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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127 Comments

  • Reply October 20, 2010

    Bebop McJiggy

    My friend got a pair of these that I changed to be dual entry, instead of the mini to mini cord on one side. They really aren't bad. Perhaps I like things to be a little on the dark side though.

    They completely removed the background hiss from a few recordings, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your point of view.

    • Reply October 21, 2010

      Mike

      Looks like a cool mod, although lately I've preferred single entry for portable/semi portables due to the convenience factor. Interesting comment on the background hiss though.

  • Reply October 21, 2010

    Kelvin

    Hmm….clipped highs. Not my thing already, then.

    • Reply October 21, 2010

      Mike

      It really depends on your music. The highs are not clipped as in "cut off", but they are attenuated. For songs that have agressive highs (and there are a lot of them these days), the TMA-1's attenuated highs happen to be perfect.

  • Reply October 21, 2010

    Dave

    I got a pair of these, sounds really great, I'm not sure the clipped highs is a dramatic as mentioned, but the review is pretty much on point.

    They are super sturdy, and for the price are the best I've used.

    Plus they don't look like you have a transformer on your head like some other brands….Not into the super tech looking headphones.

    • Reply October 21, 2010

      Mike

      Thanks Dave, yes the clipped highs are not as dramatic as it may seem, again depending on the music you listen to. If the music has agressive highs, the TMA-1 is just the right headphone for it.

      I gave a friend a listen yesterday, and while he liked the sound, he felt that the clamping force is a very weak and it kept on sliding off his head. This is one issue that I think AIAIAI needs to fix on future batches.

  • Reply October 27, 2010

    Jr_Sr

    I'm interested to know how these would sound with Funk/Soul/Afro/Latin styles, in particular the highs of various horns and organs or the 'ring' from snares. Does the removable cable have some sort of locking mechanism to the ear cup? – like the twist function on some AKG's i think? Thanks

    • Reply October 27, 2010

      Mike

      Jr_Sr, thanks for the questions. Cable doesn't come with locking mechanism, unfortunately. Next, I am quite unfamiliar with your music, so can't say much about how it'll sound. Its hard to generalize how one headphone will sound with a particular instrument, horns for example. The variable in recording and mixing stages can result in different results. If the recording sounds hot on the treble with "normal audiophile" headphones, then it'll sound good with the TMA-1. Otherwise, you'll find it to sound dark and muffled.
      A weird way to describe a headphone, but it's true.

      • Reply October 28, 2010

        The Larch

        The 3.5mm jack in the phones do click in quite securely though. I'm glad their is no propriety clip, now I can make my own cable 🙂

        • Reply October 28, 2010

          Mike

          True. The cable does click in securely.

  • Reply October 28, 2010

    Eugen

    Weak review IMO.

    What does it say about the headphone other than the lowered highs?

    Like bass extension, soundstage, prat, resolution, tone … compared with the hd25-1.

    What does this headphone offer that a cut highs eq preset on the hd25-1 doesn't? 🙂

    • Reply October 28, 2010

      Mike

      Lol. Thanks for the honesty. People like you keep reviewers like me in check.

      I'll add in some more details in a day or two.

    • Reply November 2, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Eugen, here am I back with the missing information.

      Between the HD25-1 and the TMA-1:

      1. TMA-1 obviously have a better quality driver, being much newer in design (like 15-20 year gaps perhaps?). Detail, frequency extension, is much better in the TMA-1.

      2. Soundstage is better on the TMA-1. While the TMA-1's soundstage is nothing to boast about, it's belongs to the "better" ones in the class. The HD25-1's soundstage is quite non-existant.

      3. The HD25-1 is quite forward sounding. Focus on vocals is very good. The TMA-1 is more laid back, and it doesn't "zoom-in" on the vocals the way the HD25-1 does. The HD25-1 can be likened to a milder version of Grado's forward sound.

      4. Bass texture, clarity, and low bass is much better in the TMA-1. Bass punch is quite powerful, though the HD25-1 is still the champ in bass punch. The HD25-1 is not very good in low bass.

      5. Ergonomics wise, I still prefer the tighter clamping HD25-1. I also feel that the pads material, either the synthetic leather or the verlour options to be better in the HD25-1.

      6. Cables are tougher in the HD25-1. At least it will lock more securely than the TMA-1's.

      7. The HD25-1 is "brighter" in comparison to the TMA-1. It's a semi-bright headphone actually.

      8. The HD25-1 has an awesome PRaT, mainly because of two things: the forward presentation, and the tight and punchy bass. The TMA-1 is not so far behind though. The bass is also tight and punchy, but overall, the HD25-1 is still better with PRaT.

      That's all I can think of, for now. 🙂

      • Reply November 2, 2010

        Eugen

        Mike, now you made me want to try this headphone …. 🙂

        I had the HD25-1, the HD25-13 and I even had the HME25-1 (sold it a month ago because I broke the microphone). Out of all these the HD25-13 is the best. And it works well with portable sources too … despite the 600ohm, the efficiency is high.

        • Reply November 2, 2010

          Mike

          Hi Eugen,

          I guess the most important thing is the attenuated highs. If your recordings don't have boosted highs, then the TMA-1 will sound too dark. And I don't think you'll be able to appreciate it, despite the better resolution the drivers have over the HD25-1.

          I've never heard of the 600 ohms version before, but I suppose the driver comes from the same technology as the standard 70 ohms version. It's a good driver, but I think it's about time Sennheiser comes up with a new HD25-1 replacement.

          I do know that Senn has released a HMD-26 (the headset version for TV crews).

          • Reply November 5, 2010

            Eugen

            That hmd-26 probably has the driver of the HME25-1 inside, not a new driver. The HD25-1 is a reference … they can’t replace it, and won’t. Why do you think they released so many updates and versions while changing nothing?

            • Reply November 6, 2010

              Mike

              I agree the HD25-1 is revolutionary, but even Ferrari updates their excellent V8 lines.

      • Reply January 29, 2011

        Martin

        thanks, mike

        finally THE REVIEW after a while 🙂 I’v been using HD25-1 for ages, but been stolen recently :/ now I’ve came across of TMA-1 and really considering to buy them for DJing drum’n’bass only. After reading your review I’m really tempted:) well, well, i think it deserves a shop visit 🙂

        • Reply January 29, 2011

          Anonymous

          Awesome. Keep in mind though, you’re going to find the TMA-1 much darker
          than the HD25-1.

          • Reply January 29, 2011

            Martin

            just realised I’m using ER9 custom earplugs during my dj performance, sound with HD25-1 was just fine . wondering if this will make TMA-1 sound even darker. obviously I can’t really test this in the shop environment. I really like the TMA-1 design but if it should effect the sound confort I rather stick with HD25-1
            appreciate your opinion.

            • Reply January 31, 2011

              Anonymous

              Martin,
              If you think that the HD25-1 is fine and not too bright, then the TMA-1
              would be very dark for you.

              • Reply January 31, 2011

                Martin

                thanks for opinion. I’ll rather stick with HD25-1 🙂

  • Reply October 31, 2010

    le masseur aveugle

    A very funning thing i have noticed. Wesc bongo pads have the exact same size than the aiaiai pads, and reproduce a very good sound, somewhere between the leather pads and the foam pads of the aiai, incredibly clear but still powerfull and quite non-fatiguing.

    • Reply November 1, 2010

      Mike

      Ah, thanks for the input. I’ve got to try that out sometimes.

  • Reply November 7, 2010

    kernelpanic

    Hi Mike, it's me again.

    I've been thinking about getting these headphones and selling my AKG K530 and 518. So I know right now that the Tmas are good for DJing and all kind of electronic music, stuff like that. But can you tell me about SQ in general? So not only Aiaiai worked with the EQ (btw, can it be fixed with a 3 or 8 band EQ to get a more linear sound? For producing it might be a bad can and I'm not listening to electronics all the time) but if it is better than my K530 if you know them. Or maybe you could compare them to the K518.

    Btw., the K530 are superior for the price (50€). Good soundstage, no spongy fequencies, a bit more bass then linear headphones and a very analytic sound compared to the Sennheiser HD 595 which is very warmed compared to the AKG.

    And are the foam pads really so bad? I could imagine using them in turns with the leather pads when I want to hear my environment. But if they are useless and can't be tuned with a EQ to get near the original sound or a linear one, I can forget them immediatly and get the Tracks and keep my K530 for shure.

    And the Tracks don't have the same 40mm drivers as the Tmas, do they?

    Ok thanks man for helping again. I have to be really annoying by changing my mind all day 😀

    • Reply November 7, 2010

      Mike

      Kernelpanic, I'm glad I can help you out. I don't think it'll be easy to EQ out the Tracks (or any other headphone) to make a non linear headphone to be linear. Especially not with portable players that I assume you'll be using with these cans.

      For a portable that doesn't isolate the sound too much, I think you'll be happy with the Tracks.

      I'm not sure what the driver size on the Tracks are, but looking at the housing, it should be smaller than the TMA.

      • Reply November 7, 2010

        kernelpanic

        Well I thought not to EQ the Tracks but the Tmas, either with a selfmade (also for walking around) or with Abletons software EQ.

        So you think the K530 should be the better ones if linear sound is needed?

        • Reply November 8, 2010

          Mike

          I'm not sure about the K530, as I've never listened to it. I think you should drop the idea of a linear sound, as the definition of "linear" varies from one ears to the next, and I can't be sure of the kind of "linear" you are looking for. To my ears, beyer DT880 and T1 is pretty linear, but they lack midrange body for a lot of people, and they are not portable.

      • Reply November 7, 2010

        kernelpanic

        Ok I forgot this:

        The EQ should be done with the foam pads, so I knwo i can't make them realy linear but more "normal" sounding compared to the characteristics it shows with the foam pads.

        Btw. I read the Tmas and the Tracks have both 40mm drivers.

        • Reply November 8, 2010

          Mike

          Interesting. The TMAs and the Tracks both have 40mm drivers. The TMA has a higher resolution than the Tracks though.

          About the foam pads, the sound is quite bright and thin, and it would take a massive EQ down at the treble and EQ up at the bass to make it linear. Again, not easy to do, and may cause distortions at that point.

      • Reply November 8, 2010

        kernelpanic

        Ok forget about the EQ. The point is, that you can't EQ physics.

        Pitty, I would have bought them if they were usable with foam pads. Let's see wath aiaiai says.

        • Reply November 8, 2010

          Mike

          Well, give them a try.. if your music have a lot of treble, they will sound nice and fairly linear on the TMA-1.

          • Reply November 9, 2010

            kernelpanic

            Hmm final question is wheter the Tmas with foam pad sound better than the Tracks. But I think not, right?

            • Reply November 9, 2010

              Mike

              Tmas with foam pad sounds very dry. I still enjoy the Tracks better.

              • Reply November 10, 2010

                kernelpanic

                Thanks. I’ll get the Tracks and wait for the Tma 2 to be improved.

  • Reply November 10, 2010

    Pat M

    These are very interesting indeed. The descriptions make it sound like no other headphone before it from aesthetics to sound. A strong and precise bass that doesn't muck up the rest of the sound, an attenuated treble that still extends and remains clear, a fine midrange to compliment. Hmmmm. I certainly like the idea of a clear and non-fatiguing treble. Though this type of coloration certainly compliments club/techno, are there any genres it would absolutely NOT work with or would these work pretty well as a versatile, all arounder?

    • Reply November 10, 2010

      Mike

      Thing is, you won't get the impression of the clear sound unless the recording is hot in the treble.

      Good news is, most modern rock, pop and hip hop are hot in the treble. Jpop stuff are also quite hot in the treble.

  • Reply December 3, 2010

    david tae

    I am debating between tma's and hd25-1ii…

    I listen to some r and b….and acoustic

    and I want to be able to use the headset to listen to me when I play my guitar……

    what would be better in your opinion?

    • Reply December 3, 2010

      Mike

      David, TMA may not be too good for Acoustic. Now as for listening to your guitar, I have no experience in that. Do you have a current headphone that you use, perhaps you can tell me what you like/dislike about the sound.

  • Reply December 3, 2010

    david tae

    wow that was quick. Actually I live in Seoul,Korea, and I don't got the ability to listen to these two. (I have to import it)
    I just use my crappy itouch headphones…

    I want quality sound, portability, and the ability to block out panhandlers on my way to work.

    and if possible, I don't want headphones that will make girls run away. :p

    It's so hard to choose between tma-1s and the hd25s….

    I listen to stuff like jason mraz, john mayer, but also black eye pea's to tu pac….

    • Reply December 3, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Dave,The HD25-1 have more genre bandwith than the TMA-1. I suggest you go that way. Also get the Adidas edition if you don't want to scare the girls. :p

  • Reply December 3, 2010

    david tae

    dang I was hoping you would say the tma-s….=/
    they look so nice…
    how would acoustic sound on the tma's ?

    would it be real muddy?

    I also hear the hd-25-1 ii is pretty tight on the coconut..and ears.

    • Reply December 3, 2010

      Mike

      Lol. Just get the tma-1 then. It's a nice headphone, and my “guessing” can be wrong anyway. :p

  • Reply December 4, 2010

    Konstantin

    Hi Mike, my current rig is HD650 with Burson 160 amp and Xonar Essence as source. Half of the time I listen jazz and rock, and love that sound. Other half of the time I listen house, trance, techno and that sound i not love. I feel tired after 10-15 min of listening, probably because of bad recording quality (everything overcompressed) + too much treble.

    Is tma1 good choice as second headphones in my situation?

    • Reply December 6, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Konstantin,
      If you find the HD650 to have too much treble for techno and house, then the TMA-1 might be the right solution for you. I also don't notice the bad recording as much when I'm listening with the TMA-1 headphones. Another headphone that you may also like is the ATH Pro700 headphones. My DJ friend prefer it to the TMA-1 as it has even less treble than the TMA-1.

  • Reply December 7, 2010

    matt

    So are these generally bad for anything but club music? I listen to hip hop and jazz, and only some songs I find too much treble. I have a pair of M50's. Will songs that I find perfectly acceptable on those be muddy on the TMA-1?

    • Reply December 7, 2010

      Mike

      It depends on the recordings. A lot of pop and Jpop these days are actually pretty hot as well. If the songs are fine on an M-50, then it would be muddy on the TMA-1.

      • Reply December 7, 2010

        matt

        Hmm….I do find a lot of my music very slightly hot on my M50's. I like the highs on my HD428's a bit more since they're rolled off, but I wouldn't call them muddy as there is still plenty of detail compared to the rest of the frequency ranges. So is the TMA-1's mudiness that severe or could it be perceived as rolled off? Sorry if I just restated my question haha. I'm just trying to get a clear picture of the sound. I was looking at these cans as a portable solution.

        • Reply December 7, 2010

          Mike

          Hi Matt,If you find the HD428 to be good, then you might find the TMA-1 too dark. Again it depends on recordings.

  • Reply December 7, 2010

    matt

    Alright. Thanks for the info Mike!

  • Reply December 21, 2010

    HiQualiT

    i like the fact that its great un amped and on things like ipods where i can easily just switch the preset eq to treble booster. i was set on getting the ath-m50 but after reading your review and others i think i have changed my mind and now feel like im more interested in the tma-1s. i hope the higher price is worth it over the m50s.

    • Reply December 21, 2010

      Mike

      I was listening to the TMA-1 the day before yesterday. I'm pretty much convinced that the TMA-1's driver is more resolving and is more refined than even the Audio Technica's M-50. Somehow it was able to create a pretty killer layering of the instruments, something that I've never heard out of a headphone at this price level or size. The bass is also well controlled, tight, deep, powerful, and most importantly, the headphone has the ability to separate the bass notes very well from the rest of the instruments.

      I tried to take it to a local meet last month, but not many people was interested in it, except for this DJ guy who uses it with dance and club music and such. I think the tonal balance, where the treble is attenuated, is just far too hard to be accepted among the regular headphone enthusiasts who's been used to more "normal" headphone presentations. Often the comments I get is that it's all-bass, it's veiled, it's muddy and such. If I can find a way to bring the treble levels up a bit, then I'm pretty sure that this will be a killer portable headphone.

  • Reply December 29, 2010

    Mike

    Thanks, I've tried quite a number of cables with the HD25, including the Cardas. 🙂

  • Reply January 18, 2011

    ray

    As a direct comparison with the sennies, they feel quite heavy over. The sound is nowhere close to the hd25. Having own the 25sp as well i would say both sennies beats this otherwise beautiful looking wannabe.

  • Reply January 25, 2011

    Kurt

    Hi Ray,
    sorry that I don't agree with youabout the TMA-1. It's definately not a wannabe! In this price range you'll have difficulties to find any better. I have made music for years myself and I came across afew. But as always it's personal taste.
    I am very happy with it and we have taken it on in our shop (www.thedesigngiftshop.com) because we are convinced!

    • Reply January 25, 2011

      Mike

      I'm not sure I get your point there, Kurt.

  • Reply February 3, 2011

    Tom

    Honestly… The TMA-1 is dark when flat, BUT they respond very well to EQ. The EQ really helps and makes them a true contender with a wide range of music.

    • Reply February 4, 2011

      Anonymous

      I can see that, yes. Have you tried it with techno and house music though? Its not dark at all with those music.

  • Reply March 5, 2011

    Anonymous

    Hi great review! I’m looking for a pair of closed headphones at the $200 range and I can’t decide between all the options! I listen to mostly hip hop and pop music but I also enjoy the occasional electronic or acoustic song. I’m having a really tough time choosing between the TMA-1s, the HD25-1s, the ATH m50s, and the AKG K181djs.

    The specific questions I would have are: How is the clarity on the TMA1s? I keep hearing that they have a very “dark” sound but I’m not too sure if that means muffled or lacking in detail or clarity. I tend to enjoy headphones that have a good PRaT and are detailed. I guess I really enjoy hearing things in songs that I haven’t heard before. Thats the big problem I have in choosing between the HD25s and the TMAs because although I’ve heard that the HD25s are clearer due to their brighter presentation, I keep hearing that the drivers are showing age and the TMA-1s could provide more detail. The ath m50s come in because they seem to be the standard headphone at my price range and they seem to combine the clarity of the HD25s with the detail of the TMAs, but I can’t help wondering if their lower price means that they are somehow lacking. the AKG k181djs were considered due to their similarity to the HD25s.

    Choosing between all these headphones is making my head spin and it doesn’t help that most TMA-1 reviews on forums feel a lot like FOTM reviews @_@

    I would really appreciate your input! Thanks in advance!

    • Reply March 5, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Jason,
      I personally feel that the clarity of the TMA-1 is among the best in its class. HOWEVER, the treble attenuation is very real as well, and with the average recording, you WILL feel the headphone lacking detail and muffled. This headphone can make my HD650 sound bright in comparison!

      I think the TMA-1 remains the most enjoyable headphone for club music. Simply because of how those music often have excessive trebles. I also find it great for some fast JPOP tracks that tend to have dance/techno like beats. Other than that, I think the TMA-1 won’t have quite the same genre bandwith as the HD25-1. If you listen to mostly Pop and Hip Hop, then you won’t notice the lack of resolution I mentioned, but you will notice that the sound is fun and that the bass is really awesome.

      The M-50 is a better all rounder. But the bass is just not as punchy and pratty as the HD25-1. It’s a more relaxed headphone than the HD25-1. Most Pop today tend to be fast-paced, and the HD25-1 will suit them better. But you can go with either the M50 and the HD25-1 and that will be a better all rounder than the TMA-1.

      Cheers.

      • Reply March 5, 2011

        Anonymous

        Thanks for the lightning fast reply! I’ve been listening to a lot of Kanye West’s new album and I feel like it has some excessive treble so now I’m really itching to try out the TMA-1’s now so I guess I’ll have to search chicago for a place that holds them now.

        Which headphone do you feel like you have the most fun listening to? I currently have SR60s and I want to relive that feeling when I first put them on. That kind of “Wow!” feeling where you smile through your whole music library.

        • Reply March 5, 2011

          Anonymous

          I haven’t heard Kanye’s new album, but if you’re listening to it through
          the SR60s, then the headphones may have a lot of contribution in that
          excessive treble feel. Indeed if you’re listening to the Grados
          currently, then the TMA-1 will be a pretty massive jump in treble levels
          than what your ears are used to. Not recommended. I’d still go with the
          HD25-1 recommendation.

          • Reply March 5, 2011

            Anonymous

            Thanks so much you’ve been a great help!

            • Reply March 5, 2011

              Anonymous

              Happy to help, Jay.

  • Reply March 5, 2011

    Hanjie

    awesome review so… should i get the hd25 or the tma-1? can’t decide. where is the tma-1 made?

    • Reply March 5, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hanjie,
      There has been a lot of discussion over which headphone to get between
      the TMA-1 and the HD25-1. If you read the comments section, I think
      you’ll find them helpful.

      PS: I have no idea where the headphone is made.

  • Reply April 8, 2011

    iamidaho

    Hi Mike, This is a great review. Lots of people weighing in on the choice between the TMA-1, HD-25, and ATH-M50. This is pretty much the situation facing me: Going to be on an airplane for 10+ hours. Need a set of headphones that are going to isolate really good. IEMs aren’t an option because taking them out and putting them on frequently is a pain. I’ll have an E7 amp with me to help drive whatever phone I’m taking. The source will likely be an iphone 3gs with 320kbps mp3 or a ipod 5G running rockbox with FLAC. I enjoy classic / hard rock like Pink Floyd and Rush and more contemporary alternative like Linkin Park and also JRock, and CPop. I like the sturdiness of the TMA-1. Aesthetically I think I like them best. But I’m not sure how the isolation of on-ear compares to the over-ear of the ATH-M50. Does having an amp, albeit not a spectacular one, change your recommendation between the three? Or if you have a different set in mind altogether, I’m open to suggestions. Price range is about 200 USD. Thanks for your input! Keep up the good work.

    • Reply April 8, 2011

      Anonymous

      Easy one. HD25-1 with no amp.

      • Reply April 8, 2011

        iamidaho

        Thanks for the quick reply! Will the Fiio E7 (since I already have it) make the HD25-1 better? I’d like to think I have an average skull size. Is the tightness of the headband a big of an issue as some of the reviews seem to make it? I’m guessing this tightness is directly responsible for the superor sound isolation.

        • Reply April 8, 2011

          Anonymous

          I really don’t think an E7 would be necessary if you’re using the
          HD25-1. But of course you can add it in if you want the bass boost.

          The headband is moderately tight. It’s quite necessary to get the
          isolation that you want. I think after a while you’ll get used to it,
          depending on what headphone you used previously. But it’s never gonna be
          like you’re buying a super comfy headphone like the HD558/598.

  • Reply May 4, 2011

    Canni

    Hey Mike, there’s a review over at anythingbutipod saying one of the cons (dependant on tastes) of the tma-1 is having weighty, “thick” sounding mids. Is this similar to how you were describing the esw9? I have the es7s and felt a little bit of this “thickness” and didn’t enjoy it, partly also I was coming from airy-er (to my ears) phones like the d1001 and re0s. Did you experience this thickness with the tmas?

    I personally prefer a neutral presentation (with gd low punchiness) and am pretty set on the hd25 after your recommendation and a test at a store. I’m hanging on the trigger cos the comfort n looks of the tma seems interesting. Decided against the dt1350 in the end cos I reckoned the comfort will be similar to the es7s which murder my earlobes everytime…

    • Reply May 4, 2011

      Anonymous

      Canni,
      The ESW-9 is a super warm, thick sounding hi-fi headphone. The TMA-1 is
      voiced quite differently. It excels in house, dance, techno and other
      club music. I don’t think people would enjoy listening to the TMA-1 for
      the average Pop/Rock song.

      If you like the voicing of the HD25-1, then the TMA-1 would be off to
      you. In fact, the TMA-1 is quite different than most other hi-fi
      headphones as it is voiced specifically for club music and for DJs.

      • Reply May 4, 2011

        Canni

        Many thanks Mike. Looks like I’m pretty much set on the senns. BTW, just out of curiosity, I saw that you have tried different cables for the hd25. Do they really make a difference? I was pretty tempted with the headphile sennv2 cables but from the pics they look pretty thick for outdoor use…

        Or am I better off saving up for a ALO RX mk2 to open up the soundstage? While on the subject of amps, I read your excellent portable amp review and is it safe to say this amp will not alter the hd25’s basic sound too much? I’ve only had experience with a fiio e3 and a govibe (believe it’s magnum) and they both thickened the sound a bit. I admit I’m new to this hobby, so sorry for not being able to describe well why I’m adverse to this “thick” sound. Maybe it’s cos I listen to a gd amount of acoustic n I like that “crispness”…

        • Reply May 4, 2011

          Anonymous

          Nice.

          The cables do make a difference, but how much of a difference? That’s
          the relative part. The headphile cable’s build quality wasn’t that great
          IMO. I have also tried a cardas cable with the HD25-1, and I think it’s
          just as good, and the build is cleaner too. I’d say don’t worry about
          the cables for now. See what you think of the headphone after you get
          it, then we can discuss the upgrades better. Likewise on the amps.

          • Reply May 4, 2011

            Canni

            Ah.. MS1. My friend had one and I remember it being pretty good. But I’m gonna use the headphones in sch and the subway which means I probably need a closed back one…

            I listen to alt rock, electronic, blues, indie folk, jazz, with rock (and acoustic performances of those artistes) being the bulk of my library. Alot of oasis and incubus, hence my lean towards the hd25. Do you have any other recommendations I should also consider before pulling the trigger? I currently own d1001, es7 (going to sell) and re0 🙂

            • Reply May 4, 2011

              Anonymous

              If that’s the case, the HD25-1 will be perfect, especially with incubus
              and oasis.

              • Reply May 4, 2011

                Canni

                Alright. HD25 it is then. Thx Mike!

                • Reply May 4, 2011

                  Anonymous

                  I can already imagine the sound of incubus through those HD25-1s…

        • Reply May 4, 2011

          Anonymous

          By the way, if you listen to acoustics, perhaps the MS-1 would be a
          better choice.

          Closed headphones are not the best for acoustic recordings.

  • Reply August 15, 2011

    Music addict and photographer

    Hi Mike! I happened to stumble upon your site, and have been enjoying
    your concise and to-the-point writings for a couple of hours already.
    Apart from that I wanted to compliment you on your photography, and say
    thanks for helping me make up my mind as to what will be my next set of
    headphones.

    • Reply August 16, 2011

      Anonymous

      Thanks, music addict and photographer. 🙂

  • Reply September 27, 2011

    Crazywipe

    Hi Mike! Wonderful review, I need your help because i am in a total confusion…
    I listen about all genre focusing on acoustic,folk,rock,metal,electronic. And I compose some stuffs with ableton live and nanostudio(iphone)
    I listen mostly with my iphone 4.
    I can buy the tma-1 for 150 euro or the hd 25 basic for 170 euro, pretty close price.

    I readed some people say that the aiaiai is not good with rock-metal music because of the high, is that true?

    What’s the best buy for me?

    Just another little question: If i pair my iphone 4 with a fiio e11 will I upgrade drammatically the audio quality with these two headphones?

    Thanks a lot and sorry for my english!

    • Reply September 27, 2011

      Anonymous

      No problem with your english.

      I would recommend the HD25-1 precisely because of those things you’ve read. The treble of the AIAIAI is just no good for Rock/Metal/Acoustic.

      • Reply September 27, 2011

        Crazywipe

        Thanks Mike! Super fast answer. 

  • Reply September 28, 2011

    Brian

    Hey Mike! Great website and item reviews! Keep up the great work! I am currently in the market for my first set of good portable/semi-portable headphones. I was wondering what your opinions are on the tma-1 versus the sennheiser HD-25 1 II and the ath m-50? I listen to mostly 90’s hip-hop and jazzy hip-hop music. Which would be more suitable in your opinion? Thanks in advance!

    • Reply September 28, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Brian, thanks for the compliments.

      Between the three:
      The TMA-1 would be too dark for your music I think, primarily due to the treble response of the TMA-1. The HD25-1 would seem like the best fit. Good treble, tight punchy bass. The M-50 is not bad, but the bass is not as punchy as the Hd25-1 and that’s what you need to make hip-hop work, no?

      • Reply September 29, 2011

        Brian

        Thanks for the quick answer Mike! I appreciate it!

        Yeah punchy bass is always a plus! haha Would EQ settings help out the TMA-1 at all with treble response? Also, do you echo what other reviewers say about the HD25-1 sounding ‘cold’ and ‘mechanical’ at times? 
        Here are a couple links to the type of music that I would be listening to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeJk1iufPZk&feature=relatedhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1TB-vKkC1Q

        Thanks again!

      • Reply October 1, 2011

        Brian

        Thanks for the quick answer Mike! I appreciate it!

        Yeah punchy bass is always a plus! haha Would EQ settings help out the TMA-1 at all with treble response though or would it dilute the sound? I plan to use the EQ settings on a Cowon J3 PMP. 

        Also, do you echo what other reviewers say about the HD25-1 sounding ‘cold’ and ‘mechanical’ at times? 

        Here are a couple links to the type of music I would be listening to: 
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1TB-vKkC1Q&feature=player_embedded

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeJk1iufPZk&feature=player_embedded

        Thanks again!

        • Reply October 1, 2011

          Anonymous

          You can always EQ things, but it’s always best if you can get the right headphone first then only use minimal EQ for some recordings.
          HD25-1 sound cold and mechanical? It’s not the warmest or the smoothest sounding headphone around but I’ve made tons of HD25-1 recommendations and I don’t think one person has come back with those adjectives to describe it.

          • Reply October 5, 2011

            Brian

            Hey Mike! Great point. I’ll make use of that tip then. Thanks for the great answers and advice! Looks like I’ll definitely be picking up the HD25-1 in the very near future. I can’t wait to hear how great the music sounds!

            I’m glad that you like the Sound Providers! They’re a great group. I definitely recommend their album “An Evening with the Sound Providers” or any of their albums if you want to listen to them further. 

            Thanks again! 

            • Reply October 5, 2011

              Anonymous

              Yea, awesome music you got there!

        • Reply October 1, 2011

          Anonymous

          I just listened to the Sound Providers through the HD25-1s and they are simply AWESOME!

  • Reply October 11, 2011

    Lossendae

    Hello Mike,

    Despite the original signature, many review point out the fact that this piece is easily EQ-able and that with a good source, it besome “oddly” awesome.
    I even seen a c review who actually recommend to to some EQ  because it transcend the headphone quality drastically.

    Did you test this headphone only with an Apple source ?

    • Reply October 11, 2011

      Anonymous

      Well it depedns, I think the TMA-1 needs a 3-5dB boost around the top frequencies to make it behave more like a normal headphone, and frankly it’s just not going to be as smooth as a headphone that is tuned that way in the first place.
      But on the other hand, the resolution on the TMA-1 driver is indeed very good, and with the right set up and music, the headphone can really shine.

  • Reply October 18, 2011

    Krafte

    Hi Mike,
    I am not decided in which phones will be the best. I mostly listen to trance and progressive music, so I don’t know if tma-1 would be the best, or hd 25 or dt1350 would be better.
    Thanks 😉

    • Reply October 18, 2011

      Anonymous

      They would all be good.. perhaps the TMA-1 less ideal for progressive but very good for trance. The HD25-1 and the DT1350 better for progressive but less for trance. But again, it would depend on the artist, album, recording and so on.

      • Reply October 18, 2011

        Krafte

        I see, well then i would choose the TMA-1. Other thing, what do you thing about monster solo hd? is it a good phone or they are just other monster, overestimated?
        Thanks for the help

        • Reply October 18, 2011

          Anonymous

          The Solo, I think it’s okay. It’s not that bad but it’s also not too special. 

  • Reply November 5, 2011

    THEaxz

    Really good review for the AIAIAI Tracks bought them some months ago and couldn’t be happier.

    just gotta ask, which one is better overall. the TMA-1 or the HD25-1? and which one would u choose?

    • Reply November 5, 2011

      Anonymous

      The two are very different headphones. Driver wise the TMA-1 is better, but it’s tonality is too dark for many mainstream music. Most people I know prefer the HD25-1.

      • Reply November 5, 2011

        THEaxz

        okey but i like to listen pretty loud and pretty much bass not to much but i want some depth. which one of them can handle the deepest bass? and how is the midrange?

        • Reply November 7, 2011

          Anonymous

          Sorry can you paraphrase that question?

        • Reply November 7, 2011

          Anonymous

          Sorry can you paraphrase that question?

  • Reply November 17, 2011

    Johannes Bernsteiner

    i’m from austria and i can’t figure out what is ment by ‘ PRaT’ … please tell me

  • Reply December 3, 2011

    Kris

    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

    Dave

    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

    Joe

    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

      Mike

      Joe,
      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

      Mike

      Thanks, Igor.

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

      • Reply June 12, 2012

        L.

        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

      Mike

      Gernot,
      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!

        Gernot

        • Reply August 18, 2012

          Mike

          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

      Mike

      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

      Mike

      I know it’s brilliant right?

  • Reply January 9, 2013

    Hanny

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

  • Reply February 1, 2014

    dalethorn

    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

      L.

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

      • Reply February 1, 2014

        dalethorn

        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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