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Astounding Headphones With An Irresistible Sleek Design - Your Ears Won't Believe What They're Hearing (And Your Eyes Won't Believe The Price)

A Review On: Xiaomi Pistons 2.0 MK301

Xiaomi Pistons 2.0 MK301

Rated # 24 in Universal Fit
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Recent Pricing:
Review Details:
Audio Quality
Comfort
Design
Isolation
Value
Purchased on:
Price paid: $25.00
Rashmosh
Posted · Updated · 73524 Views · 16 Comments

Pros: The Smell (Chocolate) - The Design (Gorgeous) - The Sound (Breathtaking) - The Materials (Beryllium Is As Cool As It Sounds) - The Box (Simplicity)

Cons: Insignificant In Comparison = The Volume Controls (Do Not Yet Support iPhone And Are Located Too Low) - The Cord (A Tad Too Short And Not As Stylish)

The first thing you are going to notice about your Pistons, is that these babies are absolutely gorgeous. I'm not talking about that these headphones simply look nice (although they do) - they are, without a doubt, the most beautiful headphones I have ever had the distinct pleasure to rest my eyes upon (regardless of price group). This extends far beyond the actual headphones themselves - the box is a design-marvel all on its own. Crafted out of a single sheet of thin cardboard, this - surprisingly small - box is equipped with all the instructions you could possibly crave for your new Xiaomi Pistons, and - more importantly - they also include the exquisite box that will - hopefully - contain your Pistons. Under a clear plastic lid - that could easily pass for glass - your pistons will be lying, embedded in a simple silicone mold. The industrial, and at the same time stylish design will jump at you, and once you unwind the cord - through an ingenious method - the sheer feel of the brisk golden beryllium in your hand will flabbergast you.

However, all of these pleasant aspects fade away once you put the headphones in your ears, in sheer awe. I have had a troublesome history with in-ear headphones, but these do the trick really well, especially if I use the smallest ear-size included (which, together with a large size and one for conversations, are neatly tucked away beneath the silicone mold). I'm not going to try to describe the actual audio, any more than this - it is simply amazing. I was completely unaware of that in-ear headphones existed that had the capacity to produce this sort of audio. My switch to using the Pistons was both an easy and rewarding experience. I started picking up subtle new melodies that had never been there before in songs, and even set to "extreme" streaming quality, Spotify had trouble keeping up with the Pistons. What was a more disappointing experience was switching to a pair of Apple's EarPods (actually quite decent stock headphones). The EarPods have always managed very well in my opinion, and although they still produced an adequate audio-experience, they were complete devoid of any feeling. I would compare the experience to drinking your tea without any sugar - then suddenly switch to taking two sugars, and then switch back after a week. It goes without saying that my EarPods have been forced into early retirement following this disappointing episode.

The Xiaomi Pistons 2.0 are, however, not entirely without flaws. Even so, almost all of my complaints are nonetheless related to the cord. Although the play/pause button, housed in the cylindrical volume control hub, works very well with my iPhone (and all other commands for that button as well, like activating Siri/replay track/skip track), the actual volume controls themselves do not work. I'm hoping against hope that this will be fixed by Apple in an OTA update, but I recognise that this is unlikely. While on the subject of the volume control hub, it is not situated on the cord protruding out of the right headphone - it is instead positioned directly below where the two cords intersect and merge into a single one. This is not ergonomically ideal, and it allows for a number of awkward positions when you are trying to pause. Also, the cord is just a bit too short, about five centimeters shy of that ideal length that lets me wrap it around my iPhone when walking. Instead, now a few centimeters poke out of my pocket whenever I'm listening to my Pistons, and if I wrap the cord halfway around my iPhone, then I'm faced with having too short a cord. The cord is also probably the least flattering part of the headphones - composed of a brown mishmash of - tangle-free - nylon-strings (that actually work surprisingly well), it is not quite up to the same level of unchallenged design-supremacy that the rest of the headphones are. Also, the elegant gold-plated 3.5 mm plug is making me regret that I bought the SpaceGrey iPhone 5S, instead of the Gold iPhone 5S (which it compliments vary nicely, looking like the coolest stock headphones you have ever seen). Don't let this fool you, however. The Xiaomi Pistons 2.0 are almost unfeasibly good, and their drawbacks are nowhere near their pro.

I haven't talked about the price of these headphones, simply because it has nothing to do with the Pistons. I would easily buy these Pistons if they cost $50, and I would just as easily order a pair if they were sold for $100. These headphones are a bargain for anything less than three digits, and I cannot honestly understand why Xiaomi would sell them for as little as $25 (!). My advice to you is the - "Go. Buy. One. Now.", before Xiaomi bumps up the price. I think they are fairly comfortable, or, as comfortable as in-ear headphones get. Also, a nifty and unique attribute the Pistons have is their enticing scent. The smell is reminiscent of chocolate, with a hint of vanilla and just the tiniest bit of coconut. Take my word for it - the aroma is very appealing. So, in conclusion - the Xiaomi Pistons are incredible headphones, regardless of price. However, when you add all of the details, like the aggressive pricing, the beautiful design and the crisp, clear and vivid audio, together with the sturdy premium packaging and box, as well as the headphones being manufactured out of luxurious materials like beryllium (an elusive material that is extracted from precious gems and jewels, and which is actually harder to find than gold) - then the headphones really have no match, anywhere in the world.


A Box Fit For A Minimalistic King
The Xiaomi Pistons are delivered inside an almost unfathomably small box. The thin, rigid cardboard is of surprisingly high quality, and the clean exterior of the box has really grown on me since I saw it for the first time.

Xiaomi claims that the 15° chamfered edge on the back of the actual earphones improves ergonomics, and I can only agree. The circular, by Xiaomi patented, “CD-pattern” is a reoccurring theme on the headphones, and creates a nice “vibrating sensation” when you run your fingers across it.

All In Took Was Someone Thinking Inside The Box
The Xiaomi Pistons are delivered entirely without a manual. However, don’t be frightened by the Chinese letters that litter the box - all the instructions your could possibly need (and then some) are printed as large, educative images - on the inside of the firm cardboard -, that provide very little room for misinterpretation.

The instructions do everything from detailing which earphone is the right and left one, to explaining exactly how the Pistons can be winded up in the slick “silicone winder” included.

Style Is Timeless - So Are The MK301 Pistons
The Xiaomi Pistons 2.0 (MK301) are, without a doubt, truly beautiful headphones. From the cool industrial design - that incorporates a reoccurring pattern of precise grooves in the solid beryllium enclosure -, to the soft silicone earphone tips - these headphones have got it all.

Although the volume controls don't seem to be compatible with iPhones, they work fine together with Android phones. More importantly, however - the microphone works fine with all phones, and captures a very clear, crisp and realistic voice transmission.

A Mold With A Secret
The Xiaomi Pistons are securely fastened inside a silicone mold, which in turn is domed by a clear and elegant plastic lid. The mold is a great way to transport your Pistons in style. It also features a “secret compartment” underneath, where all the different sized stock earphone tops are stored.

Xiaomi claims that the silicone used both for the “winder” (the mold) and for the tips are akin to the softness of baby skin. The entire plastic box that contains the silicon mold is also, according to Xiaomi, modelled on “jewellery grade gift boxes”. The cord, which I still believe is made out of nylon, is by Xiaomi said to consist of kevlar.

The Best Is Saved For Last
The Xiaomi Pistons are remarkable headphones. You can only really appreciate their awesomeness by listening to them, but I have managed to decipher some information from Xiaomi’s Chinese website.

Xiaomi utilised new beryllium drivers in their MK301 Pistons, something which they claimed improved the bass-performance of the headphones, and improved the overall sound. Also, the cavity resonance was dramatically reduced which increased the audio-spectrum, boosting the performance of the headphones even further. The headphones also employ a dual dampening system, to provide a more balanced sound, along with sound chambers precision machined by diamond tools.

16 Comments:

Nice detailed review.
 
I don't know if is available on ios, but on android i use the app Jays Headset Control to adjust the function of the remote buttons. Now I can change tracks by pressing the buttons, but change volume by holding the buttons.
 
And is you really hate the color difference between the headphones and your phone, you might consider buying version 1 of the pistons, which are silver. I only own the silver version, so I don't know if there is much difference in quality, but I think these sound great.
Thanks, great that you appreciated the review! I'll be sure to scour Apple's AppStore in search of "Jay's Headset Controls", although I'm sceptical regarding whether Apple would actually allow users to configure remote buttons. They seem to be pretty comfortable with their locked ecosystem of apps, and really Android are unrivalled when it comes to "configurability".

Don't get me wrong - I think my SpaceGrey iPhone is just as exquisite as my golden Xiaomi Pistons. However, if I had gotten the golden iPhone, the pistons would blend in almost seamlessly with the phone, appearing more or less like stock headphones.

I have, however, been wondering if the original Xiaomi Pistons are as good as the 2.0 version. I would definitely recommend that you buy a pair of the 2.0s, just to see the difference. Could you describe the audio, and possibly even the materials used in the original Pistons?
Wow... just wow... Amazing review. I think I'll buy the same headphones again, only due to this review.  
What an awesome, detailed review.
 
The original Piston doesn't have the clarity and treble that the new one has, but the sound signature is somewhat similar.
 
Since Xiaomi makes Android phones, I don't think they will ever fully support the iPhone on their earphones, because Apple uses their own connector standard for controls/mic. You never know. Maybe Piston 3.0 will someday.
Thanks, it means a lot that you both appreciated the review. Banjoanton, I might just very well buy another pair as well!

Bhazard - It's great to see someone who has used both the original and the 2.0s. I agree with you on that Xiaomi probably won't add Apple's own connector standard in Pistons anytime soon, but on the other hand, they did include support for the mic, and play/pause in the 2.0s. Also, we've got the iPhone 5S coming to China Mobile now for the first time ever, which will surely boost both sales and popularity on the shores of the Yellow Sea.

Pistons 3.0 might very well be about the connector. I see them eventually as a evolution rather than a revolution, where things like the stock tips, cord, and possibly the volume control is revised/improved.
Wow. I'm impressed. I don't think I've ever written any review with such attention to detail. Also, I love your pictures.
Thanks, "thatBeatsguy"!
My review fades in comparison with yours - it is one of the better reviews I have read in all my life when it comes to headphones. Your extensive review was actually why I bought my Xiaomi Pistons in the first place. Thank you for all the kind words.
Sadly my original Xiaomi Pistons broke. (After about 4 months)
The same problem that I have with almost every headphone. After a while, 1 side of the earphones does not work anymore. The cable seems to crack just above the jackplug.
 
So I decided to order the gold version.
Hope these will hold out longer.
I don't know exactly how good the durability on the Xiaomi Pistons 2.0 are compared to the originals, since my pair is just around three weeks old. However, I would say that the audio one is enough of a reason to order the 2.0s.
Excellent review. I got my piston from beexz.com and blown by the sound quality for price of 25USD
The design you are calling "fake", TonyTheTerrible, is in reality the old Xiaomi Pistons cardboard design. I'm unsure whether or not Xiaomi has altered the design of the box, but I can assure you that my pair of headphones are real, and from before the point in time when fake Xiaomi Pistons flooded the online markets.
Thank you for the information, I was just going off of what the distributor posted on Amazon. I hope others become better informed as well.
 
Oh, and I did buy a pair after reading your review and a few others.
Just a quick fact check, aren't the enclosures made of machined aluminum and not beryllium? I know the drivers are beryllium drivers, but I'm almost certain the enclosures are not, especially considering how expensive beryllium is.
Just a quick fact check, aren't the enclosures made of machined aluminum and not beryllium? I know the drivers are beryllium drivers, but I'm almost certain the enclosures are not, especially considering how expensive beryllium is.
@Taowolf51 Ha! Well spotted. They are actually aluminium according to their own ad

http://www.aliexpress.com/item/New-Original-Gold-XIAOMI-Piston-Earphone-2-II-Headphone-Headset-Earbud-with-Remote-Mic-For-MI2/1331848155.html
 
Given that Beryllium is fairy expensive and difficult to work with, not to mention a class 1 carcinogen, I highly doubt a sub 20 Dollars pair of headphone would contain any to really actually affect performance significantly as opposed to properly manufactured beryllium diaphragm. The most probable form is either they have it in a lower grade alloy form with either copper or titanium with concentrations way way lower than probably even 2% or that it's trace amount of beryllium coating.
 
It just sounds fairly counter intuitive to use beryllium in such tiny diaphragm and it's just beyond stupid to use it as the housing. There's plenty other cheaper and tougher materials to choose from for the housing unit. If anything I suspect the "Beryllium" tag is more of a marketing gimmick, though that's merely my subjective opinion.
 
That said, how much of an improvement beryllium actually impart in form of alloy or trace amounts I have no idea. Perhaps it's indeed what's behind the superior audio quality of these headphones but I'm highly skeptical.

The link I supplied below should provide an interesting read if you're interested.

https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=10&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CFcQFjAJ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.audioheritage.org%2Fvbulletin%2Fattachment.php%3Fattachmentid%3D40060&ei=u6M-VOSBI8mzogSUnoCQBw&usg=AFQjCNHsf41FL4FZW9lvMqJtDgSdBhXYlA&sig2=fkzaXPHxry6Te9RtiZoTMQ&bvm=bv.77648437,d.cGU
Acoustics[edit]The low weight and high rigidity of beryllium make it useful as a material for high-frequency speaker drivers. Because beryllium is expensive (many times more thantitanium), hard to shape due to its brittleness, and toxic if mishandled, beryllium tweeters are limited to high-end home,[73][74][75] pro audio, and public addressapplications.[76][77] Due to the high performance of beryllium in acoustics, for marketing purposes some products are claimed to be made of the material when they are not.[78]
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