MEZE Audio Rai Penta Review

 

 

 

 

MEZE Audio Rai Penta Review 

 

Introduction:

Meze Audio was founded by Antonio Meze in 2009 in Baia Mare, Romania, who was looking for a pair of headphones that he could connect to in the same way that he felt connected to his Fender Stratocaster guitar. The real breakthrough year for Meze was 2015 with the release of the Meze 99 Classics.

The Rai Penta is the flagship IEM of the company that features a so-called Penta Hybrid Driver Technology, which is a combination of 4 x Customized Balanced Armature and 1 x Dynamic Drivers. The model name Penta which is the translation of the Greek (Cardinal form) word for Five (5) comes from this 5 driver configuration.

 

 

Disclaimer:

I would like to thank Meze Audio for providing me the Rai Penta as review sample. I am not affiliated with Meze Audio beyond this review and these words reflect my true, unaltered, opinions about the product.

 

 

Price:

The Meze Rai Penta is the Flagship IEM of the company with a MSRP price of 1.099 USD and can be purchased under the link below;

PS: Meze Audio offers now with the Rai Penta a free upgrade cable with balanced plug that does have a value of 145 USD.  You can choose either between 2.5mm TRRS Rhodiom plated or 4.4mm TRRRS pentaconn balanced plug that is gold plated.

 

 

 

Package and Accessories:

The Meze Rai Penta comes in a nicely patterned black cardboard box color with the Meze Audio & Rai Penta brandings on the top.

The box of the Meze Rai Penta is including the items which are listed below;

  • 1 pair x Meze Rai Penta In-Ear Monitor
  • 1 piece x Detachable Silver Plated Copper Wire Cable with MMCX connectors
  • 4 pairs x Soft silicone eartips (size XS, S, M, L)
  • 1 pair x Double flanged eartips
  • 2 pairs x Deep insertion double flanged eartips (size M, L)
  • 1 pair x Comply Foam eartips
  • 1 piece x Hard Case: protective EVA case with Meze Audio metal logo
  • 1 piece x 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter
  • 1 piece x Airplane 2 pin adapter
  • 1 piece x Cleaning tool

The Rai Penta came with a wide variety of eartips in different sizes and shapes.

The so-called EVA Hard case is a very nice looking protective case that was also included to the package of the Rai Solo. On the top of the case is the Meze Audio logo that is made of metal, which adds the EVA case a pretty nice premium look and feel.

The Cleaning tool, 2 Pin Airplane and 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapters are some nice additions.

 

 

Monitor Design & Overall Build Quality:

The sound, the beautiful design and the comfortable shape of the Meze Rai Penta In-Ear Monitors is the final result of a development that took the MEZE team 3 years.

The monitor shell is made of CNC milled aluminum material and features an anodized surface in a smoky dark blue color. The aluminum chassis is according to Meze, skillfully milled from a solid piece of aluminum block to create a perfect space for the sound to be precisely channeled to your inner ear directly and without distortion.

The monitor shell is a combination of two (2) main parts the faceplate and the rear part.

The faceplate of the monitor has the Meze Audio logo on the top that is milled on to the anodized surface of the aluminum shell.

At the rear part of the monitor is the slightly angled sound nozzle that is in metallic silver color. The sound nozzle has three bores on the top while it doesn’t have any filters. It can be cleaned with the cleaning toll that is included to the package.

Here are also the Left / Right markings and the two Airflows to regulate the internal chamber pressure trough finely tuned PES design in front and behind the driver assembly.

On the top of the monitor shell is the MMCX female connector that offers a tight and secure fit with the MMCX male connector that is located on the detachable cable.

The MEZE RAI PENTA offers in addition to its eye-catching and stylish appearance, a wonderful finished aluminum housing with a solid build quality that is worthy of a high-end headset.

  

 

The Cable:

The Meze Rai Penta offers a detachable cable with a nicely braided design. The cable is made of High Purity Silver Plated Copper (SPC) wire material with 4 cores. Each core has 20litz strands that are protected with a transparent plastic insulation.

The cable features also transparent heat shrink ear guides for extra comfort on the go.

The MMCX male connectors are protected with a transparent plastic housing that do have Left & Right (red) ring indicators.

The cable sports a metal chin slider with Meze Logo on the top and has also a transparent plastic chin slider.

The 3.5mm single ended (TRS) headphone plug is rhodium plated for better connectivity and durability and has a metal housing in Brown color. One side of the housing is the Meze Audio logo, while the other surface has an advertising of the Rhodium plating.

The Silver Plated Copper cable offers a very good build quality with very low amount of microphonic effects.

 

 

 

Fit & Isolation:

The Meze Rai Penta is a In-Ear Monitor with a quite ergonomic shape that fits perfectly in to my average size ears. The comfortable shape didn’t hurt my ear concha even after longer listening periods. The isolation on the other hand is on an average level which is sufficient for moderate noisy environments like the bus, metro or train.

 

 

 

Technical Specifications:
  • Driver                          : Penta Hybrid Driver (4 x Customized BA & 1 x Dynamic Driver)
  • Frequency Range        : 4Hz – 45kHz
  • Impedance                  : 20Ω
  • Sensitivity                   : 110dB SPL/1mW Sensitivity
  • Max Input Power        : 30mW
  • Distortion                    : <1%
  • Stock cables               : MMCX connector ending in 3.5mm, Rhodium plated

  

 

Paring & Drivability:

The Meze Rai Panta has an impedance of 20Ω along with sensitivity of approx 110dB which makes it to a easy to drive and quite compatible In-Ear Monitor for sources with weak amplification like a Smartphone or Tablet, while it shows its true potential with a good DAP or DAC/AMP with better driving power and specs.

 

 

 

Equipment’s used for this review: 
  • IEM’s              : Meze Rai Panta, Campfire Audio ARA, DUNU DK-4001
  • DAP/DAC       : iBasso DX220 MAX, FiiO M11 Pro, QLS QA361, FiiO Q5s

 

 

 

Albums & tracks used for this review:

 

  • James Newton Howard – Solomon Vandy “Blood Diamond” (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Dionne Warwick – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Randy Crawford – On Day I Will Fly Away (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Aretha Franklin – I Say a Little Prayer (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
  • Sertap Erener – Aşk (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • London Grammar – Interlud (Live) (Flac 24bit/44kHz)
  • Barry White – Just The Way You Are (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Isaac Hayes – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Sting – Englishman in New York – (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Elton John – Rocket Man (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • B.B. King – Riding With The King (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • George Frederic Handel –Sarabande in D Minor (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • The Dave Brubeck Quarted – Take Five (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • No Doubt – Hella Gut (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Lorde – Royal (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Long Distance Calling – Immunity (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Portishead – The Hidden Camera (MP3 320kpbs)
  • Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Opeth – Windowpane (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Rush’s – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)
  • Tom Player – Resonace Theory “Album” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)

 

 

The Sound:

The Meze Audio Rai Penta is an In-Ear Monitor that offers a very coherent presentation with a nicely tuned warmish tonality. The bass has good impact, sounds warm and full bodied; the midrange is pretty soft, emotional and musical while the upper midrange and treble region is mildly bright, very controlled and has a hood level of extension.

 

Bass:

The focal point of the lower frequency region is the midbass area that is more audible compared to the subbass region that shows less quantity & intensity. The most remarkable characteristic of the bass is the speed & control, which is quite impressive for an In-Ear Monitor that does produce its bass with a dynamic driver in a hybrid driver configuration.

The subbass of the Meze Rai Penta has a good level of depth, with moderate quantity and extension. The depth and quantity is maybe not on a bass-head level but sounds quite appealing with genres like EDM, Trance or Pop music in songs like Massive Attack’s “Angel”, Lorde’s “Royals” or Photek’s “The Hidden Camera”.

The midbass region on the other hand is pretty tight & impactful and adds the overall presentation a nice amount of fullness and body without to make it sound veiled or muddy. Instruments like cross drums, trumpets or acoustic and bass guitars are nicely pronounced and do show a good level depth, extension & decay after a burn-in of 150 hours.

The bass of the Meze Rai Penta shows a good low-end decay and is in general quite detailed and clear. The bass of the Rai Penta was able to produce a good level of control even in pretty fast and complex bass passages. The bass performance of the Rai Penta is successful with genres from trance music in Armin Van Buuren’s “Vini Vici” up to jazz songs like The Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five”.

I do really like the softness and naturalness of the bass that is produced by the dynamic driver and the fact that the bass is not too dry or overwhelming is a remarkable feature of the Rai Penta in this area.

 

Midrange:

The Meze Rai Penta shows a warmish midrange tonality with a soft, full bodied and very musical presentation and offers at the same time a sufficient amount of clarity and airiness. What I also like about the midrange character of the Rai Penta is the safe tuning in the upper midrange that is detailed but at the same time ideal for long listening periods.

 

Vocals & Instruments:

The Meze Rai Penta is a successful In-Ear Monitor in terms of definition and separation of instruments and the vocals. The vocals are upfront while the instruments are slightly behind them.

The lower midrange and midrange reminds me to those of the Noble K10U that is one of my favorites IEM’s when it comes to the male vocal presentation. The Rai Penta offers an even better performance while listen to vocals like Barry White or Isaac Hayes up to Elton John and Sting.

The female vocals are reproduced with a good amount of clarity and detail retrieval. Female voices like Dionne Warwick or Randy Crawford up to Edith Piaf and Diana Krall do sound slightly warm and are pretty transparent and lively.

The Meze Rai Penta has an instrument tonality that is slightly warmer than neutral while the overall presentation is vivid and fairly smooth. Instruments like acoustic guitars are slightly warm, bassy and musical while violins do have a moderate brightness. Instruments like pianos are mildly bright, pronounced and vivid.

Pianos on the other hand are pretty soft in the lower midrange, while the emphasis and brightness towards the upper midrange does increase in a controlled manner.

 

Upper Midrange & Treble:

The upper midrange of the Meze Rai Penta is highlighted and offers a lively timbre. The transitions are in general fairly soft without to show remarkable negative situations like sibilance or harshness.

The lower treble region of the Meze Rai Penta shows less presence compared to the upper midrange and upper treble region, which results to relaxed presentation in this area. The lower treble region offers a moderate amount of clarity and definition.

The upper treble region of the Meze Rai Penta is more highlighted and detailed compared to the lower treble area and offers a sufficient level of airiness and sparkle.

Instruments like Hi-hats are represented with a good level of brightness and extension, and the amount of clarity that is shown by the Rai Penta is decent. The general treble tuning of the Rai Penta shows good quantity, intensity and sharpness and is also pretty controlled and fast. For example, the cymbals in genres like trash metal are represented in a pretty fast and accented way.

The general treble performance of the Meze Rai Penta in terms of extension, intensity and detail retrieval is on an above average level.

 

Soundstage:

The Meze Rai Penta shows a quite impressive soundstage expansion with a precise placement and separation of instrument & vocals. The soundstage has a good level of wideness and depth and the air / space that has been reproduced by the Rai Penta is compelling.

 

 

 

Some Comparisons:

 

Meze Audio Rai Penta versus Campfire Audio ARA:

Both the Meze Audio Rai Penta and the Campfire Audio ARA are multi driver IEM’s with different driver technologies under the hood. The Rai Penta offers a so called Penta Hybrid driver configuration with 4 Balanced Armature and 1 Dynamic driver, while the ARA comes with 7 Balanced Armature Drivers with a Crossover-less driver design. Both IEM’s have a solid build quality and do shows a good fit and isolation.

The Campfire Audio ARA has a more linear bass response compared to the Meze Audio Rai Penta which shows slightly more subbass quantity, depth and rumble, while the ARA has the upper hand in terms of speed and control.

The midbass region of the Rai Penta is more highlighted and shows a higher level of impact and intensity. The ARA on the other hand offers a faster midbass response and sounds tighter in this area. Both IEM’s a very detailed and do show a Top of the Line layering, while the ARA is slightly more successful in terms of low-end decay.

The midrange of the both In-Ear Monitors is pretty upfront and offers a great amount of clarity and detail retrieval. The midrange of the Campfire Audio ARA is slightly more upfront and sound a bit more intimate while listen to vocals. The lower midrange of the Rai Penta has a bit more depth and body while the upper midrange is more pronounced compared to those of the ARA. The upper midrange transition of the Campfire Audio ARA are more controlled, while the detail retrieval is pretty close.

The both the lower and upper treble range of the Campfire Audio ARA is more highlighted and shows a higher level of sparkle and airiness. The ARA has also the upper hand in terms of treble extension and detail retrieval.

Both the Meze Audio Rai Penta and the Campfire Audio ARA very successful IEM’s in terms of separation and placement of instruments and vocals while the ARA has the upper hand in terms of wideness, while the Rai Penta shows slightly more depth.

 

 

Meze Audio Rai Penta versus Dunu DK-4001:

Both the Meze Rai Penta and the Dunu DK-4001 are do have a 4BA + 1DD hybrid driver configuration and do offer a slightly warmer than neutral tonality with a musical & fatigue free presentation.

The Dunu DK-4001 shows more subbass depth, intensity and rumble with slightly better level of extension compared to the Meze Rai Penta. Both In-Ear Monitors do sound pretty controlled in this area while the Rai Penta offers slightly better control in complex passages.

The midbass of the Dunu DK-4001 shows slightly less intensity & impact and is inferior in terms of extension. Both the Rai Penta & the DK-4001 do have a close performance in terms of layering, resolution and bass decay.

The midrange of the Meze Rai Penta offers more clarity and slightly better detail retrieval compared to the DK-4001 and is at the same time more forward in its presentation. The general midrange presentation of the Rai Penta is more intimate, dynamic and lively compared to the DK-4001. The Dunu DK-4001 offers more lower midrange depth and fullness while listen to male vocals. The upper midrange of the Meze Rai Penta sounds more highlighted and shows a more natural timbre compared to the DK-4001, which makes it superior with female vocals, especially when it comes to transparency and detail retrieval.

The treble range of the Dunu DK-4001 is more pronounced, especially in the lower treble region, which gives it a slightly advantage in terms of clarity and definition in this area. The upper treble region of the DK-4001 has the upper hand in terms of extension, while the Rai Penta offers a more relaxed character, which makes it ideal for longer listening periods.

Both In-Ear Monitors are successful in terms of separation and positioning of instruments and vocals.  The Meze Rai Penta has the upper hand in terms of soundstage depth, while the Dunu DK-4001 shows a slightly better performance when it comes to the wideness.

 

 

Conclusion:

The Meze Rai Penta is a beautiful looking In-Ear Monitor with a solid build quality that offers a very safe sound tuning which is a fusion of Top of the Line audiophile sound with good level of detail and a highly entraining fatigue-free musicality. The Rai Penta comes also with a rich set of accessories, like the nice looking EVA case, various types of ear-tips and a great stock cable, which are some nice additions.

 

 

Pros & Cons: 
  • + Very Coherent Tuning
  • + Bass speed and control
  • + Midrange clarity and resolution
  • + Smooth/relaxed but pretty detailed treble tuning
  • + Top of the Line Build Quality & Esthetics
  • + Comfortable Monitor Shape
  • + Rich Accessory Package (EVA Case, Eartips Selection, High Quality Cable, etc.)

 

  • – Some slightly roll-off in the treble range (especially lower treble area)
  • – Maybe too relaxed for some listeners
  • No balanced cable (sold separately)

 

Thank you for the read!

 

 

 

 

 

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