For the price, the Xiaomi Piston line of in-ear headphones have become internet celebrities for audiophiles on a budget. The build and sound quality is not at all what you would expect for a sub-$30 pair of headphones, but in a good way. We even had them on our list of Best Earbuds for under $50 list a while back. Recently the company announced the Xiaomi Piston 3 in-ear headphones, the newest generation of the Piston line.
The most notable change to the Pistons is the build quality. Though the old Piston 2’s didn’t look cheap by any means, the new model definitely has a sleeker more modern design. Though the in-line mic and 3.5mm jack still have them, you won’t find any of the characteristic grooves and ridges on the earbuds themselves.
Xiaomi also changed the button placement on the Y-split, ditching the oval buttons for rectangular ones. Rather than having two buttons on one side to control the volume with the play/pause button on the opposite side, they now have all three buttons on one side. The microphone has also been moved all by itself to the other side. This is a welcome addition since I found myself fumbling around for the correct button more often than I’d like to admit on the Piston 2.
On the technical side of things, Xiaomi claims that they have improved the sound quality even more with this iteration with a new balanced damping system. The frequency range remains the same at 20Hz – 20kHz, but the newer model now has a maximum sensitivity of 98 dB instead of 93 dB. Good news for listeners who prefer their music loud.
One of the best things about the Piston line has been the dual compatibility between Android and iOS, and the Piston 3’s don’t stray from that truth. The in-line mic and playback controls shouldn’t give you any issues which is one less headache to worry about when shopping for new headphones. The audio cable is now roughly two inches longer which is just enough of an extension to give them a longer reach without becoming too cumbersome. The cable also remains wrapped in kevlar fiber and the headphones still come with three extra ear tips for a better fit.
The Xiaomi Piston 3 in-ears have a retail value of only $16, but they will most likely sell for around $25 here in the states.