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RAI Penta -- Meze Audio's Flagship IEM with Penta Hybrid Driver Technology

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  1. gLer
    Thanks David. I'm part of the world tour so just getting familiar with these IEMs and calling on experienced users for advice. Earlier today I tried the Final E tips on the Rai and they sound great. Might persist with those for a while.
  2. davidmolliere
    After a bit of tip rolling right now my favorite universal tip on the Penta is Flare audio EarFoams, quite close to what I get with custom silicon tips... https://www.flareaudio.com/products/audiophile-replacement-earfoams
  3. ayang02
    Spiral Dot++ works well with the RP, imo this tip offers better clarity compared to the regular Spiral Dots but they are expensive. Acoustune AET07 is another good choice for clarity with slightly less bass than the Spiral Dots.
  4. DavidS11
    Just to add - I have also tried Spinfit tips (CP100 & CP145). They are great on other IEMs but for some reasons they are not working so well for me on the Rai Penta - too much bass and sound is too recessed.

    I hope to get some Final Type E and Spiral Dots to try. Thanks for the suggestions.

    I'm also eager to read about the world tour impressions on the Rai Penta (both pro's and con's). All the best to you guys and hope you have a great time with the review/impression.
  5. davidmolliere
    First impressions after 4 hours with the Rai Penta this afternoon... keep in mind this is a new unit and needs 50 hours burn in to be at its full potential but still I like first impressions, usually they don’t stray too far away from home unless burn in brings in dramatic changes (yeah I am looking at you Campfire Vega).

    Before sound impressions, the shell is compact and lightweight which contributes to excellent comfort and the fit is top tier as far as universal goes. This is no small aspect of an IEM for every day use.

    Now sound... this is with stock cable unbalanced, with the NuTubes powered AMP9 on iBasso DX220 and custom art tips attached. If I had one single word to provide for what struck me first : natural. The Penta is one very natural sounding IEM, with a neutral warm tuning that strikes a delicate balance between accurate and organic.

    I noticed bass evolved during burn in already so I’ll make a reserved first impression : the general bass tuning shows a mature tuning, just enough mid bass to provide a fun kick without any bleed into the mids. It’s a bass that serves the global signature and clearly has been designed to support the rest of the tuning. Now mids, I find the mids have a very accurate timbre, instruments and vocals are spot on to my ears at least with DX220/AMP9. I’ll check AMP1 Mk2 tonight. And last but not least treble, like bass I find they integrate nicely with the rest of the signature, it’s a rather safe lower treble tuning with just enough sparkle to provide excitement but never too energetic. Meze played safe here. Upper treble is well extended, providing good air and very good separation. Given its signature, no surprise that the Penta is non fatiguing.

    Resolution is very very good although I don’t see the Penta as a detail monster it boast plenty of details for a nuanced presentation. Again, nice balanced has been struck. Soundstage is very coherent not the widest but still top tier, special mention to depth (with superb layering from what I can hear) and height is good as well. Again, balance. Note attack is snappy and decay is fast, this is a fast IEM I still have to wait for bass to settle to see how fast the bass can be but overall the Penta can keep up the pace and has good PRaT.

    Right now I am pretty happy about what I am hearing :)
    Two full days they are going to burn in so by the end of the week I’ll have a bit more input to share...

    Edit : Further listen, another 4 hours last night I tried a different combo with DX220/AMP1 mk2 and my Hansound Zen 4 wire cable.

    Image d’iOS (11).jpg

    This combo is fuller sounding (with the upgrade 2.5 cable provided for the Tour), with more bass slam and quantity but less layered than AMP9 which is consistent with other IEM pairings as well.

    The Penta is quite transparent to the source, there is a clear difference when switching and more so than most IEM I own or have owned. This is quite interesting as you can probably shape it the way you like it more by source and cable rolling.

    When I switched to the Hansound Zen 4 wire (full copper) for most of the listening session last night, things got interesting as I suspected layering and soundstage improved quite a bit which brought the Penta a very nice holographic image. On the flipside I didn't care for the loss of body this cable brought. I'll further roll cable today with ALO Audio Silver litz (Solaris stock cable) and Whiplash TWcu v3. This should prove interesting.

    By the way here is how the custom tips look on the Penta (yeah they look huge, I have big ear canals :p ) :

    Image d’iOS (12).jpg
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
    kmmbd, angpsi, ayang02 and 2 others like this.
  6. jchandler3
    After owning for a few weeks and getting many hours of listening in, I thought I'd finally share some thoughts.

    For context, I've not been into IEMs since the huge boom in options, and have never truly invested in a quality travel setup. The last decent IEMs I purchased were the Westone W4R, which were only OK. After starting a new job and needing to travel much more, I thought I'd treat myself and bought the Rai Pentas and the FiiO Q5S.

    Luckily, I've not had any issue with the anodization and all looks very nice. I've kept them in the case they came with when not in use and it seems like they'll hold up nicely, but I'll update if that ends up not being true. I think the tip selection they include is pretty nice and there are several options that work for me. I'm sure I'll continue to try different tips, because I'm ridiculous. But really regardless of tips used, they fit in my ears pretty nicely. The shape of the body really is helpful for staying comfortable indefinitely.

    The included cable is very nice. I wanted a balanced cable to go with the FiiO and I ended up getting the basic ALO Litz in 2.5mm. I opted against the Meze option because I could save $50 and have an angled plug. As a side note, the ALO memory wire and two layers of heat shrink were very annoying and I removed all of it. In retrospect, I should have bought Meze's and dealt with the straight plug.

    At first few listens, I wasn't immediately blown away. I didn't panic, however. While I know there's the possibility that I could just get used to them and will myself to like them, there truly is something about getting to know new headphones and understanding their own unique flavor. I'm used to loudspeaker listening and so IEMs are really very different for all sorts of reasons.

    After running through dozens of hours of my well-known library, I've come to really enjoy them—a lot. They have a somewhat neutral signature, with a slight bias toward warmth/sweetness. Bad recordings will sound bad, but great recordings sound great. There is no magical element that improves bad music.

    Highs: I find the upper register smooth yet detailed, airy with no sense of harshness.
    Mids: Smooth, slightly warm, with a nice presence that never feels nasal or shouty.
    Lows: Mature, capable. Sometimes a song will make me feel like they're bass-light, but then the next song comes on and makes me feel the opposite. That makes me realize that it really comes down to how the recording was engineered and that's the difference I'm hearing. Because songs that need to thump can THUMP.

    I've never been hugely sensitive to soundstage or imaging. I don't think you can say these excel at either or call them "holographic" as some people say. That being said, it never feels stuffy in the center of my head. If anything, I'd place the sound outside of my head about the distance of a motorcycle helmet (if that makes any sense).

    The only thing that gives me any pause with loving these is the question of what another IEM could have given me. I was also looking at Campfire Andromeda Gold and can't help but wonder, "what if?" But the Rai Penta were calling to me more and I ended up getting them for $400 less.

    Regardless of the competition, I think these are a great product. I've found myself listening every night, during work, and while traveling. I can listen for hours and hours on end with no discomfort. They feel and sound premium, which I appreciate for the premium price tag. The sound is smooth, refined, and clear. Not deadpan-neutral-boring, not punchy-exciting-flavored. Somewhere in the middle and I'm happy with that.

    I haven't reviewed anything in a while and I'm rusty with IEMs, so if I forgot anything, just ask.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
    snk8699, jackyzhu, PaganDL and 3 others like this.
  7. xenithon
    I asked a while ago and wanted to ask again, now that more and more people have tried / own the Rai Penta - does anyone know if the PES is like a standard "vent" that you get in a lot of IEM designs (like a bass port), or is it intended to provide any relief for the ear / ear drum as would a 64 Audio ADEL or APEX module, or FiR Atom modules?
  8. jackyzhu
    have been switching between z1r and rai penta in last two weeks. interestingly, even if z1r is technically better than rai penta in most aspects (bass, treble, soundstage, resolution, etc), I kind of still like rai penta more for its balanced, slightly warm, releaxed, musical sound.
  9. davidmolliere
    I'd hardly say IER-Z1R is technically better than the Penta but I only had a 1 hour audition with the Sony. To me it the IER-Z1R has a tuning that is meant to wow you right away, with its grand soundstage, powerful bass, sparkly highs and euphonic mids. It boast flagship performance as well of course, but to me the Penta is not technically less proficient. In fact, the Penta is about delicate balance and coherence... it won't wow you right away in most cases but it's all the subtleties that will grow on you as you listen more.

    What I mean is, as you say it's different... in fact radically different tuning approach, beyond that I don't see such a technical gap.
    Of course I'd need to listen to the IER-Z1R again to do a true A/B.
  10. jackyzhu
    I agree with you on most of you said, like "IER-Z1R has a tuning that is meant to wow you right away, with its grand soundstage, powerful bass, sparkly highs and euphonic mids", "In fact, the Penta is about delicate balance and coherence, it won't wow you right away in most cases but it's all the subtleties that will grow on you as you listen more".
    What I meant is if we compare each aspect separately, the technical advantage on z1r is quite obvious to me, the low end extends lower, high goes higher, the sound stage and separation is incredible, and of course you certainly hear more details from z1r. However, when talking about the listening experience as a whole thing, I kinda like the way more how rai penta parents the music to me, in the balanced, relaxed, slightly warm, musical way. "delicate balance and coherence" could be the magic here. if I can only keep one , it might be the rai penta.
  11. jackyzhu
    @davidmolliere BTW, I see you have VE8 and Phantom, could you help to compare them briefly to rai penta? it will be highly appreciated. they are on my radar at the moment, especially VE8. would you see VE8 sounds similar to rai penta but with more energy/body?
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
  12. davidmolliere
    No I didn’t do A/B sessions yet but I will but I can already say the VE8 is different : less sub bass, more mid bass slam so a bit more energy here, the mids on the VE8 have more body but the general mid tuning is more similar than different very articulate and neutral with a touch of warmth, lower treble is less energetic on the VE8 and upper treble well... on the VE8 is unmatched so it’s an unfair comparison the VE8 has this incredibly refined treble which provides insane separation and beauty as well. I need a real A/B to provide more on soundstage, attack/decay, speed... that will be for the review.

    Of course, keep in mind budget aside it’s CIEM vs UIEM and customs have advantages universal can’t match... I’d love it if Meze had a custom Penta :D (custom silicon tips bring you closer but it’s not the same)
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2019
    jackyzhu likes this.
  13. jackyzhu
    Thank you very much for sharing this! Look forward to see your review :)
    davidmolliere likes this.
  14. davidmolliere
    To me what you describe is more the result of tuning choice that technical proficiency. IER-Z1R bass extends further and aside from Solaris few IEMs can do this (Atlas maybe? Never had the chance to audion...). I am not sure that highs extend that much higher but the emphasis in the tuning is more obvious with more energy in the lower treble for sure. I really think the Penta can retrieve just as much detail as the IER-Z1R it just has a very different tuning were detail is less in your face.
  15. davidmolliere
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2019
    cardeli22, lafeuill and jackyzhu like this.
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