Aiaiai TMA-1 Studio Headphones: Good, But not Quite Pro-Caliber

When Aiaiai released the TMA-1 headphones in 2010, the headphone was a pleasant surprise. Tuned for DJs, the headphones produced audio better than anyone expected, and had a design that was as durable as it was stylish. Now the company is back with the TMA-1 Studio, a headphone similar at its core, but tweaked with the travelling producer in mind. But is it good enough for the rest of us to justify the extra $50?

What Is It

The latest in Aiaiai's line of headphones that mix design and performance, this time geared more towards producers than DJs with a more neutral and balanced sound signature.

Who's It For

Bedroom producer, travelling musician, big city cool kid.

Design

The headphones are virtually identical to the original TMA-1s: say retro-inspired, closed-back, plastic cans with a rubberized, black matte finish. But the Studios come with thicker headband padding and new PU foam earcups specially-engineered to hush out noise and extract more detail from tracks.

Using It

The TMA-1s are sensitive enough to be driven by laptops or smartphones, but also respond to a little juice from an amp as well. The cups provide decent clamping force, but are comfortable enough to be worn continuously for several hours.

The Best Part

The balanced sound signature means that little details—ones the TMA-1s couldn't quite pick up—come through quite well.

Tragic Flaw

Improved as the audio may be, the sound is a bit dark and hazy. It has always been the case with the TMA-1s, but those were a headphone designed first for DJs, who care more about bass than detail. Compared to Shure's SRH-940s, a similarly priced and spec'd headphone with a similar use case, the TMA-1 Studios couldn't deliver the same level of imaging and resolution. Bass response was still superior, however, which should be expected since these are geared towards electronic producers.

Test Notes

  • Tested against the Aiaiai TMA-1 and the Shure SRH-940 headphones.
  • Used a MacBook Pro and an iPhone 4S paired with a NuForce Icon iDo DAC/Headphone Amplifier.
  • The foam cups don't feel flimsy, but I'm not sure I'd trust them to withstand the wear and tear of a daily commute and/or constantly being stashed in a bag without a carrying case.
  • Used 320 Kbps audio files.
  • Listened to Justin Bieber. Lots of Justin Bieber.

Should You Buy It?

If you're looking for a more balanced version of the TMA-1s, then yes. Granted the headphones are $50 more, but they deliver more detail through the mids and highs. That said, who care more about making records than making a visual impression may want to look elsewhere for a headphone that can accurately produce detail through the entire frequency range.

Aiaiai TMA-1 Studio

• Transducer: Closed-back dynamic
• Drivers: 40mm titanium
• Sensitivity: 102db
• Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
• Weight: 220 grams (without cable)
• Price: $250
• Giz Rank: 3.5 stars