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

Illustration for article titled 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?

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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.

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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.

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The Best Part

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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DISCUSSION

Analog_Erik
AnalogErik

I just killed my Grado 80's and am looking for a replacement. To give you an idea on usage: 1) I watch almost all my HD movies with them since the fidelity is off the charts, and 2) I listen to classical music while I work and most importantly: 3) I use them in conjunction with my Kinect for playing videogames. I refuse to pay for the crap turtle beach variants etc etc etc, so I rock a system where i pipe my audio for my FPS's straight to my headphones, and utilize the kinect's microphone for my Live chat functionality. I get the wonderful sound and functional chat. Need to replace those puppies. Any suggestions?