While a plethora of new in-ear monitors come out in the market these days, there still are several ones that remain to stand the test of time for the market. It would even be harder for entry-level IEMs to compete against the growing options, what with the technology evolving in terms of materials and tuning used in the new releases. I guess this heavily causes the shorter lifespan or early demise of an IEM which would have been a groundbreaking design in the past but meets its end relatively quickly.
However, there are a few to consider given that, as I said earlier, there are tons that come out in the market. One of them is the 1More Piston Fit, one of the earlier IEMs that came out with the inspiration of improving the experience of listening to music of one’s mobile phone as it is quite common to end up with a rather mediocre pair of earphones in a mobile phone’s package.
So how does the Piston Fit fare against the IEMs in the market at the same price point? How much better is it having the Piston Fit when used with a mobile phone? And the most important question perhaps is, how practical is it to get one for a daily beater?
Keep reading as we go through 1More’s entry-level outing.
At a glance, the packaging doesn’t appear to be very spectacular: just a regular white box with not many accessories on it. Heck, it doesn’t even come with a case nor a pouch so one would think that 1More should have done a bit of a better job by at least including a decent storage container for the Piston Fit.
However, upon scrutinizing the IEM, one would understand pretty much where 1More focused on with the cost. It is pretty interesting that the Piston Fit is designed with the earpieces made out of an aluminum alloy designed to be pretty lightweight and sturdy. Sure, a bit of weight could be of great use here, but I guess it will entirely depend on how the user would look at it. In my mind, perhaps making the earpieces lightweight gives a certain level of comfort without worrying that the earpieces will easily fall off your ears while wearing it. Add to that fact is the design wherein the form factor is built to be worn down rather than over the ear, which I think is something that a lot of people will appreciate. While some would prefer an over the ear design simply to avoid cable noise, but that is absent in the case of the Piston Fit.
The 3.5mm TRS plug used the same material, giving the overall theme of the Piston Fit more uniform. Which is good actually, as it emanates a bit of premium in terms of fashion while wearing it. I saw on the website that the Piston Fit comes in 4 colors (pink, teal, space gray and silver) although it seems odd that my review unit kind of looks like gold or somewhat rose goldish, that I am not sure.
As I said, the Piston Fit is designed to be used with a mobile phone given the in-line mic it came with. It would have been a nicer touch if there were better controls like pause/play, next and back buttons as well as volume control. It isn’t so bad given those facts but would have been nicer had 1More decided to go with those with the Piston Fit. I guess one can’t really have everything especially if you are tightly pressed in making sure that you come up with a great design and hopefully sound while trying to keep the cost as low as possible.
Overall, a pretty good build for the Piston Fit. Seems it can withstand the punishment of the daily grind and should be a good option for an IEM to be used with a mobile phone.
While everything said is nice and dandy for the Piston Fit, everything will still be judged by how it sounds; after all, it is designed primarily for music listening (I believe the voice quality using the Piston Fit for calls is entirely secondary). My initial impression on the Piston Fit somehow meets my expectations of an IEM within the price point of $20, but allow me to go through the IEM in a more detailed manner as I take the Piston Fit for a closer listening.
Take note, I will use my usual review set-up (Cayin N3 plus the Centrance HiFi-M8) as this setup kind of feels a lot more honest than my other sources, although I will take a stab on using the Piston Fit with my Moto Z just to justify any reason to get one for the purpose it is supposed to serve (to be used with a mobile phone, that is). Kindly take note that I will be using .flac files here with the basic bitrate unless otherwise stated.
Cayin N3 + Centrance HiFi-M8
Playing 7 Days by Craig David, I am quite pleased to hear a pretty healthy dose of mid-range from the Piston Fit. It sounded clean and quite forward, hefty in fact but not too thick (this goes across lower mids to upper mids). If you are the type of person who is into mid-range, the Piston Fit is definitely going to please you. What I find a bit short-stocked is the sub-bass. Sure the mid-bass seems sufficient; you probably won’t find it anything below satisfactory, but the sub-bass seems to be lacking a little bit. Fact is, with the track I barely heard it until I listened intently. For some, this may not be dismal, but for me, as it spells a lot of difference in terms of hearing everything in an IEM, this is a huge deterrent in getting one. Trebles are somewhat decent; it has a good sparkle, something that would probably sound crystal clean for most without even reaching the point of getting sharp at all. Even for those who prefer a bit of hotter trebles, the Piston Fit will still somehow satisfy in terms of sparkliness.
Chris Robinson’s voice on Jealous Again seems pretty prominent using Onkyo HF on my mobile phone. Perhaps this will really tell how much the Piston Fit will be liked by users, that is, at least those who are into excellent mid-range should appreciate this thing. Sub-bass is a little bit more pronounced here, perhaps enough to accentuate but may still leave some thinking it to still be a tad insufficient. Cymbals sounded good, not too splashy yet is quite distinct. Guitars sounded crisp and detailed, at least coming off an entry level IEM. Pianos are pretty good, I liked how it sounded natural.
I tried a higher resolution file (96khz) with Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love and it kinda did some tricks; what was subtler sub-bassline in the previous tracks became more pronounced, albeit may still use a bit more rumble. Highs are pretty good, a lot more pronounced than how it was with the previous test tracks. Robert Plant’s vocals are of course forward and distinct.
I think the analoguish sound of the Hifiman HM-901S aided the sound of the Piston Fit a bit, enhancing the low frequencies in a conservative yet well-defined manner. It really is more of making the sub-bass a lot more distinct while allowing a harder, tighter punch off the mid-bass. Sheryl Crow’s Soak Up The Sun sounded energetic with a certain raw quality which is desirable from a certain standpoint depending on how the listener prefers it. All I can say is that the Piston Fit synergized quite well with the HM-901S, and can be thrown in as a daily IEM if you wish for something musical yet affordable.
Perhaps given the price of the Piston Fit, I will have just a few gripes as I actually admired 1More’s boldness in focusing more on the build and sound quality of the IEM in terms of cost considerations. One is that at the very least, 1More could have at least included a pouch for safekeeping. Another is the controller of which doesn’t seem to work when using mobile phones that require adapters (Apple and Type-C Android) to connect an earphone with a 3.5mm plug. Was trying to make and drop a call but the button on the mic doesn’t seem to do the job, but I am not sure if my review unit has a busted button. Lastly, the cable cinch on the splitter could have been done better; it doesn’t seem to encourage confidence as there’s no cable cinch to protect the wires from fraying.
But, as I have said, these are just minor ones; an IEM with a price of less than $20 should with the Piston Fit’s sound is already a steal in my opinion.
So, is it worth investing $20 in the 1More Piston Fit? I will have to say yes. Given the current market, with people investing the same amount (if not more) on entry-level IEMs which to me at some time are mediocre, I am pretty surprised that perhaps the only reason stopping people from buying the Piston Fit will be the tonality preference, of which is pretty surprising as I would categorize the Piston Fit as a pretty versatile IEM. Overall, my take is, should you prefer good mid-ranges off your IEM and is in the market for a budget IEM, Piston Fit should definitely be an excellent choice.