DJ Mag Tech reviews the AIAIAI TMA-2 Wireless+, which sees the headphone giant team up with Richie
Hawtin to deliver the “world’s first” dedicated wireless studio headphones
AIAIAI has been at the forefront of headphone design since 2010. They first came to prominence with their modular approach, where the user can spec up and build a set of headphones for their own needs and uses. Alongside their forward-thinking attitude to sound, they’ve adopted using eco-friendly materials in their products as part of their sustainability drive, ensuring that their range adheres to the ethos of ‘responsible design’ and minimises their ecological impact.
Part of the appeal is that their products are designed in collaboration with many industry figures, artists and labels to really dial into what the user needs from a pair of headphones, be it for DJing, producing or general listening duties.
Their latest offering, the TMA-2 Studio Wireless+, is a collaboration with Richie Hawtin, who told DJ Mag Tech why he came on board: “I’ve been using AIAIAI headphones for years now and had been in communication with them since the start, giving feedback. One of the first things I liked about AIAIAI was their approach to modularity and being able to fix, change and update parts of the headphones without having to buy a brand-new pair. Also, over time your needs change; perhaps a new project comes up that needs a different style of headphone and all of this was easy within the AIAIAI eco-system of products and parts. We were always in touch about working more closely together and it was during my CLOSE LIVE shows that those conversations went deeper.”
“We believe the creative process is changing — music is no longer restricted to a static studio environment” — Frederik Jørgensen, AIAIAI founder
AIAIAI call them the “world’s first wireless studio headphones”, and yes Bluetooth wireless has been with us for a while and has been a decent way for users to go wire-free. But with Bluetooth, you don’t get the highest audio quality and the latency (delay between the transmission and receiving of the audio signal) is too high for professional music creation. What AIAIAI are delivering here is a system that promotes ultra-low latency and lossless audio using new technology, known as W+ Link.
Frederik Jørgensen, the founder of AIAIAI, explained why the company decided to explore this path: “We believe the creative process is changing — music is no longer restricted to a static studio environment, but has evolved into a much more free and dynamic process where music is being made anywhere and at any time. We had — and still have — a vision of empowering the creators by developing audio products that fit this new creative process.”
Richie added: “On a technical side, AIAIAI have been truly committed to the creative market offering flexible sets of headphones that have become staple parts of many artists’ setup. They listen, they create and are, in my opinion, a core part of our culture’s eco-system. Therefore, for me, it was the perfect collaboration — like finding another musician that you would be happy to work with in the studio!”
The TMA-2 Studio Wireless+ package includes the headphones and a separate transmitter both powered by a rechargeable USB power source. Users can expect around 15 hours of W+ use.
AIAIAI’s W+ Link technology has been specifically developed to deliver a stable and robust connection across wireless audio. This means that creators don’t have to worry about dropouts and lower fidelity audio while using the headphones and can be assured that the audio delivery is equal to what they are used to with wired phones. We were really impressed with how the headphones sounded, testing them both in wireless and wired form, as well as against traditional wired studio phones.
We can safely say there wasn’t any difference in performance or audio delivery. We pitted them up against our go-to reference studio phones, the ADAM Audio SP5s. These headphones have a clear neutral sound which is perfect for studio purposes. By comparison, the Wireless+ are very similar in terms of the soundstage and sonic delivery. The SP5 has a slightly more lifted mid-range than the Wireless+, but this is very slight. This gave us confidence when using the Wireless+ in the studio, knowing that we were getting a true reflection of the audio without colouration, which can happen in some so-called studio headphones. We actually tested them against a set of phones three times the price as well as budget (but brilliant) studio phones to make sure they’re perfect for studio creation. The Wireless+ passed this test with ease. The headphones have great clarity and a nice soundstage, offering detailed playback across the frequency range.
In terms of the range of connection, we walked from room to room and the signal was still solid. When we wandered outside of the transmission zone the headphones cut out but back in range they instantly connected again. The technology that AIAIAI have adopted for this setup is solid and offers a real-world usable solution for anyone wanting to experience wireless technology in the studio.
“Strange how something like removing the tether of the cable can generate such a profound feeling”
Richie adds that the wirless element allows for a freedom in the studio that adds to the production process: “There’s a subtle but profound difference when using our new wireless headphones. Being unconnected to the mixer, or your other instruments really is empowering and just allows you to move. All musicians move when they perform, some more than others, and it’s that freedom to just ‘do what you feel’, and not worry about any wires getting in the way that brings a new level of enjoyment. Freedom in movement, freedom to be in the flow, as that’s where and when the magic happens.
“I love the flexibility in our headphones’ design that allows you to use them in so many different situations. Knowing that our headphones can fit into many different situations is another part of the freedom of using them!”
Being free to do what you want any old time — the Studio Wireless+ offers creators freedom from the wire.
Being pedantic, it took us longer than a few seconds to pair the transmitter with the headphones.
A great-sounding pair of headphones. The wireless element makes for a liberating studio and user-listening experience.
Build Quality 9/10
Ease of Use 9/10
Value for Money 9/10
Sound Quality 9/10