Periodic Audio Mg Review: Rare Earth Sound
Periodic Audio is a company heavily grounded in science. They take an objective, bare-bones, approach to audio that revolves around R&D, not marketing. Such an approach is not one that is easily found these days and as is quite welcome. The Mg is Periodic Audio’s budget IEM, coming in at a price of $100. Does Periodic Audio’s approach to creating IEMs result in competitive products? Or is the Mg just another middle-of-the-pack design?
You can find the Mg for sale here on Periodic Audio’s website.
About My Preferences: Heads up, I’m a person! As such, these words are my opinion, and they are tinged by my personal preferences. While I try to mitigate this as much as possible during my review process, I’d be lying if I said my biases are completely erased. So for you, my readers, keep this in mind:
- My ideal sound signature would be an extended sub-bass with a leveled, but textured, mid-bass.
- I have a mild treble sensitivity.
Source: The Mg was powered like so:
HTC U11 -> USB-C adapter -> earphones
Hidizs AP100 3.5mm out -> FiiO A5 3.5mm out -> earphones
HiFiMAN SuperMini -> earphones
PC optical out -> HiFiMe SPDIF 9018 Sabre DAC 3.5mm out -> earphones
All music was served as MP3 @320Kbps or as FLAC.
- Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 30 kHz
- Impedance: 32 Ohms nominal
- Sensitivity: 101 dB SPL at 1mW in ear
- Power Handling: 200 mW continuous
- Peak SPL: 121 dB
- THD: Less that 1.5% THD at 1mW
The Mg is a gently V-shaped IEM with a mildly boosted treble and small mid-bass hump. It doesn’t stand out as particularly colored and is incredibly cohesive. The Mg’s timbre is impressively natural both in emphasis and decay.
The upper register of the Mg is emphasized to create a more airy feeling and presentation. There is not even the slightest hint of sharpness or sibilance, and the treble is completely free from extraneous hotness and sparkle that would detract from the listening experience and be harsh on the ears. This absence of harshness leaves in its wake a very articulate and open treble capable of expressing a tremendous amount of range, extending well into the upper-treble with no issue.
The Mg has a transparently tuned midrange aimed at producing a natural and color-free instrumental presentation. To a very significant degree, it does this, and with grace. The lower midrange has a minute amount of warmth right around 500 Hz. It recesses all the way up to the 1–2KHz range where it spikes up again.
The Mg excels at instrumental cohesion and tonal accuracy. It easily resolves complex tones and layering, hardly ever missing a beat. For a $100 you’d be hard-pressed to find an IEM with similarly-competent technical performance. Vocal intelligibility is very good too. It shines in ways that I rarely hear from dynamic drivers, and even rarer still on dynamic drivers at this price-point.
The Mg’s mid-bass in boosted past neutral by roughly 2–3db. It is full and dynamic, providing a punchy and respectably rumbly experience. The Mg’s bass is tuned very well and never overwhelms the midrange or loses texture control. Its reasonable emphasis and natural timbre allow the Mg to perform well in essentially every genre, including electronic music. While it won’t vibrate your skull, the Mg can certainly get the job done when the bass drops.
Packaging / Unboxing
I have both an Mg V1 and Mg V2. The Mg V2 has new and improved packaging. The first set of images is of the V2. The second set of images is of the V1.
The V2 features a couple of changes, but the biggest one is that the IEM’s cables are no longer tightly wound when being placed into the package. This prevents the V2 IEMs from suffering from pseudo-permanently kinked cables like the V1 IEMs.
The Mg has the same exact build as the other IEMs in the lineup, at least externally (save for a difference in cap color). The housings are made of a polycarbonate: a light plastic that supposedly has zero internal resonance. The stress reliefs are made from a somewhat stiff plastic. It doesn’t feel like it does much to relieve cable stress in more extreme situations though. A softer and more pliable material may be more suited to get the job done here.
The Mg’s nozzles have also been revised. Instead of featuring the colored wired mesh that the V1 used, all the Periodic Audio V2 IEMs use a finely-perforated plate that sits flush with the lip of the nozzle. The right side is colored red to give you a visual indicator of which channel is which.
The cable has also been revised to not use metal parts on the cable. While there’s no difference in functionality, I do miss the small amounts of flair that they gave the V1 units.
And speaking of cables, I think we should talk about the cables that Periodic Audio uses. They aren’t bad per say, they just don’t feel sturdy in a way that you’d expect from a $100-$300 IEM. Increasing the thickness, using a (reasonable) braided cable, or even adding a structural layer of sleeving would each be very much appreciated and add a lot to the fit and finish of the Periodic Audio lineup.
The Mg is very comfortable, especially when using the foam eartips that were in the box. The housings are so light that they are barely noticeable when in use. I had no problems when wearing them for over three hours during a project at work. They even worked ok while jogging, though they do stick out a bit too far for comfort for my comfort during rigorous exercise.
The Mg comes very well stocked, especially for a $100 IEM. Inside the box you’ll find:
- 3x pairs of silicone eartips
- 3x pairs of foam eartips
- 3x pairs of dual-flange eartips
- 1x airline adapter
- 1x 1/4in adapter
- 1x hard carrying case
The carrying case is compact but still has plenty of room to easily store the Mg. The lid screws on and doesn’t seem to have any looseness issues that a more poorly-machined case might.
1: Periodic Audio Ti ($200)
The Ti is more V-shaped than the Mg is. It has a more emphasized treble and more prominent bass, extending well to the 50Hz range. The Ti trades in a very small of midrange presence for a treble sparkle and bass impact/rumble.
2: Massdrop x NuForce EDC3 ($99)
The EDC3 is a much more linear IEM than the Mg. The two both aim for similar goals: a natural and neutral listening experience. However while the EDC3 aims for a flat (save for some subtle treble emphasis) frequency response, the Mg gives the extremes of the sound spectrum little boosts, accentuation some oft-forgotten details that would otherwise be hard to hear. These two approaches are distinct but equally good to my ears. Fans of linear sound signatures will certainly appreciate the EDC3. Those who are more familiar with traditional V-shaped sound signatures, but still want something more neutral, should go with the Mg.
The Mg provides some serious audio quality at a relatively affordable price point. With a mildly V-shaped sound signature, inoffensive treble, excellent detail retrieval, and outstanding cohesion, the Mg places itself squarely towards the top of my list for favorite IEMs under $100. The V2 revision of the IEM tackled some build-quality and QOL issues I was concerned about and with a little more development and improvement externally the Mg could very well become a five-star IEM. Keep up the good work Periodic Audio!
As always, happy listening!