Here are two unarguably fantastic IEMs selling for the exact same price. So, it couldn’t be more obvious that Meze is making the audacious move of competing with the well-established Andromeda. And this creates a dilemma for audiophiles who are about to throw down some serious cash. Much has already been written about both of these models. So, this review is for those who are already familiar with at least one of these IEMs but need a comparison to make their final decision and get a peaceful night’s sleep. Which sound profile will suit your ears and preferred genres? Let’s take a look in this Meze Rai Penta vs Campfire Andromeda Review.
Meze Rai Penta vs Campfire Andromeda Review
I wouldn’t base your decision on this category. Despite the Andromeda’s hard edges, I didn’t find it any less comfortable than the more smoothly shaped Rai Penta. That being said, I didn’t wear either IEMs for hours on end. Tinnitus is real, folks. So is wax build-up. As for sound isolation, the Andromeda did a slightly better job, though the difference was nominal.
The Rai Penta sports a 5 driver hybrid design; a single dynamic driver powers the lows, while the 4 balanced armatures drives the higher frequencies. The Andromeda also uses 5 drivers, but they are all balanced armatures (2-low, 1-mid, 2-high).
Both models are easy to drive. But the Andromeda will give you slightly more power, as the impedance is quite a bit lower than the Rai Penta (and the sensitivity is also slightly higher). The Campfire Andromeda has a frequency range of 10Hz – 28kHz, while Rai Penta shows a significantly wider range of 4Hz – 45kHz. But as many audiophiles may notice, these specs can be misleading. So, we’ll see how these numbers translate into sound, below.
Both IEMs come with MMCX silver-plated copper cables. But going by looks alone, the cable and terminations on the Rai Penta seem to have a sturdier design. (The Rai Penta cable is also much harder to detach for those with dainty hands).
As for the shells, the ones on the Andromeda are made from machined aluminum. They’re damn solid. In fact, there’s a legendary story about one lucky Andromeda owner. Apparently, he had his Andromeda buds run over by a car. And the shells remained completely undamaged. Though there are no biblical tales about the Rai Penta, it’s no slouch. Apart from the well-contoured shape, the Rai Penta is also made from solid aluminum, and it’s topped off with a “high endurance anodized surface.” Sounds serious. In fact, I was very tempted to get in my car and drive over these IEMs. But I’m not a gambler by nature.
When I first listened to the Rai Penta a few months ago, my impression of the low-end was, “big.” However, the bass on the Rai Penta is much more moderate than I remember. Maybe the source had something to do with it. (And I think my boss put crack in my coffee that day. He’ll do anything to increase productivity). But perhaps this is because, in comparison, the Andromeda offers substantially more bass presence. And I’ve never thought of the Andromeda as an extremely bassy headphone. But relative to the Rai Penta, the low-end on the Andromeda is quite forward leaning. So, certainly, if you have a taste for bass and you listen to a lot of modern genres, you’ll prefer the extra low-end oomph of the Andromeda. The Andromeda will also give you more warmth when listening to rock and pop-rock tracks. And if you’re a sucker for that low-end richness, the Andromeda is a safer bet.
However, in terms of detail, the Rai Penta shows off more skill. And this is coming from a die hard Andromeda fan. String instruments in this range, for example, had extra substance and texture on the Rai Penta, while the Andromeda gave a more smoothed-over performance. So, the Rai Penta will certainly give you a more transparent and realistic presentation of acoustic instruments in this range.
If you can’t live without big low mids, the Andromeda is probably your IEM. It’s the preferable choice for folks who appreciate a very full-bodied rock or pop-rock track. In contrast, the Rai Penta shows more emphasis in the upper mids, bringing a more dynamic flavor to pop tracks, where vocals sit a little forward and the contrast between the low and high frequencies is more pronounced.
In terms of clarity, the Rai Penta presents a cleaner profile. Guitar strums in the lower mids have better separation on the Rai Penta. And if you play an older folk recording, like Nick Drake’s Pink Moon, for example, the difference becomes quite apparent. The layering in heavy arrangements is also tidier on the Rai Penta.
That being said, those who love a thick sounding electric guitar may prefer the solidity of the Andromeda sound. And speaking of solid, snares have quite a bit more density and impact on the Andromeda; listening to any track where the snare helps to drive the song, you’ll find that the Andromeda displays a more energetic performance.
Testing some pop tracks in this range, the Andromeda offers a more crisp and snappy percussion performance. (And if you love sparkle, the Andromeda will deliver). So, if you play a lot of funky tracks, the Andromeda may be a bit more fun. But in terms of transparency, the Rai Penta offers just a bit more articulation, which is most noticeable when listening to string instruments in this range. And moving onto vocals, the Rai Penta presents a slightly breathier and more delicate performance, while the Andromeda gives off a weightier, more colored feel. But Whitney sounds gorgeous both ways. Rest in peace.
The Andromeda may give you a grander feel. It has an extra touch of reverb (which becomes most noticeable in live recordings), giving it a stadium like sound. But because the separation is better on the Rai Penta, instruments placement feels slightly more precise on tracks where gradations in height and width are more subtle. But if you love that massive sounding stage, Campfire does it beautifully.
If you listen to a lot of acoustic genres and you’re a stickler about detail, it’s hard to beat the transparency and separation of the Rai Penta. In fact, it may be unparalleled in terms of skill for the price point. That being said, the Andromeda has a balance that’s oh so sweet to the ears. And if you’re a rock or pop fan who appreciates warmth, richness and heart-pounding energy, it doesn’t get more orgasmic than the Andromeda. But, at the end of the day, both of these IEMs are well worth their price tag and then some. If only you could combine two IEMs into one…Hope this helps. #sorry
You can find the Meze Rai Penta and the Campfire Andromeda for the best price here:
Meze Rai Penta (enjoy $149 worth FREE-upgrade cable for a limited time)