Published on June 4th, 2015 | by Greg0
AIAIAI TMA-2: Design Your Own (Serious) Headphones
Some degree of customization has become commonplace in many industries- you can obviously choose the color of your car, and everyone has begun to expect a wide selection of different cases and accessories for your phone and even laptop. But few companies will let you modify the components in the finished product- and if they do, they might just offer two options to make things simple. After all, production and assembly lines and even packaging and instructions aren’t really set up to allow for so much flexibility.
But AIAIAI has found a way with their TMA-2 Modular Headphones. They’ve created a few presets, allowing you to select your desired pair based on your use case (everyday, on the go, in the studio) or music genre preferences (electro, house, R&B, pop, even country). There are even sets based on artists, like Bonobo or Nightwave or a special one from Young Guru. But the coolest set might be your personally customized one, created using their nifty configurator tool. We started from scratch and built own own unique pair, ending up with the “S04-H03-E04-C06″ shipped to us and delivered just a couple of weeks later.
The S stands for speaker units, and you can choose from four different driver units (similarly sized but with different materials and characteristics), ranging from $65-$100. Each component gets added up separately to the final total, but we wanted to give you a range. Our drivers sounded pretty apt based on the description- an unusually crisp and detailed signature, a little bit focused on the mids and highs, capable of some deep lows but best for operatic, acoustic, or any music where you can hear and appreciate the wide range. A trio of headband options basically boils down to your desire for cushioning (which adds weight and cost of course).
The E(arpads) come in flat, low-profile types for lightweight portability or more traditional on-ear cushioning. We opted for the over-ear style, with memory foam covered with polyurethane leatherette, offering a closed, sealed environment with less external noise. They were a little tight, but loosened up over time, and were perhaps the best part of the TMA-2s thanks to their plush comfort. And even the cabling comes in a few styles, like the one we went for, the Apple-compatible microphone and control cord. Other options include short or long coiled cables, straight ones, or an alternate basic microphone/remote smartphone that isn’t MFI (made for iPhone). Altogether, you can expect to spend from $145 to $260 for a set, which is well within the normal range for the various setups. We would have loved more color options and cosmetic enhancements- they are, after all, pretty basic-looking in the end. But they certainly don’t sound that way, and have held up well over a month or so of testing- and you can tell folks you designed them yourself. Available directly primarily, with some presets more widely.