A Headphones Reviews Blog
REVIEW: AiAiAi TMA-1
18/04/2012Posted by on
Prior to the review, I’d like to thank David for the sample.
AiAiAi is an Audio Design company based in Denmark’s capital city, Copenhagen. They are a small company, consisting of a few young people with an open-minded cultural and design focused approach. In their first years, they were more into design than into audio, but over the years, they had found the big potential of the headphones market. They came into the development process of their headphones with a simplistic, clean and functional design altitude, according to the traditional Scandinavian design approach. Their flagship headphones, the TMA-1, which I’ll review today, were developed for two years, which is a pretty long time in the headphones world. It took so long because the company had aimed to release the best product that they were able to at the time, and they did everything that is needed to do so. The TMA-1s are first of all DJ headphones, so to get the best fit to their target audience, AiAiAi had involved some industry leading DJ’s in the testing process, to contribute from their experience, and used their feedback to improve the product.
Before we’ll start, here are the technical specifications of the AiAiAi TMA-1 headphones:
Driver Unit Size
20 to 20.000 Hz
Total Harmonic Distortion
110±3dB Weight w/o
Weight without cable
Packaging: Straight from the packaging, it is very noticeable that a lot of effort was put into the design. AiAiAi brings the product as a whole experience, which starts straight from its packaging. The TMA-1s packaging consists of two black cardboard parts, with lots of black glossy Play, Reverse, Pause, Record, Stop and Forward symbols elegantly embedded on it. The only thing indicating what is inside is a small paper sleeve with an image of the TMA-1s in its front and the technical details in its right and rare side. After opening the box, the headphones are revealed to our eyes, sitting on a surface covered by Acoustic foam (pyramid shaped, as used in studio environments). The Accessories and the user-manual can be found under the acoustic foam surface, seated each in their intended space. The whole packaging is very impressive and it’s very stylistic and well designed.
the soft bag
Accessories: Besides the headphones, there are a few accessories included in the package: 1. A soft gray zippered bag, with “tma-1” printed on it. 2. Two cables (both of them are 3.5mm to 3.5mm): An iPhone/iPod/iPad friendly, 1.5 meters long straight cable which includes a microphone and a three buttoned control. The second cable is a 1.5 meters long coiled cable, which is more DJ friendly. It also has a 6.35mm adapter screwed on it. 3. A pair of “Synthetic” foam pads. There’s also a quite long manual for the user included. The supplied accessories make the TMA-1s very “user-modular” (the user can choose which cable he wants and which ear-pads wants), and they let the user to adjust them to whichever purpose that they’ll be used for. My only complaint is that a soft-bag isn’t the best choice for a DJ aimed headphone and I would’ve preferred a hard-shelled case instead or in addition to it. The rating is 9/10.
Building Quality and Design: The TMA-1s were designed by KiBiSi, a Danish design firm. As expected, the design is very good looking, and also, very functional too. The whole design is very minimalist, clean and simple. The headphones themselves consist only of the two ear-cups and of the headband, which makes the headphones more solid and strong; less pieces makes it harder to break. The whole body of the headphones is made of extremely strong and sturdy black rubberized plastic. The headband is extremely flexible; it can take lots of abuse and it can be stretched to any wanted direction. The part of it that sits on the user’s head is covered with a black rubber surface, with AiAiAi’s logo embedded on it; in fact, it’s the only place on the headphones that AiAiAi’s logo appears on; did we already say minimalism and clean design?. The cups can move about 40 degrees to any wanted direction. A short coiled cable piece is going out of both of the cups, straight into the headband. This is caused by the fact that the headphones utilize a detachable cable system with a single entrance, in the left ear-cup; the coiled cables connect between the cable which is in the left ear-cup to the cable-less right ear-cup. AiAiAi had chosen a very functional detachable cable system, because the system utilizes the standard 3.5mm entry. A 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable is very easy to find and it’s quite cheap too, unlike some other audio cables such as speaker cables, which usually will cost you a lot of needed to be replaced. There are two cables included in the packaging, both made of strong rubber. Overall, the building and the design are both great; this is one of more sturdy and strong headphones that I had tested, and as a bonus, we also get a great design. The rating is 10/10.
Comfort/Fit: Usually, DJ aimed headphones have a very big clamping force to achieve good isolation, but the TMA-1s are different in this matter; their clamping force is quite low which causes less fatiguing and tiring of the ears. The headband isn’t padded with pleather or any similar material; it is only covered with a thick surface of black rubber. If there was a padded headband, the comfort would’ve been better. The size adjustment system is built for big heads too, so there won’t be problem for anyone to get a good fit. There are two ear-pad sets included in the package: Semi Leather pads (already installed on the headphones themselves.) and Synthetic Foam pads. The Synthetic pads are a bit more comfortable, though, for it’s a lot better isolation I had preferred the Semi Leather pads. The cups can move about 40 degrees, which is great for the fit; everyone would be able to get a good fit to his ears. The fit isn’t too tight but the headphones stay on the head without any problem; I didn’t experience any falling of them from my head at all. The comfort is very good, but there are still some small things that need to be modified. The rating is 8/10.
Isolation: The passive isolation offered by the TMA-1s is very good (The semi-leather ear-pads provide a better isolation that the isolation provided by the synthetic foam ear-pads) in ratio to its quite low clamping-force on the user’s head. It’s a bit better than the amount of isolation provided by the similar on-ear shaped AKG K518. Because of this, the TMA-1s are great as DJ headphones; they’ll isolate lots of noise from the very-noisy DJ environment. The amount of isolation will be absolutely enough for the casual portable listener too. The rating is 9.5/10
Sound Quality: The TMA-1’s sound-signature is definitely intended for DJs’ uses. It’s is very dark and it is Bass and Mids focused. It’s also very “fun” feeling.
The Bass: As every DJ headphones, also the TMA-1’s bass is quite emphasized and very dominant. It has a great impact, every beat hits very strong. The extension is great, it extends very low, and there aren’t lots of headphones or IEMs that are comparable to it. The texture and the speed are great too. The overall bass clarity and cleanness are quite good either.
The Mids: The mids are quite forward, very warm, lush and full. They have great body too, though, they’re not too thick, nor too thin feeling. They’re well textured and feel quite natural.
The Treble: The treble is the TMA-1’s’ weakest point. It’s quite recessed, mainly in its middle-to-higher frequencies. Also, it’s quite hidden in ratio to the bass and to the mids. It lacks some sparkle, clarity and also a bit of detailing due to the big bass and mids presence.
The Sound-Stage: The TMA-1’s sound-stage is nothing special. It’s a bit less than average, but after all, these are fully-closed-back on-ear headphones, so I didn’t expect an amazing sound-stage from it from the start.
Equalizing: Because the TMA-1’s’ sound-signature lacks some treble presence and sparkle, I had tried to EQ it using my iPod Touch’s build in “Treble Addition” EQ mode, which usually sounds quite bad and unnatural with most of the headphones and the IEMs. To my surprise, it had worked very well; it added the needed treble sparkle and clarity, and made the sound a bit more balanced. Using my PC, I had tried EQ’ing it manually, and it had worked even better. The conclusion is that the TMA-1s work very well with different EQs. It’s very good to know, because the user can design his wanted sound-signature using this method. The AiAiAi TMA-1s are first of all tuned to be DJ headphones, but with minor EQ’ing, almost anyone would be able to enjoy them.
The rating for the Sound Quality category is 8/10 without EQ’ing, and 8.5/10 when EQ’ing.
In Conclusion, The AiAiAi TMA-1s are great in all of the categories; it seems that the more-than-2-years development and testing process had paid off greatly. The building quality and design are praiseworthy and so is almost everything about these headphones. They’re also very portable due to their small size and detachable cable, and they could make a good solution for one looking for a day-to-day set of portable headphones.
The final rating is 8.5/10.
Pros: Well Designed and Built, Good Accessories, Detachable Cable, Great Comfort, Impressive Isolation, Very Good Bass and Mids, Very good response to equalizing.
Cons: The treble is quite recessed and is lacking some sparkle, an hard case would’ve been better than the included soft bag.
Where to Buy? The official pricing for the TMA-1’s is $275 in the U.S or 200 Euros in Europe.The AiAiAi TMA-1 headphones can be purchased through AiAiAi’s official website or through a various dealers that can be found in a simple Google search.