Clubbers Rejoice! Introducing the TMA-1

Within a few words of this article, it would be pretty easy to see how excited I am with the TMA-1 headphone from AIAIAI. I wonder how this little company keeps on coming up with products that excites me, as well as a lot of other people. Companies continually brag about “passion” about their products, and how they are “unique” from everyone else. So much have we heard those sentences that they started to lose their meaning. Well, in the case of AIAIAI, their products have always been very unique to my eyes, and not only in the aesthetic sense, but the whole engineering behind their product design reveals that they are truly passionate about their products.

If other companies seem to be on a race to release as much product variety as possible (especially Sennheiser and Audio Technica), AIAIAI takes the opposite strategy where less is more. They seem to not be bothered by the abundance of new product releases by everyone else. Instead, they take their time to plan, design, and execute a product so well, that every release always gets people’s head to turn. So far, they have released one portable headphone (AIAIAI Tracks), one DJ headphone (the TMA-1), and two earphones (Swirl and Pipe), and every release has gotten my respect (with the exception of Pipe, because I’ve never auditioned it).

Reading around the web about the new TMA-1 headphone reveals that AIAIAI is aiming big with this headphone. They seem to want to take on the established Sennheiser HD25-1 headphone which has been quite a favorite among DJs. There is something about the TMA-1 that makes me really want to get it, more than anything else in these recent months. Sure, you can find more expensive audiophile headphones with better technicalities than the TMA-1. But the TMA-1 is not about winning horsepower races or megapixel counts, to borrow analogies from the automotive and photographic industry. The TMA-1 is about a fresh offering on an overcrowded market.

Whatever it is that the AIAIAI people did with the TMA-1, and whoever was behind the development team, I have no idea. What I do know is that my heart raced with excitement upon receiving the TMA-1 headphone. AIAIAI has always been distinct about their packaging, and opening the box, I find the TMA-1 headphone placed in a properly fitted foam that reminds me of the hardboxes for pro-audio equipments. I was drooling when I saw the pictures of the TMA-1 headphone on the internet, but it looks even better in person. The flat, matte black finish is truly inspiring. Just the kind of product design that you’d expect to see from the funky designers in Europe. Everyone who works in the creative industry is probably lining up to get the TMA-1 just because of the looks. In a few months, they’ll probably release the TMA-1 in some other funky color like a pale white or lime green.

“Okay, the headphone look good, the packaging is nice, and they hired some big-name DJs to help promote the TMA-1. But we don’t care about that, do we? We need to know how the TMA-1 actually sounds!” Allright people, here it comes.

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  • Reply December 3, 2011


    How do these work with people talking around you? I’d like one pair that I could also use at my day job and let me get rid of the people around me without broadcasting my music to the entire office.

    I listen to and mix electronic music primarily so everything else seems like a perfect fit.

    If they wouldn’t work in that scenario then could you recommend another option? I have Able Planet NC200B headphones that i use at work right now and the active noise cancelling is nice but I don’t think I really need that much.

  • Reply December 6, 2011


    Great review, Mike! I think you’re on point here, but thought I’d add 2 cents after having the TMA-1 for the weekend. First, they were the perfect choice for me, since techno and house are where it’s at for me. I mix through an Allen & Heath Xone 62, and the combo of mixer and headphones is really working well. The cans are very loud, with superb isolation from without and within. And I think what I love the most is the attenuation of the high end frequencies. I swear, any more treble and I’m going to go deaf. The TMA-1 cans are going to save my ears. 

    All that said, I find that I’m going to have to adjust the mixing, since the cans make me want to go light on the bass and heavy on treble. That has had some effect on the end product, mind you, which has not much to do with my listening pleasure on the phones but has more to do with the working end-product of how I use them. I agree that these cans are designed for electronic music, but probably more specifically for work in the DJ booth and home recording. As such, they take some adjusting from the DJ’s perception of the sound to the outgoing sound. In other words, the DJ might think he/she is cranking bass and muddling high end; however, the PA will result otherwise given the heavy emphasis on bass/mids as opposed to high end. I highly recommend them for DJ/Studio work, but the attenuation requires a little practice before taking them into the booth for a paying gig. other pluses: super light weight, beautiful design (do not attract attention), sturdy as hell.

  • Reply January 4, 2012


    Would you recommend TMA-1 or M50? How would you compare these two?
    I am not intending to amp or EQ. I think im just gonna use it as it is.
    I mostly listen Electro, Trance but sometimes Hip-hop and acoustics.

    • Reply January 5, 2012


      The TMA would be great for Electro and Trance. Hip Hop and Acoustics, the M-50.

  • Reply March 30, 2012

    Tan Yu Xuan Remus

    Hi Mike, between the TMA-1s, Hd-25 and Dt 1350, which one woulf you recommend for mainstream pop, pop/rock, rock, kpop, a little acoustic and vocal, and a small amount of dance/trance? You said the TMA would be too dark for pop, but you recommended the Phillps L1, which are even darker, for pop.  I think none of these 3 can do all these genres perfectly, so can you help me pick 2 for these specific genres? Many thanks!

  • Reply May 28, 2012

    Igor Sryvkov

    after surfing through a number of forums, I find that the most eagerly awaited upgrades to recent models would be the Aiaiai TMA “Studio” and the V-Moda Crossfade M-100. Hope their manufacturers don’t forget to put you on their mailing list for reviews. I like the way you (and the guest reviewers you choose) do them. I’ve read most of your articles, even though many of the headphones you’ve critiqued are ones which I can only dream of having. Power to Headfonia. BTW, I’ve decided to go for the VM80, instead of either the TMA-1 or the ATH-M50.

    • Reply May 28, 2012


      Thanks, Igor.

      Lieven will be getting the TMA Studio. As for the M-100, we’re still unsure.

      • Reply June 12, 2012


        Should be on its way this week!

  • Reply August 16, 2012

    Gernot Hanser

    Hi, very nice review!!!

    I own the TMA-1 for about a year but I was not often able to listen to them.

    Now it is time again and when I going through all reviews everybody is “talking” about a punchy/boomy bass. I simply do not hear it. I have also the AIAIAI tracks and they really have a punchy tight and boomy bass (for my taste and for this kind of headphones).

    Out of the TMA-1 the bass is not even a 1/8. Could it be that there is something wrong with the TMA-1 or do I listen too less loud or because I do not EQ them?

    I tried them on my arcam rpac, on my centrance DACport but no punch no boom and no tightness in the bass. 🙁

    What could it be?

    As you can imagine/see I am not a expert or audiophile – so I am very sorry form my poor explanations.

    Can you please try to give me your opinion?

    edit: I was listening to house, d&b and also nice bass driven funky music.

    Thank you very much!

    • Reply August 17, 2012


      The funny thing about the TMA-1 is that I believe it’s tuned a certain way to work with house and all those other club music. With normal music, the bass is just wrong, but with club music, it just works.

      • Reply August 18, 2012

        Gernot Hanser

        Mike, thank you – I tried some Hotel Costes as well and I have to say with some songs/tunes I really was impressed from its sound suddenly – I also put the cans very down on my ears, at a position where I would normally not put other cans and it increases the bass sound so yery much.

        Thanks again!


        • Reply August 18, 2012


          Yea, it works really nice with the likes of Hotel Costes.

  • Reply November 24, 2012

    Dominik Howland

    Hey Mike! I am looking for nice portable cans with great, punchy, tight and fast bass for Drum&Bass (like noisia, spor, memtrix ect.), dubstep (like phaeleh, skream, mala, coki but also harder dubstep/deathstep like brainpain, balkansky…) and glitch hop (like koan sound, culprate…). My budget is about 250€.
    I don’t want them to be too big like my ath-m50, which are not very comfortable for portable use and I don’t want the sound to be oddly colored – just a fun sounding pair with awesome, clean and deep bass (yes I would name myself a basshead ;)). I also think my music would benefit from a good soundstage!

    I was thinking of the aiaiai tma-1 paired with the digizoid zo², the vmoda crossfade m100 or the beyerdynamic cop! Which one would you choose in my situation?

    • Reply November 29, 2012


      If you want a cleaner and deeper bass, try the DT770 80Ω.

  • Reply December 30, 2012

    Steven Setiawan

    This headphone totally awesome for club music Mike ..and i prefer this one than hd25 for my preferences taste.. . btw iam the man who is won the suit game .. 🙂

    • Reply January 9, 2013


      I know it’s brilliant right?

  • Reply January 9, 2013


    Hi Mike,
    Do you know where is place selling the earpads for TMA-1 in Indonesia?

  • Reply February 1, 2014


    I just got a TMA-1X, and what a surprise. Right out of the box, just a tiny bit shy on the treble, although most people would be fine with it as is – certainly for portable use. Mids are perfect – what can I say? Bass is better than perfect, or maybe the bass is “just” perfect and the other aspects are less so. The bass doesn’t have “punch” in the same sense I heard in the Senn Amperior, but has more real weight. Like a ATH ESW9 only better. I haven’t tried comparing it to the more pricy headphones I have (for critical comparison), but it sounds great even for twice the price. But, it looks very inexpensive, especially the earpads. Still, comfy enough for long-time use.

    • Reply February 1, 2014


      I refused a review cause the Studio wasn’t that good

      • Reply February 1, 2014


        It’s a systemic problem with low-cost headphones – whether to invest the time with them. I got this in a swap and was favorably impressed. But the unknown is does every sample sound the same? No way to know.

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