When you think of buying a pair of headphones, you don’t generally think about purchasing them by the part, but that’s exactly what AIAIAI wants you to do. The TMA-2s are AIAIAI’s newest model of modular headphones. That means everything from the headband to the cable is subject to your every whim.
You can head over to AIAIAI’s site and use the company’s handy configurator to help you figure out which components make the most sense to you. We were sent enough pieces to build two pairs. For bands, we got to try the rugged silicone band ($50), the comfort band ($60), the all around drivers ($65), vibrant drivers ($90), leather over ear pads ($50), microfiber over ear pads ($50), straight cable with mic/button ($25), and the coiled nylon cable ($25). As you might be able to tell, a fully built headset will cost you a pretty penny. Each model we assembled in the office was well over $150 total, so while it won’t necessarily break the bank, it’s not something you’re picking up on a whim.
Since the focus is modularity, though, you’re not getting anything like bluetooth wireless, noise cancelling, or anything along those lines. You’re paying a premium for the modular nature of the TMA-2s. Thankfully, they don’t fall flat in practice. Just in terms of comfort, these are one of the most comfortable headsets I’ve ever placed on my dome. I’m talking melt-into-your-head comfortable. I forget I’m wearing them half the time. The build quality is deceptive. They don’t seem terribly premium until you start using them. Once you do, you realize the understated look and feel that gives way to the modular functionality is actually surprisingly sturdy, easy to use and swap, and rather handsome. Coupled with the rich, full, strong sound profile (depending on which driver you choose), the TMA-2s have quickly become my favorite pair to wear while editing.
Unfortunately, though, you’ll need to know what you want before you build & buy because there isn’t a tryout option. With prices of components so high, you’ll want to be super sure, too. Thankfully, the configurator provides you with loads of information about each component and each driver’s sound profile.
What gets me really excited about AIAIAI is the modular nature. Maybe in the future, they’ll put out a headband that brings wireless bluetooth functionality to the line. One could even envision a world where colors and materials are even more customizable. I love what AIAIAI is doing and hope more companies follow suit.
Here’s the thing with the AIAIAI TMA-2s. They’re for a specific kind of person. If you’re looking for more bells and whistles, this isn’t the pair for you. However, if you’re someone who cares deeply about audio, and you want the kind of control over your headset that only modular can offer, then these make a lot of sense. Plus, they’re kind of the only game in town for modular headphones so far as I can tell. If you’re a musician, DJ, editor, or anyone who would need to wear headphones all day, I can’t recommend these highly enough. Would I buy them personally? Absolutely. They’re a delight to wear, and a feast for the senses… well, just the one sense, really.
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