- May 24, 2013
IntroWell, since enough people have motioned for a better OP for the n00bz, I thought I'd call the shots and write one myself.
For those who didn't already know, the Xiaomi Pistons 2.0 are a pair of budget IEMs that have very quickly made their stand in Head-Fi as one of the best IEMs under $30. For others who didn’t already know, Xiaomi is a Chinese smartphone company that, with the release of their 2S and 2A smartphones, dominated their home market in only about 4 years, which is kind of a coincidence here.
This new OP was written to redirect most n00b questions (such as “What’s the difference between 2.0 and 2.1?”) to this OP for convenience. There has already been a lot of established information about them, and listing it down on this OP would really help to nail that down to anyone who might be interested in these IEMs.
As of this writing, there are currently three (3) beryllium variants, two (2) Paperback variants, and three (3) discontinued models of the Pistons which are not being manufactured. Hopefully this will clear up a majority of n00b questions, and as such, I’ll do my best to list as much info as I can.
The beryllium variants, as I call them, are named because of the beryllium diaphragms Xiaomi uses in their drivers. In each of these beryllium variants, I can assure you there are no sonic differences between each of them. In other words, they all sound the same. I’m sure I have stressed this for too many times now, but hopefully that should make it clear for everyone.
Pistons 2.1 – this version is the base Pistons version, and is probably the most confusing one out of all of them because of how they were released. The 2.1 is an unofficial name used to refer to the unannounced revisions made to the Pistons being manufactured. The revisions include updated eartips, a slightly longer cable, and an included shirt clip.
If you’re unsure whether your Pistons are 2.0 or 2.1, look for the following:
- L/R markings on the housings’ stem and a ring on the right stem
- A shirt clip
- A 1.2m cable
- S/M/L markings in the eartip holders
I wrote a review on the 2.0/2.1 here. Hopefully it will be of use.
Pistons Silvery Edition – this version, along with the Crystal version, is the most recently released variant of the Pistons. It’s a pair probably dedicated to the people who didn’t like the base Pistons colour scheme of gold/brown, instead going for a minimalistic (and very stylish) silver/white. Like I said, this is simply a recolour of the base Pistons 2.1, and should still sound the same (info on Xiaomi’s main page confirms this).
Pistons Crystal Edition – this variant is also called the Rose Carmine version (due to its product page being called such), and is a pair geared for the female audience, as evidenced by their all-pink look and that huge Swarovski crystal (yes, it’s legit) covering what would be the Pistons’ back vent. Scrolling through the product page reveals that the Crystal Edition does still take upon the regular 2.1 Pistons’ back vent design and beryllium driver, which means that they should more or less sound the same with the base model. That Swarovski crystal might change things up a bit, though, what with it covering the back vent. We’ll have to await confirmation from fellow Head-Fi’ers on their sound.
Pistons 2.0 [discontinued] – This used to be the base Pistons model up until Xiaomi revised it somewhere around April of 2014. There is still stock of the 2.0 scattered throughout stores, however, and you might end up getting one instead of the newer 2.1. If you do not meet any of the criteria in the list I made above in the 2.1 section, then you most definitely have a 2.0. Again, and let me say this with certainty – the 2.0 and 2.1 pairs sound the same.
Pistons iF Commemorative Edition [LE] – This pair was released to celebrate the Xiaomi Pistons being awarded the iF Design award in Berlin earlier this year, being the first product from a Chinese-based company to ever receive the award. This limited edition pair bears no differences to the base 2.1 other than their classy white box, a special velvet pouch, and a shirt clip with the iF logo printed on it. Oh, and they also have a slight silver tint compared to the base 2.1. However, these IEMs have practically run out of stock at all trusted third-party retailers, although some might still be floating around. As for their state in mainland China, there are probably more still there.
Paperback VariantsThe Paperback Pistons are the cheaper answer to the already-cheap Pistons 2.0, for those who practically have pocket change as a budget. As a result, they do not have all of the features of the base 2.0s. They now have generic aluminum drivers replacing the beryllium drivers of the original, as well as a full-plastic housing. However, they do employ the Piston 2.0’s dual dampening system, and therefore has a back vent.
Sound-wise, my friend and fellow Head-Fi’er @1clearhead states that they have a more commercial V-shaped sound, with a stronger midbass hump. He also says that they sound more rolled-off in the sub-bass and treble compared to the originals. As for soundstage, the Paperbacks have a wide one, but not one as wide as the Piston 2.0s.
There are two known versions of the Paperbacks – the base Paperback and the Colorful Edition. They are practically clones of each other, except that the former comes in only black and white, while the latter comes in five colours (please refer to the translated product page below).
Legacy ModelsThis section is practically just here for reference, but it consists of the old 1.0 models that are now long gone. They consist of the Pistons 1.0 and the Paperback Pistons 1.0. Both models share a generic aluminum driver, and do not have the dual dampening system the newer models now have. The former model has very Chinese build quality and a very dark and bassy signature. (Here is a link to the review I wrote for them.) As for the Paperback, @1clearhead states that they also have a very commercial sound, and sound very rolled-off. I don’t think I need to say any more.
Consult this checklist if a seller online may be selling a 1.0 (which will probably be fake, anyway):
- Silver/Brown colour scheme. (No, it's not silver/black.)
- A box that looks exactly like the Pistons 2.
- No shirt clip.
- No S/M/L markings.
- An all-Kevlar cable. 2.0 Pistons and later models employ a Kevlar-wrapped cable from the connector to the remote only. The cable above that is silicone-wrapped.
The Xiaomi Pistons vary quite a bit in terms of pricing, as the models bought directly in Mainland China are a whole lot cheaper than those sold overseas (say, just under 2x the original price). I’ve taken care to list down original retail prices from China and average prices overseas, to keep people from getting confused.
|Type||Mainland Price||Overseas Price|
|Pistons 2 (Gold & Silver)||~$16||$25-30|
|Pistons 2 Crystal Edition||~$19||$20-25|
|Pistons Paperback 2 (all colours)||$7||$12-20|
PicturesAs the only pair that I could test is a 2.1 iF Edition (which belongs to my sister), I cannot compile a list of pics for all versions. Hopefully this partially-translated product page from MI.com will suffice. I had to muster up what little skill in Chinese I had left to translate this. Oh, and Google Translate was there to help.
ModdingModding the Pistons has become a little bit of a popular thing with Pistons owners, as a lot of them wanted more from the sound. If you want to know more about the mods, please feel free to PM me for details.
Remote CompatibilityIt seems lately people have been experiencing issues with the compatibility of the Pistons' 3-button remote on their phones. @AvroArrow compiled a compatibility list on this forum, which you can check out with this link. Thanks, @AvroArrow!
(Thanks to @rontant for giving me the links to the comparisons.)
Now, I'm sure you've all heard about the huge issue about the Pistons having a lot of fake sellers practically everywhere. I thought I'd address that by compiling a list of all known confirmed legit sellers below. If ever you're unsure that your pair may be fake, plase refer to this link for the Pistons 2, and this one for the 1.0 (not that any of you bought one, anyway). If the website you bought your pair from isn't included in this list, please don't hesitate to ask any of the members in this thread; we'll be happy to check if the site you're buying from is legit or not.
Also, please take note that the links in the list below will take you directly to the Pistons' product page in their respective websites unless otherwise stated.
As for the list of confirmed sellers:
|Seller Name||Seller Site||Status||Notes|
[size=inherit]http://www.mi.com[/size] (Mainland China)
http://www.mi.com/hk (Hong Kong)
|LEGIT||Thanks to @rontant for the regional links.|
Check these links if you live in one of the
Links will NOT redirect you to a direct store
|iBuyGou||http://[Mod Edit: Removed]||LEGIT*||*This seller has now been BLACKLISTED by Head-FI due to shill posts made by its employees. All posts linking to the site are now prohibited.|
|TinyDeal||http://[Mod Edit: Removed]||LEGIT*||*This seller has now been BLACKLISTED by Head-FI due to shill posts made by its employees. All posts linking to the site are now prohibited.|
|XiaomiWorld||http://www.xiaomiworld.com||LEGIT||Thanks to @DJScope for the link.|
|Lazada||http://www.lazada.com.ph||LEGIT||Official retailer in the Philippines. |
Pistons are called "MI In-Ear Headphones".
|Pandawill||http://www.pandawill.com||LEGIT||Thanks to @clee290 for the link.|
|Merimobiles||http://www.merimobiles.com||LEGIT||Thanks to @clee290 for the link. Link will NOT redirect you to a direct store page.|
|GearBest||http://www.gearbest.com||LEGIT||Link will NOT redirect you to a direct store page.|
|Geekbuying||http://www.geekbuying.com||LEGIT||Added upon bhazard's "request".|
|Flipkart||http://www.flipkart.com||LEGIT*||Official retailer in India.|
Thanks to @HawkEye0701 for the link.
HUGE thanks to @DJScope for confirmation.
|BigBargainOnline||http://www.ebay.com||LEGIT||Supposedly the eBay store of PenonAudio. Updated upon bhazard's "request".|
|Nacodex||http://www.amazon.com||LEGIT||Thanks to @mmu16 for the link. Updated upon bhazard's "request".|
|Focalprice||http://www.focalprice.com||LEGIT||Thanks to @christoophat for the link. Updated upon bhazard's "request".|
|Enrgo Estore||http://www.amazon.com||FAKE||Thanks to @Viber for the link.|
|GMatrix||http://www.amazon.com||FAKE||Thanks to @lbartik for the link.|
*NOTE: The Flipkart seller is indeed the official retailer in India (as confirmed by @DJScope); however, we still cannot confirm that these are 100% legit because of some differences between the models sold through Flipkart and those sold practically everywhere else. Still awaiting further confirmation on this.
For those of you with any extra info that I may have missed (especially the list of confirmed sellers), please let me know; I'll update this OP as soon as I can. Also, if there are any confirmed fake sellers rampant, also let me know; I'll add it to the list as a sort of warning to other buyers.
And now, as the (self-proclaimed) conductor of the Pistons Hype Train, welcome and have fun!