frequency response graph for the Piston Earphones v2.1 that has a sensitivity of 93dB and with impedance of 16 ohms – making it perfect for mobile devices. Analyzing the frequency response graph a little, it can be seen that Xiaomi made the response of about 1kHz to 5kHz a little softer compared to its neighbours as the human ears are more sensitive to that frequency range.
This is Xiaomi trying to create an overall equal perceptual volume throughout the entire frequency range. Further explanation on this will require the knowledge of psychoacoustics, which we will not touch on here today.
The listening test is again with my usual list of songs, listening testing them on multiple devices, but this time however I’m using a OnePlus One instead of my Nexus 4, as my Nexus 4 has retired.
Adventure Time – Rogue (Monster 010 – Conquest) [FLAC]
- Lows : Bass is punchy
- Mids : Distinct from the lows and highs
- Highs : A little underwhelming
Girls Just Want To Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper (Bioshock Infinite Soundtrack) [320kbps MP3]
- Lows : Bass strings are heard
- Mids : Too overwhelming
- Highs : Covered by mids
Orpheus Of The Underworld – Adya (Adya Classic 2) [215 kbps MP3]
- Lows : Bass reverb is excellent
- Mids : Great mids
- Highs : Highs are okay
Rosen aus dem Suden, op. 388 – Orchestra Of The Viennese Volksoper (Great Strauss Waltz, Polkas & Marches) [320kbps MP3]
- Lows : Each note played by the tuba is heard
- Mids : Clear and crisp
- Highs : Can’t achieve a satisfying high
Salome – The Johann Strauss Orchestra & Andre Rieu (Andre Rieu In Wonderland) [320kbps MP3]
- Lows : Bass is excellent
- Mids : Mids are a little too heavy
- Highs : Muffled
The Entertainer – Scott Joplin (The Entertainer – The Very Best of Scott Joplin) [320kbps MP3]
- Lows : Too overwhelming
- Mids : Decently distinctive, doesn’t get overwhelmed by lows and highs
- Highs : Generally decent
Skyliner – The BBC Big Band (The Age Of Swing, Volume 1) [FLAC]
- Lows : Each note of the bass string is heard
- Mids : The saxophone solo part is great
- Highs : Can be improved
The Ballad Of Mr Steak – Kishi Bashi (Lighght) [FLAC]
- Lows : Drum beats are too strong
- Mids : Vocals are extremely clear
- Highs : Generally okay
In The Mood – The BBC Big Band (The Age Of Swing, Volume 1) [FLAC]
- Lows : Not intrusive at all
- Mids : Sounds excellent
- Highs : Excellent overall, especially at the finale
All in all about the performance, it is generally a little too heavy on the bass side. Soundstage is however is unexpectedly excellent. Surely it’s not as great as some high end ones, but it is definitely competitive with some budget to mid-range pair of earphones such as the Beyerdynamic XP2 and comparable with the Beyerdynamic DX 120 iE.
Highs are decent, though I expect that they will improve in the highs for the next revision of the Xiaomi Piston Earphones. Maybe tune down a little on the bass too. Hundaes’s Bit Different is causing a terrible headache from those excessive bass.
Then comes the in-line controls – specifically on the OnePlus One. I never expect them to work so well on on the One that all 3 buttons worked right out of the box without any tinkering with apps or whatsoever. The two side buttons work as volume – just as intended, and the middle one controls music. Tap once to play, tap again to pause. Double tap to go to the next track. Going previous however is a little funny, as you’ll have to hold the volume down button to do so – but doesn’t work for all apps. I personally use Poweramp, and I use triple tap for the center button to go to the previous track.
Cable friction and movement will still produce some noticeable amount of noise, though is negligible since the earphones doesn’t move a lot anyway.
Which leads us to the comfort and here is what I have to say about it – they are extremely light. It doesn’t feel feel like I’m wearing anything at all, and it most definitely doesn’t move even when shaking heads or walking around.