For years, the dream of truly wireless and low-latency headphones designed for production and performance have been somewhat out of the reach of DJs and producers. Now our long-time friends at AIAIAI have cracked the code and have released a must-check-out product: the TMA-2 Studio Wireless+.
Why Wireless Headphones Now?
Traditionally, the perfect combo of low-latency, relative affordability, low interference, non-in-ear wireless headphones has been something that no company has really been able to achieve. I actually have fond memories of a set of wireless over-ear headphones from Radio Shack that simply failed to resist interference and required a bulky plug-in transmitter. They were fun, but ultimately their mediocre build quality meant that I destroyed them years before I’d start actually DJing.
At DJ Techtools, we’ve long been supporters of AIAIAI’s TMA line. Back in the early 2010s, they were the stylish and quality underdogs to headphone giants like Sennheiser. They listened to DJs and producers and continued to develop their products over time. With the launch of the TMA-2, the headphone system became fully modular – allowing DJs to mix, match, and easily replace components in the lineup. Even if one part gets damaged due to use and/or abuse, you can replace it without junking the whole thing.
The TMA-2, but Wireless.
I’ve been trying out a set of these TMA-2 Wireless+ headphones for a few months now as they finished development, and it has been a pretty great experience. “What’s new” is actually the H10 headband (which has W+ Link ultra-low latency wireless, Bluetooth 5.0, and cable connection methods) and the X01 transmitter (for sending audio on W+ link).
Theoretically, the H10 headband can be used with any of their cans. For launch, though, they’re only offering the TMA-2 Studios because it feels the most tuned, polished, appropriate volume – along with some other tweaks that aren’t quite ready yet on the DJ cans.
What’s to like about them
Generally, in the DJTT store, we try to stand behind every single product we carry. Instead of other massive mega-shops, there’s a testing period where we check out a piece of gear and use it in our own studios/DJ booths/gigs before we decide “hey, this is good, let’s sell it”. That’s what happens when you have a gear store that’s actually run by real DJs and producers. The TMA-2 Wireless+ system checked a lot of positives for me.
Here’s the highlights from my review notes:
- Most important: the latency is stable and reliable – AIAIAI claims 16ms, and I never found that to be “too slow” for DJing or production. Generally, humans detect auditory latency gaps at about 20-30ms.
- Impressive battery life on both headphone and transmitter (it easily was able to last through a 3 hour DJ set, and still had 75% battery on the transmitter. Obviously volume and other factors will impact battery timing, though).
- Predicable (in a good way) sound quality that reflects the legacy of TMAs even in Wireless+ mode. Apparently, the dual-antenna setup in W+ means that it can transmit uncompressed audio “multiple times in parallel” – which helps avoid dropouts and quality reduction (compared to Bluetooth, which uses lower quality codecs in transmission – see AIAIAI’s graph below).
- USB-C charging on both the transmitter and headphones means it’s fast and easy – no looking for a proprietary cable.
- The on-headband buttons took some getting used to to figure out which one did what, but having the ability to adjust volume (in W+ and Bluetooth modes) and pause/play/next (in Bluetooth mode only) wirelessly is incredibly useful.
- Fit for all-day wear: I lost my Airpods and used the TMA-2 Wireless unit for an entire work day – they functioned great as wireless Bluetooth headphones and were comfortable to wear for the entire day with the studio cans.
- They’re plenty loud for studio use, and AIAIAI is working on increasing the volume for DJ use as well.
If you consider grabbing a set of the TMA-2 Studio Wireless+ units, I’ve plopped our own store embed below. Meanwhile, keep reading to hear my thoughts on the “next” thing from AIAIAI, likely to be the DJ version of these headphones.
What’s Next: TMA-2 DJ Wireless+
AIAIAI has mentioned to me that they’re still refining the experience of the TMA-2 DJ Wireless+ experience. It’s an interesting, good-to-see approach in our industry in that they actually care about the experience of DJs in events before releasing a product. With my feedback and feedback from other DJs in their beta program, it seems like there’s still some revision to be done before they’re selling the complete package targeted directly at DJs.
That didn’t stop me from throwing some DJ cans on the TMA-2 H10 headbands and testing it myself during a gig back in December. First and foremost, it’s an absolute joy to be able to use headphones wirelessly during a DJ gig – especially if you’re a performer who likes to move around the booth. Say goodbye to that moment where you’ve accidentally wrapped a long headphone cable around yourself and have to spin in a circle to release it. Feel free to walk over to the the side of the stage for a moment or even come around to the front of the booth to say hi to someone who came to your gig. The experience is comparative to the change between wired and wireless earbuds, akin to the move between wired earbuds and wireless Airpods.
Look forward to another review update in the future when the TMA-2 DJ Wireless package launches. Have an idea for a product we should check out for the store? Let us know in the comments below.