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Over-Ear item created by BRSxIgnition, Jun 6, 2012
Pros - Beautiful design, detachable cables, lightweight and comfortable, fun coloured sound
Cons - Fragile foam earpads, included coiled cable too heavy, congested sound, loose sub-bass
Along with the summary below, I have a review thread comparing the TMA-1 Studio with the Sony MDR-1R, Z1000, Sennheiser Momentum, Logitech UE 6000 and Audio Technica M50 here:
I also posted the following Youtube review of the TMA-1. If you like the video check out my channel for more reviews
The TMA-1 look incredible. However there are a number of huge flaws. With the included foam earpads, the foam tends to peel away from the attachment disk (see the video). I was sent a replacement pair of pads by AIAIAI support (they were very good about it) which supposedly use a stronger glue, but after a while I encountered the same issues. I ended up using liquid nails glue to secure the foam earpads, which I prefer in sound and comfort. The TMA-1 has a very low clamping force which makes it very comfortable; however with the included coiled cable they end up pulling to the side because the coiled cable is heavy and the TMA-1 is not secure on the head. I ordered a straight cable and recommend it strongly over the stock coiled cable.
The TMA-1 have a punchy dynamic sound, with rolled off highs but a slightly metallic treble that makes the entire headphone sound exciting, though extremely coloured. Despite the intimidating design however, sub-bass is actually quite poor and below 100hz notes get a little flabby and loose. They have a wide soundstage but don't sound particularly defined. They do however sound fun with some modern studio recordings. Despite the name I would never ever use this for studio monitoring.
The TMA-1 has some really critical design flaws despite being an absolutely gorgeous headphone. If they had a truly authoritative sound to match the design, these flaws could be forgiven. As it stands there are some real flaws that make this a bit of a non-recommendation for me.
Pros - Punchy, precise and loud bass, comfort, isolation, crisp but relaxed highs
Cons - Build Quality
I bought these expecting that they would be fairly neutral headphones with the ability for extra bass because of their DJ background, but instead I found that they offered tons of bass right off the bat and gave a very lively, colored listening experience. When I say different, I don't mean like legos vs. megablocks - I mean like sharks vs. sharks with lasers on their heads. You should get the idea.
A quick overview:
- excellent packaging and style
- high quality fit and finish, just enough weight to the headphones to make them feel substantial but not enough to be heavy on your head
- *large* earcups that envelop your ears and immerse you in your music
- detachable, coiled cable with screw on 6.3 mm adaptor
- comfortable for all day listening
- great definition and separation between highs, mids, and lows
- punchy, solid and tight bass
- easily driven
- semi-poor build quality
I should say that these are the first headphones in the 200 dollar range so that you can get a feel for my listening background. I have just recently replaced my two year old Sennheiser HD419's, which served me well in that time. Coming from them, I was pleasantly surprised at the feel of these cans and the (initial) build quality. The plastic coating is reminiscent of the trackpad coating on many high end laptops, and the headband and earcup foam feels like the weather stripping you find in a car door. However, after just a few days of use, the f'ing headband has come unglued. It's not even a medium sized problem because there are really only three plastic parts to this set of headphones, but it's aggravating and disparaging.
However, it seems like AiAiAi put the effort they could have used improving build quality into sound quality. It has a characteristic veiled sound, but it's something that I prefer - so please, bear this in mind. Highs are crisp and precise but do not fatigue, and can be heard without straining to listen for them. Mids are clear and not destroyed by the bass. Male vocals can be heard cleanly along with bass notes with very clear separation. The bass produced by the TMA-1's is so powerful that if these headphones were put over a baby's ears, the baby would grow a beard (regardless of gender) and find a flannel shirt to wear. I found myself listening to songs I had, since long ago, memorized note for note because of their newly released depth. As of yesterday I have had to change my listening habits because these phones have rattled the earwax out of my ears. At one point during "Empire Ants", I thought I heard thunder outside my door.
These headphones are definitely worth their 250 dollar asking price, and were a steal at 190. I highly recommend them if you like a colored, bassy listening experience. If you listen to electronica, these are the headphones with you.
Pros - durability, isolation, style, response
Cons - headband comfort, leather cups aren't to my liking, foam cups have QC issues**, might've come with a case at this price
I stand directly in front of, or sit on top of a stack of 30Hz bass bins at the office. These isolate well enough to cue music at the loudest volumes I can create with the foam cups. The leather cups do not seal to my head, however. I guess my ears are too big, but the cups just don't deflect enough internally, forcing one's ears to do the deflecting.
With a touch of EQ to lift the highs, I rather enjoy extended listening with them at home. It's obvious that they start to roll off early. The published curves also reflect this. No doubt a benefit for those listening all day long. I do find myself fidgeting with the headband position quite a bit. Maybe I have a pointed head or something, but, even with the extra padding on the "Studio," it takes a minute to rub a flat spot onto the crown of my nugget to get them fixed. I can't imagine what the standard TMA-1 might feel like. Not a deal breaker, but I wouldn't buy em strictly for home listening. That's not their job. No, I hired these to be reliable, rugged, stylish, amazing performers in a club setting and still have a fair amount of audio snob factor. They do all of this with a sense of presence and style that is unattainable elsewhere.
AiAiAi seem to be rather prolific at creating customized versions of their products. Perhaps they'll come out with a TMA-1 "lounge" for the recliner scene.
**There is one caveat: The foam ear cups were completely separated from the metal base plates. You can see the "trail" of adhesive, but the cups themselves fell off before I got them on my head the first time. I contacted both the retailer and Aiaiai directly and had near immediate response. Proaudiostar.com offered replacement or refund (they are great to deal with on everything) and Aiaiai responded as follows:
"Thanks for contacting us. We are sorry to hear about this issue and apologize for the inconvenience.
Unfortunately we have experienced problems with the gluing of the ear pads and are currently working on producing replacement ear pads with improved gluing. What you can do for now (the events this weekend) is to glue them yourself with some super glue - just take the cushion plate off the ear cups to make sure no glue drops on the headphones. This should hold for a couple of weeks until we can ship you replacement ear pads. Alternatively you could also use the leather ear pads maybe?
Let me know if this is working for you so I can put you on a waiting list for the replacement cushions."
If you want the great deal: proaudiostar.com - call or ask for the "hook up price" in the chat window. Couldn't ask for more from a retailer. $160 landed.