Periodic Audio Beryllium (Be)

Rating:
4.625/5,
  1. meringo
    A Single Dynamic to Rule Them All!
    Written by meringo
    Published Mar 7, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Brilliant Sound Signature, Lightweight, Pocketable, 5-Year Warranty
    Cons - Needs proper L and R markings
    My first introduction to Periodic was at CanJam NYC in 2017. This was my first big audio event and frankly quite overwhelming. Many of the companies had knowledgeable staff present to discuss their products, while others had generic sales reps that couldn't talk about even the most basic attributes of the product. A few companies went above and beyond though - one being Periodic Audio. I discussed the not-quite-released IEMs with Dan Wiggins and Zeke Burgess (who were sporting white lab coats) and listened to the whole lineup, on a whim, right before I was about to head out for the day. The Mg seemed to be an excellent entry-level option, with a brighter treble sound, and the Ti was V-shaped and not precisely what I was after… and then I tried the Be. Just right. I knew that I had to have it in my life and placed an order mid-April.

    **Note, this review is just of the Be, using a mix of 16 bit and 24 bit music played via the sources I've owned in the past year (JDS OL Stack, Schiit stack, AK70 MkII)**


    Packaging and Accessories:
    Packaging_02.jpg packaging.jpg
    Periodic is all about value and simplicity - which I've come to appreciate. The IEMs (at the time) shipped in an inch-deep, no-frills, white clamshell box without much labeling or imagery. They have since revamped the box, but more on that later. Also included was a golden tin-case, ¼ adapter, set of foam tips, and standard silicon tips. The IEMs nozzles are wide, so keep that in mind if you prefer 3rd party tip options.

    Shell Design:
    IMG_20180305_175707.jpg
    After opening the box and evaluating the IEMs, it was clear that this was a gen-1 product. It looked as If the left and right sides were marked only with a black and red sharpie on the nozzle grill, and glue was present along the seams of the shell and endcaps. With that said, Periodic quickly exchanged them for a set without any glue issues.

    The shells are a durable polycarbonate which I like a lot. Some people might scoff at this since it seems most brands are turning to metals and fancy external design, but polycarbonate is super lightweight, durable (especially at this size/diameter) and non-resonating. The nozzles come out straight from the shell, with metal grills that looked kind of "meh" with, as mentioned previously, what seemed to be red and black sharpie to help indicate left from right. The three models in Periodic's lineup have colored endcaps to help differentiate them, the Be featuring a dark hue of gold.

    Cable:

    The cable is non-detachable, but I don't see this as being too big of an issue since they are efficient IEMs and have a worn-down style, which creates less strain on the cable itself. Periodic also offers a generous 5-year warranty - so it's a moot point. My biggest complaint was the weight and tackiness the cable has, which detracted from the overall experience. As a subway commuter, I'm often in close-quarters and have to compete with jackets and bags. The cable stuck to everything and just created too much pull resulting in loss of seal, or even being ripped out of my ears altogether a few times. Another aspect I don't love is that the metal Y-splitter catches on my collared shirts and/or jacket, which would also result in loss of seal. Not cool.


    Sound:

    Sound-wise, I couldn't be more impressed. The Be uses a 98.5% pure beryllium foil with the balance trace elements being oxygen, Iron, chromium, and silicon. I've heard grumblings saying that this material is a gimmick, but I don't find that to be the case at all after testing the other IEMs in this lineup, and they sound fantastic regardless of what's written on the box. The Be also features an N48H grade magnet, which contributes a lot to the punchy sound characteristics that many IEMs at this price lack.

    Bass:

    I LOVE the Be's bass, which extends deep down to 12 Hz and stays controlled and never flabby. There is quite a bit of sub-bass rumble, but never uncomfortable. Mid-bass is punchy but not at all fatiguing. I wouldn't say that the Be's have a bass-head signature, but it's certainly more present than your average flagship. Some might argue that bass bleeds into the mids a little, but more on that below.

    Mids:

    Due to the increased lower mids, guitars have extra weight to them which works quite well for the rock n roll I listen to most. I don't feel the bleed from the bass negatively impacts the signature, especially since vocals still appear slightly forward, warm, but maintain a healthy amount of resolution. A lot of other IEMs I've been trying at this price point sound too thin within this region and I'm glad Periodic opted to avoid that scenario.

    Treble:

    Treble extends up to 45 KHz (but my latest hearing test shows that I can only hear up to 18) There is more weight towards the top (U shape) which I like a lot. The Be has no signs of sibilance or peaks, but treble can seem slightly cold at times in an otherwise warm overall sound signature. The extension is undoubtedly excellent, and resolution is high, even in more complex situations. Although it's been a while since hearing the other two models in the lineup, I remember those options sounding brighter to me. The Be is more on the natural side of the spectrum.


    **Subtle Revisions of the Design for 2018**
    Periodic worked with me to get the newer variant to compare to the original. They seemed to have made a lot of subtle improvements and now have a much more polished product.

    1. New Cable and Y Splitter:
    Periodic seems to have gone back to the drawing board here, as there are substantial changes. They now have a thinner cable that is far less weighty and has far more spring to it. It's unlikely these will ever get tangled like the original that I had.

    The cable also seems to have lost that tackiness quality that I despised. I'm not sure if the cable is coated with something, or flat out new material, but it's smooth and doesn't catch on clothing like it used to. A+

    The metal Y-Splitter is gone, and now what seems to be the same material as the cable, without the sharp edges from before. This dramatically reduces the potential for snags and also removes the possibility of the metal scratching my phone or DAP when in my pocket. Again, a solid decision.

    Microphonics have been reduced with this new design, as I didn't notice anything walking around NYC the other day -- I picked up on this quickly with the older variant.

    2. L and R Markings:
    Periodic lost their sharpies and replaced the cheap nozzle grilles with something special -- chemically etched, .25mm thick, 316-grade stainless steel. Dan explained to me that they are then colored with an electrophoretic deposition - the same process that Apple used on its Airport Expresses and the black metal logos on the Mac Pro units. I used to work for a particular fruit stand :wink: and immediately had a smile on my face. Apple was proud of this minor detail, and it's cool that Periodic is using the same process.

    The grilles are of much better quality and more accessible with the bright red on the right side (even in low light.) With that said, I still run into issues using 3rd party tips like my favorite SpinFit Twin Blades due to the narrow exit diameter - but the new finish/brighter color is a better solution than what Periodic offered before.

    3. New Packaging:
    The packaging is still compact but features a lot of eye-catching imagery reminiscent of the hand drawn schematic design of 1more's triple and quad drivers box. Still simple, but definitely better for store shelves. Since Periodic has an emphasis of selling these to enthusiasts from independent audio stores, this is a big improvement.

    New Rating:
    Now I have to award them a new star rating of 4.5 out of 5. If they add the L and R indicators to the strain relief, I will assign them a 5/5. I don't know of a better portable IEM for my music tastes anywhere near $300 at this time in 2018 - and I'm buying and selling gear all the time at various price points.


    A Brand Full of Personality:
    Periodic is very responsive via email, and always knowledgeable. Never a "well, let me talk to someone else and get back to you." The team also seems to incorporate humor into their conversations/social media, which is awesome in the audio industry – a rather dry, overly serious space. Their approachable nature and excellent products have made an impression on me, and I look forward to whatever else they have in the pipeline.
      mgunin, hqssui, Niyologist and 2 others like this.
    1. Jacobal
      You really deducted a whole star over something so trivial? Lol
      Jacobal, Mar 8, 2018
    2. meringo
      Half a star (I guess headfi doesn't show that?)
      meringo, Mar 8, 2018
  2. PinkyPowers
    The Substance of the Gods
    Written by PinkyPowers
    Published May 13, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Small. Ergonomic. Superb sound.
    Cons - Cable does not detach. Vocals are a little rough.
    Be & Opus1S 01.jpg

    ~::I originally published this on THL. Now I wish to share it with my Head-Fi fellows::~

    :: Disclaimer ::

    Periodic provided the Be free of charge for the purpose of my honest review, for good or ill.

    The Beryllium sells for $299 USD MSRP
    www.PeriodicAudio.com
    Periodic on Amazon

    I like to start my reviews with a little story. Since I’m first and foremost a creative writer, finding the story helps me get started.

    Well, there’s no story here. I found Periodic Audio by looking through the forums for my next article. I contacted them, and they sent out their top model, the Be (Beryllium).

    Unboxing 01.jpg
    Unboxing 02.jpg
    Why Be? It looks like Periodic Audio uses the Periodic Table as a naming scheme. Be is the official designation for the element known as Beryllium, which makes up the diaphragm of the dynamic driver. They manufacture all this in-house, and sweet god are the results impressive.

    Taken from their website:

    Frequency Response
    12 Hz to 45 kHz
    Impedance
    32 Ohms nominal
    Sensitivity
    100 dB SPL at 1mW in ear
    Power Handling
    200 mW continuous
    Peak SPL
    123 dB
    THD
    Less that 1% THD at 1mW

    The shell is a light and sturdy polycarbonate. The cable is thin and flexible, with very little memory. Cable-down is a bit awkward, but if I wear it looped over the ear, I’ve had good experience. Just add a few twists, and it serves as a chin cinch to keep the wire from flopping over your ear. In this fashion, the Be wears fairly transparent and transmits practically no microphonics.

    Periodic is a weird company. They don’t care whether you reverse the Left and Right signals. You know this to be true, as there is no L and R markings anywhere. Not on the IEM, nor the cable. However, the nozzle seems to be at a subtle angle. Very subtle. I think. It’s terribly hard to tell. And you can try… try… and figure out which goes in which ear based on that. But of course, this goes out the window if you wear the IEM upside-down, which is how I do it for the over-the-ear style.

    -~::Update::~-
    Turns out I was wrong. The filter at the end of the nozzle is a different color on each side. Red, of course, belongs to the Right Side.

    Other than that, and my eternal wish for replaceable cables, I have no complaint about the build. This is a solid product.

    Case 02.jpg
    Case 01.jpg
    Upon first listen, I loved the tonality of the Beryllium. However, I did feel they lacked dynamism. So I didn’t listen long before I threw them on my Cayin i5 for a full week of burn-in, using pink noise. When I picked them up again I heard… perfection.

    The treble is smooth, with a warm yet airy timbre. A touch of sparkle accompanies this predominately organic profile. For the most part, the Be’s high frequencies are downplayed. There’s just a bump in the lower treble for clarity, and incredible extension, infusing the soundscape with impressive resolution, atmosphere, and air.

    Be’s low-end is my favorite thing about it, and the first thing I took note of. For starters, there’s a lot of it. Bass is accentuated beyond neutral, but not so much as to drown out the other frequencies. Still, the presence it holds is impossible not to obsess over. Intriguing textures wrap the flood of bass notes, giving layers and detail to the bloom and oomph. There’s powerful impact, along with a wealth of richness, which carries over into the mids. The tonality here gives me goosebumps every listen.

    Be 03.jpg

    Speaking of mid-range… surprisingly, there isn’t an abundance of weight or body. This is probably due to a dip in mid and upper bass. Vocals are tinted warm, but they are a little thin and wispy. However, they are of good size and fairly neutral on the stage. Clarity, also, is quite good, with nimble articulation and realistic texture. There’s a naturalness in its tone, though it could use a bit more note weight.

    Soundstage is marvelous, and very cubical, giving you great space in all directions, including height. The instruments on that stage are on the large size, too. So it doesn’t feel like insects playing within a grand hall. Thanks to the Be’s superior resolution, separation is clean and individual elements are easily identifiable. This is another of those cases where an IEM performs well beyond my expectation. I’ve fallen hard for these.
    The Accutone Studio S2 ($339) has a lot in common with Periodic’s Be. It pursues warm and natural tonality, with even smoother treble and less sparkle. The bass has nice timbre and sufficient quantity, though Be is fuller, with more emphasis. Vocals are warmer, and thinner, on the S2. It’s a less dynamic, more relaxed IEM. Soundstage is spacious, though I don’t think it quite matches Be. Resolution is not as sharp, yet separation is handled admirably. What I miss more than anything is all the texture and detail Be delivers. However, I must admit, the Studio S2 feels even more accurate and genuine of tone.
    Be 02.jpg

    iBasso released a ******* beast that just kills higher-priced IEMs up to a certain point. The IT01 ($99, Review HERE) is brighter in the treble and more sub-bass oriented. As such, it has the better sense of clarity and detail. Whereas Be is warmer and fuller, drawing closer to perfect naturalness. Their vocals are both on the lean side, and their dynamism is about the same. Soundstage is also on equal footing to my ears, with Be possessing the taller ceiling. I’d say they are again matched for resolution and separation. What I can I say? Between these two in-ears, I see no winner. It’s a matter of tuning preference. Like I said, this cheap little ****** is that good.

    You will be hard pressed to find a DAP or amp which does not mingle well with the Beryllium IEM. It’s tuning is such, that if you fancy it, there’s little a source can do to ruin it. It’s neither too bright nor too warm. Your DAP will only accent the Be this way or that, while the impeccable balance will remain more or less intact. Furthermore, this earphone is easy to drive, and none of my players struggled in anyway.

    Be & Opus2 01.jpg
    The Opus#2 ($999, Review HERE) unleashes Periodic’s full potential. With life-like resolution and dimensionality, and natural weight and timbre, you will be amazed at what a $300 IEM can achieve. The bass hits with hellish impact, yet it never has a chance to cloud the image, for the soundstage is so grand and clean.

    Cayin’s N5ii ($369, Review HERE) renders such a clear, detailed sound. Its dynamics attack hard, its resolution is high. There’s an excellent sense of depth and layering. The Beryllium truly comes alive with this player. For a rather reasonable price, this setup is good enough to qualify as any sane person’s end-game. It is SOOOOOO good!

    Be & N5ii 01.jpg
    Be & N3 01.jpg
    If you want to go full Budget-Fi, the Cayin N3 ($149, Review HERE) will cast a warmer pall over the Be. Smoothness, rich bass, and rolled off highs, no one will cry fatigue with this pairing. There’s very little depth, and the clarity could be better, yet it’s hard not to bask in the sheer musicality of it all.

    Well there you are. The Periodic Beryllium is outstanding. It’s one of the most pleasant things I’ve ever listened to. The tuning just speaks to me, caressing my spirit with its warmth and texture. It is a dynamic in the very best of ways, with monumental scope and richness, performing well beyond personal hopes or expectations. This is the second Beryllium encrusted driver I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing, and both instances impressed me. While I can’t say empirically it’s due to the element being used, I shall, nonetheless, keep my eye on this sort of product from here on out. I highly recommend you give the Be a shot.

    -~::Pinky_Powers::~-

    Be 01.jpg
  3. kevingzw
    A Milestone in In-ear Technology!
    Written by kevingzw
    Published Mar 30, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Superb Tonality and Timbre, Full-Sounding, Ultra-Wide Soundstage, Clear and Precise Imaging, Simple "No-nonsense" design, Comfortable for Long Listening Sessions.
    Cons - Poorly built 3.5mm Termination, Thin Cables feel prone to wear and tear.
    The "Pre"-Preface:
    I would like to thank Dan Wiggins and his lovely wife @ Periodic Audio for being such a wonderful host in CanJam Singapore 2018! I thoroughly enjoy my conversations with you guys (what a amicable couple!) I look forward to reviewing future releases under the Periodic Audio brand. Best of Luck!

    20180324_123516.jpg



    The Real Preface:
    As mentioned above, I am in love with Periodic Audio. However, I am not in anyway affiliated with Periodic Audio. I purchased this unit with my own hard-earned cash. I will not let my personal bias impair my judgement. Out of respect for Dan, I will share my honest 2-cents about this product.



    How I discovered the Brand:
    During one of my random 3am Youtube binges, I discovered Periodic Audio via Innerfidelity's coverage of Canjam New York 2017. Amidst the video, I discovered Periodic Audio and their "no-frills" approach to the over-saturated porta-audio market. Steering away from industry trends, Periodic Audio settled on a "single dynamic transducer" approach to alleviate "timing delays" and "unnatural sound" of balanced armature setups.

    Peirodic Audio boasts a line-up of 3 IEM's (Mg, Ti and Be). The Mg is priced at $99, the Ti at $199 and the Be at $299. Each earphone shares the same schematics, apart from the various diaphragm materials being utilized (Magnesium, Titanium and Beryllium). For easy identification, the metal caps at the back of each earphone share the same color of each corresponding diaphragm type.

    Intrigued by the quirky lab-themed marketing, I was excited to snag a pair of the entry-level model, the Mg (Magnesium) earphones at the show. That was until I poisoned my ears with the demo Be's. At that given moment, I knew I had to purchase my own pair (THE PRECIOUS). I managed to get my hands on them at a discounted price (Thank you, a la Dan Wiggins!)



    Packaging:

    20180331_011408.jpg
    Love the Image on the front flap!


    In accordance with Periodic Audio's No-nonsense approach, the packaging is pretty straight forward. Unlike its American counterparts (Campfire audio etc), Periodic audio opted for a cheap bio-degradable package that serves its purpose; protecting the earphones inside and nothing else. To avoid unwanted costs, this approach reduces the unnecessary costs borne on the consumer. To quote Dan loosely, "who listens to the box"? A pragmatic approach indeed.

    The print on the front of the box flap features and exploded schematic/blue-print of the earphone itself (very cool!)



    Accessories:

    20180331_011842.jpg

    Apologies for the lack of 1/4 adapters. Misplaced it before writing this review.

    1 X Periodic Audio Be Earphones
    1 X Periodic Audio Tin Case
    1 X Boxful of Eartips (Rubber, Foam)
    1 X Airline Adapter
    1 X 1/4 Inch Adapter

    They didn't skimp on the accessories. There's pretty much everything needed to get you started out of the box. I especially love the rounded tin case provided in each Periodic Audio package. It reminds me of the lozenge tins produced by Robitussin and Altoids. A tasteful way to store earphones! The inner of the case itself is lined with foam, protecting the earphones against hard thumps and surface scratches. Overall, its a tasteful package.



    Build Quality:

    451104-periodic-audio-be.jpg

    Courtesy of PCMag

    At a $299 price-point, most audiophiles would expect a solid metallic construction with an over-ear design (ideally with a detachable cable of sorts). This has none of that. From an engineer's perspective, Dan and his team of industry-trained designers opted for a high-quality poly carbonate build.

    20180331_012438.jpg
    How it sits in my ear

    For starters, plastic sits more comfortably in the ear canal thanks to its light-weight nature. In addition, plastic serves as a better chamber with better resonance properties as compared to metal. It is obvious that the team has designed this product for long-term, fatigue-free listening. Taking the entire thought process into account, I have no qualms with the build on the actual driver assembly.

    The ends of each case are sealed with a beautifully machined rear cap. There are tube/vents built at the top of the earphone to alleviate the build-up of air pressure in the chamber. Thankfully, the placement of the vents do not compromise on its ability to isolate.

    The termination between the cable split and the earphones themselves are reinforced with molded rubber jackets. Unlike other non-detachable earphones in the market, these feel ultra-durable with that extra layer of security.

    20180331_012102.jpg
    The Be (Top) vs an Oyaide Connector (Bottom)

    The cable is thin and supple, retaining little to no memory. Cable noise is non-existent during my journeys to Train Station on any given day. My main gripe lies with the cable jacket and the 3.5mm terminated jack. The thinny cable leaves little to be desired when it comes to its longevity. The 3.5mm termination is poorly built when placed next to other aftermarket connectors like Ranko or Oyaide. These are areas that can be improved in future iterations or product releases in the pipeline.



    Sound Description:

    Gear used: Aune X1S 32bit DAC/Amp
    Spotify Premium
    LG G6 (ESS Quad DAC)
    Cowon Plenue D

    Tracklist:
    Jack White- Corporation (MP3, 320/kbps)

    Jack White- Respect Commander (MP3, 320/kbps)


    The Handsome Family- Far from Any Road (MP3, 320/kbps)


    Mariya Takeuchi- Plastic Love (FLAC, 24bit/96khz)


    Nicolas Godin- Clara (FLAC, 24bit/96khz)


    Dry The River- Shaker Hymns Acoustic (MP3, 320/kbps)


    Being the most expensive of the line-up, the Be's house a pure Beryllium diaphragm with a proprietory dynamic transducer on each side (similar to that of the Campfire Lyra 2). According to the listed measurements, the Be's are easily driven and efficient, with an impedance of 32 ohms and 100dB SPL @ 1mW of power.

    Lows:
    Thick is the right word used to describe the bass section. It has an uncanny rumble on several tracks with a sub-woofer like stage presence (similar to that of the Campfire Vegas). Do not be fooled however, as the bass decays quickly enough without overshadowing other areas in the frequency band. Mid-bass isn't particularly forward but it has enough authority to signify its presence.

    Mids:
    Now, this is the shining jewel. The Be captures the timbre of each instrument and vocal section with ethereal precision. Mids are full and well-bodied, with enough lower-mid emphasis. The Mids aren't particularly forward but across the entirety of the frequency band, they're placed on an even playing field.

    Highs:
    The Highs are slightly rolled up. Backed up by the thick bass, the highs are noticeably "muted". IMHO however, it does capture the entire spectrum quite naturally without it being "hostile" to the ears.

    Treble:
    Treble sensitive listeners, rejoice! The treble here is rolled off at this "acoustic sweet spot", with ample bite to represent cymbals with an accurate timbre. There's enough of it without it being an overpowering, sibilant mess. Treble-heads, please look elsewhere!

    Soundstage and Imaging:
    The Be's run far and wide. The placing of instruments are realistic, with superb stereo separation. The placement of the vent allows the driver "to breathe", enhancing the experience with the best imaging I've ever had on a earphone at this price-point. It's like loudspeakers in your ears.

    Scalability:
    Like other dynamic driver earphones, they do respond to amping rather well. More juice allows you to achieve more control over the Be's with a better damping factor. Paired with my Aune X1s, the Be's are noticeably clearer in the mid-band. Soundstage is further improved as well, with wider stereo separation and multi-layered imaging.



    Comparisons:

    20180331_013009.jpg
    Battle of the Tin cans!

    Periodic Audio Be ($299) vs Noble X Massdrop ($249) - Understandably, this isn't exactly a fair fight, Sadly, I do not own many earphones at this price point in my rotation.


    The Periodic Audio Be utilizes one single dynamic driver while the Noble X's uses a dual-balanced armature array in its setup.


    The Be is obviously more "full-sounding", with a superior timbre. The Noble X's places emphasis on the upper-mid registers and a sub-bass rumble that's unheard of in most Balanced Armature Setups. It is quick and nimble in its presentation. It does however, lack the dynamic flexibility and body of the former. The bass section of the Noble X distorts quickly unlike the Be's, with its cohesive bass-response.


    Imaging on the Be's blow the Noble X's out of the water. It is wider and larger as compared to the slightly unrealistic representation of the Noble X's. Make no mistake, the Noble X's like most multi-driver setups, feature great separation. It does lack the consistency and accuracy captured by a full range dynamic transducer.


    The details picked up on the Noble X is accurate and reference-like thanks to the Prat of balanced armatures. It decays with a planar-like rigidity. The Be's as expected, are slower compared to the Noble X's. However, the Be's draggier sound, is how music is supposed to sound: warm and inviting. Balanced Armatures have a tendency to sound coarse and dry no thanks to its lack of air displacement. Dynamic drivers imo, are the superior transducer type in reference earphones.



    TLDR:
    The Be's are shining achievements in portable audio. Of all the earphones I've owned, this is arguably the best earphone in my collection to date. The sound is rich and inviting, with sound-stage and width that shoots way above its price point. Periodic Audio has achieved the impossible with this product. Competitors beware, there is a new contender in town!
      meringo and earfonia like this.
    1. earfonia
      Nice review! It was great meeting Dan Wiggins in CanJam Singapore! Wonderful guy indeed! I tried all three, the Magnesium, Titanium, and Beryllium, and to my ears the Magnesium sounds best, more balance with better perceived clarity. Dan told me his wife also prefers the Magnesium. Those are great example of how different diaphragm material on similar design, have such great impact on sound quality. I wanted to buy the Magnesium, but unfortunately it was out of stock.
      earfonia, Mar 31, 2018
      hqssui and kevingzw like this.
    2. kevingzw
      @earfonia The Mg's are serious budget-fi contenders! Nearly purchased an extra pair myself :)
      kevingzw, Apr 3, 2018
  4. mejoshua
    An absorbing bass experience + clarity
    Written by mejoshua
    Published May 30, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Deep, textured and thumping bass experience, clarity and separation
    Cons - Bass may be too heavy for some, staging may be on the intimate side
    Before I begin the review, I would like to take the opportunity to thank Dan and team at Periodic Audio for allowing me to review their debut IEM lineup. Because I can only post one review for each item at a time, the same opening paragraphs will be repeated for all three IEMs, with only the review on sound differing.


    A short preamble before the review proper: Periodic Audio takes an interesting approach to their design philosophy. I will not bore you with details here – you can find all you need to know about their company and approach on their very neatly designed website, periodicaudio.com.


    Two things that I found most novel in terms of design and engineering choices, which is reflected in their company name, is that firstly, their choice of driver material is based off certain elements on the periodic table. Their opening lineup includes Mg (Magnesium driver), Ti (Titanium driver) and Be (Beryllium driver), which is their current top of the line offering. Beryllium seems to be a popular choice of material for hifi, which I recall the popular Focal Utopia headphones also utilizes.

    Secondly, Dan and team have chosen to use a polycarbonate shell for the IEM housing, which purportedly reduces resonance drastically. I was skeptical at first, but after my initial impressions which I will go into later, I realized that it sounds like they are on to something.


    Packaging and Accessories:

    The packaging comes in a utilitarian white cardboard box, and in it contains the IEMs, as well as a selection of tips including silicone and complys in small Ziploc packs, stuffed inside the yellow gold metal container with the Periodic Audio logo emblazoned on the top shell. They have also generously included a in flight adapter as well as a 3.5mm to 6.35mm (1/4”) adaptor. Some may raise an issue with the quality of the packaging, but personally I can see that Periodic Audio has chosen to focus on the quality of the product and accessories, which they clearly delivered.



    Design:

    All 3 Periodic IEMs sport the same outer shell and housing, with the differentiating factor being the piece that covers the back of the IEM indicating the type of metal used. The Mg has a shinier silver back plate; the Ti has a darker hue, gunmetal type tint back plate; and the Be being the easiest to spot among the pack, having a darkish golden back plate that is quite aesthetically pleasing. The polycarbonate shell feels tougher and harder than it sounds, and is a deep black. What is also interesting is that there are no L/R indicators on the shells or the strain reliefs, but the guys at Periodic have opted to colour code the earpiece filters. The left earpiece has a blue filter, and the right has a red filter. The only downside about this is when trying to identify them in an environment that may have little light – it might be difficult to tell the difference then. I had no issues during the day though.

    My only niggle with the IEM design might be the cable. The cable seems run of the mill, and does not feel sturdy enough to endure daily abuse. It has some cable memory, tends to get tangled easily and is also not very compliant during coiling and storing.





    Comfort and Seal:

    I found all 3 IEMs to fit well and fit quickly, with very decent levels of isolation when I’m out and about during the day. This is with the default silicone tips. Once they are in, they also do not move about easily, and I find that they sit snugly in my ears.


    Sound:

    Sources used – Onkyo DP-X1A, Sony A15

    The moment I first listened to the Be, I knew that it was something special. Not merely because it is the most expensive one in the lineup, but more so because of its absorbing sound signature. The Be marries a wholly musical tuning with good technicalities and lifelike imaging, resulting in a immersive and engaging listening experience. The hallmark separation and clarity, together with a powerfully but tightly controlled bass remains distinctive. However, unlike the Mg and the Ti, the Be has a comparatively thicker midrange that brings a slightly warmer tilt to the overall tonality, which is very pleasant, especially for a stickler for timbre like myself. I found that the Be came the closest in accurately replicating the timbre of instruments and voices.


    Bass:

    The bass is still weighted and slightly emphasized but what sets it apart from its titanium and magnesium brothers is how effortlessly it maintains its tautness and grip-like control. It seems to reach the lowest recesses a hint more ably than the Ti but it is not clearly noticeable with casual listening. It is heavier than the Mg, and punches similarly to the Ti, but exceeds the Ti in quality and speed. The Be gives a punchy, weighty and highly musical bass experience, thoroughly in line with what I expect from a quality bass presentation. I love it!




    Mids:

    The cold tilt of the Mg is gone, and in its place a warmer tone created from thicker midrange notes fills out any deficiencies in this range perceived from the previous models. There is some magic in the tuning here because this mid weightiness does not compromise on clarity and resolution, but conveys a very lifelike and powerful midrange. This is especially so for the reproduction of vocals and instruments such as strings and brasses. I have to make a note here that plucked strings are incredibly and convincingly realistic. Unlike the Ti, the mids are less centered in front of your face, but rather more centered in a 3D axis closer to your face. While this may seem strange, the presentation of audio space is actually more balanced in terms of all 3 axes, which I will elaborate more about on the section on soundstage. Backing vocals sound excellent here, with harmony lines clearly delineated but in a layered way. This is because they pan out to the left and right: not in a simple wide planed way, but rather curves in around the headspace, as if the backup vocalists were singing from the left and right spaces beside your ears. There is obviously a greater focus on delivering a more powerful vocal experience in the Be compared to the others, and I can safely say Periodic has delivered on this front.


    Treble:

    Treble extends well and is crisp, with great speed and resonates with bell-like clarity. What this translates to is defined, singular strikes on the most complex band arrangements, even with rapidly successive cymbal work. There is neither sibilance nor harsh peaks here as well, yet like the Mg and Ti, the treble tonality here generally veers towards slightly cold.


    Staging/Imaging/Separation:

    In terms of resolution, the Be naturally comes up top. On very high quality recordings it is easy to hear the intakes of breath and little nuances conveyed by the singer. Of course it will not compare favourably with IEMs that well exceed its price tier, but I could comfortably say it is competitive with earphones costing below $1k. The stage is most immersive out of the 3 models in the lineup, and throws out a spherical space. This spherical space is more width and height than depth, but depth is still great. It does not, say, extend far behind the listener’s neck, but is still rather convincing. The main vocalist is somewhere around the centre of the sphere, and instruments are imaged quite precisely within the 3D field. Bass tends to emanate from the bottom back, and instruments and backup vocals fill the spaces around the ears. Separation is top notch while retaining solid layering of instruments. While the presentation of spatial depth could still be even better, it is holographic enough to be quite immersive – this is mostly contributed by the excellent timbre and realism that the Be produces.


    *note – I also managed to find time to listen to the Be out of the Schiit Fulla 2 which is my office setup, and I found that the Fulla 2 presents a superb synergistic match with the Be. It retains good technicalities while sounding very musical, akin to marrying the merits of pairing it with both the Onkyo DP-X1A and the Sony A15.

    Conclusion:

    Periodic Audio has served up a potent combination of IEMs suited to different budgets and tastes in its entrance to the audiophile market. One can hardly go wrong with either the Mg, Ti or the Be. For my personal preferences I’d pick the Be any day, because I’m biased toward a musical tuning that has focus on engaging mids and quality bass. But if one is on a budget, the Mg comes with a high recommendation. I find the Ti more of a specialist – if you love rock or metal, or genres that tend more toward a v-shaped tonal profile then the Ti would be perfect. Well done, Dan and team at Periodic Audio!

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