The Substance of the Gods – A Review of the Periodic Audio Be

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.

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.

iBasso released a f**king 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 f**ker is that good.



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Pinky Powers

Pinky is an artsy twat. Illustration, graphic design, writing. Yet music escapes him, and always has. He builds his own cables, and likes to explore the craftsmanship of others. He's a stabby one, also. At the first hint of annoyance, out comes the blade. I say he's compensating for something... in a big bad way. If we all try really hard as a collective, maybe we can have him put down.


10 Responses

  1. I believe it to be fixed. Yes. It sure doesn’t look like it wants to come out. 🙂

  2. Nice review. Just got a pair too, and Be sounds great with iBasso DX80. Plan to try Opus #1S as well.

  3. I seem to disagree with most people these days, as I’ve spent about 30 more years listening analytically to stereos and headphones than most of the kids who review them these days, and I understand more as a result. High resolution and low distortion will at least temporarily cover up a host of problems–including poor balance. The Periodic Audio people are very proud of their “flat” response, and they include a graph with their product. But IEMs are different than over-ear headphones, and their response HAS to be different. Recently I listened to the “Coward” track from the Interstellar sound track. I like to listen at enjoyably loud volumes, but not so loud as to hurt my hearing. If I want to approximate the kind of bass that should be on that track, and use the right volume for that, then by the end of the track, which is heavy in midrange and treble arpeggios, the sound becomes terribly raucous and shrill. If I EQ down the mids and upper mids, centering around 2 kHz, then I get good sound all the way through: great bass in the opening, and clear, open sound at the end, all at a loud volume. Conclusion: The Periodic Audio Be is balanced too forward in the upper mids. Even at low volumes it can sound a little nasal because of that. The NuForce Ne-650M, while lacking the ultimate clarity and resolution of the Be, doesn’t require EQ for me to listen to that track. To many people it will have a V-shaped response, but it sounds natural for all genres without EQ. Too bad the Be doesn’t.

    I should say that with EQ the Period Audio Be sounds wonderful.

  4. Yeah, I think we must agree to disagree. Since both IT01 and Be have at least a slight V-shape to my ears, we are clearing hearing things VERY differently. lol

  5. Though both pairs, to me, are too mid-range forward for completely comfortable listening. Some people may say that I simply prefer a V-shaped response; no, I simply think that what looks V-shaped on paper is what will sound natural for IEMs. Otherwise the predominance of mids and upper mids becomes raucous at loud volumes. If I EQ down the mids and upper mids of the Be I get great sound. Otherwise not.

  6. Thank you. After 50 or so pairs of IEMs, I’m fairly well aware of the need for a good seal. I’m just not hearing things the way you are. The IT01 seems to me to have a rather loose and hazy midrange, whereas the Be seems more clear and well-defined. Etc. I’ll keep listening, but we may have to agree to disagree. Happy at any rate that you like the Be. Best regards…

  7. That’s curious. Makes me think you aren’t getting a proper seal with the IT01. I recommend JVC Spiral Dots. I use them for most IEMs, and they usually give me the best results.

    My experience is there is great sub-bass, with deep, deep extension. Not a ton of mid or upper bass. That’s where the cleaner presentation comes from.

    With a poor seal, though, all that will leak away.

  8. p.s. The right channel nozzle is red, the left is black.

    I found the bass slightly congested and unclear with the stock Periodic Audio tips; it opened up better when I switched to the old white UE silicon tips.

    Best regards

  9. Pinky, I’ve enjoyed your writing over a number of reviews lately. Keep up the good work and your wonderful handling of the English language (which I must say is somewhat lacking on certain other audio-oriented sites). But I must take exception with you about the IT01 — it is nowhere near as good as the Be. The BE’s low bass (sub-bass) is stronger and better defined (through both my Fiio X7mkii and Opus #2). The IT01 has no low bass to speak of; even using EQ it won’t come out and remains simply a dull thudding presence at the bottom. It’s midrange is also too prominent and requires EQ-ing, whereas the Be is simply better balanced overall. I have to admit to being pretty puzzled by the positive response to the IT01. But not to the Be.

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