TMA-1 Heaphone Review

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Dj TechTools has been selling the TMA-1 headphones in the Webstore now for almost two months and in that time collecting feedback from customers and djs on their performance. It’s now time to ask the jury what they think about these slick new cans and finally put up a proper review. To give you a balanced perspective, we asked three different types of djs to test them out extensively and today I bring you their stories!

Charles FeelGood (Professional Dj of 20 years- Tours Extensively)

I recently got my hands on a new pair of the AIAIAI’s (try sayin’ that three times) TMA-1 headphone. I decided to test them out at my gig the very next night at On Broadway Niteclub in San Diego, a club known for killer sound, which would prove to be a more than adequate space to try these babies out. Designed by Danish design firm KIBISI, the TMA-1’s look like they belong in a Philiipe Starck showcase, instead of the case at your local music shop. The matte black finish is beautiful, made of a durable nylon material with an adjustable headband, using a “notch” like system. Much input was received from at least 25 Dj’s from various genres, 2Many Dj’s, A-Trak, and James Murphy – just to name a few.

There is no actual DJ Booth at the club, that being said, the phones did a great job in the noisy environment, with the cups fitting nicely over my ear, you could almost forget you actually had them on. An extra pair of cushions are included , and a nice thick removable cable with 3mm jacks at both ends and a 1/4″ adapter option. The bass was very punchy via 40mm drivers, but the mids were still clear and vocals also. I found the high end a little quiet, but with over 15 plus years on the road, I don’t doubt I’ve lost a little bit of the higher frequencies in my ears courtesy of one too many raves! I was able to crank them pretty good, so maybe the input given by various dj’s that helped with design was a factor (we all know the treble can be a bit annoying on some phones when you crank it up). If I had the TMA-1’s a long time ago, I may have just saved some of the higher frequencies I now lack-they are great in a noisy environment!

I find it very interesting that the the name TMA-1 (Tycho Magnetic Anomaly-1) is taken from Arthur C. Clarke’s science fiction novel “2001: A Space Odyssey” and refers to a Black Monolith, which is extremely long-lived and reliable, just as the TMA-1. I  love the ruggedness of them and feel as though they may stand up quite well for the touring DJ, as we are often forced to check bags and/or stuff overhead. I’ve been through many types of headphones and these have proven so far to be a favorite!

Chris Lim (Dj TechTools Engineer and Epic bedroom DJ)

Straight out of the box, AIAIAI’s new TMA-1 headphones immediately stand out from the competition due to their unique construction and eye-catching black matte finish. However, for obvious reasons a pair of headphones can’t succeed on looks alone and the good people at AIAIAI recognize this. Style aside, the TMA-1’s are durable (go ahead, drop them and see for yourself), comfortable (boasting two sets of earpads), and most importantly, they sound crisp and clear. Compared to some other popular dj headphones on the market, I found the TMA-1’s to be a little weaker in the low end (literature and reviews may tell you otherwise but hey, you hear what you hear); however, they had greater clarity in the mid and high frequencies, which personally I found to be more useful, especially when trying to pick out subtle effects or transients. If you’ve grown accustomed to cans that fit completely over your ears (as I had), the TMA-1’s may feel a little strange at first since they sit on your ears instead of covering them completely (if you have really long hair this could get annoying). But rest assured, they won’t fall off (unless you’re an extreme head banger) and you’ll quickly get used to their fit leaving yourself wondering why you even thought twice of it before.

Throw in the fact that they’ve been tested and and given feedback by a stellar lineup of dj’s and it’s hard to imagine that they left any major details to question. Putting subjective frequency response preferences aside (everyone has a little different taste, some like it flat, some like it extra bassy), the only thing i’d watch out for in regards to these headphones is that they are noticably louder than other dj headphones, which may be great to hear a cued track in a loud setting but, it also makes it easier to drive the headphones to near distorting levels if you aren’t careful. However, the detachable 1/8” jack into the headphones is an extremely comforting feature given that the number one killer of headphones is weak or broken electrical wiring.

MY PERSONAL TAKE ON IT

There is no question that these headphones are good looking. The sleek minimal design, color spectrum and overall style is very in step with today’s music and culture so we all hoped that they would also perform well! I personally don’t use over ear’s, instead opting for in-ear monitors, but I did get to AB the monoliths against the Ultrasone Pro-V’s and my personal dj headphones that stayed with me for years, the Sony MDR-7506. In a club environment, with blasting bass and crushing monitors- all subjective listening tests go out the window. In that environment- the questions are clear:

  • Are they loud?
  • Can I hear the bass in the club?
  • Do they cut through the mix?

Well, the answer on all of those fronts is yes. As compared to the other models, the TMA-1’s pronounced low and mid frequencies really punch through making it easy to reference your cued deck and beat-match without guessing. If I was forced to start bringing over-ears back into the clubs then there is no question I would probably opt for the TMA-1’s. My only complaints are:

1) They are super expensive

2) They don’t fold up into a nice tiny ball like some other dj headphones.

We found some Quotes from AIAIAI’s notable roster of tester Dj’s for the TMA-1’s floating around the net (from an ubergizmo article) and thought they might also help you make up your mind. To be fair, you should note that the tester dj’s were given alpha and beta pre-production models and AIAIAI took their feedback into account in the final pre-production stage.

  • “In general they’re louder and more focused than my beloved HD25s, and that’s great. They’re also nice and smooth without being flat. I like the options of cable and ear cushion as well” – James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem)
  • “Sound wise, they are great headphones, really can’t find anything at fault with them. But they are a little loose on my head and tend to slide off quite easily when I’m moving around” – Matthew Dear
  • “The imaging and crispness blow my Sony MDR-7506’s out of the water, and I like the Sony’s for their accurate imaging, crispness, and balance across the frequency spectrum” – Sam Valenti (Ghostly Intl)
  • “My first impression was that they slightly emphasize the mid-range over the bass and treble but that was just an initial thought that I haven’t really tested against other headphones. I REALLY like the design – the simple black rubber is very cool. And they are comfortable, and the way that the lead plugs into the headphones, I think is really good.” – Joe Goddard (Hot Chip)

There is no question these are not for everyone but for those that value loud, stylish headphones that don’t look like your average Sony headphones- they can’t really be beat. If you’re considering purchasing the AIAIAI TMA-1 headphones, please consider supporting your favorite DJ site and buy them from us 🙂

  • JGilla

    I’ve had mine for the best part of a year now, using them pretty much on a daily basis in the studio and they have been a ‘workhorse’ for me, no problems with the build quality at all (trust me, they get thrown around a bit). The sound quality is superb for what I’m using them for, mainly guitar/bass and my drummer rates them also (we are making folk/rock). I bought a pair as a gift for my brother in Australia, who makes tech/house beats in his home studio and he still text’s me about how chuffed he is with them. Nice one AiAiAi!

  • cheryl

    hello, I bought a pair of AIAIAI TMA-1 in august and I would like to know the warranty on them pls.

  • Conjur

    The problem I have noticed is that if bent back too hard, the headband will snap straight down the middle. This happend to both myself as well as my other friend who also has the TMA-1’s. This made them almost impossible to keep on your head while moving around. I was disappointed due to the fact I was under the impression you could bend them both backward and forward and they wouldn’t break. However the sound quality and fit (when not broken) is excellent. I would recommend them to any Dj but also warn them just to not bend them backward or they WILL BREAK!

  • dlfsahk

    I just bought these, and I must say I can’t find anything less-than-perfect!!

    I was motivated mainly by design, but the sound is just amazing, and the feel of the finish is like nothing I’ve ever touched. In my humble opinion the TMA1 are better than the HD25, and I would never use in-ear monitors since I find’em very uncomfortable
    for me these are 10/10… but, as the review says, maybe not for everyone

  • marioski

    Hey Radley

    I remember those shoulder-mounted phones. Do you know who made them? I am totally blank.

  • KingRichard1st

    I love Austins last sentence…! 😀

  • Influxrye

    What to get? These or HD-25’s? Hmmm

  • this look good for da prices it going 4 just hoping that it sounds good as you guys are saying if only we could have a test drive that would be a bounce but I if techtool had a way it was going to happen any thanks for da good review you guys never disappoint you always keep it real…

  • I’m quite surprised that no one is talking about the new line of Shure headphones, specifically the 750DJ model. 50mm drivers, range of 5Hz-30kHz, 8 ounces, detachable cable, built like a tank, extra set of pads, less than $100, etc. etc. etc. I’ve only tried a friend’s pair on but they seem really nice other than the leatherette cups.

    I’ve got a set of Sony MDR-7506s that I’ve been using for years with Beringer velour replacement pads (something you can do with your HD25s BTW, and let me tell you what a difference it makes to comfort and wearability over long periods). However, I will probably be picking up and pair of the Shures very soon.

  • Love the minimalistic design! Thanks for a great review Ean, hopefully I’ll get the chance to test these out very soon 🙂

  • Bucky

    Just got these. Amazing headphones–great lows, but enough clarity in the higher frequencies. Plus the design is killer–I am not big fan of oversized DJ headphones.

    I debates b/t these and the Sennheiser 25s–these have way better aesthetic. Great headphones in the price range.

  • Best DJ headphones I’ve ever seen was a single speaker, shoulder-mounted stand.

    The stand was about 4-8 inches high so the speaker was aligned with your ear. The base 2-3 inches wide and about 6 inches long and curved and weighed down with a couple of long black bean-bags that draped in front and back. The earpiece was a little bigger a Sony 600/900 ear.

    To listen to the cue, you’d just lift your shoulder a little bit and it pressed against your ear. The weight kept it in place when you were moving around and not mixing. No fussing around with putting on and pulling off your cans…

  • I use 10 year old Sony 900s. I’ve always had Sonys because of the curly cable.

    I’m surprised that the TMA-1 has it too. Worth considering =)

  • Anonymous

    rather buy 4 sony mdr 7506 for that price. but if i had the 200 clams to shell out on cans i would give these a try! love the marketing video makes me feel all warm and artistic inside being a dj

  • DJKeyWee

    I don’t care about how they look or feel on my head, but they have to sound goods.. and.. they don’t as per my own personnal taste. Sorry. AKG K181DJ and Sony & 7506 for me.

  • I don’t like the looks if them at all. I’ll stick with my HD 25-1-2

  • [quote comment=”39987″]When i logged in to the main page and saw this review I did feel Djtechtools were kind of doing the review to make some money if I am honest.
    [/quote]

    actually we did the review after dozens of people wrote in asking for it. I hope it comes across as balanced and fair- as the headphones are great but they are not for everyone and do have some dis-advantages that people should be aware of.

  • Tito

    One side monitoring is weird, they are very comfortable if you use both sides. One side is funky because you have to place one ear cup above your head

  • Thanks for a thorough review guys, I’m still not sure whether over-ear is the way to go considering my tinnitus but they seem like the sleek/pro alternative 🙂

  • RawUK

    When i logged in to the main page and saw this review I did feel Djtechtools were kind of doing the review to make some money if I am honest.

    Sell the HD-25’s as well and maybe get 20 dj’s to test both and i bet my decks it’s the hd25!

  • ArthurGe

    Nice design, crappy sound

  • Luciano using this headphones @ Pacha:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCT4E6t-bU0

    not his best performance though

  • enzo

    Anyone who has these phones, are you able to do one sided monitoring at all?

  • I will be checking those headphones out in the near future

  • I’m curious though…how durable are they in terms of joints and connections?

    I’ve been though several pairs of headphones because they all break at that one joint near the ear cup. Been using my old Sony MDR-V6’s for a long time now because they have metal there.

    I don’t go ballastic on my headphones. I baby them…they seemingly look like they can last for a long time. Expensive is worth it if you get 5-10 years out of them. Not worth it if they break within a year.

  • BruceMacD

    I got a pair of these shortly after they came out, I love them, but I think the packed in cord is way too heavy. I could feel it pulling down while I wore them. So I swapped it out, and now they’re great.

  • Cowboy Haze

    I have my Ultrasone DJ-1 Pros (as shown on Chris Lim’s left deck) for about 6 months now and I like them a lot… They were pretty expensive too, around $230, but the quality is top notch and I love the styling. Absolutely HUGE drivers (not quite as bass-boomy as I prefer, but very accurate and LOUD). Isolation is great, even in club settings, although on the opposite end of the spectrum you have to be careful with these if you’re sitting in the library (i.e. turn it down BEFORE you take the cans off to avoid aggravating/melting the face off your neighbors)

    The hard case it comes with is great, as are the interchangeable 3.5mm/quarter inch cables. Extra ear pads is a nice bonus, although they tend to fall off the cans too easily; you just sort of turn them into place without really locking them in… Other than that, my only real gripe is the range of pivot on the cups (you can’t turn them 180 or flip em over like a lot of models). Overall just really good-looking, high performance headphones that will add some oomph to your style if you have the greenbacks for it.

  • Noam

    I feel like every article in the past 6 months has been a cheap advertisement for things that DJ Tech tool sells, almost no good Ableton articles, always promoting what they are selling (a stupid 16 button midi controller FOR $125!?!?!??!!? GET TWO FREAKING AKAI LPDS!!!!)
    This is my official resignation from DJ Techtools, you guys use to be sick and insightful with real tips, now your just a shell of your former self and a cash cow.

  • minimal

    Yeah, Tito, u said it: let’s have a real head2head comparison of these cans with the Pioneers 1000, 2000, s25 in da club and heck, why not, in the subway.

    My beats have uberstyle too, not sure they were a great buy though considering my first pair cracked after 8 months…. So style, which seems to be high on the comments here, for me is no longer a valid factor for choosing a pair.

  • Lemo

    Really good review, enjoyed it. The headphones look amazing, do you know if they will be yet for sale for Christmas? 🙂

    Greets DJTechTools 🙂

  • Ill be sticking with my IEM’s…

  • Seems like great headphones but they look like ESPN football announcer headphones (for those football fans who know what I am talking about lol)… But unfortunately, I’ve moved on in-ear-monitors and recently monster gave me a pair of BeatsbyDre Pro headphones (WHICH ROCK!)… They are UBER-EXPENSIVE but I wonder if they are worth it… do a review of those headphones….

  • Tito

    Hi, my wife gave me the aiaiais as a present (I am a dj and she is graphic designer). they look awesome and their marketing strategy is very good. But being a dj for more than 15 years here are my opinions. I have tested in my home, in the club and in 5 hour flight. They sound just ok at home, in the plane are the best headphones I used it never tired of them because of the sound or comfort but in the club….. They lack of bass so if you have the subwoofers not very far they do not make difference. These cans stuck in the mids and many times the separation between mids and highs it is not present. There are better options IMO for the club, I own pioneer 2000 and no way can you compare against, even the hd25 (better isolation on senheisers). The pioneer 1000 are better for the club even the cheap panasonic retro style for 40 bucks. If you pre cue and do the eq before release the track, these babies can betray you. Now she uses in her office and is very happy and their colleagues wanted some badly. To resume, they look great and sound just ok, better than skullcandy, I think are expensive for what they are and if I had tested head to head to pioneers 1000, 2000 and the senheisers hd25 definitely I will not buy it.
    Cheers

  • Earlier this year, I had the honor of trying out a prototype version, courtesy of Pilooski, and the first thing that struck me was the look and feel. It’s really too bad they don’t fold or something like that, which is somewhat of a deal-breaker for me, but, at the time, I thought they were pretty decent sounding – good isolation, OK bass, well defined mids -, but this was all based on music I didn’t know well. And they look like they’ll last, too, which would justify the hefty price tag.
    That aside, I’m just really glad to see a new company put together a new, fresh, quality design that’s not just a re-hash of either Sony 700s or Audio Technica.

  • Bucky

    About to get these in the mail. Will post more detailed comments. Reviews are all positive–only negative would be the price. Sennheisers 25s are roughly the same price. I just felt headphones in the $100 range weren’t worth it–even the new Pioneer 500s.

  • In love with my Sennheiser HD25. Classic, simple and almoust perfect

    my next dj phone maybe a in-ear maybe Ultimate Ears 1 Pro

  • StrangeMatter

    I’m gonna stick with my Sennheiser OCX880s. Once you go in-ear, it’s hard to go back and I love the sound quality. Also, they arent super expensive so if I break ’em, I’ll just grab a new pair!

  • … in czech language TMA means darknes …

  • doubter

    “Sound wise, they are great headphones, really can’t find anything at fault with them. But they are a little loose on my head and tend to slide off quite easily when I’m moving around” – Matthew Dear

    THIS people

    really keep this in mind before you buy them, I have the same problem when I’m using them, you can not bow your head down without losing them 🙂 it may be the only downer for these headphones (for me) but in my honest opinion it weighs heavy on my thoughts to use my HD25s again instead

  • Very interesting, it seems that only personal taste would separate between the HP-25’s and the rather delicious looking TMA-1, they come across very similar in this review, tho I’m sure AIAIAI have done what they can to better the HD-25’s

    [quote post=”8781″]how does it compare to the HD-25’s in terms of comfort?

    Personality I find (ALL) over-ear’s to be a bit uncomfortable after awhile, but I think HD-25’s isolation and quality of sound is more important than comfort. [/quote]

    For me the HD-25’s are actually the only cans that sit om my ears, over my head and round my neck in comfort. I can’t stand over sized heavy weight cans, there’s just know need for headphones to be heavy and the cups to be massive.

    In some case’s the lack of fold ability may not be a bad thing, many of the folding headphones I’ve used over ears can be awkward in use, as cups that swivel are not always likely to be sitting in the best position when there round your neck.

    Ps – My fellow dj got his HD-25’s from his mate who worked at the BBC, apparently they would have huge full to the top trolly buckets of HD-25’s. Being from a broadcaster they even came with the mic attachment. They were kidnapped from the BBC over ten years ago, could well be much older, he’s replaced the cup foam and there due a new cable but apart from that they still perform brilliantly, I love the fact that every single piece of the HD-25’s is replaceable, tho parts aren’t cheap, it does mean that your HD-25’s will last for ever.

    Hopefully someone I know will get a pair of TMA-1’s, I’d love to compare them against the HD-25’s.

  • Great review! I’ve been curious about these ever since they popped up on the Ghostly website… Unfortunately (AND very fortunately), I’m in Goremay’s shoes – can’t justify another large purchase after my HD-25s. After heavy use for the last 2 years, I couldn’t be happier.

    But new gear…

  • Ando

    i love the look of them and am fond of aiaiai for the quality they build, i use the tracks with mic with my bb. but do they pay of for a bedroom dj and beginner or are other solutions of comparable quality better suited?

  • Goremay

    I’ve had my HD-25’s for about only 10 months, so I won’t be getting these, I’m afraid, but a friend of mine is looking. To me these AIAIAI’s are like a slightly sleeker version of my Sennheiser’s. The similarity is undeniable: great sound, over-ear, and durable (same price too). One question though: how does it compare to the HD-25’s in terms of comfort?

    Personality I find (ALL) over-ear’s to be a bit uncomfortable after awhile, but I think HD-25’s isolation and quality of sound is more important than comfort. Is it just me, or have they really made over-ear cans that remain comfortable after 2 hours of mixing?

  • Matt Gnarly

    Great review, these are looking like they’re gonna make it onto my increasingly long “To Buy” list.