Periodic Audio have done away with convention and named their in ear monitors after elements of the periodic table. Matthew Sampson takes a listen to their three offerings costing $100, $200 and $300. 

Usually, when a Hifi company comes out with a new anything, they follow the same naming convention: letter-letter-numbers-and-maybe-another-letter. So when Periodic Audio came out with their initial run of IEMs, and named them after metal elements, two earth and one transitional, I was pleasantly surprised. When I listened to them, I was downright impressed. These IEMs, or, if we’re being colloquial, earbuds, are workhorses for a certain section of the population, and though they’re not the cheapest when it comes to IEMs that aren’t custom-moulded, they’re by no means unreachable.

Periodic Audio Beryllium In Ear Monitors

But let’s talk about those elements for a second. If you asked me why my Fostex TH500RP headphones are TH, 500, or RP, I’d probably have to double-check the manufacturer’s spec sheets to find out exactly why they’re designated as such. With the Periodic IEMs, the Magnesium, Titanium, and Beryllium, they’re called that because, frankly, that’s what they are. Each IEM features voice diaphragms (yes, not balanced armatures) made either primarily or entirely of whichever element they’re named after, and the minimalistic boxes that the IEMs are sold in feature the Atomic number, weight, symbol, and name of the element; a bit of fanservice for anyone who fancies themselves an audiophile and a science nerd.

Periodic Magnesium In Ear Monitors

In fact, “minimalistic” is probably the best way to describe how Periodic handled many of the design elements. Once you get the IEMs out of the boxes and their foam rubber padding, the gold-colored carrying tin has no designation on it, and the IEMs themselves have no marking on them, save for the company logo on the appropriately-colored backing cap. This was the first shortcoming that I encountered, as I had no way to differentiate between left and right without plugging them in and listening. However, the manufacturer notified me that the production models have black grilles on the left-ear unit, which solves the differentiation issue without compromising the minimalistic styling of the IEMs.
What’s not minimalistic, however, is the amount of choice given to the end user in terms of ear tips and adaptors. A lot of IEM nuts are going to go out and snag the appropriate pair of Comply eartips (TX500, in case you were wondering) but frankly, most people won’t need to. Periodic includes the three major types of eartips (Foam, single flange silicone, and double-flange silicone) in three different sizes apiece, and so whatever your preferences, there’s probably an included eartip for you. Also included is a ⅛”/3.5mm to ¼”/6.35mm adaptor, and an airplane adaptor, both of a fairly decent build quality, and gold-plated.

Periodic Titanium In Ear Monitors

Listening

So the sound. The reason why we have IEMs in the first place. Full disclosure, these aren’t for everyone. If all you listen to is Steely Dan and Vivaldi, you’re probably going to be disappointed, and your considerably-lighter wallet may cry a bit. However, if you’re like me, and you occasionally indulge in EDM, Pop music, anything with -beat, -dance or -wave suffixed on the end, or Hip-Hop, you’re in for an absolute treat. This is probably the most fun I’ve ever had listening to Electronic music, bar none, and I actually found myself seeking out new electronic music to listen to with these on. The sound is lively and punchy, with danceable driving bass that is neither boomy nor dull, and searing high lead synths, with present mids that allow you to hear the reverb and vocals clearly, which is a pleasant surprise with IEMs. The manufacturer points out the Titaniums as the best for EDM, and they really are, especially for the modern stuff, but the Beryllium just has…something. Well, something besides an additional USD 100 in cost. The detail in the sound is quite nuanced, and any serious electronic music fan who has the cash to splurge should probably consider these for on-the-go listening. And the Magnesium, the entry-level offering, is no slouch either, with probably the most present high frequency response of the trio, and the clarity to allow for some versatility, which can justify the cost for those new to IEMs. The downside to this is that the sound isn’t really anything I’ve not heard elsewhere, so I was less wowed.

Especially given the strong suit of the Magnesiums, you could bet money that nobody could find a better IEM offering for USD 100 from EDM and Hip-Hop standards such as Beats, Marley or SOL, and probably win that bet. If you’ve got music that features electronic or sequenced instruments, you’ll want to hear them through the Periodic IEMs, and hey, if you want to listen to Aja for the 200th time, you can do that too.

“Electronic music” has a bit of a bad reputation in the audiophile community, evoking images of MDMA-addled millennials listening to brickwalled offerings from Skrillex in between drags of their oversized vape pens. But when I say Electronic music sounds great, I mean almost anything featuring mostly-synthesized instruments sounds fantastic. So while I did test the best Carpenter Brut, Savant, Scavenger Hunt, Disclosure, Blackmill, and Goldroom tracks in FLAC, I also tested out Herbie Hancock’s “Future Shock,” almost all of Jean Michel Jarre’s “Oxygene” and “Chronologie,” some lesser-known works like Propellerheads’ remix of “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” and the quintessential 80s dance number “Pump Up the Volume.” Synth-heavy, or even just generally danceable pieces from groups such as The Birthday Massacre, VNV Nation, A-ha, Donna Summer and a lot of Michael Jackson’s early releases all sound magnificent, akin to bringing a club or discotheque with you wherever you go.

The biggest question that many people have with IEMs is of course, about the mobility. The answer is simple: They’re IEMs. Most mobile phones, DAPs, portable computers, and tablets can provide ample power to drive these 32 Ohm IEMs. You put them in, and they stay in, providing the isolation you need when on public transit, out for a walk or jog, at the gym, or even just around the house. The cord isn’t excessively long, so it’s not going to get tangled up around you whenever you move around, or require you to carry a bundle of cable in your off hand, but it’s not so short that you can’t carry a connected DAP in your pocket. (And a mobile with an SD card full of FLAC works just fine as well) The carrying tin makes portability easy, even if bystanders may think it’s a fancy can of mints or dipping tobacco for a split second. Bottom line, they do everything one would expect of IEMs, and a little more.

So now for the elephant in the room. These things aren’t cheap, but that’s for a good reason. The Magnesium is roughly USD 100, MSRP, and the price ascends 100 dollars every time you go up an iteration, with the Beryllium costing USD 300. As mentioned before, this isn’t insane, especially when you consider the cost of some of the insanely luxurious custom-molded IEMs that some companies offer, but most people wouldn’t consider the Beryllium a throwaway purchase.

So let me break it down this way:

If you’re light on cash, but really like hip-hop, EDM, electronica, disco, or synthpop, and you want to get started in the world of IEMs, the Magnesium is a pretty safe bet. Also, these are probably the most versatile of the set, so they’re pretty great for other genres. Great value.

If you like EDM a lot, and you want to take that appreciation with you wherever you go, the Titanium is your best bet. Lowest versatility, highest return on investment for those who like modern Electronica.

If electronic music is your passion, and you want the absolute pinnacle of luxury (and have the requisite USD 300) then the Beryllium will be worth every penny. Lower versatility, but a Jack of All Trades is a master of none…and these are masters.

Conclusion

Should you buy the Periodic IEMs? That’s up to you. But I can safely say that for anyone I know who enjoys electronic music, and who asks me for a good pair of earbuds, I’ll recommend the Periodic IEMs without a second thought. Oh, and they offer a 5 year warranty, if you’re rough on your kit, or just want that added security.

AT A GLANCE


Build Quality:  Good. Polymer IEM housing feels sturdy, and none of the eartips feel flimsy or cheap
Sound Quality:  Good to excellent for the price, depending on the user’s preference.
Even the lowest-cost offering in this set sounds robust and fun, and the Beryllium is truly spectacular with electronic music. Caveat Emptor with the Titanium if electronic music isn’t your speed.
Value For Money:  Variable. The Magnesiums are a great buy for any listener, though not a unique experience.
The Titanium is highly specialized, but sounds great for its intended use (electronic music) and the Beryllium is like the Titanium, but with an impressive amount of nuance, making it a better buy, but still not as neutrally versatile as the Magnesiums

Comfort: No issues wearing them for long periods of time, even when undergoing strenuous activity and with different eartips 

Pros:

One of the most enjoyable listening solutions for EDM, Electronica, Pop, and Hip-hop music

Cool, sleek design sensibilities. The elements nomenclature is a nice touch as well

A glut of included choices when it comes to eartips and adaptors

Punchy, clear bass, searing highs, present mids 

Cons:

Not as versatile as some IEMs

Beginners may balk at the cost

Upper-level IEMs in the series are increasingly specialized

Price:

$100, $200 and $300

 

Matthew Sampson

Technical Specs:

Mg
Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 30 kHz
Impedance: 32 Ohms nominal
Sensitivity: 103 dB SPL at 1mW in ear
Power Handling: 20 mW continuous
THD: Less that 1% THD at 1mW
Ti

Frequency Response: 16 Hz to 30 kHz
Impedance: 32 Ohms nominal
Sensitivity: 104 dB SPL at 1mW in ear
Power Handling: 20 mW continuous
THD: Less that 1% THD at 1mW

 

Be
Frequency Response: 12 Hz to 45 kHz
Impedance: 32 Ohms nominal
Sensitivity: 105 dB SPL at 1mW in ear
Power Handling: 20 mW continuous
THD: Less that 1% THD at 1mW

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