Best Headphone immortal Review 1 - A BIT BUSINESS

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Saturday, 2 November 2019

Best Headphone immortal Review 1

AIAIAI TMA-2 Review: An Immortal Headphone?

The AIAIAI TMA-2 Modular System (Jeff Li/IBTimes)

There have been recent controversial experiments on human bodies that have the potential to make immortality possible - by continuously swapping out body parts that age and need replacement, even the head!

AIAIAI has created a similar headphone system that allows for any part of the can to be swapped out, creating potentially an immortal headphone that will never become irrelevant.

But as everyone knows - immortality is only fun if you can stay young and beautiful like the Cullens in Twilight, so, it's not a matter of 'if' it can, but the question is: should the AIAIAI headphones live forever? From my time spent with the TMA-2, I say yes. And here's why:

More modular than Frankenstein

I normally do not include the unboxing experience in my reviews, because as interesting the process might be, it normally adds little to the actual use of the product. But in the case of the AIAIAI TMA-2, the packaging is directly related to how the product is used. I have never seen headphones coming to me in seal packs of parts - it's more what you'd expect when opening a set of LEGOs, or unpacking a new bookshelf kit from IKEA. There's something about opening individually sealed components that is both fun and exciting, a feeling you won't get from opening an already finished product (Think model car kits versus diecast car models).

Two headphones worth of components already allows for all sorts of interesting experimentation (Jeff Li/IBTimes)

However, the TMA-2's modular design is not made just to give you that DIY feeling. Customization is the name of the game. The AIAIAI website has a headphone design page (Simply labeled: Configurator), where you can choose your own combination of the headband, speaker units, earpads, and cables. For each combo, the configurator will let you know what kind of sound profile you can expect. This means you get to choose from the type of cushions that's on your headband, on-ear or over-the-ear pads, wired or wireless - any combo to your heart's desire.

The changeable ear pads have unexpected results for me because frankly speaking - such modification has not been possible in the past. Most of us simply do not know what effect changing the earpads have on the sound of our cans. Switching between on-ear and over-ear pads, I found that even with the same speaker units, on-ear pads (E03 model) gives you slightly less bass but a wider sound stage, whereas over-ear pads (E04 model) produces a more focused sound stage and heavier bass.

With the latest offering of Bluetooth enabled headband, this modular system has also proved itself to be able to stay relevant through its upgradability. For example, you might have been one of the early adopters of the AIAIAI modular system and have come to love the sound profile on your speaker unit, but you want to get into the wireless headphone game. Instead of buying a new headphone - you simply purchase the new H05 headband, and your favorite sound is now suddenly cords-free.

I wouldn't be surprised if AIAIAI came up with active noise canceling edition of their headbands next, and will continue to keep up with whatever trend headphones manufacturers decide to go through its modular ecosystem.

Tireless minimalist visual (Jeff Li/IBTimes)

An ageless visual

Staying perpetually functionally relevant means the visuals should also need to be tireless in its appeal. The TMA-2 does this with a clean, minimalistic design. Going in the completely opposite route from manufacturers like Beats, there is almost no branding on the headphones, except an AIAIAI logo on the bottom of the headband where it will normally be hidden from view; nor does the TMA-2s have any color scheme choices - all components are in glorious matt black, with the only exception to be the option to get colorful cables to satisfy those who want a bit of spice in their mix.

The minimalism works very well for any look: whether you're on your way for a business meeting, on your aspired DJ gig, or even listening to some classical music on an old record player - the TMA-2 never looks out of place.

Timeless sound signature

AIAIAI makes it plain to anyone who visits their website that they are not aiming for reference headphones - the TMA-2 headphones all have a profiled sound. But that does not mean that they sound terrible at all. The Neodymium 40mm dynamic drivers in comparison with IEMs, for example, could lead you to the conclusion that the TMA-2 lacks in detail. But the detail is not everything. I found that the AIAIAI sound to be extremely fun and enjoyable to listen to - so much so that I dug out many of my old favorite music collections and found the sound to be so pleasing that I couldn't take the headphones off.

As the speaker units are profiled, I did find that for certain albums - Jamiroquai's 'Travelling without moving' for example, the S02 speakers with a downward slope sound profile did lack in color in the higher frequencies. But all it took was a little boost in the higher ends in the equalizer to bring the whole sound alive. In contrast to some recent KPOP offerings with its colorful and bright sounds, the default sound profile of the S02 was just right, with no equalizing needed.

Both the S01 and S02 speaker units that I tested had a gritty but not overly sharp sound, which I found to be perfect for rock and metal music. Whereas highly detailed headphones would produce a sound that quickly fatigues the ears when the distorted guitar and cymbals crash, the AIAIAI speakers capture the energy of the music with its dynamic driver sound that is familiarly organic and - timeless.

Who is the AIAIAI TMA-2 for?

Coming out from Denmark, AIAIAI adheres to the classic European philosophy of using a product for years, even decades, with repairs through its lifetime to keep it chugging along. This is a far cry from the modern Western short-lived product life cycles that are caused by both un-reparability being built into the product design, and the fast-changing trends that give products very short-lived seasons.

The AIAIAI TMA-2 is made for those who want a pair of headphones that will give you an enjoyable sound - which you can customize to your liking by swapping out components at a fraction of the cost of getting new headphones. If you want headphones that will last for years or even decades (Dare we say: forever?), infinitely repairable, and upgradable - AIAIAI's offering will meet these needs like no other currently on the market.

David is a tech enthusiast/writer who is often on the move and is on a mission to explore ways to make his overhaul flights more enjoyable. This is a contribution to an ongoing IBTimes review series on gadgets for Business Travellers.

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