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Periodic Audio introduces Nickel Headphone Amplifier

KEF R Series

Periodic Audio makes a terrific set of inner ear monitors at very reasonable price points. Roger Skoff and I awarded their Be IEMs an Alfie Award at the LA Audio Show. And let’s be honest, the whole theme of a periodic table of elements is quite clever.  Well now we have another element to add in the table via the Nickel amplifier.  I heard an early prototype at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest and was impressed.  Priced at $300 USD, the Nickel now adds a robust headphone amplifier to the lineup.

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Two-inches long and $300 USD: The Nickel Amplifier.

As a dedicated road warrior, nothing pleases me more than performance in a compact size.  The Nickel is a very compact 2″ by 1.25″ by 0.5″ form factor.  Weighing only half an ounce, it uses a polycarbonate body.  But the device has power too and is stable into an 8 ohm load so it can drive a diverse set of headphones.  It can create 270 mW into 16 ohms. A fixed 3db of gain provides more headroom than most phones and DACs but allows a full range of volume control.

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Small on size, big on sound in this early prototype.

What’s very cool is that it uses an MCU-based system that senses when inputs and outputs are connected and turns on…so yep, no on/off switch is needed. Once on, an LED indicates battery level by color (green, yellow, red) as the battery is used.  It’s a two stage system where a 220 mAh battery powers +/- 5V analog power rails in a fashion that eliminates USB switching noise.  The device is said to use zero power when connected to a smartphone.  Remarkably, all the mechanical and electrical work was done in-house.  The Nickel is designed, engineered, and built in the USA.

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Kelsey Bohlen and Zeke Burgess of Periodic Audio.

I’m a fan of this company and I’m looking forward to hearing this new amp.  Could be just the thing for travel with my iPhone.

About Lee Scoggins (76 Articles)
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Lee got interested in audio listening to his Dad’s system in the late 70s and he started making cassettes from LPs. By the early 80s he got swept up in the CD wave that was launching which led to a love of discs from Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs. Later while working on Wall Street in the 90s, Lee started working on blues, jazz and classical sessions for Chesky Records and learned record engineering by apprenticeship. Lee was involved in the first high resolution recordings which eventually became the DVD-Audio format. Lee now does recordings of small orchestras and string quartets in the Atlanta area. Lee's current system consists of Audio Research Reference electronics and Wilson Audio speakers.