MEZE Rai Solo IEM Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meze Audio Rai Solo IEM 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. Meze is now specialized in the production of Headphones (99 Classics, Empyrean) and In-Ear Monitors (12 Classics, Rai Penta, etc.).

The Meze Rai Solo that I will now review  for you features a 9.2mm diameter electrodynamic driver with UPM balanced piston membrane motion that is encased in a durable and ergonomic sintered steel shell.

 

Disclaimer:

I would like to thank Meze Audio for providing me the Rai Solo 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 MSRP price of the Meze Rai Solo is 249 USD and can be purchased under the link below;

 

 

Package and Accessories:

The Meze Rai Solo came in a box in black color that has some brandings on the top side. Here is also a window with a transparent plastic film where you can see the nice looking Rai Solo Monitors.

At the rear side of the box are some product specific advertisings and technical information; while on both sides of the box are some illustrations of the Rai Solo Monitor shape.

The box of the Meze Rai Solo comes with the following contents;

  • 1 pair x Meze Rai Solo In-Ear Monitor
  • 1 piece x Detachable SPC (Silver Plated Copper) Cable with MMCX connectors
  • 3 pairs x Soft silicone eartips (size S, M, L)
  • 3 pairs x Double flanged eartips (size S, M, L)
  • 2 pairs x Deep insertion double flanged eartips (size M, L)
  • 1 piece x Protective Hard Case

The Meze Rai Solo comes with a wide variety of silicone eartips in different sizes and shapes.

The so called protective EVA case looks very stylish and is of high quality. On the top of the case is the Meze Audio logo which is made of metal.

The Rai Solo comes also with a detachable cable which has a twisted profile. The 130cm long cable is made of a 4 core Silver Plated Copper (SPC) wire material which is protected with a transparent plastic insulation.

The detachable cable of the Rai Solo features MMCX male connectors which are protected with a transparent plastic housing that do have Left (blue) & Right (red) ring indicators.

The cable sports also a plastic Y splitter and a chin slider with Meze logos & brandings.

The 3.5mm (TRS) headphone jack has an L profiled headphone housing which is made from a combination of plastic and metal material that has the Meze logo on the top.

The overall build quality of the cable is pretty good and shows low microphonics.

 

 

 

Monitor Design & Overall Build Quality,

The Meze Rai Solo is a very stylish looking IEM with a fine brushed stainless steel monitor shell that is a combination of two main parts with a solid appearance. Stainless steel is a quite rigid material that offers a low resonance to for a minimum amount of interference that will be created by the vibration of the driver unit. This material should also help to incase the audio performance by creating a cleaner and darker background for a higher defined imaging.

The front part that we do describe as faceplate has the Meze Audio logo in black color.

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

At the rear part of the monitor is the slightly angled sound nozzles that do have a fine woven metal mesh which should avoid the insertion of unwanted particles like dust, ear wax, etc.

The sound nozzles are made of metal and do have a color coding which is red for right and blue for the left earpiece. Near the sound nozzle is a small vent for the electrodynamic driver.

The overall build quality of the monitor shell is very robust thanks to the stainless steel material and the great craftsmanship.

 

 

 

Fit & Isolation:

The shape of the Meze Rai Solo monitor shell is very ergonomic and fits perfectly in to my average sized ears. The ergonomic rear 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                         : 9.2mm UPM dynamic driver
  • Diaphragm thickness : 9µm
  • Impedance                 : 16 Ohm
  • SPL                             : 105±3dB at 1mW/1kHz
  • Frequency response   : 18Hz – 22kHz
  • Distortion                   : <1% at 1mW/1kHz

 

 

Paring & Drivability:

The Meze Rai Solo is a source friendly IEM thanks to its impedance of 16Ω and fairly low sensitivity approx 105dB which makes it compatible with relative weak sources like a Smartphone or Tablet and pairs pretty well with almost any sound source I have tested with it.

 

 

 

The Wire Free UPM Design:

The new UPM driver eliminates this inconvenience by using a totally different approach: the membrane itself is electrically conductive and, therefore, no wires are attached to the diaphragm. The result is a symmetric pistonic motion through its entire movement, without disturbance from the unbalance created by wires.

 

 

Equipment’s used for this review:
  • IEM’s              : Meze Rai Solo, Final Audio E5000, Campfire Audio Comet
  • DAP/DAC      : FiiO M11 Pro, iBasso DX160, Samsung Galaxy S9+, iPad Air2

 

 

 

Albums & tracks used for this review:

  • Opeth – Damnation (Wav 16bit/44kHz)
  • Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Slayer – Angel of Death (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (DSF) – Binaural Recording
  • Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Wav 24bit/88kHz)
  • Elton John – Your Song (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • David Bowie – Black Star (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Eric Clapton – Unplugged Album (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • B.B. King – Riding With The King (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • First Aid Kit – My Silver Lining (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • London Grammar – Interlude (Live) (Flac 24bit/88kHz)
  • Aretha Franklin – I Say a Little Prayer (Wav 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
  • Laura Pergolizzi – Lost On You “Live at Harvard and Stone” (Wav 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Rush’s – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Spotify)
  • Lorde – Royal (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Tom Player – Resonace Theory (16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Portishead – The Hidden Camera (MP3 320kbps)

 

 

 

 

 

The Sound:

The Meze Rai Solo shows a slightly warmer than neutral tonality with a mildly V shaped sound signature. The bass character of the Rai Solo is pretty fast and slightly midbass focused, the midrange is fairly transparent and detailed and shows a highlighted upper midrange tuning, while the treble range has a good level of extension and airiness.

 

Bass:

The lower frequency region of the Meze Rai Solo has a quite natural tonality with a nice amount of warmth thanks to the well tuned UPM dynamic driver.

The subbass region of the Rai Solo has a pretty linear tuning with an average level of depth and extension while listen to songs like Massive Attack’s “Angel” or Lorde’s “Royal”. The subbass has in general as slightly warmer than neutral tonality and is quite successful in terms of control, while the rumble is on a moderate level.

The midbass region on the other hand is a tad more pronounced compared to the subbass and has a slightly boost around the 100 Hz region that gives the overall presentation of the Meze Rai Solo some fullness and body without to sound dull or muddy.

The general bass character of the Rai Solo is pretty fast, detailed and shows a fairly level of impact that should be sufficient for most modern genres such like rock or pop, but should not be ideal for those who except a bass tuning that is on an bass-head level.

 

Midrange:

The midrange of the Meze Rai Solo is slightly recessed because of the mildly V shaped sound signature. The general presentation of this area is pretty transparent and airy with a tad of fullness influenced by the lower midrange

 

Instruments & Vocals:

The Meze Rai Solo is a successful In-Ear Monitor with both, male and female vocals that do sound in general quite transparent and detailed. Female voices such like Aretha Franklin or Diana Krall do sound quite emotional and detailed due upper midrange tuning that shows a boost around the 3 kHz region without to be sibilant and harsh.

Male voices on the other hand do show and average level of depth, intensity and extension while I did listen to Dave Gahan or David Bowie.

Female vocals are in general more detailed and do show also a better level of airiness and extension.

The instrument presentation of the Rasi Solo is pretty natural and emotional. For example violins and pianos do sound detailed and very controlled, while the extension is on a sufficient level for an In-Ear monitor at this price range.

The general tonality of instruments is a tad warmer than normal. But I would wish a touch more fullness while I do listen to instruments like violas or acoustic guitars that do sound otherwise fairly pleasant and emotional.

 

Upper Midrange & Treble:

The upper midrange and lower treble region of the Meze Rai Solo is more highlighted compared to the more linear lows and the lower midrange/midrange. Instruments like snare drums, pianos and cymbals do sound pretty detailed and have a good level of extension thanks to the pronounced upper midrange.

The transition between the upper midrange and the treble region is quite controlled and fatigue free, which makes the Rai Solo to an ideal IEM for longer listening periods.

The lower treble region is more detailed than the upper treble region where the Rai Solo shows a noticeable roll-off. The lower treble tuning gives the overall presentation of the Meze Rai Solo a good level of clarity and definition, while the upper treble roll-off is responsible for the moderate amount of airiness and sparkle.

So, the general treble presentation of the Meze Rai Solo can be described as controlled with focus on the lower treble region that is pretty detailed and has good extension, while the upper treble is controlled smooth and fatigue free.

 

The Soundstage & Imaging:

The Meze Rai Solo is a pretty successful IEM in terms of separation between the right and the left channels and the positioning of vocals & instruments. The soundstage of the Rai Solo shows a good level of width and an average level of depth.

 

 

Some Comparisons:

 

Meze Audio Rai Solo versus Campfire Audio Comet:

Both the Campfire Audio Comet and the Meze Rai Solo do offer a mildly V shaped sound signature with slightly boost in the lows and the highs.

The subbass region of the Campfire Audio Comet is slightly more pronounced than those of the Meze Rai Solo, which makes it more successful with bass heavy tracks, while I do prefer the more linear tuning of the Rai Solo.

The midbass of the Campfire Audio Comet have a touch more impact and extension, wile the Meze Rai Solo is superior in terms of speed and tightness in this region. Both In-Ear Monitors are pretty successful in terms of lower frequency control thanks to the fairly linear bass character.

The midrange of the Comet has a slightly warmer tonality compared to those of the Rai Solo which sounds a bit brighter and airier due to the boost in the upper midrange & lower treble region. The Rai Solo has in general the upper hand in terms of midrange detail retrieval and overall clarity.

The lower midrange of the Campfire Audio Comet shows a bit more depth and extension which makes it somewhat successful with male vocals. The Meze Rai Solo on the other hand is superior in terms of female vocal presentation that do sound in general more detailed and have a better level of extension.

The upper midrange and lower treble region of the Meze Rai Solo is more highlighted, detailed and shows also a better level of extension compared to those of the Campfire Audio Comet, while the upper treble range of the Comet is more pronounced detail but not as fatigue free like the Meze Rai Solo.

The stage of the Meze Rai Solo sounds in general slightly more airy and has also the upper hand in terms of soundstage wideness. The Campfire Audio Comet shows less width but offers slightly more depth.

 

 

 

Meze Audio Rai Solo versus Final Audio E5000:

Both the Meze Rai Solo and the Final Audio E5000 do have a V shaped sound signature with a different main emphasis. The E5000 shows more emphasis in the lower frequency region, while the Rai Solo has a more accented upper midrange & lower treble tuning.

The Meze Rai Solo has less subbass quantity, depth and extension compared to the Final Audio E5000, while the it has the upper hand in terms of subbass speed and control.  The midbass region of the Final Audio E5000 has more intensity and shows more impact compared to those of the Meze Rai Solo, while the Rai Solo is superior in terms of overall bass layering, resolution and tightness.

The midrange of the Final Audio E5000 has a warmer tonality and do sound also slightly fuller than those of the Meze Rai Solo. The lower midrange of the E5000 has also more depth and extension which gives it a slightly advantage for the male vocal presentation. The Meze Rai Solo is superior in terms of female vocals that do show more detail, clarity and extension compared to the Final Audio E5000.

Both the Meze Rai Solo and the Final Audio E5000 do offer a controlled and fatigue free upper midrange and treble presentation, while the the Rai Solo is in general more detailed. The Meze Rai Solo is also superior in terms of treble extension, clarity and overall airiness and offers additional sparkle and resolution, compared to the Final Audio E5000 which sounds a bit dull in this area.

The stage of the Meze Rai Solo is more airy shows more space between the instruments and vocals and has the upper hand in terms of soundstage width, while the performance for depth is pretty similar.

 

 

Conclusion:

The Meze Rai Solo is one of my favorite IEM’s in this price range thanks to the great combination of esthetic, build quality and sound performance. It is a beautiful IEM with a very robust craftsmanship which offers a pretty detailed and controlled bass presentation, musical and lively midrange and a fatigue free treble tuning with good level of extension. It is also worth to mention that it comes with a pretty rich accessory package that includes many ear tips and a nice looking protective case.

 

 

Pros & Cons:
  • + Linear, Detailed, Controlled Bass Presentation
  • + Lively and Transparent Midrange
  • + Lower Treble Extension
  • + Fatigue Free Tuning
  • + Build Quality, Esthetic, Comfort
  • + Lots of Ear Tips & Great Looking Protective Hard Case
  • – Slightly Lack of Subbass Depth and Midbass Intensity for Genres like EDM, RnB, Trance
  • – Upper Treble Roll-Off

 

 

 

 

 

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