Meze Audio was founded in 2011 in Baia Mare, Romania by Antonio Meze. All their headphones and IEMs are researched and developed in house from the ground up. Their breakthrough came in 2015 with the release of the 99 Classics headphones which received many awards, placing them at the top of their category.
Meze doesn’t always follow the trends of the industry, but rather puts pride in creating their own aesthetic and designs, and they do it well. They like to say that “Meze Audio headphones embody the classical values of clarity, balance, and harmony.” Their sound is “vivid and immersive: the sound signature is tuned for long listening sessions. Their ergonomics can be best described as clarity without harshness, freshness without fatigue. A headphone is complete when it makes you forget about the outside world and takes you for a dive into the universe of your own feelings.” -Meze Audio
One of our favorite planar magnetic headphones in the office, the Meze Empyrean has one of the widest soundstages we've heard, offering you the arena-size show directly on your head. The Rai Penta is a 5-driver IEM that impresses with a similar soundstage and an incredibly accurate presentation for an in-ear. The Rai Solo is the Penta's little brother, but it's tuned to such a degree that it would be difficult to guess it's available at entry-level pricing of $199.
Meze Audio is a quality brand that puts a lot of care into their headphones and IEMs and they have something for every budget. Their entire product design is crafted with a premium look, feel, and most importantly sound. If you're looking for something more for the music lover or audiophile, Meze Audio's headphones and IEM's are sure to please.
-What kind of headphones does Meze Audio make?
Meze Audio creates planar magnetic over-ear headphones as well as single and multi-driver in-ear monitors or IEMs. The Meze Empyrean and 99 Classics are their most popular headphones, with the Empyreans considered one of the best end-game high-end open-back headphones on the market today. In the same vein, their Rai Penta IEM is another favorite for their supreme clarity and soundstage. Meze Audio doesn’t have the largest product selection out there, but their products are second to none and come highly recommended by our team at Moon Audio – we call the Empyrean our end game can (or reference headphone).
-What are planar magnetic drivers?
Meze teamed up with Rinaro to create a unique planar magnetic driver design called the Isodynamic Hybrid Array Driver for the Meze Empyrean headphone. The hybrid design combines two independently shaped voice coils within the same diaphragm which delivers a more selective acoustic performance to the various areas within the structure of the ear. The first part is the hybrid magnet array, placed symmetrically on each side of the diaphragm, neodymium magnets are specifically arranged to create an efficient isodynamic magnetic field. This magnetic field is required for a uniform activation across the whole diaphragm surface. The second part of the driver is the Rinaro isoplanar diaphragm, which is amazingly light with a large active surface area, resulting in a more dynamic auditory experience. There are a number of benefits to the hybrid driver design. It reduces the overall weight of the driver design and creates very accurately reproduced audio just to name a few.
Our review of the Meze Audio Empyrean Headphone gets into more about the science of planar magnetic drivers and the special technology Meze Audio incorporates into their headphones.
-What is the difference between the Rai Penta and the Rai Solo earphones?
The Rai Penta is a 5-driver design whereas the Rai Solo is a single-driver design IEM. The Meze Rai Solo features a single driver design for premium high-end audio at a lower price point. It features a refined electrodynamic driver with UPM balanced piston membrane motion encased in a durable and ergonomic stainless steel shell. In developing the Rai Solo, Meze looked for a fun-neutral but well refined and controlled sound signature. The Penta-Hybrid driver consists of 4 customized balanced armature drivers and 1 dynamic driver working together to create a surprisingly wide soundstage and incredible fidelity for an in-ear monitor.
Read our Meze Audio Rai Penta and Rai Solo IEM review to learn more.
-What is an open-back headphone?
Open headphones offer a much more open, natural, and wider sense of presentation. The more natural sense of spatial equilibrium experienced when listening to a great loudspeaker system is essentially what an open back headphone simulates. And while open headphones offer a totally separate listening experience from that of loudspeakers, open-back headphones perform the job much better than their closed-back brother.
The sound of a moving driver pushing sound waves around in the air freely has a certain “width” in the presentation’s signature. This is why open-back headphones are most audiophiles’ preferred choice. Of course, there are comprises to consider too, but the compromises are worth the investment if you are serious about your music.
Read more about the differences between open-back and closed-back headphones in our guide.
-Meze Audio headphones and IEMs are known for their great soundstage. What is a soundstage?
Soundstage is a description of the 3D sound space that a driver makes. A wide soundstage allows a listener to discern different positions for various sounds, lending a hand in making the sound more realistic. The bigger the soundstage, the better the imaging and overall experience. The Empyrean and Rai Penta are known to have a very wide soundstage, which aids in making the presentation of the music sound much larger and more immersive.
-Are the Rai IEMs custom or universal fit in-ear monitors?
The Rai Penta and Rai Solo are both universal fit in-ear monitors. Universal fit monitors fit most ears and use rubber or foam ear tips to seal the ear canal for the best sound quality. Custom fit IEMs are designed specifically for an individual’s ear – using molds that are measured to your exact specifications, they cannot be used by anyone else. Meze Audio’s design for the Rai Penta and Rai Solo are machined to precision that despite the ear tip, the casing fits very much like a universal, being flush to outside of the ear for incredible comfort for longer listening sessions.
-Should I consider an in-ear monitor or a full-size headphone?
It really depends on your ergonomic scenario. If you are planning to listen to music on the go or while traveling, then IEMs are a great choice for their small size and ability to block out external noise - especially in the case of custom-fit in-ear monitors. Full-size headphones are popular options for listening at home. Larger headphones, especially those with planar magnetic drivers usually require more power and will not be optimized unless you have a portable amplifier (if using on-the-go). Another thing to consider is that some planar magnetic headphones (like the Meze Empyrean) are open-back, and are thus preferred to be used in a private setting to 1) keep any outside noise from interfering with your listening experience and 2) to not bother those around you while listening to music. How you want to listen to your music ultimately determines what will be the best "tool" (or in this case headphone/earphone) for the job.