Aiaiai, based mostly in Copenhagen, brings us a novel twist on Bluetooth headphones. The corporate has an idea it calls “modular headphone methods.” Basically, they’re headphones you may customise to your liking with numerous headbands, audio system, and cables. The $295 TMA-2 Wi-fi 2 headphones, reviewed right here, are a “preset” possibility that use a Bluetooth headband. (There are wired variations of the TMA-2 for much less.) While the flexibility customise the headphones is an fascinating and welcome twist, neither the TMA-2’s audio efficiency nor design advantage such a excessive price ticket.
The circumaural (over-ear) TMA-2 Wi-fi 2 headphones have a cool, understated, logo-free, matte black design. However this easy design can also be considerably problematic: How do these headphones value nearly $300? There aren’t any luxurious thrives, like leather-based—it is a matte rubber body with foam earpads.
The headphones arrive in a number of resealable luggage. The separate parts are labeled as: S04 (the 2 speaker items), H05 (the Bluetooth headband), E05 (the big foam earpads), and C05 (a easy audio cable with no inline distant management). Snapping the primary components collectively is comparatively straightforward, however connecting the USB-C charging cable to the scarf is a little bit of a problem. The jack is in a clumsy spot on the within nook of the scarf that makes it troublesome to angle the tip of the cable into. (It’s additionally unclear why Aiaiai would not do that for you.)
The scarf adjuster locks into place at even increments on either side for a safe, constant ear-to-ear match. Cables lead from the scarf to jacks on the earcups—one is pink for the fitting channel—and as soon as the cups are securely positioned, you may join the cabling to the speaker items.
The earpads are generously cushioned with reminiscence foam, and the smooth microfiber materials used to cowl them feels good however acts as magnet for mud or pet hair. The underside of the scarf, which has the one Aiaiai emblem I detected, is cushioned rubber, and the headphones really feel exceptionally safe when worn, however it’s exhausting to argue that they really feel comfy. They are not wildly uncomfortable, however there’s some notable strain exerted by the earcups, and the scarf begins to make its presence identified throughout a protracted listening session.
There are three buttons on the highest of the scarf. The central button controls playback, name administration, voice help, and monitor navigation, relying on what number of instances you press it. Oddly, the center button additionally powers the headphones up and places them in pairing mode, however the high button is the ability down button. In any other case, the highest and backside buttons management quantity when tapped rapidly. Apart from the ability up/down quirk, it is a fairly customary management array and the buttons are straightforward to function.
The mic presents very stable intelligibility. Utilizing the Voice Memos app on an iPhone 6s, we understood every phrase recorded clearly, with nearly no trace of audio artifacts, and even a little bit added bass depth. The mic sounds barely faraway, however in any other case, it sounds markedly higher than the typical Bluetooth headphone mic.
The pairing course of is fast and straightforward, and Aiaiai claims the H05 headband will get roughly 16 hours of battery life when related to the S04 drivers, however your outcomes will differ based mostly in your quantity ranges. As soon as charging, a standing LED on the highest of the scarf lights up. Connecting the audio cable would not routinely un-pair the headphones or energy them down—concentrate on this when you assume merely plugging them in is a option to preserve the ability off and preserve battery life. You should use the headphones in passive mode, however we do not suggest it—the audio high quality was very poor in testing, and a little bit louder in a single ear than the opposite.
On tracks with intense sub-bass content material, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the headphones ship stable bass depth, and by no means distort, even at high quantity ranges—and it must be famous that they get far louder than many of the pairs we check. At reasonable volumes, the bass continues to be strong, however not as boosted within the sub-bass realm as some could also be looking for. The highs and high-mids are pretty effectively represented right here, balancing out the combo.
Invoice Callahan’s “Drover,” a monitor with far much less deep bass within the combine, provides us a greater sense of the sound signature. The drums sound full and spherical, however not as in the event that they’re being performed by means of a large subwoofer, which is an efficient factor. The low-mids and lows really feel a tad boosted, although, which lends Callahan’s baritone vocals arguably extra richness than they want—they might use a little bit extra high-mid presence to stability it out. The guitars appear to get some high-mid and excessive frequency presence, as do the higher-register percussive hits, however the general combine feels weighted barely towards the lows.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church within the Wild,” the kick drum loop’s assault wants extra high-mid edge to sound as punchy because it usually does and slice by means of the layers of the combo, however we hear extra of the vinyl crackle often relegated to background. So it appears the high-mids are dialed again considerably, and the highs are boosted. The vocals on this monitor generally sound sibilant—so maybe there’s some boosting or sculpting within the 5-9kHz vary, whereas there appears to be much less presence slightly below these frequencies.
Orchestral tracks, just like the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel In line with the Different Mary, sound a little bit bass heavy. The boosting within the lows and low-mids pushes the decrease register instrumentation ahead within the combine. It isn’t an disagreeable sound, and the upper register brass, strings, and vocals preserve their crisp presence regardless of the dialed again high-mids, however once more, issues generally lean towards the lows and low-mids by way of stability.
I actually needed to like the TMA-2 Wi-fi 2 headphones. The modular design could also be a gimmick, however it’s within the title of enjoyable, and there is one thing cool concerning the lack of apparent branding on the headphones. The problem right here additionally is not the audio efficiency, which may positively use some tweaks, however is not poor. Neither is it the performance—for probably the most half, the buttons are straightforward to function and there aren’t any big mishaps pairing or utilizing the headphones, even when there are some odd design quirks. However the entire package deal—first rate audio, a design that feels solely pretty comfy, and supplies that look cool however not likely luxurious—merely is not price $295.
For $150 (or ideally much less), I might be way more within the TMA-2 Wi-fi 2. Within the $300 worth vary, nonetheless, the B&O Beoplay H4, the Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless, the V-Moda Crossfade 2 Wireless, and the Marshall Monitor Bluetooth are all notably superior merchandise compared, from audio efficiency to design.