Following the success of the impeccably designed and tonally agreeable Meze Empyrean headphones, the Meze Audio Rai Penta IEMs were established with the same decisive vision of a marriage of comfort, aesthetics and sound. Culminating from three years of research and development, the Rai Pentas – as their name suggests packs five drivers in a seamlessly hybrid topology.
Each of their products which vary in price, utilise the expertise of a wealth of vocations including musicians, engineers and artists. The end result being creations which encapsulate product maturity and by extension, critical acclaim. At a price of $1099, the Rai Pentas are by no means cheap and represent a significant investment even within the realm of hi-fidelity.
The Rai Penta come in an unassuming black box decorated with a concentric geometric design. Included within is a foam insert which houses eight pairs of ear tips (four of which are different sized soft silicone tips, two deep insertion eartips, a double flanged eartip and a comply foam tip).
Also included is a small hard-shell travel case which bears the Meze Audio logo in a small metal plate, an airplane 2 pin adapter, cleaning tool and 3.5 mm to 6.35 mm adapter.
The upgrade cables are silver plated custom copper wires with 2.5 mm and 4.4 mm TRRS balanced termination as well as the standard 3.5 mm single-ended straight jack. Each cable comes with high purity silver-plated copper wires with each wire incorporating 20 litz strands.
The Design & Build
As with their full sized contemporaries, the Meze Rai Penta is an extremely well built IEM. The chassis is skilfully milled from solid aluminum and anodised with a metallic navy shell. The logo reveals the underlying aluminum material the shelling is made from and on the inside of the monitors, there is a screw and ventilation port. Also worth mentioning is the artfully crafted contours and striking design which gives the product a unique but impressive appearance.
For a five-driver IEM, the Rai Penta manages to compact the driver in a small and neat design. The ear tubes themselves are neither too shallow and deep and coupled with the smooth contouring help consumers achieve a secure ergonomic fit.
Cut from the same leaf as the Empyreans before it, the Rai Pentas delivers a pleasantly tuned bottom-end performance. The dynamic driver delivers an enhanced but well-tuned bass with great decay and texture. The mid-bass is slightly dialled back allowing for a more intelligible and resolute bassline. Compared to the Campfire Audio Atlas, the weight of the notes are smaller with less air pushed through. However, the tonal balance sounds more natural and balanced. In “Bag of Tricks”, by Jafu – the basslines sound well-articulated with perfect levels of decay, impact and texturing. It is not a presentation which demands attention but one which can be appreciated for its subtleties and well-crafted signature.
The midrange of the Rai Penta sound very balanced and tonally agreeable with a good element of warmth combined with clarity and texture. This is not what would be classically be called a reference IEM with the typical pinpoint delivery of vocals but akin to the Empyreans, delivers vocals with a relaxed and smooth performance. There are good levels of separation from right to left panning and vocals sound true to source. In “The Sweetest Taboo” by Sade, vocals sound detailed and natural without ever sounding clinical. Perhaps there is an element of air missing compared to the likes of Campfire Audio Atlas and Solaris. However, the harmonic profile is great with the rights amount of smoothness, clarity and depth.
The top end of the Rai Penta is dialled back slightly to give a more forgiving and smooth performance. While texturing and detail are great, there is some room for extension to really give the highs the needed extension that this IEM deserves. Nevertheless, cymbal crashes sound well-rounded and decently separated. For those wishing for a natural and laidback listen, the Rai Pentas certainly appease for a prolonged listening experience without fatigue.
The Soundstage & Imaging
The soundstage dimensions of the Meze Audio Rai Penta are not the most voluminous but they certainly do manage vocal and instruments well given the space they have. The well-controlled bass and slightly forward vocals give good elements of depth with great separation levels in the overall mix.
Nothing sounds artificially inflated and the word organic certainly comes to mind when listening to what Meze have to offer.
Compared to Dita Audio’s Fealty, the Rai Penta immediately sounds lusher and more musical next to the former’s more analytical driven signature. Note sizes are thicker with more presence which favours vocal-centric tracks. For lovers of micro-detailing and nuances, the Fealty’s resolve better but it is easier to get lost in music with the Rai Pentas.
Compared to Campfire Audio’s Atlas, the Rai Penta has a more subdued bass next to the former’s more voluminous and authoritative low-end. Both opt for a more musical tonality with the Rai Penta delivering a more relaxed and closer to neutral signature while the Atlas dives into a v-shaped signature.
With an emphasis on craftsmanship, aesthetics and sound retuning, Meze have certainly hit back with a solid contender in the saturated market for IEMs. Much like the well-acclaimed Empyrean headphones, the Rai Penta extend the philosophy with its relaxing, balanced and yet refined signature. What is more refreshing to note is that Meze Audio strives for perfection and rather than rushing to meet deadlines and pushing for spin-off products, the company really aim for the best version of their product before market release. The multidisciplinary approach of sound engineers and artists truly define the ultimate collaboration of what the Rai Pentas have to offer. With that said, these well-built and solid in-ear monitors certainly deserve an audition. Stay tuned for more…
Meze Audio Rai Penta