Technical Office Party #1: Aiaiai’s Tma-1 Headphones


Let's get technical (technical)! With the bearded fat one about to squeeze his way down our chimney in the next month or so we decided we should start reviewing a few pieces that'd site nicely in those woven red over-sized socks. 

Whilst you can get your super in-depth geekery from other esteemed publications – who do all of that very well – we thought it'd be much more R$N to assemble a crack team of good people that know their stuff about various other instances of use when it comes to gear. Oh and we also let Ciaran join in too – who to be fair is a trained sound engineer. The office we inhabit (most of the time not literally) ranges from a record label, a long standing London club institution, a booker of highly esteemed disc jockeys, as well as us our own gaggle on this side of the room. We claim to be a mixture of "professional players of records, aural enthusiasts and someone who likes riding his bike a lot and pounding the streets of London."

Kicking off this new series, starts with a look at Danish audio design company AIAIAI and their very popular TMA-1 headphones who very kindly furnished us with an office pair to review.

Taking their name from the reoccurring monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s epic science fiction masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey 'Tycho Magnetic Anomaly-1’ they're an incredibly sleek pair of cans. 

Dedicated to "developing high quality audio products for everyday use" AIAIAI’s TMA-1's were designed and developed with the likes of Carl Craig, James Murphy, Matthew Dear and many others.
"Informed by a heritage of Scandinavian design, AIAIAI strives to create high quality, accessible audio products" and they're also part of the design collection at San Francisco Modern Museum Of Art no less.


But more importantly how do they sound and how do they function.  Here's what our experts thought;


Really impressive set of headphones. The more I've lived with them, the more I love them.  

I stopped DJing ages ago. These days, I'm a listener and a collector – if you like – on both vinyl and on digital via the R$N promo bombsite inbox.

They come with two cables. One of them twirly ones for those DJ lot and a straight one for us normal people. The straight one has one of those very handy in-built mics so you can do things like have a conversation on your phone and look like a mental person talking along to a spoken word track on your walkman. Something I've done on more than one occasion

I've tested these out in a number of situations with a number of different records and styles and I'm finding it difficult to find fault with them.

The Good Stuff:

Headphones to cancel out the rest of the world:

The office is pretty noisey most of the time so to have these to block all that and out and to have the clarity they deliver is a joy.

Great for walking the streets:

I like a good stomp and have the luxury of being able to walk to my office in about half an hour so with these on the ears it's an even pleasureable walk to be able to listen to new music without any other distractions.

Not great for riding bikes:

All I hear is the wind. You shouldn't be wearing headphones when riding a bike anyway! To do this though I'll need to get some good in-ear ones.

Great for trains:

Cancel everything out. Makes them bearable from someone so intolerant of people

The Not So Good Stuff: 

Not great with glasses:

I wear glasses so they can get a little uncomfortable with extended wear – something everyone in the office with goggles on commented on. I'll have to sort those contact lensese.

Bleed for others:

My girlfriend's comments on these last night when I had them on "Are you sure you've not got that too loud?".  Which means there must be a fair bit of bleed.

The Verdict:

These have made listening to music in a confined environment a joy again. Were it not for the slight discomfort over my glasses they'd be a 9. Even my brother likes them and he's a miserable old sound engineer who likes nothing when it comes to audio gear that I'd normally go for.

Cans out of 10 8.5


The Good Stuff: 

These are a quality sounding set of cans – particularly as you can now pick them up for a very good price.  They’ve got nice rich bass tones and full bodied mids, and performed well across a range of genres – for the record I had Fat White Family, Skepta, Arvo Part, Atoms for Peace and some New York vogue tracks run through them and they all sounded crisp and meaty as a well done roast. 
They also don’t seem to leak very much, so you can rinse out your tunes on public transport without seemingly like a belligerent NEET.   
The cable comes out. I still can’t understand why some decent headphones don’t do this. 
They look nice and sleek

The Not So Good Stuff:

I find them uncomfortable to wear for extended periods. They really grip your head, and it genuinely gets wearying after a while.
I can’t imagine how you’d use these for DJing – the cans don’t swivel which is frustrating. They’d be a bugger to pack in your bag without breaking as well. 
They really expose the flaws in lower bitrate mp3s (essentially anything under 320kbps) – not really the fault of the cans tbh, but worth noting if you want headphones to listen to a lot of stuff online.

The Verdict:

These are a good buy for the price. I wouldn’t recommend them for DJs (and def not for producers, they colour the sound way too much), but for home/ on the go listening they deliver a good sound for a fair price, and look nice while they do it.

Cans out of 10 – 7



The Good Stuff:

Particularly good in the low to mid frequencies. very thick and warm sounding. Really good overall clarity. 

Ideal usage – Casual listening of electronic music is best. Made for things with punch. If your track’s got punch it’s going to shine.

The Not So Good Stuff:

Feel there’s a slight lack in the higher frequencies but it might be my ears. 

The Verdict:

For their purpose you’re not going to get much better than that! 

Cans out of 10 – 8


The Good Stuff:

When I looked in the mirror on my way out the door, my first thought was that they’re too sleek and modern to adorn an old persons head like my own. I felt like I was being dragged 20 years into the future, which can be quite a shock for someone my age. On the plus side, the matt black compliments my grey hair nicely so I guess they get a point for that. 

The Not So Good Stuff:

Not excellent in the noise-cancelling department but great for general everyday use. 

The Verdict:

Very clear sound, perfect for my ageing ears, with a nice clarity to the lower frequencies.

Cans out of 10 – 7

Benny The Ears

The Good Stuff:

A beautiful set of cans, aesthetically pleasing and comfortable, loving the rubberized matt black finish and overall design. Sound quality is warm and rounded. Put em on, party for one…. Go!

The Not So Good Stuff:

My personal reservation is as a DJ headphone, they don’t fold, they don’t sit right on one ear and I’m not sure they’d deliver volume-wise in all situations.

The Verdict:

Don’t buy em to DJ, buy em to listen and perhaps touch the rubber…..

Cans out of 10 – 7

Dolores Carmine

The Good Stuff:

A pleasant tactile finish and sleek and sexy…

The Not So Good Stuff:

…until it comes to the sticky-out cans which are too prominent for a lady such as myself.  

The Verdict:

The sound is much clearer than my current AKG ones but I would choose something less bulky if I were searching for a new pair.

Cans out of 10 – 6


The Good Stuff:

Other than being significantly quieter than my regular listening devices, I think they’re rather impressive. I’ve always preferred headphones that surround the ear, for comfort more than anything, but I love the clarity on these as I listen through the Alan Partridge audiobook has been rather crisp.

The Verdict:

Good for wearing around the house/office and most certainly suitable for reviewing music, the times that I actually listen to the stuff before writing. Solid pair.

We’re doing the Strictly thing now are we? Can I be Bruno? Actually, going to have to be Len…

Cans out of 10 – SEVEN!

(P.s. How comes I don't get a cool nickname? I want to be 'Max Power – Professional Hairdryer)


Transducer Principle: Dynamic, closed
Driver Unit Size: 40 mm
Impedance: 32±15% Ohm
Load Rating: 0.1W
Frequency Response: 20 to 20.000 Hz
Total Harmonic Distortion: <0.3%
Sensitivity: 110±3dB Weight w/o
Weight without cable: 190 Gram

Comes with and without three button in-line remote w. microphone. For music control and calls. (Apples own chip)

Having rectified an issue with the headband, the headphones now come with a 3 year warranty. 

Well worth some of your hard earned cash. Buy them here

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