Periodic Audio Be Review – Sound and Science

The Company

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“We focus strictly on audio products that fit in your pocket. Not a separate case, or that need to be tucked in your bag. If you have to stop and think about bringing it with you – it’s not portable.” The statement above is very true, as I use their products I can literally put my DAP (Shanling M1), the Periodic Audio Ni and Periodic Audio Be all at the same pocket of my jacket and for me it is the most convinienct setup that I have to this date.

The Periodic Audio BE

The Periodic Audio Be is a “back to basic” kind of build. A thin, non removable rubber coated cable and a bullet type drivers. The driver’s diaphragm is made out of pure Beryllium foil and due to the components of it it is envisioned to have more accurate sound (speed) and less noise. Unlike their claim that it is neutral, I believe that it isn’t in fact the overall signature is warm and smooth but with good speed, it never sounded muddy. The overall look is very simple and might not be attractive for audiophiles, but in return it is light and very easy to carry. The back of the shell is made out of metal and the color is leaning to bronze, the body is made out of plastic, same material is used for the filter and I think this contributed for the overall sound signature of this IEM.

Technical Specifications:

Performance
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 than 1% THD at 1mW
Physical Properties
Cable Length 1.5 m
Mass 2.8 / 9.3 g (IEM/Set)
Operational Temperature -20 to +50° C
Operational Humidity 0-95% Relative Humidity
NRR 31.3 dB (foam eartrip)
Overall Length 21 mm
Body Diameter 12 mm
Nozzle Diameter 6 mm

Packaging

For a 300 USD IEM, the packaging of the Be is average, it has a 3.5mm to 6.3mm adaptor, airplane jack, several pair of tips and a metallic carrying case. I love the idea of having a metal case since their main concept is metal elements and the idea is very clever. The box isn’t that ‘premium’ in my honest opinion but again, Periodic Audio’s style is minimalist and that’s fine for me, I just prefer larger and more intimidating box especially for the price or the IEM.

Fit and Comfort

After trying the Final Audio E1000, I started loving the fit of bullet type IEMs they are very light and comfortable it sits with my ears without giving it fatigue. The Periodic Audio Be despite being larger in diameter than the E1000 still maintained the lightness of it, It’s very comfortable to my ear and with proper eartips it can give very good sound isolation. I find it more comfortable than CIEM-ish fitting IEM like T4 but it doesn’t stay to my ears like the latter so for commute I prefer the CIEM build.

Sound

I love IEMs and earbuds with midcentric to flat sound signature as I really love listening to vocals rather than instruments. My genre ranges from heavy rock, alternative rock, pop rock, acoustic, pop, jazz and folk. Majority of my test tracks are in 16 bit – 44 khz and 24 bit – 48 khz FLAC file and here is the list of my commom test tracks.

  1. Reese Lansangan – For the Fickle (background, female vocals and upper mids)
  2. Foo Fighters – Bridge Burning (Imaging, Layering, Coherence, Sub bass and Mid bass, Mids, Treble)
  3. Jensen and the Flips – Come Closer (Mid Bass, Mids)
  4. Ed Sheeran – Dive (Mid bass, Lower Mids)
  5. Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why (Upper Mids and Instruments)
  6. Paramore – Hard Times (Imaging, Layering, Coherence, Sub bass and Mid bass, Mids, Treble)
  7. Utada Hikaru ft. Skrillex – Face My Fears (Imaging Layering, Bass, Mids, Treble, Coherence, Quickness)
  8. Passenger – Coins in a Fountain (Mid bass, Layering, Imaging, Instruments, Lower mids, Treble)
  9. Tori Kelly – Hollow (Background, Upper mids)
  10. Ariana Grande – Raindrops (Background, Upper mids)

Summary

For the Quality, higher is better as this includes resolution and dynamics while the quantity and positioning are subjective, it actually tells how close and how much the frequencies are.

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Bass

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Sub bass goes deep enough to give great presence for guitar riffs and rumbles, I really love how the BE handled the opening of “Bridge Burning” by Foo Fighters, the depth, quantity and texture is commendable and will definitely please bass-heads out there. The mid bass is still quite elevated, in my honest opinion, it has above average quantity which added weight to bass notes, details is very nice too as I can easily pick the drum rolls in the track “everything’s not lost” by Coldplay. The mid bass is detailed too even though it is being rendered in smooth manner, attack and decay speed are both moderate, neither fast nor slow, it can deliver some complex tracks without showing congestion and that’s fine especially for a set that focus on bass quantity and weight.

Midrange

Male vocals sounds full and lush, I can hear a bit of high bass bleeding to the lower mids but it isn’t that noticeable. The lower midrange is kinda kinda neutral and it is mostly noticeable when listening to rock and EDM songs. Both instruments and vocals are rendered smoothly, though the resolution isn’t as good as its bass, textures are still present and still enjoyable. Upper mids is also recessed, the body as moderate it doesn’t sound too thick or thin in any way, it is still pretty clear despite being recessed, I wish thst they bumped the upper midrange more as I really love sweet sounding female vocals. Details is almost the same level as the lower mids, timbre is natural and it sounds good for me even though it isn’t forward. No signs of sibilance or harshness, texture is moderate.

Treble

Airy, relaxed and smooth, for me it lacks presence and sparkle it sounds too relaxed and recessed for me. I can say that it is airy enough to give good sense of width, depth and height but I think that treble heads won’t like the treble of BE. I didn’t hear any peaks or harshness, the attack and decay is pretty fast as well but I think that due to lack of presence, details also suffered. Extension is moderate and cymbals sounded muted at times, I wish that they pushed it a bit more forward and gave it more sparkle nonetheless it’s great for several hours of listening.

Sound stage and resolution

Layering and imaging is good, playing “Coins in a fountain” by passenger, I can say that there’s no congestion despite having several instruments playing, the staging of the song itself is just moderately wide and the BE portrayed the stage properly. Both the width, length and height are great I’d say that the stage is better in terms of size than at least 60 percent of IEMs that I’ve tried before (includes Noble Katana, Acoustune hs1551 cu, Earsonics ES3 and Empire Ears Bravado). For the resolution, both the sub bass and mid bass are detailed enough to reveal the details of my test tracks that I’ve mentioned in my reviews, I didn’t had a hard time finding those details. Midrange and treble are just average since both are rendered smoothly and are a bit recessed compared to the bass.

Sound Signature and Synergy

The sound signature of the BE is L shaped to warm and smooth, the bass is elevated while the midrange is quite linear, lastly treble is recessed. The bass is also more resolving than the midrange and treble too. The bass despite the weight is quick and detailed enough while also retaining enough air. Midrange is kinda recessed but full soundiny and has sufficient transparency. Treble is recessed as well, it lacks sparkle bit is very good for long listening due to absence of harshness.

Shanling M3s

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Shanling M3s ranges from warm to neutral with fantastic mids that has good balance between lushness and transparency. I made the whole review mainly using the M3s connected on 3.5mm jack and with 40-60 volume. The Be is one of the few IEMs that’s a bit hard to drive though not as hard as the Soranik SS1. 20-30 is my usual volume with IEMs such as Earsonics ES3, Toneking T4 and Tin audio T3. Since the M3s has hint of warmth and has focus on midrange, the treble is smoother and more recessed than playing it with neutral sources. If you love bass and midrange then this is a good pair, it is resolving and has good staging it actually reminds me of Acoustune hs1551 cu except that it has more forward midrange.

Shanling M1 + Periodic Audio Ni (PO)

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The Shanling M1s is warm while the Ni is very transparent amplifier, it is noticeably more transparent than the Jazz R7.0 and almost on par with O2 (low power mode). I’d say that this pairing gave the Be better treble and upper midrange while retaining the warmth of the bass and lower mids. Female vocals became sweeter and a bit more forward, the treble gain some sparkle but with this pairing the dynamics and sound stage took some toll as it isn’t as wide and separated as with the M3s. Nonetheless I prefer this pairing as the sound signature became closer to being neutral.

Smartphone (Huawei Mate 10)

The Huawei Mate 10 is kinda neutral to bright for my ears but still it isn’t enough to give the treble of the Be a little spark. The midrange sounds more recessed especially female vocals and the treble still lacks sparkle. Bass was reduced by a little amount but all in all it is still an L shaped signature, technical performance isn’t on par with the previous sources that I’ve tested and I turn the volume to 60-80 for it to sound loud enough for me.

Comparison

QDC Anole V3

The Anole V3 is much more versatile to start with due to its switches, it is also better for long term usage due to its removable cables. With bass switch on, the V3 sounded thin in comparison to the Be. The bass is tighter and quicker with the V3 while it is thicker and airier with the Be, resolution goes to the V3 while depth and quantity goes to the Be, I’d pick the Be since it is more effective with Rock and EDM (which I listen to quite often lately) the bass of V3 is quite thin even on bass configuration. Midrange is literally thick and thin, the V3 has thinner presentation yet more resolving, forward and transparent on the other hand the Be has more warmth, and not dry sounding at all though it is quite more recessed than the V3, I’ll give the win to the V3. For the treble, the V3 has more defined and brighter treble tonality in comparison to smooth and airy Be, the V3 has better extension and resolution so I’ll give the win to the Be. Sound stage (width, height and depth) goes to the Be due to airier presentation but for me, the V3 is more accurate in terms of layering and imaging to be fair, I’ll call it a tie. Resolution easily goes to the V3.

Toneking T4

The T4 is almost neutral with some treble peaks, on the other hand the Be is an L shaped sounding IEM. Bass easily goes to the Be with better Air, extension, weight and quantity, though the T4 has slightly better resolution and is tighter. The lower midrange goes to the Be with lusher presentation compared to drier T4, upper midrange goes to the T4 with better resolution, sweetness and transparency. Treble is kinda picky with T4 but it is a lot more detailed and has better extension compared to the airier, and smoother Be, I’d pick the T4 since I want my cymbals to be slightly sparkly but treble sensitive folks might pick the Be. Layering, imaging, width, depth and height goes to the Be, the T4 despite being wide it lacks air and instrument accuracy. Resolution goes to the T4 since it is analytical (slightly bright).

Conclusion

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The Periodic Audio Be might not entice those who blind buy, it has minimalist design, non removable cable and bullet type shell. But after listening to it for quite some time I’d say that it is really good in fact it almost has the same tonality and sq as the Acoustune Hs1551 cu which is almost twice the price of the Be. It is easy to listen, smooth, deep and impactful bass. Lush midrange that’s a bit recessed and treble that’s smooth and no signs of harshness. If you want a warm and full sounding pair and you want to avoid the upper midrange and treble harshness, then this is the pair for you. I just hope that they made the cable removable so that consumers can tune the sound better nonetheless tip rolling got you fam.

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