AIAIAI is a brand that should need no introduction. Since their initial inception, they have more or less turned the DJ headphone market on its head with their revolutionary modular design. Over the years, the brand has released various additions to the TMA-2 lineup, including various drivers, headbands, and ear pads, which have generally been more geared towards DJs and casual listeners. With such a great and versatile project, it seemed only a matter of time until they turned their sites to the producer and studio space, and as such, they recently unveiled their new studio editions, the TMA-2 Studio and Studio XE. In this review, we'll be taking a look at both products, comparing their differences and how they actually hold up when put to work.
While the core of the two headphones is the same there are a couple of key differences that separate them. But, before we dive into that, let's talk about their genetic makeup. The TMA-2 Studio uses AIAIAI's S05MKII speaker, which is engineered with a 40mm speaker diaphragm made from stiff bio-cellulose for more defined high-frequency details, more pronounced mid-range, better dynamics, and more natural tonality. Beyond that is where the differences come into play.
The Studio uses Alcantara cushions designed for lasting comfort, as well as the H04 high-comfort headband. The Studio XE opts for the H01 slim headband and the E04 PU Leather, which offer better comfort and sound isolation. Both headphones come with the same coiled cable.
I've been a TMA-2 user for quite some time now. In fact, long enough now that they don't even make the drivers on my headphones anymore, which is a shame. You can read my review here. The modular building aspect is enjoyable as ever, but this time both headphones have over-ear cushions, where as mine have on-ear. I have to say, right off the bat, the XE is indeed very lightweight. Both pairs are comfortable for long listening sessions. One of the major differences I noticed between the were with the earpads and how they affect the sound. The PU pads felt much more bright and open, while the Alcantara ones were darker but more focused. I also feel like they offered a bit more isolation than the PU. I'm used to the H04 headband, but was thoroughly impressed by the comfort of the slim H01 headband.
Listening to music is great, but these are both meant for making music. When used in a creative studio environment, they definitely hold their own. The lightweight comfort does, in fact, allow for long use times without fatigue. While they are fun to make music with, I have to be honest in that they wouldn't be my first choice for critical listening or mixdowns. The sound is a bit too colored for my taste, although everyone is different. It goes without saying that it's definitely smart to use multiple listening sources when creating music to see how it translates.
AIAIAI has once again created a great product that does the job well. The company's claims are accurate and either option will satisfy your needs as a music maker or serious listener. Again, they wouldn't be my first choice for critical listening, but for the actual music making process they are a blast to work with.