Choosing the Right Metal
The idea of different materials for drivers is quite a cool one. It also means you know what you are paying for due to the increase in value of the metals used. The ‘Be’ is more costly than the ‘Mg’ simply due to the buying price of said metals. On top of that beryllium is much harder to tool than magnesium, also accounting for the extra bucks you will be paying. Now Periodic are not just using more expensive metals for the sake of marketing but they have chosen metals with sort after properties in an earphones transducer. Things like the mass of the diaphragm, stiffness and electrical conductivity differ from metal to metal and of course are contributing factors to the sound quality. As these metals get more expensive they also display a better rating of these attributes.
The Mg doesn’t actually use a pure magnesium driver but instead has a high (96%) magnesium content alloy for the diaphragm material. The other two earphones use their branded metals in 100% purity. The Be even has a bonded Peek surround to the diaphragm. Beyond these diaphragm differences, they are the same from the magnet to voice coil.
The flagship goes for this hearty, smooth and refined sound. Bass does lead the chase but everything is pretty balanced from there on up in this ever so effortless manner. You won’t ever feel a glimpse of fatigue with this IEM as the midrange and treble are manifested like butter. That being said I do find it to lack some bite and emotion at times. It is sometimes too neat to let through rawness I feel leads to a more noble experience with some music.
I do sometimes find that the bass can be a bit monotonous, perhaps my biggest objection with the sound quality on offer. I think it humps a little early, starting in the mid-bass in opposed to holding the bump predominantly for sub-bass. Because of that, the bass comes across a little slower, especially with the notorious speed of some competitors like the Dunu DN-2000J and new Custom Art FIBAE 1. The boost stays into the deeper regions before falling off perhaps a little bit earlier than some other recently reviewed products such as RHA’s CL1. This was an earphone which presented bass in a superior manner just by having a similar hump to the Be but shifted down about 50hz. That being said we still have a good weight to the low end and it clearly extends solidly.
When you get to the midrange you come across this insane resolution that the driver is capable of. It is one of the most cohesive and full sounding midranges I have ever heard period. I stand by what I said earlier regarding it not being the most exciting but it has this liquid detail that reminds me of past legends such as the Sony MDR-EX1000. There is an exquisite understanding between the start of the mids that are textured and layered all the way to the upper notes that come across delicate with great timbre. There is not astonishing clarity or mega dynamism, instead, it takes pride of the things that won’t fatigue or lose their appeal over time. This is an IEM that will stick around and be equally impressive on your first and thousandth listen.
Beyond the midrange, it keeps its head with a slightly laid back treble. The decay is pretty short, with cymbals not being near as prominent as the ringing treble of the CL1, in fact, in this frequency range, they are opposite ends of the scale. I found the soundstage to be on the more intimate and small sound.
Other than the slightly hefty bass, I really enjoyed these earphones. The sound was balanced in a tasteful way that was always an extremely easy and pleasurable listen. If you are not wanting a uber detailed or slightly analytical sound this will probably do you pretty well!
The Mg is the cheapest of the bunch and sounds a little more traditional than the Be. It has a more clarity orientated upper midrange with a less bodied lower midrange. The treble seems to be both more present and extended than the flagship and the bass seems to be a bit softer. Considering they look the same these earphones are well and truly their own individual things. This is a more energetic signature and I think that plays nicely into its given price range.
The bass seems to be a bit more hollow than the Be, probably due to it not being as boosted. Like the Be, it does still manage to have an acceptable showing in the deep bass. I like the snappy mid-bass, you probably know that is more akin to my tastes. The lower mids are similarly uneventful but we do take a small climb to the upper midrange which just oozes detail and clarity. These are an earphone that is most impressive on first listen but perhaps could start to become a bit fatiguing because of this awesome clarity. There is quite the 4-5khz peak with these! I do find the midrange to consequently have some grain and the driver does get overwhelmed at times due to its lack of speed and slightly thinner presentation but not in a manner that is at all surprising for its modest price range.
The treble does have a more passionate nature but there is not a hint of aggression to it. It is still smart about how long notes last so it prevents you detecting sharpness or sibilance. This is a 99 dollar IEM I can get on board with, both as an individual due to it working well for my tastes and as a critic due to its great clarity and detail.
Titanium has made itself a staple material choice in recent years showing great success in Dunu, Echobox and Lear offerings to name a few. I loved what all three of these companies did with titanium and actually reserved extremely high hopes for these. Sadly they ended up being my most disappointing of the “Experiment” pack. They are the most V shaped of the three, sounding withdrawn in the midrange with an abrasive treble and solid bass response.
The bass is the best part of this earphone. The reason I loved the titanium driver in the DN-2000J was its intoxicating combination of speed and substance and I find that to be exactly the case with the Ti. It rumbles nicely in the depths and mid-bass has a dominating presence about it.
Sadly the bass’s favourable impression does not last and I find the midrange to be lost and empty. It is recessed and easily gets messy amidst the stronger and more prominent bass and treble. It is lacking texture and the tonality just seems off with a less than stellar timbre. It does regain some praise in the treble but even that is the least tasteful of the three Periodic earphones. It is the most splashy and demonstrates not near as much as control. While I liked the bass of this model I think the rest is a little uncouth and if you were asked to pick which of these earphones is which I think you would probably end up confusing this as the cheaper Mg because on a level playing field it is a much more impressive earphone.
They Have Done it Their Way
While I have been critical of the looks and build of these earphones I have huge respect for Periodic’s team for sticking to their guns and not getting caught up in making these a fashion accessory. I feel my job is to critique more than just the sound and that is why I don’t hold back but Periodic have done their market research and feel they can spend less time on aesthetics then all the best to them. At least they are open about it and what they do claim to put work into, namely sound and comfort, they nail on the head. I think two of their three earphones sound great for the asking price and it comes in a very easy to wear little package. The whole concept is also very cool and I wonder if they will continue expanding their range with different elements or will just ride out their current work for a while, either way, I have to commend them for their efforts. If you want an impressive sound but don’t care for flare or glamour, you know where to go!