If you are reading this, you may already have heard of Xiaomi’s phenomenal uprising in the mobile industry – selling quality products that make you feel that you have overpaid for stuff in the past.
At its price of just under S$20, one might easily dismiss the Xiaomi Piston 2.0 earphones as stock earpieces often packaged with mobile phones. With Xiaomi’s track record for value, will these earphones match up to the rigours of being your first choice earphones, or will it just another cheap pair from your local electronic store that you keep as spare?
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. For this review we got the iF design edition with the flawlessly executed limited edition packaging.
The package arrives in a nicely fitted cardboard box, complete with printed guides on using the earphones, eliminating the need for pesky instruction manuals that no one reads anyway.
The carrying sack for keeping the storage case of the Pistons. Made of velvet-like material, feels nice to touch but nothing to shout about here. I don’t find this particularly useful as I coil the pistons and keep them inside my pocket most of the time.
The carrying case. First thing you notice here is how beautiful it is to look at. With its elegant transparent cover and symmetrical rounded edges, it is designed to exude compactness and consistency.
Inside, you’ll find the earpieces, the volume bar and the coiled audio jack housed and displayed neatly in a rubber square. Again, designed for pragmatism with every piece and crevice serving its own purpose.
The actual earpieces sport a polished, perfectly cut aluminium casing that feels weighted and solid in my palms. However, everywhere else feel slightly flimsy and cheap. The cord connecting the volume bar and the ear jack is Kevlar braid covered, but the rest of the cord is rubber. This has proven really frustrating in my use case with the supposedly anti-tangle Kevlar doing a master class in getting mangled with the static, rubber ones.
For the volume buttons, they work really well on Xiaomi products but seem to have mixed performances on other devices – will need to more testing to confirm this.
Under the rubber square housing, you will find an iF holding clip knolled neatly along 6 spare ear buds that accommodates for different sizing. This is really useful for me since I always lose the rubber buds, and spares aren’t exactly what you’d expect from an under S$20 product.
I’m not an audiophile, so we shall not discuss too much audio technicalities here in this post. The earphones use beryllium diaphragms that supposedly allows for better low bass and high treble performance – something you’d find only in other comparatively expensive options in the market.
I ran the earpieces through the usual rounds of dance, pop and rock genres – performance was great, with John Mayer sounding particularly awesome. For me the audio quality is crisp, has great low bass support and offers clarity in higher, alto tones – definitely better sounding than my old pair of brand name earphones.
If you are using a Xiaomi phone, the software has a built-in sound enhancer that supports optimal audio settings for the Pistons, making it really easy for an average consumer to get everything setup sounding like it should.
To sum it up, the Xiaomi Piston 2.0 earphones represents the beginnings of the inevitable shift in consumer electronics – products that are well designed, solidly built while offering a ton of value for end users like you and me. Whether it can slowly work its way from future iterations into displacing the first choice lifestyle earphones for some of our more discerning audio purists, only time will tell.