Periodic Audio C & Be Review – Contrast

Comparisons –

Periodic C vs Be ($299): The Be is a more typical dynamic driver sound with warmer voicing and enhanced mid-bass. The Be has more bass emphasis throughout, especially through the mid-bass which makes it warmer and fuller but also a bit tubbier sounding than the C. It also showcases strong extension and driver control, however, isn’t as clean or defined as the more balanced C with noticeably more mid-bass bloat. Mids are actually more natural on the Be, with more linear rise to 3KHz prominence and greater low-end warmth to balance out its recessed lower-midrange. Its midrange is warmer and fuller but similarly quite clear and devoid of muddiness. Meanwhile, the C’ vocal presence has better balance with its bass but it is thinner and off-timbre. The C has better separation that said. Up top, both feature 5Khz emphasis. The top end of the Be is smoother and less extended. The C has more crunch and detail presence in addition to more air and headroom. It has a slightly larger stage and more precise imaging.

Periodic C vs Be (Mod): If you’ve spent time on SBAF, you may have seen a popular mod for the Be which involves sealing the rear vent, carefully restricting the front vent and adding some extra impedance to the nozzle. This effectively attenuates the mid-bass in addition to flattening out their 5KHz peak to some degree. As I personally found the Be’s treble pleasing, I was content with covering the rear vent. Bass is attenuated by a fair degree, producing a more balanced sound. Sub-bass extension is a touch reduced but bass is more linear than the C and the mid-bass bloat is essentially gone. Control is higher on the C so it is more defined while the Be is more natural and smoother. The same can be said for the midrange, the Be retains a natural, well-bodied presentation with an excellent timbre. Meanwhile, the C is more separated but also thinner and less natural. The modded Be has a smoother treble, it has less air but also a more composed lower-treble where the C is crisper and more aggressive. The C has a larger stage and more separation while the modded Be is more coherent with a stronger centre image. I am very fond of the modded Be, it sounds very natural and balanced while retaining excellent driver quality. The C represents a step up technically and the sculpting of its signature highlights its superior driver quality, however, it isn’t as natural or composed and, therefore, suits different listeners.

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Periodic Be (Mod) vs Acoustune HS1503AL ($399): A similarly priced dynamic IEM from Japan with a more V-shaped sound. The HS1503AL has substantially more bass emphasis, especially within the sub and mid-bass, more resembling the stock Be in body and fullness. Resultantly, the Be is cleaner and more linear where the HA1503AL is warmer with bolder notes. The Be has slightly more driver control where the HS1503AL is defined but isn’t quite as tight. Both have a recessed lower-midrange, as such, however, the HS1503AL is more evidently thin in terms of vocal body and is more laid-back. That said, the HS1503AL has more warmth due to its low-end tuning. Both possess upper-midrange emphasis, the HS1503AL having a glossier presentation with better extension and more clarity, the Be being flatter, smoother and more natural. The highs are also more present on the HS1503AL, especially the lower-treble. The Acoustune has a touch more instrument body due to its more linear transition from the upper-midrange. It is a lot more aggressive in its detail presentation where the C is smoother and cleaner. The HS1503AL has a larger soundstage while the Be is more layered and separated.

Periodic C vs Campfire Audio Atlas ($899): The Atlas carries a similar style of driver with Campfire’s amorphous diamond-like diaphragm. It has substantially more bass emphasis, most notably through the mid and upper-bass, creating a much fuller, bolder sound. The C is more neutrally tone where the Atlas is warm and thunderous. Both have excellent driver control, however, the C’s signature is simply much cleaner, permitting greater definition. Both have a recessed lower-midrange and thinner vocal body. The Atlas has a lot more warmth and more body permeating from its low-end, however, so its vocals sound more natural. It has a small centre midrange bump and a more gradual emphasis into the upper-midrange, granting it a bit more clarity and a more natural timbre. The C is slightly more balanced where the Atlas is slightly laid-back. Where the C is very clean, the Atlas can sound a bit chesty due to its very bold bass, it has a more powerful sound. The Atlas has a more aggressive, forward lower-treble with more attack and a touch more instrument body. Its background is similarly quite clean, but there is more extension and sparkle on the Atlas. As such, it also has a considerably larger soundstage. Incidentally, the C’s more neutral tone and note body pays off here, with superior layering and separation where the Atlas’ huge notes can occasionally obscure small details even if they are more abundant.

Verdict –

There we have the Periodic Audio Be and C, a very sound introduction for me to the tremendous quality the company is able to achieve. First, let’s discuss these drivers; both of which are stunning in quality, showcasing what quality in-house engineering can achieve. High-quality drivers permit these earphones to rein in every bass detail with perfect precision while heightening separation with lightning-fast transients. Similarly, I was impressed by their housing quality. Polycarbonate is nothing to scoff at and surely those who remember the age of polycarbonate smartphones can attest to their durability from drops and scuffs compared to glass and metal competitors, it’s tough stuff.

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Which brings me to my criticisms. The cable is thin and fixed on both, identical to that included on the $100 Mg. There are plenty of high quality lightweight removable cables on the market such as the Linum BaX that would have made more appropriate company to a higher-priced earphone. Additionally, with regards to the C, the midrange is unorthodox and honestly kind of strange. Where most similarly tuned earphones at least implement some sort of low-end emphasis. Here, there is no warmth or body to bolster their forwardness. As such, the timbre is skewed.

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The Be turns this on its head with fairly prevalent mid-bass bloat miring an otherwise natural signature. Fortunately, the simple design of these earphones makes them very easy to modify giving the user the ability to take the tuning process into their own hands. Here, the Be represents sensational value. As these mods can only attenuate either bass or treble with little effect on the midrange, you’d have to be sure that the C’s signature is for you. If you’re looking for a highly separated earphone with excellent layering and truly outstanding bass, the C brings excellent performance at a modest price. However, I feel the Be will find wider appeal with its more orthodox signature and driver quality that is similarly quite outstanding, especially at its lower asking price. I’ll be placing the Be on my wall of fame for its combination of excellent dynamic driver quality and, when modded, terrific balance from bottom to top.

The Periodic Audio Be and C can be purchased from Hifiheadphones for £299 and £399 respectively at the time of review. I am not affiliated with Hifiheadphones or Periodic Audio and receive no earnings from purchases through this link.

Track List –

Beck – Mellow Gold

Blur – The Magic Whip

Crush – Digital Lover

Fleetwood Mac – Greatest Hits

HEIZE, Dean, DJ Friz – And July

Jeff Bernat – She Loves Me Not

Jimmy Hendrix – Axis: Bold As Love

Joji – Sanctuary

Modest House – Good News For People Who Love Bad News

NIKI – Zephyr

Punch – Yesterday

Radiohead – Pablo Honey

Rex Orange County – Sunflower

Rich Brian – The Sailor

TALA – boy

The Cranberries – No Need To Argue

The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers

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ABOUT AUTHOR

Ryan Soo

Ryan Soo

Avid writer, passionate photographer and sleep-deprived medical student, Ryan has an ongoing desire to bring quality products to the regular reader.

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