I haven’t listened to the Sony REI-M9 in a while. And given how popular the Meze Rai Penta is becoming, I thought it would be an interesting comparison. Actually, the truth is I have nothing to do today and the bar doesn’t open till noon. So, I thought, why not. Much has already been written about both of these IEMs. So, this review is for those who are already acquainted with at least one of these models, but want a comparison before blowing their paycheck. Which IEM will most suit your listening tastes? Let’s find out in this Meze Rai Penta vs Sony IER-M9 Review.
Meze Rai Penta vs Sony IER-M9 Review
While I found the fit of the Rai Penta more comfortable (and even by looking at the shells alone, it’s clear that the Rai Penta has better ergonomics), the IER-M9 had better sound isolation. And given that the IER-M9 are also designed for stage use, the superior sound isolation should come as no surprise.
Both, the Rai Penta and the IER-M9 employ a 5 driver design. But the Rai Penta is a dynamic and balanced armature hybrid, while the drivers on the IER-M9 are all balanced armatures.
Both IEMs use MMCX connections, and both use silver-plated copper cable, though the Rai Penta sports the more popular and fancier looking litz style. Now here’s a disclaimer: unlike the Rai Penta, the IER-M9 comes with a balanced cable in addition to the regular 3.5mm cable. For this review, I did not test the IER-M9 with the balanced cable. It wouldn’t be fair to the Rai Penta. And not every audiophile has the option of using a balanced connection.
You can expect a much more forward leaning bass from the IER-M9. So, if you listen to a lot of pop, you’ll probably prefer the added punch and of the IER-M9. And listening to rock and pop-rock tracks, the IER-M9 definitely provides more warmth. So, if you like a particularly rich low-end, the IER-M9 is the way to go.
But in terms of detail, the Rai Penta wins hands down. Listening to string instruments in this range, the Rai Penta offered a lot more transparency, while the IER-M9 gave a more smoothed over performance. The Rai Penta also produces a tighter, more controlled sound, while the IER-M9 feels comparatively lazy. But it’s Friday. Maybe it’s tired.
Both IEMs have a relatively even balance in this range. And you’ll hear some nice low-mid presence on both models. So, if you like a full bodied or all-encompassing sound, either one will work. But if you want your sound to be fat and lush, then go for the IER-M9. If you want clean, then certainly, the Rai Penta is a much better option. The separation on the Rai Penta is superior, and layering in heavy arrangements is spotless compared to the IER-M9. In fact, it makes the IER-M9 seem almost cloudy in comparison.
The Rai Penta will provide much more sparkle and snap when listening to pop and funky tracks. The highs have more extension on the Rai Penta, making the IER-M9 seem dark a comparatively blunted. The tightness of the Rai Penta adds to the energy of these tracks.That being said, if you are particularly sensitive to high frequencies, then the IER-M9 is a safer bet. And if you tend to listen for hours on end, you’ll definitely find that the IER-M9 is a less fatiguing listening experience.
Wow. Huge difference here. You’ll get a much more spacious soundstage from the Rai Penta. And because the definition on the Rai Penta is so superior, it will give you a much more multidimensional feel. More accurate instrument placement and a richer soundscape overall.
Man, I usually don’t take sides in comparison reviews. But given the significant price difference, I feel guilty holding myself back. In terms of sheer skill, the more affordable Rai Penta beats the IER-M9 in every possible way. Cleaner, more detailed and faster with a much vaster soundstage, the Rai Penta is one talented IEM. And I’m starting to think that Meze underpriced this model. However, if you love a particularly rich and punchy low-end and you have an aversion to high frequencies, the Sony IER-M9 is a safer bet.
You can find both of these IEMs for the best price here:
Meze Rai Penta at Audio 46
Sony IER-M9 at Audio 46
Sont IER-M9 at Amazon