Sunday, 14 April 2013

AIAIAI TMA-1 - DJ, music, audiophile?

Hey guys,

An unexpected review for today, one of my friends asked me to do a full review of AIAIAI TMA-1 before he makes any decision for this model, the AIAIAI TMA-1. Well, how does it sound?

First impression of this headphone, ermm, is it another design oriented headphone which has no idea what really sound is? A pitch black headphone design, with pretty “plasticky” outlook in my opinion, and it stated as “DJ-headphone” . I always have problems with “DJ” headphone, as not many people truly understand what is “DJ” headphone means, commonly we know DJ club musics are bass heavy, so you need a strong bass headphone to mix during live or studio production, this idea is what I got when I asked most of the DJs or going to be DJ students. Well boy, that is not a real answer.  

Yes bass is important, but you shouldn’t choose a DJ headphone because of bass, detail, mid/sub bass, dynamic are equally important, be frank you can get a monitoring headphone with enhancement of bass as a great equipment too, such as Beyerdynamic DT770pro, Audio Technica M50, Pioneer HDJ series or Ultrasone. You need to know what genre you are mixing, and to fit in the most suitable headphone for work.

So… lets stop blabbering and start with this review shall we?

AIAIAI is a Denmark company, from my previous knowledge, they are a fashion design company, and then switched to a pure audio company (correct me if I’m wrong), they design headphone and earphone, while TMA-1 is their second highest model.

Packaging and Accessories
Packaging is fair enough, I wouldn’t say it is the best, but definitely better than lots of the headphones in the market, they successfully incorporate a fully black color box into a much trendier and lesser dull looking, I’m impressed actually, it suits their branding and headphone design, they blend amazingly well
Not too shabby for the accessories they gave, two cables provided for coil and non-coil suitable for monitoring and portable outdoor use (You get mic cable if you purchase the microphone version). Two types of earpad made of soft leather and synthetic, a soft cloth pouch provided.

Design and fitting
Well, I’m not a design guy, so judging a headphone design is not my field of specialty, for me, it looks Ok-ish, especially the color paint, it doesn’t have the tone and contrast (Maybe I’m a colorful guy) and I saw complaints about the paint quality will peel off easily over time in some forums. However, it has the street feel, hanging around your neck and walking on the street definitely has the sense of fashion and unique. Detachable cable for your to play around with the cable, or get a microphone attached cable for phone call use. Durability seems great to me,  I do see some pictures that somebody able to bend the headphone into a cross-shape between two drivers, amazing indeed.
Fitting is a problem, mind me, my problem doesn’t mean it is bad or uncomfortable, in fact it is quite easy to wear and comfortable too, but it will not stand on your head steadily. If you have basic movement on your head, the chances of you flew out the headphone is huge, the clamping force is not reasonable enough for a DJ headphone, so if you want to use it in an intensive movement situation, or an active DJ, this headphone might cause you some problems.

Sound Quality
Yes, the most important part,  the headphone stated as a DJ headphone, in this review I will be putting in Trance, Techno and Housing music into the music list.
As usual, my source will be Ipod classic 5th Gen > AIAIAI TMA-1, since portability is one of the strong points, I decide amplifier will be unnecessary for this headphone.

Treble – It is recessed, flat out and not in my expectation. I do understand it can be used in DJ monitoring, so I won’t be extremely picky in this section, as it does have the element that can be used in professional performance and work. The headphone able to reach mid high without any sort of problem, however with high and treble extensions are purposely cut out, certain music genres are heavily suffered in the sound presentation, the realistic and synergy energy form are missing in this headphone.

Mid – It is recessed once again, airy and blur in my opinion, you don’t get the richness and texture in term of vocal and instrument, boxy and hollow sound presentation. There is a tilt over on mid range frequency, making the headphone overall presentation leans toward a “V” shape EQ, however this helps a lot for fast pace music while mid range is not really needed, especially club songs.

Bass – The bass is great, particularly mid low bass, it is tight, deep punch and aggressive. Surprisingly this headphone doesn’t emphasize a long boomy decay of sub low bass, I’m intrigued actually, that they are doing high fidelity bass spectrum. In my opinion, club music requires strong mid low bass, especially fast pace, they need to position every beats into precise timing, so bloated low bass really can ruin the whole music listening experience. The impact and punch are extraordinary, they are straight to your heart and they made a great decision by not putting in the main stream muddy bass.

Conclusion :
The headphone is fun, despite all the flaws, however I’m seriously advised that this headphone only suitable to limited genre of music. Nope, don’t expect audiophile music will stand out with this headphone, it is made for DJ and only DJ music songs. But, is it the best DJ headphone? I wouldn’t conclude on that, in the similar price range in Malaysia market, my favorite wanders around Ultrasone Pro550, Pioneer HDJ series, Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro or Audio-Technica M50 even in term of usability and sound quality, they really did with passion and experience, combined with professional and consumer prospective. 

Pros :
*Portable, light and convenient design
* Generous in term of accessory provided

Cons :
*Only suitable for club music
* High price compares against other brands

P/S : Sorry for my bad english and picture quality.


  1. How do you think it compares with Audio technica m50?

    1. In term of build, sound, design quality?
      There are tons of ways can be compared, but overall performance i will recommend on Audio technica M50. I'm using it for multiple purposes, and they build like a tank =).
      These are my personal preference.