Audio Carbon Headphones Periodic Review: Exceptional Performance

Periodic Audio made a name for itself with in-ear monitors (also known as headphones) designed by a tireless team in their pursuit of the ultimate sonic excellence at each model’s price point. The range doesn’t have a flashy logo, or custom industrial design, just incredible hi-fi performance for the price.

The $499 Carbon in-ear headphones are the company’s flagship product, and Periodic Audio’s recent redesign is a collection of small changes that add up to one big update. This headset demands that you concentrate on the task at hand. If you’re a multitasker addicted to surfing social media and watching sports on TV while listening to music, the Carbon will inevitably hijack your attention and the other stuff will just fade away. They are so good at drawing a listener into your orbit that you would be hesitant to use them while using public transportation or walking around town.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best headphones, where you’ll find reviews of competing offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to features to consider when purchasing this type of product.

I have had the previous generation of Carbon and have used it constantly when listening to mixes or when I want to focus on the details of a new song. It was an outstanding internal monitor, but the new version is a welcome improvement.

audio newspaper carbon with loose cables james barber

The latest Periodic Audio Carbon headphones include a detachable cable with custom 2.5mm plugs.

News of PE Carbon

Periodic Audio has made some major improvements to the headphone cables and housings. More importantly, they have replaced the cable with a removable and replaceable 3mm TRS (tip/ring/sleeve) to a dual removable 2.5mm TS version. If you ever need a new one, Periodic will sell you Ag wire for $79.

I always felt the original cable was a bit thin and brittle, though the company says the cable break rate on the previous version was only 0.3 to 0.4 percent. I have no reason to doubt those numbers, but that doesn’t mean a lot of users weren’t nervous about the durability. Periodic was obviously paying attention, and this new option is fantastic, even if in practice the new cables just make us feel better about the repairability of a substantial investment, rather than solving an actual breakage problem. That doesn’t make this new cable any less amazing.

To keep the headphones as small as possible while providing the detachable cable, Periodic Audio developed their own 2.5mm connector, called the IDEEL (IEM Direct Electrical Engagement Link) connector. The company says it’s the world’s smallest 2.5mm jack, measuring just 3.6mm wide with a 9.5mm mounting depth.

periodic connection of audio carbon cable periodic audio

Periodic Audio has developed its own IDEEL connector, which measures just 3.6mm wide with a mounting depth of 9.5mm.

The other great news is that headphone cases are now made of Eastman Tritan Copolyester Thermoplastic, the same substance used to make the virtually indestructible plastic containers for Vitamix blenders. Periodic Audio says the material is also better for audio applications than polycarbonate or ABS, and that the redesigned Carbon is the first headset to use the material.

same great sound

Carbon’s second generation transducers are the same as found in the original product and use a lab-grown diamond layer (8 microns thick) on a proprietary high-temperature polymer substrate. The transducer diaphragm is made of carbon in a diamond lattice, its transducer is a proprietary polymer, the frame is 315 stainless steel, and the magnet is N48H grade neodymium.

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