- Warm, laid back, lush cozzy jazzy lazy sound
- Great construction and design
- Sexy to look, comfy to wear
- Sloppy bass
- Can get overly warm and affect definition
- Average technicalites for the price
NO BS (if you have a thick wallet and money to spent) RECOMMENDED!
MEZE is mostly praise by audiophile for their headphones like the 99 classic and Neo. Sure, they got recognize too for their earphones, but I don’t think they get as much actively praised than the 99 Classic.
Still, they aren’t new to earphones conception and already have a line up of 4 budget friendly model which consist of two 12 classic iem made of wood housing and two 11 NEO made of metal material. All of them sell for under 100$. Unfortunately I didn’t hear any of them but expect warm, lush bassy signature sound of MEZE.
One would think MEZE go in higher price range gradually, but instead they jump right up to the top and enter flagship earphones market with their latest iem offering call the RAI PENTA.
Priced at 1099$, the Rai Penta is sure a luxurious iem few could afford. This hybrid earphones hide 1 dynamic drivers + 4 balanced armature in it’s rather sleek sexy body. Construction is sincerely exceptional.
It take 3 years for MEZE to come out with the PENTA they feel confident to sell, after numerous prototypes, the end result is nothing less than mind blowing.
Now, let’s see in this review if it deliver a level of sound quality on par with it’s price range.
DISCLAIMER : I wanna thanks MEZE for lending me the Rai Penta for rather long period of time. I was last on the list of loaner review and perhaps take too much my time…but i feel like Gollum with its precious treasure and hide myself alone on the top of a mountain with the Penta so nobody can stop me using it.
Driver: PENTA-HYBRID DRIVER
(4 x Customized Balanced Armature and 1 x Dynamic
Driver working harmoniously together)
Frequency Range: 4Hz – 45kHz
Sensitivity: 110dB SPL/1mW Sensitivity
Max Input Power: 30mW
Stock cables: MMCX connector ending in 3.5mm, Rhodium plated
Upgrade cables: MMCX connector ending in
2.5mm TRRS balanced and 4.4mm balanced as extra accessories
Warranty period: 2 years
UNBOXING experience is a luxuriously enjoyable one. You got a nice fancy box and when you open it you see everything you got for your 1K. Well, the cable is hide in the beautiful leather protective case but everything else is in front of you : the Rai Penta jewels, an impressive amount of eartips to be sure you find your proper fit (7 pairs of silicone and one pair of memory foams), a 4cores SPC cable, the elegant carrying case and a bunch of MEZE sticker for Fanboys like me. Okay, the boxing could have been even more luxurious due to high price range, but I have nothing to complaint about. Everything is there, yes an extra balanced cable would have been nice….but hey, it look like MEZE make a special right now that include an extra 2.5mm cable anyway!
CONSTRUCTION of MEZE product are always preciously crafted, so my expectation for their top of the line iem was very high. And still, I’m in awe. If such thing like perfection exist, MEZE nail it with the Rai Penta housing. First thing that surprise me is how small it is for a multi hybrid iem. After this is how light it is for such sturdy looking all metal earphones. With iem in this price range I’m merciless about every aspect of construction and search for little details that can be negatively judged. One thing is about how the housing is durable in all way possible including scratch on it’s body. Well, the anodize cnc aluminum housing isn’t easy to scratch at all! Unlike DITA Fealty, Hifiman RE-2000 or Final Audio B1, you invest in a luxury iem that will not look like an old warrior full of battle scars after a year! The fact this review unit have been use by lot of other people and that I use it for a full month without ever using a carrying case and i can’t find a single little scratch on the body is supreme proof of how scratch resistant is the Rai Penta and yes, this is a big deal. The housing shape is sumptuous, with smooth organic curve, the dark blue colour is eye catching and reflect light in a intricate way. Body is make of 3 metal part, with a nozzle that have metal tube as well, so inner construction is as much carefully done than outside one. How the MEZE logo is engraved in housing is sumptuous too. Man, even the venting hole are artsy looking…I mean, i literally contemplate venting hole and find it beautiful with the Meze Rai Penta, I think it say alot about how refined are material used for construction.
DESIGN can only be great if I praise that much the construction and I sincerely believe it really take 3 years of ergonomic research as MEZE state themself. This is a flawless design, that offer as much comfort than durability and beauty. It’s light, have smooth anodize aluminum shell with round curvy edge, the nozzle is neither too long or too short and even if it’s on the thick side it sit perfectly in ear canal as if it became a part of your body. With or without ear hook, the iem will stay still in your ears because of their perfect shape that embrace human anatomy.
CABLE too is nice, not mind blowing like the earphones but a good high purity silver plated 4 cores braided cable similar to the one you get with Final Audio B1 or B3. Due to how unique the Penta look, i would have prefer an even fancier cable like a smooth 8cores SPC, but this is just a personal caprice. The cable is great.
DRIVEABILITY is very easy. At 20ohm with high 110db sensitivity, anything will drive properly the Penta. In fact, Penta don’t like too powerful amping. Neither too low. I find them a little capricious about pairing in the sens they will benefit from clear source with high SNR. My best pairing is with my Ibasso DX90 at low gain, to my ears, soundstage gain deepness because of low background noise floor.
OVERALL PERSONAL SOUND APPRECIATION is mostly positive even if at this price range I sure judge more severely sound balance, tonality and timbre of an earphone. Even if MEZE did balance very well dynamic driver with 4 balanced armatures, it sure will have some limitation in soundstage and imaging that is inherent to this type of implementation and could only be avoid using very big housing, which the PENTA didn’t have. I’m not a pro about housing acoustic, but I think this explain overall thick dense macroscopic sound we have with the PENTA, to some extend it remind me a warmer, more refined and balanced BGVP DMG wich is a good value 160$ DualDD+2BA’s earphones.
The PENTA are slightly U shape sounding, with serious emphasis in sub bass which give a big thick slam, the lower mid range do get warmth a little, but in a good way which give vocal more density in body and presence even if overall clarity of mid range is a little too smooth in definition to offer a wider, clearer, airier vocal presentation. Cohesion of whole sound feel natural, more similar to what we would expect from a TOTL single dynamic driver that multi BA’s hybrid, this have a fluid muscular musicality that avoid any aggressiveness, well, if we don’t talk about weighty bass slam. You will not hear any sibilance in mids, no sharp peaks, its so lush and organic, yet it have good amount of details and well articulate layering. Now, here I think about Final Audio E5000, especially for how the treble is polished and laid back, giving smooth natural timbre which avoid any grain or harshness.
SOUNDSTAGE is average for the price, it have rather good wideness but lack in both tallness and deepness, making overall presentation quite intimate.
IMAGING is lower than average for the price, instrument separation lack air and space, it’s not very easy to define their placement and while it do not really feel congested even with crowded music, thick layering will make it sound less accurate in resolution.
CLARITY isn’t at the highest level here, which explain why the PENTA make me think of Final Audio E5000, its warm, its thick, it’s not super transparent. If you expect vivid detailed and fast presentation from the Balanced armature, think again, because the BA’s in there make me think of Knowles BA’s sound which isn’t about high definition but natural, lush timbre.
TIMBRE is how I like it : full and natural with well rounded density and just enough texture to make it sound smooth as butter.
BASS is beefy without going into full basshead territory. It haven’t long transparent and super controlled extension we could find with more neutral iem like the DITA Fidelity, but a thick bumped sub bass mixed with lower mid bass, its very round to the point it’s more about authoritative slam than fast thigh punch. U shape in soul, but W shape with smoothed treble in nature, the PENTA have more juice to share than controlled vividness. Can’t say bass is boomy, but it sure isn’t a maestro of control and speed. This type of low end is great for cello which sound fuller as well as acoustic bass and synth bass, less so for fast slap bass and kick drum.
MID RANGE have a lush laid back feel to it that strangely keep a good level of naturalness. Its dense, and seat on the bass with its thick presence. Vocal of both male and female are sweet and polished in upper mids, which avoid any hint of sibilance or harshness without overly affecting attack of other instruments. Piano sound round and smooth, with good weight but soft attack and not alot of realistic resonance, I really like how full bodied the piano is presented. Violin can play fast without loosing its pace, but definition will lack texture for some. Yep, we are in warm mids territory that deliver a clean well articulate sound, which is more about musicality than technicality.
TREBLE emphasis is more in lower and mid region and begin a drop around 10khz, there no hint of aggressiveness and rather offer a smooth rendering with nuanced timbre and well layered details. Percussion are crunchy and well define, not pushed artificial forwards, giving highs good natural balance that sound opposite to clinical earphones without feeling it really lack in analytical approach. No splashiness, but not alot of sparkle either, you have as well minimal brilliance so I would not suggest the PENTA for fan of classical guitar, harp or harpsichord. Transition from low to mid to high is rather liquid, like thick hot transparent caramel. It really taste good, and sweetness isn’t unhealthy. This is organic old fashioned caramel, carefully homemade by your grandma. I reassuringly tasty, but sure, I would have like a little more spice in treble. Instrument like saxophone, electric guitar, violin and piano earn some extra attack speed when playing in this range, but again, with good hearted warmth to it. Cannot go better rounded than this, and this might be dream come true for treble sensitive people searching for revealing inoffensive listen.
SUB BASS : 8/10
MID BASS : 7.5/10
MID RANGE : 8.5/10
TREBLE : 8/10
TIMBRE : 8.5/10
CLARITY : 7.5/10
SOUNDSTAGE : 7.5/10
IMAGING : 7.5/10
ATTACK-DECAY : 7.5/10
VS DITA FIDELITY (1300$) :
How could compare an high end single dynamic against the flagship triple drivers Penta?
Well, let’s begin by saying it wasn’t that easy to compare both due to different amping need, Fidelity being seriously harder to drive and Penta being sensible to over power that can affect sound balance, it wasn’t an easy task.
Now, when it come to construction, both are fabulously crafted, but the Rai Penta win in term of comfort and fit, because the DITA is less ergonomic in shape and its earhook cable is thicker and can go off the ears.
SOUNDSTAGE is slightly larger with the DITA, while the PENTA win in deepnest, but still have an overall more intimate presentation and this deepness clarity can be affected by bass veil.
IMAGING tend to be more accurate and sharper with the DITA, especially in mids and highs, tough the lower bass is more easy to discern with PENTA.
BASS is more U shape and emphases with the PENTA, its thicker, warmer, weightier and more muscular than the flatter, slightly dry lower end of DITA which have more energy in mid bass making kick drum less thick but more realist and textured.
MID RANGE is warmer with the PENTA, its a little thicker and more opaque too, it will have more presence when there no sub bass bleed occurring but the brighter timbre of DITA tend to offer higher clarity, tough male vocal will sound thinner and female vocal can rarely create slight sibilance, attack for violin is faster too.
TREBLE is more extended, sharper and more sparkly with the DITA, percussion are more forward and clearer, but this can affect overall balance and make the DITA sound a little more clinical than more mellow and natural treble response of PENTA.
VS FINAL AUDIO B1 (700$) :
Both this earphones share similar warm, bassy and intimate soundsignature, but the B1 is more V shape and warmer. SOUNDSTAGE is similar, just enough wide to don’t feel stock in your head, but the PENTA are notably deeper as well as a little taller, make it more out of your head and spacious than B1.
IMAGING is more accurate with crisper clarity with the PENTA, as if with the B1 your too near musicians to have proper instrument separation.
BASS is more controlled and linear with the PENTA, it sound faster than more pumped up bass of B1 that tend to warm lower mids more than the PENTA. B1 have slightly thicker and juicier sub bass but it’s less textured than PENTA.
MID RANGE is clearer, slightly brighter and more accurate with the PENTA, the presentation is wider and less intimate and prompt to congestion than B1. B1 have more mellow mid range, but female vocals are more prompt to (rare) sibilance, dynamic and attack is more energic with the PENTA.
TREBLE is more extended with the PENTA, delivering crisper highs and more micro details on top, this make them more W shape while the B1 are more L shape with extra mids push. No doubt that the PENTA deliver higher definition, more texture and a livelier musicality.
All in all, the B1 will please those who search thick sound with lush mids and intimate laidback musicality, while the PENTA is clearly superior in technicalities, bass control and imaging.
SOUNDSTAGE is slightly wider with the PENTA but we have notably more deepness and tallness with the DITA which make it sound more out of your head and airy.
IMAGING being more spacious with the DITA, instrument separation have more air between them and tend to give clearer and more accurate positioning, as well, DITA have more transparency which benefit layering resolution.
CLARITY is sharper with the DITA, especially in mid range where its clean from any bass warmth. TIMBRE is thicker, juicier and smoother with the PENTA, while the DITA is more bright and transparent. BASS is seriously more beefy, weighty and punchy with the PENTA, its thick and beautifully rounded even if it tend to warm lower mid range more than dryer, flatter and more textured bass of DITA. MID RANGE of DITA sound more revealing and fully covered, slightly more forward too, but with upper mids emphasis that while barely even make any micro sibilance, tend to offer a less smoothness than warmer, more opaque mids of PENTA. Here, DITA offer higher level of definition and clarity, making the PENTA sound less balanced and refined. TREBLE is a little more extended with the DITA, but extra micro-details we find is more due to higher level of clarity, anyway, highs have more natural sparkle-brilliance-decay to them while PENTA is again softer-dryier on top.
All in all, PENTA is bassier, warmer, more laid back and softer sounding while the DITA have better technicalities, more balanced near neutral sound and slightly brighter timbre that permit higher level of definition.
Musically, the Rai Penta is a champion with it’s lush, thick, bassy and coherent sound. Technically, it’s less convincing with it’s slightly loose bass response, warm definition, smooth attack and average transient response.
While I find sound value is in the low benefit return tangent, i think the extremely comfortable and well crafted Penta justify it’s higher price range to some extend. Why? Because we can’t expect high sound value with 99% of iem costing more than 1000$. Well, I still am searching for the one that can be consider as a versatile spectacular sounding end game iem. To be honest, I don’t think it exist.
In the other hand, the fact level of resolution isn’t analytical and choose to be lush and transparent instead of sharp and crisp make the Penta never aggressive or artificial sounding whatever music style you listen to. This could be a problem for metal or fast rock that need thigh punchy bass and fast transient response, but for most music like classical, jazz, pop, rap and electronic the result is very addictive.
If your wallet is thick enough and you search for a top of the line warm, laid back, bassy and lush sounding earphones with incredibly beautiful and sturdy construction, the Meze Rai Penta might become your beloved guilty pleasure.