Separate names with a comma.
On-Ear item created by plailleur, Aug 11, 2010
Pros - Price/value, compact, efficient, ballanced fun sound
Cons - foam pads, heavy coiled cable
The AIAIAI (eye, eye, eye) TMA-1 was designed and marketed primarily as a DJ club headphone. I am not a DJ so I purchased the TMA-1 as a portable headphone, and this review is based on that function, not as a DJ headphone.
Function: The TMA-1 is made out of a rubberised plastic type of material, which results in them being fairly flexible with a sturdy, durable feel to them. The design is based on a simple one piece headband and the cups do not fold up in anyway (they are flexible enough that DJ’s can bend/flex one cup off the ear easily). They do fit comfortably around the neck when not on your head and they are small enough and come with a carry bag to make them function well as a portable/transportable headphone. I have no worries about throwing these in a backpack or similar, as they look like they will stand up well and they certainly won’t scratch. The cable (3.5 mm standard attachment) is detachable, which is another positive for portability.
Isolation: The TMA-1 is a supra-aural headphone, with cup circumference similar to a HD25 or ESW9, and the pads are pleather (there are also foam pads supplied, but forget them is my advice). They isolate reasonably well, as one would expect from a closed, pleather based cup headphone, but as they are “on ear”, nowhere near blocking out everything, except when you are pumping music through them. Certainly suitable for commuting in most circumstances, in fact I prefer a bit of sound to get through so I don’t get run over. Leakage isn’t bad either, but people near you will still hear some sound, even if you aren’t listening at ear damaging levels. Speaking of volume, the TMA-1 is a very efficient headphone and they can go very loud even just being driven by your average DAP.
Comfort: Always a potential problem with supra-aural closed headphones, and at first I thought the AIAIAI would be an ear hurter after a couple of hours listening. This hasn’t turned out to be the case with me, as the clamping of the TMA-1 is not great and they are lightweight. Your mileage may vary from mine on this; comfort is a very subjective/individual thing, however I think they will be at lower ear hurt spectrum, for most people.
First off these come supplied with both pleather and foam ear pads, and if you ever thought that pads don’t make a significant difference to sound, then try both of these sets out. Then throw the foam pads away, as the sound is thin, tinny and unacceptable IMO.
DJ headphones are traditionally bass oriented; however for me the TMA-1s are fairly balanced. They do have a slight bass focus, but it is coupled with a solid mid range emphasis as well, making the TMA-1s a bass/mid (warm) headphone for my money.
Bass is punchy and authoritative, but controlled and doesn’t intrude or swamp the mids, which are clear and detailed for a headphone at this level. Overall the sound signature is very forward, Grado like in many ways, with more bass focus and less treble orientation than most Grados, but certainly with an upfront presentation (not quite as in your face as the average Grado) and also with a somewhat compressed soundstage to my ears. Soundstage is reasonable for a closed supra-aural headphone, but certainly nothing to write home about. Instrument separation seems quite good when the music is simple, as detail retrieval is solid and the overall sound presentation seems clear and crisp. However, when the music is more complex, layered with lots of instruments playing simultaneously, the TMA-1s can’t match the instrument separation when compared to my higher end headphones, but that is perhaps almost a given.
The bass is, clean, powerful, punchy, has good texture and is controlled and capable of reproducing solid deep bass (Dark Knight soundtrack). A very capable headphone in this area, without being obtrusive. The TMA-1 should satisfy most, except the sub woofer bass heads amongst us. It may be too bass focussed for some.
The mids are crisp, forward and have plenty of clarity.
The high end is the less emphasised part of the sound spectrum with the TMA-1. I described it as slightly rolled off from my first impressions, however I don’t think that is really an accurate finding, relatively speaking. There is enough sparkle and treble extension is quite good now that I have had a longer time to listen and get acquainted with the signature, it isn’t rolled off to any great degree. The high end is present and doesn’t actually lack detail or crispness, it is simply “not an attacking high end”, it is just lacking a little bit of treble “hit”, just doesn’t have the same bite or emphasis as some other headphones. This slightly less pronounced treble signature also means that there is no sharp sibilance issues either.
The AIAIAI TMA-1 is a competent portable performer, both in form/function and also in the ever important sound category. A warm sound with plenty of fun factor, bass beats for club type music, but also with solid mids and decent highs for broader music listening. On a hit or miss scale, the TMA-1 is a definite hit and a true competitor in the higher end portable headphone class.
And if AIAIAI reads this, get rid of those foam pads and supply a spare pleather pair or velour (read HD25) instead. And the detachable cable may be good for DJing, but it is too heavy and grippy for single entry portable use. At least with the 3.5 mm attachment it is an easy replacement exercise (good straightforward design).
Pros - Design+
Cons - lack a bit in the highs
So glad that the SQ could live up the amazing design
Pros - looks
Cons - poor sound quality, comfort
Very unbalanced and distorted sound. They are falling off my head.
Pros - Sound Isolation, tone, natural bass.
Cons - The highs could be a bit better
Amazingly balanced, beautifully designed.