Ears on with Xiaomi’s 4th generation earphones. Do they make up in the bass dept where the Piston 3 failed? Find out in our Xiaomi Hybrid Earphones Review.
Xiaomi are on their 4th generation earphone model, with an all new design, new packaging and the return of deep heavy bass. The Xiaomi Hybrid launched a few weeks ago in China and already online stores like Shop.Gizchina.Com are offering the IEM’s on sale internationally, so how to they fair?
Xiaomi Hybrid Earphones Review – Design
As soon as the Xiaomi Hybrid earphones arrived on my desk I knew I was about to see something different. The new Hybrid comes in an all new packaging, which in all honesty doesn’t do the earphones justice.
Past Xiaomi earphones have come in plastic cases with rubber inserts for winding the Kevlar coated cables around and space in the rear for optional earbud covers of different sizes.
The Xiaomi Hybrid come in a plain cardboard box. There are no luxurious such as a carry case or even a carry bag, and spare earbud covers come in an unmarked package that could easily be thrown away it is so lightweight (so be careful with the packaging).
The lack of a fancy box might be seen as a downgrade, but in my personal use I never attempted to place my Piston back in the packaging once I unraveled them. What’s more important to me is the Xiaomi Hybrid earphones themselves and they are top quality items.
On the Chinese Xiaomi website the Hybrid are called the ‘Iron Ring’ which sort of explains parts of the design of the earphone shape. The body is made of light weight CNC machined alloy, with a ‘ring’ design, before an angled sound channel.
I was reminded of the original UMi Voix earphones when I unboxed the Xiaomi Hybrid earphone, but the Xiaomi’s are much more compact, better finished, lighter weight and much more comfortable in the ear (so generally all round better).
The cables exist the metal body of the Hybrid through a black plastic structure that looks like it is holding on to the main metal body like a Lego arm or small plastic spanner. It sounds odd, but take a look at the photos to see what I am on about.
A simple alloy bodied remote control is built-in to the right side ear cable. It’s a 3 button design exactly the same as the control on the Xiaomi Piston 3 earphones.
At the point the wires join to for the ‘Y’ shape there’s a plastic piece (the Piston 3 has an alloy piece) then a Kevlar, anti-tangle coated wire makes its way to the 3.5mm headphone jack.
Xiaomi Hybrid Earphones Review – Sound and Performance
The Xiaomi Piston 3 were already a pretty good earphone, but in comparison to the Xiaomi Piston 2 the general conclusion is that they lacked in bass. The 4th generation Xiaomi Hybrid have really been redesigned to solve this complaint.
The new design really sees a huge improvement in bass, while not having much of an effect on the overall clarity of the audio. The change in Bass between the Piston 3 and Hybrid is so great that I had to drastically reduce the use of Bass Enhancement when listing to music on the OnePlus X.
What really sets the Xiaomi Hybrid apart from other budget earphones are the hybrid dual drivers. Mids and highs are handled by an armature driver while a dynamic driver takes care of lows. This is usually a feature kept in reserve for more expensive audio hardware, and a real benefit of the Xiaomi Hybrids design, especially at the low retail price of just $24.99.
Another benefit the Xiaomi Hybrid over the Piston 3 is noise isolation. I found the Piston 3 leaked a lot of sound, but the Hybrid’s closed design really helps to prevent that leakage, and the increase in speaker sensitivity from 98dB (in the Piston 3) to 101dB.
Xiaomi Hybrid Earphones Review – Gallery
Xiaomi Hybrid Earphones Review – Conclusion
If you are one of the people who tried the Piston 3 and were disappointed by the lack of bass, then you are going to certainly appreciate the upgrades made to the Xiaomi Hybrid. Bass is only part of the picture the overall sound stage is impressive and the build/design is much more upmarket (in my opinion).
If you are a GizChina regular then you will likely be on Android and so compatibility isn’t an issue, but if you are an iOS user then the remote isn’t fully compatible, so keep this in mind (not that it affects the audio experience).
Overall the Xiaomi Hybrid are an improvement over the Piston 3, and well worth the update. I’ll certainly be switching to these for my daily drivers.