With their modular headphone system TMA-2, the Danish company Aiaiai has developed a concept that is as simple as it is advanced – the TMA-2 is made up of four components that can be freely combined: Sound transducer (Speaker: S01 – S05), headband (Headband: H01 – H06), ear pads (Earpad: E01 – E08) and connection cable (Cable: C01 – C15) that together form functioning headphones. If you prefer an “off-the-peg” combination, you can choose one of the so-called “Presets”. In the case of the TMA-2 HD Wireless, Aiaiai directly combines two new components: the S05 HD audio driver and the H05 headband, which has integrated a Bluetooth receiver including batteries.
You can see how ingenious a modular concept such as this can be, as with the addition of the Bluetooth headband and the S05 driver, older TMA-2 systems can be pimped. Not only that, but the designers at Aiaiai are also top of the league of stylish minimalist product design: This applies both to the individual components, where, fortunately, not a single superfluous design element is to be found, and to the minimalist packaging. The four components that can be found in – you guessed it – minimalist packaging, with each presented in a simple, industrial-looking grey bag. Very sexy.
The “HD Wireless” preset tested here comes in a box: the new S05 HD speaker, with a driver diameter of 40 millimetres, a relatively low impedance of 32 ohms and a maximum sound pressure of a remarkable 113 dB (according to manufacturer’s specifications). Aiaiai took pains to emphasise that the S05 uses a membrane made of bio-cellulose, which is supposed to be lighter, stiffer and stronger than regular membranes made of PET plastic – obviously, we were excited.
Looking around Aiaiai’s website, we noticed that the different speakers also have different sonic characteristics: from S01 (punchy), over S03 (warm) and S04 (vibrant) to the current S05-HD transducer, whose qualities are described as “detailed”. As ear cushions, Aiaiai include their E08 model, a rather luxurious and comfortable earpad with a velvety Alcantara leather cover.
The headband is the new H05 model, which can be controlled via the codecs aptX HD, SBC and AAC. In the case of aptX HD, it even comes with 24-bit resolution. The headband also has an integrated hands-free microphone and is supplied with a USB-C charging cable. A full charge should be enough for up to 16 hours of music enjoyment (of course this always depends on the volume and reception conditions). For the connection cable, Aiaiai also bring a new addition, namely the C15, a rather thick (and thus knot-free) cable with a diameter of four millimetres, which is supposed to provide very good electromagnetic shielding and low transmission of structure-borne sound, and as the thick, spirally braided strands can be seen through the transparent plastic sheathing – it is also very chic.
Assembly of the four components is done in a few easy steps: slide the transducer onto the headband, secure the integrated connection cables with the bayonet locks, attach the ear pads, and (if you want to listen in wired mode) lock the connection cable either on the bottom of the left or right earpiece with the bayonet lock. Done.
The Bluetooth headband H05 integrates the receiver electronics, the battery including charging socket, the media control and the hands-free microphone. It can therefore also be used alone as a Bluetooth upgrade for existing TMA-2 systems. Three buttons are integrated into the right-hand side of the headband, the bottom one is used to reduce the volume and the top one to increase it and switch it off. The middle button, on the other hand, has far more functions: it is used to switch on, play/pause, track forward/back, as well as to answer, hang up, reject and activate voice control (if supported by your device). Operational readiness, pairing mode, as well as charging progress (red=charge, white=full), are indicated by a small LED below the three buttons.
Apart from the fact that operating the three buttons by touch takes a certain amount of getting used to and you have to learn where they are, I don’t have anything negative to say about the H05 – on the contrary: the sound quality is excellent. In fact, I couldn’t hear any difference between wired and wireless connections. I was also pleasantly surprised by the range: even behind two walls in my apartment, where every other Bluetooth connection has so far come to a standstill, the H05 valiantly kept up the short-range wireless link. Even the – often rather unsatisfactory – direct comparison of the voice quality between mobile phone internal and hands-free microphone was handled very well by the H05. The design of the H05 places the microphone at the lower end of the left-hand side, so the speaking distance is always the same and cable noise does not occur, which is in contrast to what happens with microphones that are integrated into the cable.
As the HD Wireless preset uses the new S05 capsule, which is identical in construction to the wired HD system, in this case, my sonic assessment applies equally to both models.
Ever since the TMA-1, Aiaiai have always paid a lot of attention to the bass range. The S05 capsule continues this sonic signature – HD or not: the foundation is very robust, appears amazingly linear and reaches your ear with great agility. It becomes more subtle in the mid-range – it almost seems as if the S05 drivers want to protect you from obtrusive snares or vocals that are too prominently mixed and it creates a soft veil in the “stressful” range of 1 to 2 kHz. It gets a bit more lively again towards the high mid-range, where a clear peak in the 4.5 kHz range provides audible presence. In the highs, it then returns to a relatively unspectacular high plateau. And I mean that in an unbiased way: the highs are there and don’t want anything from you. They are simply there – just like a practised Zen Buddhist whose only active action is existence: they don’t glitter and shine, but they are not absent either, and their mission is already fulfilled with their simple existence.
For comparison, I changed the ear pads and clipped the smooth E04 pads made of imitation leather from my other TMA-2 onto the S05 capsules. There was actually a slight gain in treble (and we are talking about a maximum of about 1 to 2 dB here). Obviously, some of the short-wave treble information gets stuck in the cosy textured Alcantara. This just shows you how nice such a modular concept can be, especially if you want to “customise” “your” headphones according to your own personal needs and preferences.
The TMA-2 HD Wireless preset from Aiaiai is a thoroughly successful package! Both the new S05 HD capsule, which has a balanced, relaxed rather than surgical sound, and the Bluetooth headband H05, which I liked for its reception performance, battery life and voice quality, together make a compelling combination. For the price of around 350 Euros, you get comfortable and cosy headphones that fit perfectly into the home multimedia/hi-fi environment, with which you can also make relaxed phone calls. Those who can foresee that they will be travelling a lot with their headphones, or perhaps even want to wear them while jogging, should, on the other hand, go directly for the TMA-2 Move preset or perhaps order the considerably thinner and less sweat-absorbing E02 ear pad – the possible combinations are always just a few steps away. And that’s still the greatest thing about the modular concept of the TMA-2 series.
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Impedance32 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)113 dB
- Cable length150 cm
What's in the box
- 6.35mm stereo jack
- USB-C charging cable
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD