Designed by DJs for DJs, Aiaiai’s TMA-1 rugged headphones have all of the bass and sensitivity needed to be heard in a club, without the overt branding. And for non-turntablists, they work very well on the road too.
The Danish headphone specialists AIAIAI (pronounced eye-eye-eye) is taking on established DJ headphones such as Sennheiser’s HD25-SP with these stripped-down, ruggedised and club-tuned ‘cans.
It’s a refreshing reboot of a traditional headset design, with a simple nylon headband supporting the two ear cups, which move on oversized notches to adjust the head size. The ear cushions pop off to reveal metal drivers and there are more padded cushions in the box, for spares. The thick cable is also removable with 3mm jacks at each end, so the phones won’t be wrenched off your head when someone stands on your lead. We all know how that feels.
The whole assembly has been coated in a matte black finish that both protects and gives an irresistibly tactile feel. You know how the backs of HTC mobile phones feel? It’s the same stuff, and boy does it feel goooood. The company’s logo is subtly indented on the inside of the band; it’s the very antithesis of the showy Beats brand.
These headphones have clearly been tuned for use in a noisy club as they’re much more sensitive than regular ‘phones and louder even than my Sennheisers. It’s also an obvious benefit for anyone that has a particularly noisy commute to work, or just enjoys their music with volume.
The bass is emphasised to make drums and basslines stand out for easier mixing and it gives the phones a warm tone. But don’t worry, it doesn’t swamp the vocals or other mid-range frequencies. It’s punchy and precise, while guitars and percussion sound equally snappy and rhythmic.
There’s a sense of space in the mid-range that allows strings and vocals to soar while the bass bounces along. What it doesn’t have is the kind of splashy treble that a lot of lightweight headphones tend to, so it can sounds a little reserved if that’s what you’re used to. The Sennheisers, for example, have a much more attacking high-end. At low volume levels, I’d prefer a slightly more bite in the treble.
It’s actually a more natural balance that you’re getting here though and there’s no loss of detail, just a less pronounced hit from the cymbals. On the up side, it means that you can turn the volume way without any brittle treble frequencies to spoil the performance, just an even more open and spacious sound field.
It’s ideal for DJs that need to hear the beat over a noisy sound PA system, but it’s also good news if you listen to rock and dance music in a noisy workplace and need the volume. [Aiaiai]