Accutone Pisces: Stylin

Greetings!

Today we are continuing our run through the monster lineup of Accutone’s consumer earphones looking at the Pisces, their entry level model in the Pisces series of products.

Since 1969, Accutone has been delivering to both businesses and regular consumers alike some high quality products. Their primary goal is to bring people closer, be that through music or communication. As such, it makes sense they would have divisions which make telecommunications headsets for call centres and professional settings, along with headphones and earphones for general consumption by the public at large. It’s clear that they are well-versed in the industry and that the knowledge and experience garnered over numerous decades has been put to good use crafting their latest series of consumer products. From the compact and durable Pegasus C, to the Taurus and it’s bass tuning system, to the hybrid Pisces BA, Accutone has done an excellent job of offering both competitive and unique products.

The Pisces boasts a fashion-forward design and touts a focus on clarity. What do I think? Let’s find out together.

Disclaimer:

The Pisces was provided by Accutone on a complimentary basis for the purposes of this review. There is no financial incentive for writing this, and all thoughts and opinions within are my own. They do not represent Accutone or any other entity.

You can order the Pisces for 79.00 USD here: https://www.audio.accutone.com/pisces

My Gear and I:

I’m a 30 year old professional working for what is currently the largest luxury hotel chain on the planet. I have a background in Psychology which probably explains my somewhat dry writing style. My entry into the world of portable audio was due primarily to a lack of space for a full-sized stereo system during my university years, and truly began with the venerable JVC HA-FXT90. After reading pretty much the entirety of IjokerI’s multi-earphone review thread, reviews from other established reviewers, and thus being greatly inspired, I took a chance and started writing my own.

Fast forward a couple years and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to write about products for wonderful companies like RHA, Accutone, ADVANCED, NarMoo, Mixcder, Brainwavz, Meze and many more. I don’t do it for money or free stuff, but because this is my hobby and I enjoy it. If my reviews can help guide someone to a product that makes them happy, I’ll consider that a job well done and payment enough.

Gear used for testing was a Shanling M1, HTC One M8, LG G5, Topping NX1 portable amplifier paired with an XDuoo X3 (Rockbox), and my aging Asus G73 gaming laptop paired with a Creative SoundBlaster Recon3D usb amp. I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. While I enjoy a variety of signatures I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even mid-range response, and reduced mid-bass, though lately I’ve been enjoying more mellow and relaxed products with a bass tilt. My favorite in-ears, the Echobox Finder X1[i] with grey filters installed and the Fischer Audio Dubliz Enhanced are good examples of my preferred signatures.

Packaging and Accessories:

The Pisces shares the same excellent, robust packaging as the Taurus that I reviewed last year. Wrapped in a blue(?) and black cardboard sheath outlining the product is a large black plastic case with a rubberized matte finish.

Open the lid and you are greeted by the Pisces’ housings tucked nicely into a foam cutout. Comply foam eartips are preinstalled. The cable is neatly wrapped and hidden below under an Accutone branded strip of cardboard.

Lift out the foam sheet and underneath is another compartment housing the accessories. Included is Accutone’s excellent leatherette carry case, two sets of silicone tips, and another set of foam eartips. The second set of foams is the same as those included with the Pavo. I was very happy with their inclusion because they do not have the treble dulling qualities of Comply’s tips and feel more durable. Finally, Accutone sought to include a soft rubber cable winder, quite reminiscent of those provided with many JVC and Sony products. A thoughtful inclusion, but it doesn’t work with the Pisces’ flat cable. Oops.

Overall the Pisces’ unboxing experience is quite pleasant. The large case is also useful beyond providing positive first impressions as it can easily hold the Pisces in it’s leatherette case, a DAP, small amp, and a number of other accessories if needed. For someone that travels a lot and needs a place to store their gear, this case will be a godsend.

Build, Comfort, Isolation:

If you’ve read my earlier review of Accutone’s flagship, the Pisces BA, the Pisces will look pretty familiar. It feels familiar as well. The driver housings are crafted from aluminum with the remainder made from the same, dense, durable, scratch resistant plastic. While the prominent use of plastic felt a little underwhelming and out of place on a 400 USD flagship hybrid, it’s much more at home and appropriate at the more affordable 79 USD the Pisces commands.

Build quality and fit and finish of the housings is overall quite nice. The aluminum segments containing the drivers are neatly machined without any blemishes or sharp edges and connect solidly with the plastic back-plate. The curved plastic, while clearly made of multiple pieces, fits together well and doesn’t feel flimsy or fragile. As noted above I found it quite resistant to picking up scratches or blemishes which is appreciated given the attractive piano black color Accutone chose to use. The chrome accents where the cable enters the housing adds some more contrast to the design, and to my surprise based on the way they retain and transfer heat, are made of aluminum. While very similar, I’d say the standard Pisces looks and feels more premium than the Pisces BA.

While I’m not normally a fan of wide, flat cables, Accutone’s isn’t that bad compared to most. There are a few niggling qualities I’m not a fan of though. First, just above the y-split where the cable branches out to each earpiece it has a tendency to rub against itself, causing an unusual squeak to travel up and into your ear. At first I thought this was an issue with the drivers, but nope, just the cable. Second, combined with the beefy and well-built in-line controller the cable carries some weight on the right side and has a tendency to tug, tug, tug. On the plus side, microphonics are present but not so intrusive as to ruin your musical experience. The cable is also quite flexible and both memory and tangle resistant. It’s also well relieved and supported at the slim straight jack. Overall a good cable. Not great, not bad, just solid.

Comfort on the Pisces is another strong point, though not quite to the same extent as their bigger brother. The extra weight from the flat cable combined with the small driver housings means their weight isn’t balanced and supported in your ear as well as it could be. I found they had a tendency to tug their way out of a seal when worn cable down, and resorted to cable up wear which successfully negated that problem.

Isolation is about what you’d expect from a dynamic driver based earphone with a somewhat shallow fit; merely acceptable. It’s enough to dull noise from your surroundings but nothing is fully blocked. If you’re looking to isolate yourself from your surroundings, the Pisces isn’t the right earphone for the job.

For a fashion-forward earphone, the Pisces ticks most of the right boxes. They’re nicely built and quite comfortable with a durable cable, albeit one that weighs them down a little to much.

Specifications:

Weight: 15 grams

Rated Input Power: 5mW

Max Input Power: 10 mW

Driver: 9.2mm dynamic

Impedance: 16 ohms

Sensitivity: 110 +/- 3 dB

Sound:

Tips: The included tips work, especially the grey foams, but I ended up settling on KZ’s medium ‘Starline’ tips. They didn’t alter the sound signature (for better or worse) while helping to improve comfort and combat cable weight by enabling a slightly deeper seal.

Amping/Source Matching: Amping is not needed as the Pisces is quite efficient. I recommend pairing them with a naturally brighter source which seem to help mid-range clarity.

The Pisces is characterized by a warm, non-fatiguing and mid-bassy signature. Given Accutone’s marketing speak places such focus on clarity, this is not quite the signature I was expecting heading into this earphone.

It’s treble presentation is quite mellow with a weighty thickness to it. It’s not particularly sparkly nor heavily emphasized and avoids any sibilance. Unfortunately, clarity is sorely lacking. Rapid cymbal hits lack definition and they blend into what comes across as one long wavering hit. This was first apparent testing them out on my favorite King Crimson track, ‘Starless and Bible Black’.

The mid-range on the Pisces is also hit and miss. It’s not that it’s recessed, but instead overly thick and lacking detail. On some tracks this works in their favor, but in most cases not. Female vocals in particular come across quite stuffy. This is disappointing because otherwise it’s tonally rather pleasing.

The low end on this earphone is one of it’s more prominent aspects. Outside of the fairly large mid-bass hump that intrudes a touch on the lower mids, it’s got a good thump to it that with pop and electronic tracks is quite appropriate. Texturing is better here than anywhere else, though tracks with rapid double bass hits really trip them up.

When it comes to sound stage, the Pisces is about what you’d expect given the mid-bassy signature. While not congested, I don’t recommend tracks that are overly busy or complicated as the separation and layering qualities fall short.

While the Pisces is disappointing on a technical level (clarity especially) it is quite musical in the right circumstances, those being when listening to slower, less complicated and technical tracks. It carries a tune better than you would expect. Once I stopped listening to the earphones and started listening to the music, the larger flaws faded to the background and I found myself tapping my toes and bobbing my head.

Final Thoughts:

I end off this review with mixed feelings of the Pisces. On one hand, I really like the attractive and unique design, solid build quality, and the useful packaging. While sonically it is far from perfect, it can be an enjoyable listen with the right tracks. As a daily driver I wouldn’t have any issues taking these with me. They’re durable, can be slipped into your ears with ease, and with a decent inline mic and control module they’re very convenient.

On the other hand, those sonic imperfections really stick out when I’m listening to them critically and they end up being just another, fairly average sounding earphone. At almost 80 USD I would expect a lot more, especially considering how competitive the sub-100 USD market is right now. Accutone themselves have a number of other products I would happily recommend in place of the Pisces, those being the Pavo if you want the clarity these tout, the Taurus if you want a fun and impressive bass experience, or the Lyra if you simply want an inexpensive but great sounding product.

In summary, the Pisces has the potential to be excellent for you if style and convenience are high on your list of important qualities. If sound quality is tops, you may want to consider the suggestions above.

Thanks for reading!

– B9Scrambler

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Test Tracks:

Aesop Rock – Crows 1

Aesop Rock – Maintenance

BT – The Antikythera Mechanism

The Crystal Method – Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes)

Daft Punk – Touch

Gramatik – Bluestep (Album Version)

Godsmack – Hollow

Godsmack – One Rainy Day

Incubus – 2nd/3rd/4th Movements of the Odyssey

Infected Mushroom – Deeply Disturbed

Infected Mushroom – The Legend of the Black Shawarma

Jessie J – Bang Bang

Kiesza – Hideaway

King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black

Pink Floyd – Money

Skindred – Death to all Spies

Supertramp – Rudy

The Prodigy – Get Your Fight On

Witcher 2 Official Soundtrack

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