Recently, I have a chance to review the AIAIAI TMA-2 HD Headphones and since then, audio during quarantine time has never been the same. Steve Jablonsky’s Transformers soundtrack never sounded this good.
Not with my Bose (possibly because it is kind of old). Not with MacBook Air’s stereo speaker (obviously), or my trusty, throw-around JBL CLIP2 Bluetooth speaker. Certainly not with the Soundpeats Truengine2. Before I dive further, here’s what the AIAIAI TMA-2 HD Headphones is about:
“The high-end S05 speaker unit with Bio-Cellulose delivers a clear and highly detailed sound representation. Combining the H04 headband and the E08 over-ear Alcantara earpads providing high isolation, results in super comfortable headphone with high-end audio, suitable for long and critical listening sessions.”
There are seven TMA-2 headphones and they include, TMA-2 HD Wireless, TMA-2 HD, TMA-2 Comfort Wireless, TMA-2 Comfort, TMA-2 Move, TMA-2 DJ, and finally, TMA-2 All-round.
The AIAIAI TM2-HD comes in a surprising low profile box. For a moment, I thought something was amiss. It wasn’t. It was its modularity that allows for the thinner-than-usual box.
Out-of-the-box, each individual component is inside its own cloth bag and yes, assembly is required, but believe me, it is really easier than any IKEA’s furniture and absolutely no tools required.
The headphones come in 6 parts: the headband, two S05 speaker units, two ear cups, and a 1.5 meter (5 foot) Triah hi-fi cable.
Assembly was swift. It just took a couple of minutes. It involves sliding the correct ear cup into each end of the headband and plugging the respective 3.5 mm audio jack. After that, all there’s left to do is to click on the earpads and plugging in the cable.
There’s a few perks to this, but the most important of them all is, product longevity. If years down the road, the headband worn out, you can just replace the headband and not the entire headphone. This allow for longer product life and minimizes waste.
If I could use just one word to describe the headphone, it would be “nondescript”. In fact, I would say it is perfectly nondescript. AIAIAI eschew from flashy design. Even branding is avoided – save for the discreetly stamped branding under the headband.
It is definitely a headphone for those want good quality audio over advertising for the brand, if you know what I mean.
Do not get me wrong about it being “nondescript.” AIAIAI managed to pull off this ultra minimalism design in a rather stylish way.
Another thing the company avoided was metal. The headphone has none of it, or at least from what we can see. This result in an extremely lightweight audio cans, which is one of keys for endurance listening.
Being most nylon and plastic, it is clearly less rugged and the use of material runs the risk of getting marks and scratches. But since this is at-home cans, it should be perfectly fine. I definitely won’t travel with this. Besides, a 5 foot cable is tad too long to be traveling with.
So far, I have not use the headphone for more than three hours in a sitting. I had it on mostly for 2+ hours. Thanks to the combination of lightweight build, the soft microfiber head padding and the ultra soft over-ear memory foam cushion, I do not feel fatigue at all. Either that, or I am too engross in what I was doing.
The only thing that bothers me is the cable. It can sometimes get in the way. But I guess that’s the price to pay for consistent audio quality.
One thing to note, if you wear glasses, you may have a slight issue – especially those plastic frame type. Wire frame, maybe not so much.
I have ran in (or break in, if you will) the cans for roughly over 20 hours in total and the following are the conditions of the test:
- No headphone amplifier or DA
- No EQ adjustment
- MacBook Air audio out
- Huawei P20 Pro with factory USB-C to 3.5 mm audio jack dongle
Audio performance (movie):
Movie: Transformers Dark of the Moon
Hardware: MacBook Air (2019)
The highway chase of in DOTM shows the power of this pair of cans. Audio separation is fantastic. The highway scene had all the elements: soundtrack, dialogue (mostly Shia Labeouf talking to a car), car engine, shooting and explosion, all happening at the same time. Amidst the chaos, I was able to hear every element clearly.
It was a movie magic moment only marred by the lack of house-shaking bass required by explosive scenes. It has been a while since I have gotten this immersive (and annoyed by Labeouf’s constant screaming at Bumble Bee).
In The Godfather
Hardware: MacBook Air (2019)
Dialogue is mostly what this Academy Award winning Francis Ford Coppola’s film is focused on and TMA-2 HD did a pretty good job in reproducing that. Believe it or, this is the first time I heard the cat’s purr.
Audio performance (music):
According to AIAIAI’s rating, the TMA-2 HD wired strikes in the area of treble, mids, and bass, and indeed, it it balanced. Be warned, though, if you are a hardcore bass head, it may disappointed.
That is not to say that it lacks in bass. It has bass, but not enough to bring the house down as bass heads would have liked. I’d say if you are considering this can, extreme low frequency music is probably not in your playlist.
That said, I would say the bass is punchy enough and vocal is crisp (dang it, Camila Cabello’s sounds fantastic in Señorita!). I listened to a variety of genres, including dance/trance (Born Slippy FTW!), pop, rock, heavy metal, classical and original motion soundtrack.
While I think it excels best in classical and OST, i.e. orchestra, the balance treble, mids, and bass makes this can an all-round performer. Because of this pair of cans, I have reignited my love for Steve Jablonsky’s Transformers soundtrack.
Generally speaking, the S05 speaker units do live up to its claim of “clear and highly detailed sound representation.” It really does. In fact, this pair of cans actually reminds me why I fell in love with movies soundtrack years ago.
The Ultra soft over-ear Alcantara-wrapped memory foam ear cups encapsulate my sound holes completely, throwing me deep into the music. Overall, it is definitely an audio performer and excellent cans for movies too.
As to whether you should drop US$295 for the TMA-2 HD, I can’t decide for you. All I can say is, I am loving the audio it has to offer.
All images by Mikeshouts.com.