AIAIAI Tracks Headphone

Okay, what’s a designer headphone doing in a headphone enthusiast website?

As I’ve mentioned in the blogs previously, I’ve been playing around with entry level portables, trying to find an ideal portable for my personal use. It’s not because the UM Mage custom IEM is lacking. I still think that it’s a very good IEM that betters all the $300 universals I compared a while ago, but lately I’ve felt that the IEMs isolate me too much from my surroundings. You see, while there are moments when it’s nice to be completely immersed in music, there are other times when I want music to be playing, yet I still want to be hear people talking to me without having to constantly taking the IEM on and off. I find that the entry level portables allow me to do this, as most of them barely block your ears, and there are zero isolation from your surroundings. The problem is, after having used to high end gears, finding an entry level portable that can satisfies enough becomes a big problem.

I’ve auditioned a lot of portables like the AIAIAI, some worth mentioning, but most are really bad. Stuff like the Portapros (original or LE) and the PX100 are okay. I think they’re nice, but I never really clicked with them. I also bought a PX100-II, but I don’t really like what Sennheiser has done to it. I think the mainstream, non-audiophile users may like the new PX100-II, but I think the AIAIAI is the better cans. Also, while the Sony MDR-570LP I reviewed recently is fairly unique for being fairly midrange oriented, it is not the best sinergy for most classical music that I listen to, and its pads actually isolates outside noise very well, not what I’m looking for, in this instance.

Enter the AIAIAI Tracks headphone. When I heard about the AIAIAI brand last year, I emailed them asking for a loaner for a review. Surprisingly, they are the only company who replied saying that they don’t have any loaners to lend out. I suppose that they’re selling a lot of Tracks headphones in Europe, where AIAIAI is based. Eventually I bought the AIAIAI Tracks headphone, just to hear what it sounds like. I actually thought that the PX100-II would be my ideal portable cans, but my instinct turns out to be wrong.

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31 Comments

  • Reply April 17, 2010

    Noir

    interesting review, anyway where can i find this headphone to buy? especially in indonesia?

    • Reply April 17, 2010

      Mike

      There is a store in Mangga2 Mall that sells a lot of Skullcandies that has the AIAIAI. I got mine from Stereo @ Plaza Singapure in Singapore.
      Cheers.

  • Reply April 18, 2010

    Noir

    what i didn't know that there's a store in mangga2 mall that sell those audio stuff.

    mind to give the store name? isn't kantong kresek or le galeria right?

    • Reply April 19, 2010

      Mike

      Sorry I don't remember the store name, just go over there and look around. 🙂

  • Reply August 27, 2010

    Tri Nguyen

    Hi Mike,

    I used to have a Px100, I didn't like strong bass of Px100, but the build quality is really good. How about sound and build quality of AIAIAI compare to Px100

  • Reply November 3, 2010

    kernelpanic

    Hi Mike,

    Damn good site you have! Really good reviews you make! I have a question to you: Can you compare the Tracks to the AKG 518 oor 530 shortly? I'm looking for a portable headphone that isn't so much noise reducing like the 518. I simply can't hear the traffic. Is the Tracks much bader in sound quality? Could you recommend some ohter cans? Like I said, the should be portable and discret and have accectable soundquality (I use a iPod nano, so the amps aren't so good anyway). Do you think a cmoy amp could make them sound a bit more better? By the way, my music style is electro, house, techno and stuff like that but pop or indie as well.

    Thanks for your help man!

    • Reply November 3, 2010

      Mike

      Kernelpanic! Damn flattering comments you said there man! 🙂 Thanks for the kind words.

      Tracks to the K518 or 530? Sorry I don't have them around. But here is the deal, in headphones, a bigger sized driver almost always produce a superior sound than the smaller drivers. So, in that sense, I don't think the Tracks would be able to compete in terms of technicalities with the 513 and 530. It will, however, let you hear outside noises better than the two bigger AKGs. The Tracks is generally a fun sounding headphone, and it's hard not to like it. I think it will go well with the electro, house, techno, pop, or indie. The bass is quite punchy, while the midrange is also pretty engaging — so that should cover your music pretty well.

      I don't think you need to worry about the Cmoy. The Tracks sounds good just as it is.

      If you want to look around, I'll recommend you to look at the V-Jays. It's been our favorite portable headphone for a while now. Here is a portable headphone shootout that includes the Tracks and the V-Jays: http://headfonia.com/ultra-portable-shootout-

      🙂

      • Reply November 4, 2010

        kernelpanic

        Thanks, I’ve read that too.

        I think the V Jays are too open an they are more expensive as well. The question was just like “The tracks or go on with your 518”. An I think the tracks don’t have much bigger drivers? Well, I’m going to make me a cmoy anyway, because the bass with the iPod and the 518 sounds acceptable if the volume is at max, maybe it could help getting more base into the low volumes.

        Thanks anyway! If you want I can share a test K518 – Tracks as soon as I get them.

        • Reply November 4, 2010

          Mike

          I have a chance to listen to the 518LE yesterday. Rule of thumb is that the bigger the driver, the more powerful bass you get. This was indeed the case with the 518LE, much more powerful bass than the Tracks. Obviously the two are tuned for different sound.

          On the other hand, I’ve listened to a lot of CMOYs and they don’t help with adding bass punch (I assume that’s what you want). You can tune them to add bass quantity, but not bass punch.

          I suggest you look into the AKG181DJ. It has very punchy bass. Likewise the Senn HD25-1 also has very punchy bass.

          • Reply November 4, 2010

            kernelpanic

            Ok, so much to the cmoy. But I’m not looking for a can with more bass punch, but more portable an not so much noisereducing ones.

          • Reply November 5, 2010

            Mike

            Okay, let us know how you like the Tracks.

  • Reply November 16, 2010

    cyberg00se

    Ok, I couldn't resist these little buggers, and I've put in my order over at AIAIAI. 🙂

    I have one question while I wait – how well do they keep sound from leaking out? It's the bane of all portable headphones, especially the open ones.

    I've got the Portapro LEs, and the VJays, and from reading your impressions, we agree on their sound. Who couldn't love the VJays? But they're open, and if these Tracks can keep everyone around me from knowing my musical guilty pleasures, they could be a handy headphone to have around. 🙂

    • Reply November 15, 2010

      Mike

      Oh, that is a difficult question. I’ve always feel that sound leaks are inevitable with these ultra portables, so I never really tested which leaks more than the other. Why don’t you try it and let me know? 🙂

      Come to think of it, I do have the AIAIAI and the V-Jays. I’ll try it tomorrow and get back to you.

    • Reply November 17, 2010

      Mike

      Tried it out just now.

      They do leak sound. I compared it to the PX100-II and the V-Jays, and while the V-Jays leaked the most, the three were not so far behind from each other, with the PX100 being second, and the AIAIAI being the least leaky.

  • Reply November 16, 2010

    Cyberg00se

    I always take the ultra scientific approach of putting my hands where the ears would go, and try to equal the clamping force. Or ask my husband if he can hear anything. The latter is a worse test because he's a deaf bass player. I remember my old px200s were pretty good at hiding your show tunes from the world. I wouldn't expect the performance of a big boy closed headphone, but if they didn't leak sound like a saggy diaper, that could br pretty awesome.

  • Reply November 17, 2010

    cyberg00se

    Well that was fast shipping from Aiaiai! DHL got here before they sent the noticed that they shipped. So ordered Monday, got here Wednesday. 🙂

    The funny thing is that everything about their cute factor just screams that they’ll be awful. I’m such a headphone racist. But fresh out of the box, they sound as fun as fun can be. Very close to the V-Jays, but darker, more muffled. Not a HUGE difference though. They’re everything I like in a portable headphone.

    Except they leak like an open headphone. Grrrr. Oh well. I always forgive these things if it sounds good.

    So score good for the “looks and sounds good” group of headphones.

  • Reply March 4, 2011

    soonkiong

    thanks for the review! i was searching high and low for a reasonable ultraportable as well and had settled down on a pair of Marshall Majors at 1st. they were ok but the clamping force on my ears was a bit uncomfortable after a few hours of wear. ordered myself a pair of AIAIAI tracks now hoping for the best.

    • Reply March 4, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hope the tracks fits you well.

  • Reply March 26, 2012

    Cieran Brown

    Hi Mike, I have another question for you 🙂

    I see you mention the Sony MDR-570LP’S in comparisson to the Tracks and I was wondering which do you consider having the better sound, ignoring isolation?

    I am particularly interested in bass performance and the size of sound.

    Thanks for any help!

    • Reply March 27, 2012

      Mike

      The Sony is warmer and has a softer, more intimate sound with good mids. The Tracks has more bass and is generally a more fun sounding headphone.

  • Reply May 31, 2012

    stereodog

    Hi Mike,
    I’ve just found your sight and as a headphone lover it is manna from heaven. Your comparison between these and the Sony MDR-570s is interesting because I’ve owned both pairs the other way round.

    I picked up the AIAIAIs cheap at TK Maxx a while ago but returned them quickly.

    Everything you say about the wonderful sound is true but for me portables like this simply must have good noise isolation. I use these kinds of headphones on the bus to work and I need something to block out other people’s tinny thumpings and not add to them myself.

    After trying many different models (incidentally you might want to check out the ultra cheap JVC Flats, surprisingly good sound but little isolation) I’ve finally settled on the Sony MDR-570s because they are superb at blocking outside noise. I find the sound on my mainly classical tracks a little muffled compared to the AIAIAIs but I’m willing to forgo that in order to avoid competing with someone else’s Dr Dre concerto played on the Apple ear-bud.

    Once again many thanks for a superb website.

  • Reply October 11, 2012

    P. J.

    If you read the manual it says that the mic is on the right wire so you don’t need those buttons to colour code the left or right headphone.

  • Reply October 30, 2013

    George Lai

    Mike, 3 and a half years later, and this is now USD75. Worth a punt for exactly the same reasons you’ve stated in this review? Portability, decent sound, non-absolute isolation, etc. Looks like a slimmed down Momentum On Ear too.

    • Reply October 31, 2013

      Mike

      Yes.

      But check out the AKG K420. Lots of people prefer the AKG to the Tracks. Despite the AKG selling for a little more than the Tracks here. For me, I’m all for the PX100-II heeyah — but mainstream opinion, K420 seems to be the modern PortaPro sound.

      • Reply October 31, 2013

        George Lai

        Heeyah? Glad I got the PX200 “pardnuh”.

        • Reply October 31, 2013

          Mike

          That’s why you ask before you buy. 🙂

          Don’t worry just made the same mistake buying tubes.. bought a pair only to have L diss it as “average”.

          • Reply October 31, 2013

            George Lai

            Sell to him cheap. Then he’ll say it’s good value! He lurves tubes.

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