With its compact and lightweight design, the Nickel amplifier exemplifies portable convenience: it measures just 2 inches long, 1.25 inches wide, half an inch thick, and weighs only half an ounce (that's just 14 grams if need to). Its polycarbonate body provides a strong yet lightweight, reliably durable enclosure to withstand the demands made on a portable product, and by today’s mobile listeners.
“We are thrilled to expand our offerings by launching our very first electronics product, the new Nickel amp,” says Dan Wiggins, co-founder of Periodic Audio. “Periodic Audio’s mission is to deliver high quality audio that fits in your watch pocket — we specialize in creating products that deliver superb dynamic range from the smallest of packages. Given that most of today’s listeners use a smartphone as a source, we created a product to work with a phone rather than working around it. Nickel pulls effectively zero power from the phone, using it only as the DAC. We believe that the leap in performance from using just a phone to using the Nickel, combined with our award-winning Be IEMs, is comparable to the difference between using an integrated amplifier and using a separate preamp and high-power amp in a home system.”
The Nickel amplifier is capable of producing high levels of power. It will supply 150mW into 50 ohms, 250mW into 32 ohms, or 270mW into 16 ohms. The Nickel is stable into an 8-ohm load, making it ideal for nearly any set of headphones on the market. A fixed 3dB of gain allows higher headroom than most ’phones and DACs can generate, but is low enough to maintain nearly the full dynamic range of volume from any source.
The Nickel amplifier includes Periodic Audio’s patent-pending SmartSwitch system. The Nickel has no on/off switch; rather, it uses its internal MCU to sense the presence of the input and output connectors. Only when both connectors are occupied will the Nickel turn itself on. Once turned on, battery level is constantly displayed on the integrated LED light pipe, which will change from green to yellow to red as the battery charge drops. Turning off the Nickel is as simple as unplugging the source or the headphones.
The Nickel amplifier has a two-stage power-supply system. A dedicated battery charger is used to keep the 220mAh battery charged and conditioned. The battery feeds a dedicated dual-voltage converter that generates dedicated ±5V analog power rails. This topology virtually eliminates USB switching noise — the listening experience is not compromised, even when charging the battery.
The Nickel amplifier is designed to provide clean, nearly-unlimited power for almost every type of headphone in an extremely compact and portable package. All aspects of mechanical and electrical design, including layout of the four-layer SMT board, were completed in-house, with full custom tooling for all parts. The Nickel is designed, engineered, and built in the USA.
The Nickel contains a 3.5mm audio input jack, a 3.5mm output jack for headphones, and a micro-USB port for charging the battery. Included in the package is an 8-inch long USB Type A to Micro B charging cable, and a 6-inch long 3.5mm TRRS to 3.5mm TRRS audio cable to connect any phone to the Nickel. The Nickel will be available for $299.99 (MSRP), from mid November 2017.