1More PistonBuds Pro Review Muffin Style ANC Earbuds

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

The new PistonBuds Pro by 1More tick all the right boxes while exceeding expectations! Impressive sound quality, effective active noise cancellation and low latency mode for watching movies and playing games are some features you get with the PistonBuds Pro.

The PistonBuds Pro earbuds have a quirky design with a cylindrical base and domed body shell reminiscent of a pair of spongy muffins. The nozzles are short and angled and integrate a metal grille mesh with ultra fine hole perforations that minimizes dirt and sweat ingress.

Each earbud is equipped with 2 microphones for handling active noise cancellation (ANC) and calls. The ANC performance is very good, blocking ambient noise (up to 80%) and suppressing voices too, so you can barely hear them. You can adjust the ANC performance by selecting "strong or WNR (wind reduction)", although you can only do this via the 1More Music app, which is free to download. The ANC and passthrough (ambient mode) can be turned off from the PistonBuds Pro earbuds, which is great as this isn't something yo can do with all earbuds. When ANC and Ambient modes are turned off, you can experience the passive noise isolation, which is nice. Ambient mode isn't adjustable but works well, letting you hear external sounds without having to remove the earbuds from the ears.
The PistonBuds Pro ANC microphones also work during calls but the mic noise cancellation isn't quite as good as ANC although you can still take calls in loud environments if you don't mind some noise leaking into the call. The PistonBuds Pro charging case does not support wireless charging but has a charging time of 2 hours. The case can store enough power to recharge the earbuds 2-3 times.

The PistonBuds Pro earbuds charging time is 1 hour with quick charge support, which is handy when you forget to charge the earbuds and need to use them in a pinch like for a gym workout. From a 5 minute recharge you get 2 hours of playtime. As far as battery life performance, you can achieve 7 hours of runtime with ANC off and 50% volume. With ANC turned on, battery life is 5 hours. When using low latency, the battery life is 5.5 hours (ANC off) and 3.5 hours (ANC on).

The PistonBuds Pro earbuds are equipped with the latest Bluetooth 5.2 chip which supports AAC and SBC audio codecs only. The bluetooth chip doesn't support multipoint connection so, you cannot connect the PistonBuds Pro to separate devices at the same time. The PistonBuds Pro charging case weighs 32 grams and measures 5.5cm long, 3.5cm high and 2cm thick. The PistonBuds Pro earbuds weigh 4.5 grams each so, they are very lightweight and comfortable to wear for running (IPOX5). Despite their small look though, they stick out of the ears but richness of bass is sublime, which makes up for the bulky design.

The PistonBuds Pro charging case has a smooth matte black finish with a glass-like shiny glossy finish on the lid (1More branding has been laser etched within). The glass-like accent adds a premium touch, although it attracts fingerprints. The PistonBuds Pro earbuds have the same color scheme as the charging case. The front fascia of the earbuds has a clear glass-like finish with the "1More" logo embedded within and styled like a musical note. The earbuds fascia is touch sensitive and integrates a tiny status white led and microphones. The charging case also integrates a discreet status led on the front of the charging case. inside the charging case, you will also find the serial number hidden discreetly in tiny fonts along the inner rim of the lid.
The PistonBuds Pro earbuds are supported by the 1More Music mobile app, which has a low star rating (2.3 out of 5 stars) but seems to work well and, it is extremely user friendly. The app interface lets you pair the earbuds to the app within 2-3 seconds upon launch, which is super quick and there is no account signup requirement, which is a plus from a privacy stand point. 

The 1More Music app lets you do everything you would expect from an earbud app. This includes viewing battery statues for each earbud and charging case as well as touch control remapping, although it is a bit limited. You can only re-assign the double tap and triple tap touch gestures. Strangely, the long press gesture cannot be remapped and, there is no single tap gesture. 
Touch control options that are available include play/pause (double tap), answer/hang up call (double tap), voice control (triple tap), volume, skip to previous, skip to next and ANC/Passthough/Off modes (long press to toggle). This said, you can only choose a maximum of 2 extra functions per earbud, which is a pity because some earbuds offer as many as 5 functions, making them more versatile.

When toggling between listening modes, there is no voice prompt but you will hear a short sound effect to alert you of the listening mode you're in. By default, the touch control functions  are set to play/pause and voice control. If you want volume and track skipping, you can change this via the app. Volume control can only be activated using the double tap gesture,which is not as convenient as using a single tap or long press gesture.

The 1More Music app also integrates 12 preset sound modes for changing the stock sound signature, which is balanced.There is no band equalizer though; hence you cannot tweak the frequency response, which is always useful. The 10mm dynamic drivers deliver good sound and volume output, although it isn't the loudest (see volume test from video) but it is adequate, thanks to the high passive noise isolation. 
When choosing the bass preset sound, the PistonBuds deliver really good bass.
As far as pairing, the PistonBuds Pro earbuds can be paired and connected whilst inside the charging case and have no re-connection delay. 
You can switch between stereo and mono listening, although the switching isn't seamless as the audio pauses every time you put one earbud back in the charging case. The on-ear detection feature (auto play/pause) can be disabled, as well as set to auto-pause only or auto play-pause.
Accessories included with the PistonBuds Pro are an unbranded short USB-C charging cable and bowl shaped silicone eartips with a soft round inner bore. The eartips are very comfortable to wear and provide good passive noise isolation, although thicker eartips do a better job at blocking outside noise. That said, you can't use standard silicone eartips as they won't fit inside the charging case. You will have to find custom eartips if you want to use third party eartips. 
If you're looking for a more affordable alternative to AirPods that is similar in specs and performance, the PistonBuds Pro will not disappoint. You can buy the 1More PistonBuds Pro from amazon in either black or white.Check out also 1More's stem style earbuds - ComfoBuds and ComfoBuds Pro

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