Review: AIAIAI TMA-2 HD Wireless (and Wired) Headphones

TMA-2 HD Wireless and wired components. Photo by Shaun Manning.

Denmark-based AIAIAI continues its line of high-end, modular headphones with the TMA-2 HD Wireless, a new flagship built for detailed, precise sound. Though some of the components have been previously available, the TMA-2 HD Wireless represents a new “preset” headphone configuration highlighting the capabilities of AIAIAI’s latest speaker unit with Bio-cellulose diaphragm and over-ear cushions made from Alcantara material over memory foam.

My review unit came with both the wired and wireless bands—AIAIAI product numbers H04 and H05, if you’re looking to build your own—with one set of speakers (S05) and earpads (E08) to swap between them. Switching between configurations was simple, involving only disconnecting a cable from each speaker and re-attaching on the other headset. The 1.5-meter Triad hi-fi cable allows plenty of movement when using the wired set, though for my personal use, I found myself gravitating more often toward the Bluetooth setup, which makes use of the aptx HD coded for 24-bit audio comparable to CD quality. 

The modularity of the TMA-2 line is its major differentiator, and the introduction of the wireless band demonstrates the benefit of this approach. AIAIAI has been producing modular headphones since 2015, so it already has a user base hungry for upgrades and personalized listening experiences. The set I received is one of AIAIAI’s “presets” for the TMA-2, but already there are multiple speaker options—for those interested in a “Punchy,” “Warm,” or “Vibrant” sounds—as well as numerous earpad variants for optimal comfort.  As new components become available, the ability to customize should prove a heavy draw for audio enthusiasts looking to create their own ideal system.

Aside from versatility, the AIAIAI TMA-2 has the benefit of being a really nice set of headphones. There is a clean elegance to the design, first encountered during the unboxing. The selected components come individually wrapped within a fine matte black box. The assembled set is likewise a gorgeous black matte, uninterrupted by logos or other markings. (The AIAIAI logo appears on the interior of the headband in both wired and wireless versions.) The over-ear cushions, made from Alcantara material over memory foam, are incredibly comfortable; they do a decent but not exceptional job of noise isolation, but this TMA-2 configuration does not have active noise cancellation. 

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With the TMA-2 Wireless’s Voltron-like assembly, there are a few quirks in the physical design. Controls that might ordinarily be found on the earpieces are instead moved to the headband, such as the three buttons used for play/pause, track skipping, and volume control. This leads to a bit of feeling around the top of your head to navigate, or else using the controls on the media-playing device.

For dancing on one’s own. Photo by Shaun Manning

Despite a few peculiarities, the TMA-2 excels where it needs to: the sound quality is superb. I have been using the TMA-2 set as my primary headphones for about two weeks, during which time I’ve regularly used them for music, movies, and portable gaming. The S05 speakers are billed as having a “detailed” sound, and indeed they do. I was most impressed with the experience while watching The Mandalorian in my kitchen, where the rich cinema-quality sound brought that epic Star Wars feeling to life and made cooking dinner feel like an adventure. They also proved adept at bringing out the depth of Stormzy’s “Own It” and any number of Robyn anthems with robust but not overpowering bass. 

AIAIAI promotes an 18-hour playback time for the TMA-2 HD Wireless, with charging via USB-C. 

The TMA-2 HD Wireless configuration sells for $350, with the wired set at $295. Upgraders can pick up the new S05 “Detailed” Bio-cellulose speakers for $130 and the E08 Alcantara earpads for $55. Other “preset” headphones include the TMA-2 Comfort, Move, DJ, and All-Around, with prices ranging from $145 to $260.

Disclaimer: AIAIAI provided the TMA-2 HD Wireless (and Wired) set for the purpose of this review.

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This post was last modified on November 30, 2019 5:37 pm

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