Periodic Audio Nickel ( Ni ) headphone amp review.

Disclaimer:

Periodic Audio have not paid or sponsored me for this review.
The views and opinions in this piece are unbiased and my own.

Dan and the team at Periodic were kind enough to send me out three review samples and the Ni is the final out of three reviews.

The Nickel is priced at $299 as of this publication.

https://periodicaudio.com/

Review equipment and software used:

iPod touch.
Qobuz Studio Premier.
Periodic Audio Ni.
Periodic Audio trrs interconnect.
Sennheiser HD25.1 ( 70 ohms )
Grado SR125e ( 32 ohms )
iBasso iT01 ( 16 ohms )*
Shure SE-425 ( 22 ohms )*

I deliberately tested the Ni with non-Periodic Audio IEM’s as not all buyers will have IEM’s from the same brand.

Music used:

Antoine Defour – “Sound Pictures” ( 16-bits / 44,1 kHz )
Orbital – “Snivilization” ( 16-bits / 44,1 kHz )
Collin Walcott – “Dawn Dance” ( 16-bits / 44,1 kHz )

Packaging & accessories:

The Ni comes in the same packaging that the IEM’s do so there’s nothing new to tell here.
The amp is held in place well and kept safe during transit.
Inside you will find the Ni, a 3.5mm to 3.5mm trrs interconnect and a micro to A USB charging cable.

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Quality of build & ease of use:

It’s a solid little amplifier!
This is good quality craftsmanship. The Ni is stylish yet subtle in its design.
It’s constructed from two solid pieces of polycarbonate giving it a rugged and robust shell.
The 3.5mm trrs input and output jacks are a firm fit and the USB micro-B port around the back is the same.
The LED indicator is flush mounted and is bright so it’s not difficult to see what it’s doing.
The battery has exceptional life at 8 hours. I can confirm this is the case after four 2 hour sessions without needing to charge. The Ni will display a green LED when fully charged, a yellow LED when it’s at half charge and red when very low.
When charging the LED will flash and takes 30 minutes to fully charge once drained.
The Nickel also allows you to charge during use with a low noise floor and no audible interference.
Power on and off couldn’t be more simple. The amp will only power on if it detects both jacks are plugged in. To power off, just unplug.
Setup is a breeze. Plug the supplied trrs interconnect from your headphone out on your phone or other device and the other end into the Ni’s input, clearly marked with an inward pointing arrow. Now plug your IEMs or headphones into the other jack with the outward pointing arrow and start listening.
For those unaware of what a trrs jack is, it’s simply a jack with three rings instead of two and it will allow passthrough of a mic signal. So if you’re using the Nickel with your smartphone and want to use a pair of IEMs or headphones with an inline mic, Periodic Audio have you covered. I plan to test if this will work on an Xbox One or Ps4 controller. When I do I will update this review.
Please note that the volume is controlled by your device and not the Nickel. This works well and I think helps to keep the size and weight down, not only that but it makes the Ni a very simple and straight forward amp to set up and use.
Due to its size and weight, the Nickel is easily pocketed and doesn’t weigh your shorts, jeans, skirt or leggings down.

Specifications:

PERFORMANCE
Frequency Response8 Hz to 80 kHz
THD+N< 0.005%, 20 Hz to 20 kHz
Gain6.5 dB
Power Output250 mW Continuous, 32 Ohms
Damping Factor> 100 @ 32 Ohms
Run Time8 Hours, typical
Charge Time30 minutes from full discharge
PHYSICAL PROPERTIES
Length50mm
Width30mm
Height18mm
Weight20 grams
Audio Jack3.5mm TRRS (mic pass through)
Charging JackMicro USB
Power IndicatorRed/Yellow/Green
Body MaterialPolycarbonate
MATERIAL PROPERTIES
Melting Point1728 Kelvin
Speed of Sound4900 meters per second
Young’s Modulus200 Gigapascals
Brinell Hardness1600 Megapascals
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Sound:

The Nickel delivers and performs in a way that you wouldn’t expect from an amplifier this size.
With a low noise floor, zero interference and plenty of power the Ni surprises with an impressive level of punch, deep impactful bass that is both tight and accurate.
Mids are clear and airy offering clarity and detail that allow vocals and instruments to flow organically.
The Ni does not disappoint in the higher frequency range with a fast pace and sparkle, adding detail and precision.

Out of the headphones and IEMs that I tried out, the Sennheiser HD25.1s and iBasso iT01s came out on top with a wide soundstage, exceptional imaging and a perfect balance between bass, mids and highs that presents you with a fast paced, precise and punchy performance.
Both were easy to drive, even considering the HD25’s are rated at 70 ohms.

The Grado’s were graceful and a delight to listen to through the Ni but lacked the warmth I’m used to and were a bit more forward in the middle frequencies than I would like. Which surprised me as I really believed they would come out on top here.
I think the case here is I listen to my Grado’s almost always on a tube amp and have become accustomed to that specific tonal characteristic.

The Shure SE-425s sounded amazing on the Nickel, and were easy to drive. However the iT01s just sounded better in every way. Otherwise I can’t fault the Shures.

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Summary & recommendation:

Overall the Ni is a formidable amplifier for its size. Sonically it is perfect in almost every way, as long as you stay around the 32 ohms range you’ll find it performs extremely well, even when put up against larger portable amps.

It suits various genres of music and it presented all three albums listed above amazingly well.

I sincerely recommend the Ni to anyone looking for a lightweight, stylish but compact amp to beef up the power output of their smart phone or portable devices headphone out.
I believe the Nickel is worth every $ of its price tag.

Thank you to all of my readers for your continuing support and faith in me.

Published by The Audiophile Cafe

40 something audiophile, writer, disabled carer, bookworm, gamer, parent, uncle... I love listening to great music on great gear.

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