AIAIAI TMA-2 HD Headphones (Comfort) – Ingenious Design
Oh My, is what I said when I heard the AIAIAI TMA-2 HD Headphones. They are a modular headphone packaged in pieces, they cost about 400 USD, and will be compared to SoundMagic HP1000, Ollo S4X, and Sivga P-II. They will also be paired with Hiby R3 PRO, iBasso DX300, and HIDIZS AP80 PRO. This is the S05 variant, the most detailed one they offer, and other drivers may have a different signature, so please make sure to get the matching driver to the desired sound when ordering them.
AIAIAI is the kind of company you see tons of ads from, but which you can’t really audition before purchasing anywhere. This being said, they are really nice with their customers, and invest a ton in customer satisfaction and overall support. Their products have a special appeal to them, and fully modular headphones means that you can invest in a headphone now, and you’ll be able to upgrade later on using the components they also provide. They are more than ten years old now, and since the release of their TMA-1 headphones in 2010, they’ve been improving, so today we’ll be exploring ten years worth of tech advancement from a company dedicated to music.
It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with AIAIAI, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. I’d like to thank AIAIAI for providing the sample for this review. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in AIAIAI TMA-2 HD Headphones find their next music companion.
You can purchase AIAIAI TMA-2 HD from here: https://www.amazon.com/AIAIAI-TMA-2-Headphones-Definition-Alcantara/dp/B0821RNCWP
First things first, let’s get the packaging out of the way:
I had no idea that the package would be impossible to be put back in place after I unboxed it, but AIAIAI TMA-2 HD is literally impossible to put back once you unbox it.
More like, I couldn’t package the components again, but to describe the unboxing experience, it is surely premium. You get a larger cardboard box, with mini packages made of plastic which have the headphone components inside. Everything is packaged individually, and you can order all components individually.
Since they are a bluetooth headphone at their core, this also means that you can upgrade your bluetooth module (which updates the amplifier / DAC), and you can update the drivers / cups separately.
Overall, really nice unboxing experience.
The build quality is actually really nice. They have a soft touch surface that’s really amazing to the touch. It gathers fingerprints a bit, but it is really nice in reality and fairly easy to clean. After a few months, they have no signs of usage, so I think they should survive fairly well to long term usage.
The comfort is actually excellent, but I do have the comfort variant. The cups are fairly soft, large, with ear pads covered in alcantara. They promise ultra-soft over-the-ear cushions and they deliver on this nicely. My ears are a bit taller than the earpads, and I have medium ears, so if you have larger ears, you may have to categorize them as “on-ear” rather than over-the-ear.
Assembling the headphones is really easy, especially when you take into account that it is just placing everything together, and plugin in the cables. I found that if you can assemble lego, you’ll have no trouble with AIAIAI TMA-2 HD. The bluetooth headband promises 24-Bit transmission, which I am physically unable to test, but they do come with SBC, AAC, aptX, and aptX HD. I can confirm that aptX HD works nicely, and they sound really nice. They promise 16 hours of play time, which is close to the ~ 12 hours I was able to get when blasting them loud.
The fact that they include recycled materials means that we can have headphones with some responsibility towards our environment. I personally found them to work well, there is some microphonic noise if used the headphones in wired mode, as the cable is somewhat thick and rigid. You can attach the cable to any cup and it will work well, the cable attaches to just one of the cups for wired mode. The bluetooth connection is ok, with an ok range.
The headband is adjustable, and despite it looking edgy and thin, it is good for comfort, as the inside of the headband is soft and padded with a pretty solid sponge. I am having good overall comfort, and you can adjust the headphones in size, and the plastic headband is really flexible and will adjust to your head easily.
The sound of AIAIAI TMA-2 HD is better over the wired connection rather than the wireless one. I am having excellent overall experience with good DAPs but even entry-level ones will do a fair job, and they are fairly easy to drive. I am running the S05 variant, the most detailed one, and I am liking the sound.
I would describe the sound as slightly V-Shaped, with a stronger overall bass , and stronger overall upper midrange and treble. There’s a bit of bass bleed in the midrange, and there’s a good sense of space in music, with a wider soundstage. The treble is energetic, and I tried to found other reviews online about the TMA-2 HD, and I frankly disagree with some of them, and I’ll explain why in just a second.
First off, I found the bass to be really nicely extended, thunderous, and deep. It also has zero distortion, and at least when connected to a good source like iBasso DX300, it is deep, detailed and well-controlled. It has some bleed in the midrange, and offers a darker tone to the mids than absolutely neutral, but it is not enough to consider it distorted. The sound is really punchy all over, and also has good dynamics. If you’re coming from something that’s purely basshead, you’ll feel that the bass isn’t quite enough, especially if you compare the AIAIAI TMA-2 HD to LCD-2C or Verum One, but comparing them to Soundmagic HP1000, they have a really beautiful and punchy bass. If you need more bass, there’s a good 3-5 dB of headroom in the sub-bass you can add with no distortions and no negative effects.
The midrange is extremely clear, and despite being slightly less in amount than the bass and the treble, it has a good clarity. I am amazed by how good they pair with metal, rock, even power metal. I haven’t listened to Machinae supremacy and Mindless Self Indulgence in months now, but putting the TMA-2 HD on my head simply revived my passion for those two bands. And it ain’t due to their bass, it is the midrange, with the textures, and vocal presentation. The tuning favors both male and female voices, both clean and screams / distorted. The midrange cannot be pushed more forward, and I would actually suggest applying a bit of EQ to bring it back and further bring the bass forward.
The treble is enhanced, and I can see why some people weren’t as big fans as I am. The thing here is that the treble is peppy, sparkly, not smooth and boring. This gives the AIAIAI TMA-2 HD excellent detail, and even at this price point, they can hold their ground. I can see someone finding them a bit fatiguing, they are really detailed and forward in their tuning, but the treble has zero distortion in my experience, it is just a clean, crisp treble with excellent expression. In fact, they have one of the best extensions in the treble I heard, and I can totally vouch for AIAIAI TMA-2 HD being an excellent purchase for treble heads too.
The whole headphone can be too forward even for me, and the best experience is not with pop, but with metal, dubstep, rock, aggressive music. Despite their edgy and modern looks, AIAIAI TMA-2 HD sounds their best with aggressive music, even RAP, but not with classical, not with jazz or slow music.
The overall price/performance ratio of TMA-2 HD is excellent, so it will be interesting to see how a nice closed-back design compares to other cans. None of the competitors don’t have bluetooth at this price point, and that’s a huge bonus for TMA-2HD.
AIAIAI TMA-2 HD vs Soundmagic HP1000 (400 USD vs 500 USD) – The comfort is slightly better on HP1000, and having a carrying case surely helps. The overall sound is much more natural and balanced on TMA-2 HD. There’s a better sense of space, more detail, more clarity and more impact on TMA-2 HD, with more bass and better sub-bass extension. I am especially impressed by TMA-2 HD and how it can have both detail and be good with aggressive music. HP1000 sounds a bit too bright, and can bring a bit too much detail forward, making them ultimately fatiguing for me after a while, where TMA-2HD is aggressive but never truly fatiguing for me personally. I love the TMA-2 HD, but wish they did this sound in the build and form factor of HP1000 sometimes, as I prefer the comfort and build of HP1000.
AIAIAI TMA-2 HD vs Ollo S4X (400 USD vs 400 USD) – I am in love with both here, and they have a somewhat similar fit. I found the clamping force to be more natural for S4X, as it is a bit high on TMA-2 HD for my head. You can get over this by stretching the headphones in a box, but it is something to know you’ll have to do. The sound is more mid forward for S4X, it also has more detail. By comparison, AIAIAI TMA-2 HD sounds a bit more natural, more aggressive all around, more forward in the treble, with slightly less bass. Both are snappy, and S4X is a bit quicker, but this also makes them slightly more grainy when placed side by side with TMA-2 HD.
AIAIAI TMA-2 HD vs Sivga P-II (400 USD vs 400 USD) – P-II is the type of headphone that is punchy, and it is more comfy with a better package than TMA2HD. P-II does not have bluetooth though, so some bonus points go to TMA-2 HD as well. The sound is more punchy on P-II but it lacks the treble sparkle and spike from TMA-2 HD. I prefer the overall treble of TMA-2 HD. I also prefer the overall detail on TMA-2 HD. Sivga P-II is considerably smoother and less aggressive, so it works better for most Jazz, Classical and pop, where TMa-2 HD works better for rock, metal, dubstep and aggressive music. In general, I would recommend TMA-2 HD to those who want more treble, a more sparkly sound, and a more V-Shaped sound. I would recommend P-II to someone looking for a thicker, more punchy headphone that’s never fatiguing or aggressive.
Pairing TMA-2 HD is actually tricky. You should know that they sound much clearer, more open, more detailed and more punchy from the wired connection, especially if you’re using a good source.
I had the best experience pairing them with Lotoo Paw 6000, but that one has to wait a bit, because DX300 also is excellent, and I paired them with more entry-level sources too, like Hiby R3 PRO and HIDIZS AP80 PRO, to see how they sound like from a less expensive source.
AIAIAI TMA-2 HD + iBasso DX300 (400 USD + 1200 USD) – I noticed that the sound is considerably more natural and open, more vivid and detailed when pairing TMA-02 HD with DX300 via the cable, rather than the bluetooth connection. The sound is natural, really wide, open and punchy. I love the treble presentation, which is peppy but smooth, never harsh and never distorted. Also enjoying the overall clarity a lot. The pairing seems like overkill, and it is, but it is a good way to notice that TMA-2 HD can scale with the source, and that it is best when paired with a better source.
AIAIAI TMA-2 HD + HIDIZS AP80 PRO (400 USD + 200 USD) – With AP80 PRO, the sound is still better wired than when using bluetooth. I see bluetooth as a nice feature, but it is best used for emergencies only, since the TMA-2 HD Headphones have a ton of potential and can sound so good using them wired. I love the overall clarity, detail and punchiness of the pairing. There’s a good sense of space, in both depth and width. I also enjoy the pairing for usability, and we have access to MSEB, so if you find them a bit too forward, you can turn down the treble a bit. It is also possible to increase the bass a bit since they have a good amount of headroom.
AIAIAI TMA-2 HD + Hiby R3 PRO (400 USD + 200 USD) – Destined to be a good pairing, R3 PRO totally drives the TMA-2 HD nicely. There’s a good amount of space, clarity and even detail. I am enjoying the pairing with Machinae supremacy while doing my daily walk, and here it goes without saying that the bluetooth should not be used, since r3pro does not have the strongest bluetooth experience. The dynamics of the pairing are really good especially for an entry-level source powering the TMA-2 HD.
Value and Conclusion
In terms of value, we found excellent value with AIAIAI TMA-2 HD. They sound open, detailed, and are made nicely, with environment protection in mind, and they also offer a nice package. You can upgrade, fix, repair them easily, and they feel nicely, so in terms of value they are a pure 10.
The package is interesting and assembling them is a satisfying experience, pretty similar to building your own computer. They are not HIFIMAN Deva which you purchase and use, they need a bit of work to get going.
The end comfort is good, although even the comfort pads are a bit small for my ears. They offer a good amount of isolation, but not as much as a constructor’s hearing protection headphone. More around 10 dB to maximum 15 dB of passive noise isolation. They also leak a bit, so no listening to metal outdoors if you don’t want to share the awesome stuff with anyone else.
The sound is detailed, clean, bassy, has excellent impact, and can be described as V-Shaped too. The soundstage is natural leaning towards wide, the instrument separation is excellent, and they are great for drums, rap, metal, rock and not as good for Jazz and quiet listening.
At the end of today’s review, AIAIAI TMA-2 HD is a lively headphone, something to be listened loud, something better than any beats model, something offering a novelty concept, and a clean, strong sound with excellent bass and good treble extension too. At the price of 400 USD, it is a realy reocmmneed model.
You can purchase AIAIAI TMA-2 HD from here: https://www.amazon.com/AIAIAI-TMA-2-Headphones-Definition-Alcantara/dp/B0821RNCWP
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Full Playlist used for this review
We listened to more songs than those named in this playlist, but those are excellent for identifying a sonic signature. PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality are all revealed by those songs. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you’re searching for new music!
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