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A Review On: Aiaiai TMA-1

Aiaiai TMA-1

Rated # 7 in On-Ear
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Pros: Just enough bass, stylish, easy to drive, removable cable

Cons: Uncomfortable after a while

As a quick overview for the reader who wants it over and done with in a sentence:


These made me love on-ear headphones again.


Firstly, they look really stylish in the fact that they're not tatted with "Aiaiai TMA-1" logos everywhere. The only branding on it is on the cable terminals, and the inside of the headband. I actually love how they look in the mirror, even with me and my big afro. They have a nice matte finish too, so you're not gonna be getting a problem with fingerprints, and if they get wet a quick wipe to get rid of the splashes will make sure it dries off uniformly and looks good.


As well as that, they isolate pretty well for the clamping force that they semi-don't have. I use them on the underground (the subway to any friends from the US) and when I have these at volume I don't notice too much of the outside noise. The only thing I'd say about using them day to day is that with the leather  pads on (which IMO give you the better sound) you do get a little bit of an earmuff effect, and after a while it can get a bit uncomfortable around the ear. However, they are on-ear headphones, and compared to many others I've tried, they're very comfortable. With the synthetic pads on, you don't get this as bad, although you do lose a bit of the noise isolation.


Now for the sound, which is what made me fall in love with them. The thing about these is that they're quite a dark headphone, so if you want that brighter, more detailed sound then these might not be for you (unless you want to EQ it in.) These do, however, perform very well in the high and midrange I feel, bringing the subtleties to a lot of my tracks back in, even at lower bitrates (my crappy 96kbps files still sound great!). A lot of the guitar string sounds from some of my acoustic music is brought back in, with a lot of the drum kit sounds finally brought to my ears after at least two or so years.


Where these really come into their own is in their bass. No matter if you listen to tracks like "We Swarm" by The Glitch Mob, where you get the electronic kick drum vibrating the earcups, to new-school rap tracks like Drake's "We'll Be Fine" with it's dominating bass line, and everything inbetween, these will give you the bass like it was meant to be. Either punchy, smooth, or punchy and smooth! I genuinely listened to a track on these and then realised it was actually multiple long bass beats rather than one continuous one. It really has some accuracy in this realm which I find is quite rare. Just remember, if you put these into a laptop and push the volume up on bass heavy tracks, be ready for a free ear massage.


Quick note before I go on, the volume these things can reach is amazing, to the point you can actually hurt yourself trying to find a limit. (I nearly did by accident while stress testing them) They can go to the point that they perform like loudspeakers, and them come back and still sound exactly as you left them which is a great compliment to the quality of the drivers in these.


In terms of performance from a phone, iPod and so on rather than a laptop/computer, they do quite well, although I find that at lower volumes on portables they don't sound as good as I'd expect. There's no real absolute need to amp them, and I wouldn't suggest you jump straight in. I'd try for a week or so without an amp, and then judge from that. I just use my Mini^3 amp because I can.


As a summary, they're brilliant on-ear headphones, with a nice sound for pretty much anything you can think of with a bassline. They're also quite compact which is great if you want to take them out and about, and even come with a mic cable for the talkative. The only gripe with them is that they have the classic on-ear comfort problem, but that isn't something that takes away too much from the general experience. 


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