Bringing modularity to the headphone world is an interesting concept. Not only does it help reduce waste, because of the fact that you can replace individual parts if they break, but it also helps ensure that you get exactly what you want from your headphones. AIAIAI Is no stranger to modular headphones, but its latest offering — the AIAIAI TMA-2 HD headphones, look to offer more than ever.
But added up, the parts for the TMA-2 HD headphones aren’t necessarily cheap. Are they worth the cost? We put the headphones to the test to find out.
The design of these headphones is really what sets them apart from other offerings — and the overall design will differ a little depending on the components that you decide to go for. For the purpose of this review, we received the H05 headband, the S05 speaker units, and the E08 ear pads.
Actually putting together the headphones is very easy. You’ll start by putting the ear pads on the speaker units with a simple push, after which you’ll slide the speaker units onto the head band, and plug the cables in. That’s really all there is to it. If, down the line, you find that you want different components, you’ll simply take off the old part, and slot on the new ones. Easy.
Once you’ve assembled your headphones, you’ll find that they’re extremely lightweight. That really helps ensure that they’re more comfortable down the line.
Despite being super light, the headphones look and feel premium. The overall look is a little generic, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing by any means, and many will prefer the subtle design anyway.
Because of the modular design, the controls and ports of the headphones are in the headband — not on the ear cups. That’s because of the fact that the headband houses the Bluetooth radio and battery. You’ll get a three-button control setup on the top left of the headband, while the USB-C port is tucked under the headband on the left. The aux port is still on the ear cups, and there’s one on either side.
Generally, we really like the modular design, and overall look. The headphones are well-built, and the modularity is awesome for those who want to pick and choose what they want from a pair of headphones.
As mentioned, the headphones are incredibly lightweight, and combined with the fact that the headphones offer soft padding and plush Alcantara fabric over the padding. The headphones also have a pretty firm clamp that doesn’t go over the top — ensuring that you’ll be able to wear them for hours on end without them getting unfomcortable.
The padding under the headband is slightly less plush than that in the ear cups, but considering the fact that the headphones are so lightweight, it ultimately won’t matter.
Of course, ultimately the most important thing to consider is sound quality — and these headphones sound great. We’re reviewing the S05 speaker units, so it’s important to note that we can really only speak to those speakers specifically — but if they’re anything to go by, AIAIAI in general is taking audio quality very seriously.
The bass response, for starters, is seriously on point. These aren’t the headphones to buy for those who enjoy mega-bass — but if you want a tight response that errs more towards sounding natural than over the top, you’ll appreciate what’s on offer here. It would have been nice to get a little more bass extension on the low end, but you won’t really miss that.
The mids are well-tuned too, and again, very natural-sounding. There’s a warm low-mid response, and enough high-mids to make for clear vocals that cut nicely through a mix.
The highs on offer are detailed and clear, and you’ll get plenty of instrument separation to help make listening an enjoyable experience. At times the highs can sound a little much, especially on songs that already lean towards heavy high-end response. That said, if you’re looking for clarity, you’ll enjoy these.
One thing that is missing here is noise cancellation, and it’s hard to know how exactly AIAIAI would implement this. The overall design means that there’s not much noise isolation either — so if you’re in a loud environment, you may wish the headphones were better at blocking out noise.
The H05 headband connects to your listening device through Bluetooth, and we found that they retained an excellent connection throughout testing.
When it comes to battery life, you’ll get 16 hours, which is fine, but not amazing. We would have liked a little longer of a battery life, but the fact that AIAIAI has to jam the battery into the headband means that may be difficult. You will get more battery life if you go for the H06 headband, but you’ll also have to forego the AptX HD codec support.
The AIAIAI TMA-2 HD headphones have a lot to offer, and the modularity is a super interesting concept. These headphones aren’t necessarily the way to go for those that simply want a great pair of headphones for general listening, but if you like to tinker, know what you want, and want to be able to replace parts down the line, these are the way to go.
There’s little competition in the space too. In fact, if you really want modularity, there aren’t really any other options.
Because of their interesting design and great sound quality, we’re awarding the AIAIAI TMA-2 HD headphones the Headphone Review Silver Medal.