Meze Audio Rai Solo review: so fresh, so clean wired in-ear headphones
What a great surprise the Meze Audio Rai Solo headphones are. At a glance, you might think of them as just a pair of in-ear headphones, but the moment you try them on, they reveal you.
They’ve earned a place in our list of the best wired headphones thanks to their ability to match excellent definition and detail with true dynamic range, and all at a very reasonable price for a pair of IEMs to audiophile aim.
They’re like an affordable electric car – unpretentious for the price, and yet when you ask for performance, you REALLY get it.
The generally neutral sound means that if you’re looking for a pair of monitors for audio work, or just want some well-priced wired in-ear headphones to help you get the most out of high-res music, you’ll be hard pressed. to find nothing better for the money.
Meze Audio Rai Solo review: price and release date
The Meze Audio Rai Solo headphones officially cost £ 229 / $ 199, although they seem to be regularly available for £ 179 / $ 149, and just over AU $ 400 in Australia.
They were originally released in late 2019, and while good wired headphones tend to hold their value better than their wireless counterparts, the price drop we’re seeing here absolutely adds to their excellent value.
That price has the Rai Solo competing with the Shure SE425 Pro or Sennheiser IE 300 – although, again, the lower actual price we see the Rai Solo for makes it significantly cheaper than these other models.
Meze Audio Rai Solo Review: Features and Design
The Rai Solo is distinguished by the use of a single large 9.2mm driver – for comparison, the Sennheiser IE 300 has a 7mm unit, while the Shure SE425 Pro has a dual design. pilot.
The Rai Solo also uses a clever way of supplying power to the driver, by replacing the cables passing through the diaphragm (which can apparently unbalance vibrations) for a diaphragm material that is in fact conductive itself, thus eliminating a source of imperfection.
This driver is housed in stainless steel cases which are, to put it simply, large pieces of metal. Meze Audio says it uses stainless steel because it is very stiff, so parasitic vibrations should be kept to a minimum. They certainly feel like quality solid engineering parts in the hand.
The headphones have a bit of weight, which is in stark contrast to the cable, which is particularly light and flexible. The exception is the headphones, where they have been reinforced with a thicker wire cable to wrap around the loop on the ear.
Not everyone likes this kind of design, but given how heavy the headphones are, it seems like a good balance, and I certainly didn’t find it uncomfortable.
The 1.3 cable has an L-shaped plug with a 3.5mm connector to one, splits in half about two-thirds of the way, and has MMCX connectors on the other end.
In the box you get 8 different bit options of different sizes and depths, plus a carrying case. I had no problem finding one with a really insulating fit, and with the over-the-ear cable, they were secure and block out loud noise.
Meze Audio Rai Solo review: sound quality
With 16 ohm impedance and high sensitivity, you can certainly drive the Rai Solo from anything you could possibly need, although they’re really designed to go through something with a little more oomph, like a DAC. or to listen directly from a Hi-Res oriented music player.
I’ve mainly used them with the EarMen Sparrow and Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M DACs – but note that the Rai Solo doesn’t come with a 1/4 inch adapter in the box, so you’ll need to provide your own.
What is immediately clear with the Rai Solo is how clean and clear they are across the range. The crispness of a top hat, the tone of a voice, the roar of a bass guitar note – all stand out strongly from all the rest, so it’s easy to hear how much detail is. drawn.
It helps that there is plenty of headroom for the highs to push, and large reserves of bass that can be used up when asked. This expansive soundstage means there is no risk of different parts of the songs being overwritten – every element in the mix has room to stretch your legs.
You can hear the Rai Solo outdo itself if you go from the Hi-Res version of a song to the basic version on a streaming service – they still offer a lot of separation in more basic listening and make the most of that. which is available to them, but when you add additional song information, you can hear the top and bottom expand immediately.
They are designed to be distortion-free and deliver a neutral presentation compared to your average wireless headphones, and can handle delicate acoustic tracks with a dexterous touch, but when the piano gets heavy or a choir takes the stage, they can add depth and resonance instantly.
Upgrade to something more pop, and the dynamic range means they’ve got a lot of attack and energy – to quote Al Pacino incorrectly in Heat, “Hats off, the Rai Solo is going rock and roll”.
Going for a fairly neutral presentation doesn’t hold back the pop and rock when you’re able to suddenly deliver so much bass, while still keeping the mids clear and the treble high and crisp while doing so. Sometimes I was surprised that a single pilot unit at this price could handle the change in sounds I got in a single song. There is total control of the vehicle, no matter how fast or brutally the Rai Solo is asked to drive it.
And then you go back from your hardcore drum n bass to something classic and all that growl disappears in the pocket, replaced by a mellow refinement. It’s Daniel Craig’s James Bond in helmet form, going from primitive casino guest to muscular fighter the moment you turn your back, then comes back before you know what’s going on.
They also do all of this while feeling appropriately open, not as if the sound is coming from a tightly sealed earpiece.
Reviews on Meze Audio Rai Solo: Verdict
It should be clear by now how much I love the Meze Audio Rai Solo. Paired with a decent DAC they are so nice and layered, although even straight out of a computer / phone / Nintendo Switch / whatever the quality is just fantastic.
If you want something to listen to high quality music on the go, and want it for under £ 200 / $ 200, I can’t recommend the Rai Solo highly enough. Or if you want reasonably priced audiophile headphones for the home that can block out the noise outside when you need them.