Periodic Audio Nickel headphone amp review: Make your smartphone sound like a high-res digital audio player

    Periodic Audio’s Nickel transportable headphone amplifier will break you of the behavior of listening to music on headphones plugged into your smartphone, pill, or laptop computer.

    And that’s how most of us hearken to music nowadays, proper? Dedicated high-resolution digital audio players ship superior audio performances, however cell units are simply a lot extra handy—even once we’re utilizing the kind of high-end, high-impedance cans that extra general-purpose cell units discover so troublesome to drive.

    Modern computer systems and cell units have significantly better digital-to-analog (DAC) converters than they used to, however the headphone amplifiers on these merchandise stay the weakest hyperlink within the audio copy chain. The Nickel is a high-end, battery-powered, transportable headphone amp that guarantees to wring peak efficiency from nearly any wired headphones, together with high-impedance fashions.

    How it really works

    The Nickel is completely tiny—it’s in regards to the dimension of a 9-volt battery—and it sits between your music supply and your headphones, performing a easy but vital process: Amplifying the supply’s audio sign with sufficient energy to manage a headphone’s drivers with precision. During my listening exams, the Nickel noticeably improved the efficiency of  headphones. Users with high-quality and/or difficult-to-drive headphones will understand probably the most profit.

    Theo Nicolakis / IDG

    Periodic Audio’s Nickel amplifier is in regards to the dimension of a 9-volt battery, proven right here with an iPhone XS and Beyerdynamic Amiron Home headphones.

    The Nickel is straightforward to make use of: Just plug the included 3.5mm cable into your sensible gadget (any smartphone that doesn’t have a headphone output would require an adapter), your headphone’s 3.5mm cable into the Nickel, and voila! The Nickel turns your sensible gadget right into a preamp and does all of the heavy lifting to enhance your headphones’ efficiency. The included 3.5mm-to-3.5mm analog cable has mic pass-through, so that you’ll ready to make use of an inline microphone with the Nickel.

    I do want Periodic Audio had put a headphone icon subsequent to the Nickel’s output jack and labeled each the entrance and again of the unit. At one level throughout my testing, I wasn’t paying shut consideration whereas switching cables. and I by chance related the cables backwards—producing a loud, piercing sound by my headphones.

    The Nickel is a much more elegant and unobtrusive answer than a number of the bigger amps on the market. But it’s unlucky that Periodic Audio doesn’t present a swish technique of mounting the Nickel to your sensible gadget—the amp will simply dangle by its cable.

    No controls to fret about

    There’s no energy change. Instead, the Nickel mechanically powers on when each your sensible gadget’s and headphones’ cables are plugged into the Nickel’s 3.5mm enter and output respectively. Unplug both cable and the Nickel mechanically powers down. A small LED between the enter and output lets you understand the unit’s operational standing and battery life. Slick and sensible.

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