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AIAIAI TMA-1: an audiophile's basshead can, or the other way around?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

So I've written odes to sing the praises of my other headphones, but I just got my AIAIAI's in the mail today, and I think I should probably start composing another one...


First off, I'm a competent musician (not great, but I get paid!) who loves a wide range of music, from old soul and R&B to British Rock of the '60s, to modern R&B, to classic jazz. I know that a pair of "good" headphones usually means that they're neutral or close to it, and I've heard my favorite semi-neutral headphones in the Mad Dogs I have. They're not totally neutral like my DT1350s (which I traded), but they're pretty darn close.


So when I started looking for a "beater" 'phone to be a durable, everyday user (that had to be on-ear for glasses purposes, as I prefer them for that use), I started looking at the alternatives to the DT1350, because although I liked the neutrality of the DT1350, I couldn't stand how my strangely-shaped ears could never get a good seal. (I seriously have elf ears.) Many people, including Tyll at InnerFidelity, think that the Amperior is a great headphone, and therefore I jumped at the awesome deal I saw at Newegg.


Well, the law in my life is that when I'm excited about something, they are broken the instant I receive them. Sure enough, the Amperiors' right earcup was completely loose and would slide down with the slightest perturbation. The spring or whatever was clearly loose, and I wasn't going to start taking things apart (the screws looked stripped anyway).


I returned them, and after a long period of research and debate, I realized that simplicity and build quality had to be paramount. I have a pair of V-Moda LPs which are fun but not very detailed. Although they're built like a tank, they really don't sound that great. I found the AIAIAIs whilst browsing around here, and although many of you don't like them, many of you respected the build quality. Other reviews elsewhere confirmed that feeling.


Well, how do I feel about them? Simply, they're exactly what I've been looking for all this time.


Design and build quality:

Like a tank. Seriously, I ascribe to the philosophy that "less is more", and nowhere is this more true than with the TMA-1s. Absolutely blown away. No ridiculous little springs, no torx screws here and there, no exposed wires. You can tell replacing parts would be a total breeze. Light, strong, and flexible. Exactly what you want to see.



Like I said in the title, this is a basshead can, but an audiophile's basshead can. Yes, there's that ever-present thump and push (even in older stuff, like the Kinks and Otis Redding), but it's not a mushy bump, like with the Crossfade LPs. This is a tight thump, very visceral, but like something I love to hear from a good bass player when we're playing live and he's playing through 10" speakers, not 12" or 15" speakers.

Details are resolved brilliantly - not in your face, but they're there if you want to listen to them, and then just kind of disappear if you don't want to pay attention. Very non-fatiguing. You can hear a little mid-hi bump, but not in a bad way - it's just there to give air and space to the music. Speaking of which...



I was hearing the room in all of my recordings! It's incredible - echoes I never heard before, reverb I never knew existed. Is it totally evident and in your face? No, but it's there if you want it.


Overall, this is a very fun, very tough, and very stylish headphone. Understated, classy, and just perfect for having fun with music. Isn't that what we're supposed to do? I respect those of you who love your totally flat headphones - I love them too! But these just hit the fun factor for me. This IS a hobby (at least some of the time) for most of us here...

post #2 of 5
Thread Starter 

I forgot to add - they're very "fast" sounding, like my Grados. They're like a basshead's Grado, in a lot of ways: simple, tough, and very subjective as to whether you like them or not!

post #3 of 5
Thanks for the review! I started my higher end headphone journey with a pair of v-moda crossfade lps and loved the build quality and sound for newer recordings and EDM. I then grew tired of hearing boomy bass with bands like Arcade Fire and The Smiths. I heard some tma-1s at Best Buy and loved them. The ones i got for a steal a few days ago don't sound as nice, need to burn in maybe?
Any way, it's great to hear that you consider these as Grado basshead phones since the next phones i wanted to try were Grado sr60s, so maybe I'll just save the dough! smily_headphones1.gif
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
I suppose burn in could be something, although I'm very doubtful as to how effective it is for changing sound dramatically. Maybe you got a bum pair?
post #5 of 5
Don't get me wrong, they sound great! The ones in the store actaully gave me goosebumps. Really! Used my phone and plugged it into the store set. Amazing. My set i own sound great, but i think the shock wore off. Burn in has seemed to help though.
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