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...