With the PistonBuds, 1more have come up with a pair of budget-friendly in-ears. But, do these affordable headphones deliver the goods when it comes to sound and features?
Of course, Apple AirPods are all the rage and are these days as much a part of an outfit as matching sneakers or the right wheels on your skateboard. The problem, however, is that these little things are often borrowed, misplaced or lost. So why not have a cheap spare pair in your pocket? On the inside, PistonBuds have all the essential features that a pair of in-ears needs for an occasional relationship or maybe even more.
This pair of in-ears comes in a matte black or white charging case (USB-C port; internal battery 535mA) made of plastic that feels solid and not cheap. The earpieces match, with the round, outer part ergonomically embedding in the ear. Together with the usual silicone tips, the listening zone is tightly sealed – passive noise-cancelling is therefore available on a massive scale. A small stick protrudes from the earpiece and houses the two microphones that are used to make voice calls. The quality of the hands-free function is okay for short calls, but it struggles with speech intelligibility in noisy environments.
Technically, the PistonBuds are up to standard: Around 20 hours of battery life (with fast recharging via the case), a modern USB-C connection, AAC and SBC codecs and a good Bluetooth 5.0 connection – everything is here. Operation via the outer touch surface is slow to respond, which might be a small drawback, so you might prefer to control them via your smartphone.
Charge the PistonBuds via the case, take them out, pair them, and they’re ready to go. Buckle up, though, because the speaker impedance is low, and these buds can really thud into your ears at a good level (if you want them to). On the positive side: even at full mobile phone volume, there’s no unpleasant distortion.
To be honest, the 7-mm drivers are small, cheeky, and pleasantly rowdy. When the micro-drivers are in the groove, it’s as if your best mate is euphorically demonstrating his new sound system in a Golf GTI. In other words, these buds have less of a linear frequency response and more of an overdriven party tweak that overemphasises the bass range. However, the bass doesn’t have a musty, washed-out effect, but the transients kick quite briskly. The presence range, on the other hand, seems restrained. In the midrange, vocals and acoustic guitars are unfortunately a bit lost. In the treble range, there is a slight upward peak. The upper-frequency response does not bend into hi-fi spheres; it has a more subtle tuning that gives songs a bit more “horsepower” in the highs.
With the PistonBuds, 1more has put a pair of affordable in-ears out there that are fun and offer decent sound for a small budget. The sound aesthetics are not for the faint-hearted or those fussy about frequencies; rather, they are more geared to party mode. With powerful bass and good level reserves, these in-ears are probably a decent option for fans of EDM and hip-hop. All in all, the overall tuning is still on a usable level. So the PistonBuds are also a good choice as an inexpensive second pair of headphones if you have misplaced your expensive pair of in-ears or as an inexpensive alternative for the kids. Technically, the PistonBuds have almost everything that the expensive models from 1more have: from good battery life to a solid charging case and secure Bluetooth connection.
The unique selling point remains the decent bass volume. If you are sad that the festival season is cancelled or that the summer will soon be over, then you are welcome to get a pair of the PistonBuds as consolation, dance out in a field with your eyes closed and dream of better times. They’re enough for a virtual outdoor rave.
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Impedance16 ohms
- Weight without cable4.2 g each, total 43.3 g
What's in the box
- 3 pairs of earpieces (S, M, L)
- USB-C charging cable
- Charging case
- available in black or white
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC
- BT version: 5.0
- BT Profiles: BLE / HSP / HFP / A2DP / AVRCP