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TECH REVIEW: AIAIAI TMA-1

Special studio edition of hipster headphones de jour.

AiAiAi's original endeavor into the headphone market was very well received by the hipster DJs and fashion-conscious music lover. Even Stevie Wonder was spotted with a pair perched neatly on his head, and the love that the TMA-1s found spurred on this Danish design company to stepping back into the marketplace and introduce us to a new family member — the TMA-1 Studio edition.

The TMA-1 Studio is very much in keeping with the original TMA-1s — cool, simple-looking black headphones, except for the larger ear-cups that cover the whole ear and don't just sit on top like the original version.

This is a form and function detail that has been adopted especially for the studio environment, as all engineers and producers will point out that if a pair of 'phones that are not correctly sealed are used in the recording process, the sound will leak and be captured by the very sensitive microphones found in popular studios. This is not a good thing. Noise is the enemy in any pro studio setting…

The new version of AiAiAi’s headphones have been specifically set up with studio and production applications in mind, and as a result the overall sound has been tailored to deliver a more neutral and uncoloured sound — moreover, a rich and bass-heavy representation that a DJ would require for a loud club scenario.

The look and styling of the new 'phones is still in keeping with AiAiAi's design ethos — understated cool, black matte rubberized finish, with a slightly bigger headband than the originals. The large ear-cups that cover the 40mm drivers are very comfortable and sit nicely on the ear.

Talking about ear-cups, there are two slightly differing versions that are packaged with the headphones — the softer foam type, and the slightly harder leather touch. Depending on which cup is attached to the 'phone, this slightly changes the characteristic of the sound so users can pick out what audio delivery they actually want from the 'phones.

The softer foam ear-cups boost the mid-end frequencies ever so slightly and isolate the frequencies that would be associated with vocals and other lead sounds. As mentioned earlier, it doesn’t really colour the sound, it just accentuates this area somewhat.

The other pads are for giving a slightly more bass-driven sound but not on the level or intensity of the Dre Beats Pro or V-Moda Crossfades, which are perfect in the clubs but not so great for studio work.

By giving the user two slightly differing listening curves, this opens up the marketplace for what the AiAiAi Studios can be used for. This is the unique way that AiAiAi give the user the option to factor in what style of production they are doing, and tailor the headphones to suit.

In use in varying production scenarios, the AiAiAi TMA-1 Studios did a good job. I was quite happy trusting the sound that was coming through them. I had a go of mixing up a pretty standard bass-heavy house track with lots of stereo panning, and the representation and sound placement I got from the Studios was not bad.

I also messed around with an ambient electronic-type track, with the emphasis being on the middle to top frequency range — once again, the sound that the AiAiAi’s delivered were pretty much what I would have expected from these cans.

Whilst they are not going to be as detailed and neutral as my AKG 701s, which I use on a lot of studio sessions, the TMA-1 Studios did stand up adequately. I did try the AiAiAis on an indie-style guitar track and found that the accuracy and definition wasn’t quite there.

However, these 'phones are aimed more for electronic dance producers than rock and indie guys, so this should not be an issue. To be honest, if you’re looking at purchasing a set of AiAiAis then you’re probably a certain type of DJ/producer who would list Ed Banger and Fool’s Gold cuts in your playlists.

The build quality of the Studio edition of the TMA-1 is pretty good. They don’t fold, which can be a drawback when packing them into a tight gig and kit bag, but the materials used make them rather pliable. So there's a certain amount of give and abuse that the Studios will be able to deal with. There is the option to have the DJ-styled coiled cable, which is attached, locked to the left earcup or the standard straight, depending on your tastes.

Another plus point with regards to the TMA-1 Studio — just like the TMA-1s — is that the parts are user-replaceable. This is good for longevity as, if and when it is needed, your precious pair of 'phones can get a little TLC and be right to see you through another few years of that demanding DJing and producing schedule.

VERDICT

Build quality8.0
Ease of use8.0
Features8.0
Value for money8.0
Sound Quality8.0

HYPE
A cool pair of headphones for studio use that should last the test of time.

GRIPE
A little bit expensive compared to other dedicated studio 'phones in the same category, but that’s the price you pay for fashion.
Whilst being loved by the more fashion-inspired DJs and producers, the AiAiAi TMA-1 Studio headphones actually will deliver substance over blatant style with a good sound response that will suit any electronic dance music producers.

aiaiai.dk

8.0/10 

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