Wireless TMA-2: Modular Headphones Gain Bluetooth Headband
Danish headphone company famous for its modular architecture AIAIAI just launched its latest addition to its TMA-2 family: a “smart” headband called the H05 that transforms the TMA-2 into a fully wireless pair of headphones. This move comes just months after the release of Apple’s iPhone 7 that (to the chagrin of wired headphone users) does away with the traditional headphone jack.
This move forced wired headphone users to either buy a bulky adapter to use the smartphone’s charging port as a traditional headphone jack, or purchase wireless headphones. As a result, a way to convert existing headphones into wireless ones presents a considerable advantage because consumers can continue to use the headphones they are accustomed to, but without cables. AIAIAI, a company devoted to minimalistic audio products, releases their smart headband to allow TMA-2 users to wirelessly use their headphones without purchasing a whole new pair or appreciably altering their headphones.
The H05 Smart Headband
At time of publication, the AIAIAI smart headband is on Kickstarter, where it almost doubled its initial funding goal of $43,336. Owners of existing TMA-2 headphones can buy just the smart headband for $90 (as of November 16, this is the cheapest Kickstarter “reward” available – there was a cheaper option of $65 but that has sold out).
The cheapest way to build an entire pair of TMA-2 headphones with the wireless option comes in at $205 ($90 for the smart headband, $25 for microfiber on-ear pads, $65 for their entry-level driver, and $25 for a coiled 1.5m cable or a 1.2m inline mic cable).
However, if you purchase the total headphones on Kickstarter, AIAIAI will discount the price of all the aforementioned parts to a total price of $165. Once the smart headbands are officially released, their price will climb to $125 and AIAIAI’s cheapest wireless headphone will now cost $240. While that is considerably more than AIAIA’s non-wireless headphone’s, it remains considerably cheaper than the Beats Solo3 Wireless that retail for $399.
Christian B. Lorentzen, the Head of New Product Development at AIAIAI, noted that preserving the modular ecosystem that AIAIAI users are familiar with remained the top priority of AIAIAI when introducing wireless capabilities. Lorentzen notes:
“At first, we intuitively focused on creating a new speaker to introduce wireless technology to the system. But that felt wrong somehow, as it would be limiting to have only a few wireless sound configurations. That’s why we came up with this idea of integrating the Bluetooth module into the headband, to maintain that 100% modularity.”
Why a Modular System?
Alonside certain Sol Republic, AIAIAI headphones are some of the only headphones that can be purchased modularly, with consumers selecting specific options they want (speaker quality, headband size, earpad size and material) and omitting options they don’t require. (Editor’s Note: certain Pioneer DJ, and Sennheiser models have replaceable parts, but not a modular, ground-up system)
AIAIAI co-founder, Frederik Jorgensen, notes that
“The modular system creates the ultimate flexibility for our business and our customers, as well as a more creative way of interacting with our products. This adaptable, versatile approach to our headphones offers radical new opportunities for future product development, enabling us to expand the system to create better options for our users.”
For instance, a TMA-2 can be converted from an on-ear design to an over-ear design with just the purchase of new ear cups costing just $40.
Are Wireless Headphones For DJs?
Despite freeing DJs from the burden of cords, wireless headphones have struggled to gain traction among DJs who feel that the idea of relying on wireless transmission presents more challenges, like latency or signal interruptions, than benefits. Most DJ setups currently do not feature bluetooth capabilities, so DJ adoption of wireless headphones seems far off.
That said, AIAIAI’s headphones represent a good value for DJs due to their replaceable parts. If one element breaks due to heavy use, a DJ, and not having to buy a whole new pair of headphones, can simply replace the part. Perhaps DJs who already use the TMA-2 would purchase the wireless headband and DJ normally with the cord, but listen passively with the bluetooth headband without cords.
Learn more about the wireless TMA-2s on the official Kickstarter project here.