With their modular headphone system TMA-2, the Danish company Aiaiai has implemented a concept that is as simple as it is advanced – a TMA-2 consists 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) together they form functioning headphones. If you prefer an “off-the-peg” combination, you can choose one of the so-called “Presets”. With the S05 transducer, Aiaiai now adds an HD (High Definition) driver to the range, which is available in the combination tested here as a TMA-2 HD preset.
We already liked this concept very much and the TMA-2 system took the top score back to Denmark. We were convinced not only by the sound but above all by the modular concept, which no other manufacturer has been able to implement with such consistency: four groups of components that can simply be ordered and arranged according to your personal needs – that’s pretty damn clever. Add to this the fact that the whole thing is also in the top 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. Because each of the four components that can be found in the – you’ve guessed it – minimalist packaging is presented in a simple, industrial-looking grey bag. Very sexy.
In the case of this “HD preset”, the box contains the following: 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 the manufacturer’s specifications). TMA takes pains to highlight the fact 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 – so 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 present S05-HD transducer, whose qualities are described as “detailed”. As ear cushions, Aiaiai include their E08 model here: a rather luxurious and comfortable earpad with velvety Alcantara leather cover.
The headband is the high-comfort model (H04) with a microfiber cover. As a connecting cable, Aiaiai also provide a new component – 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 noise, 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 lock the connection cable either on the underside of the left or right earpiece with the bayonet lock. Ready.
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 to the front and it creates a soft veil in the “stressful” range of 1 to 2 kHz. It gets a bit livelier again towards the high mid-range, where a clear peak in the 4.5 kHz range provides audible presence. In the highs, it 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 clip 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 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.
In summary, I would describe the characteristics of the S05 HD capsule as rather “good-natured”, especially in combination with the thick E08 ear pad. The TMA-2 HD is not a precision studio tool, but rather an easy listening package that is fun and well suited for longer listening sessions. Still, the modular concept of the TMA-2 series and the timeless minimalist design are pretty great. Accordingly, there is – if you want something a little less “cosy” both physically and sonically – also an HD version with smooth ear pads (S05, H03, E02, C15). And if you like to enjoy your music without cables, you can, of course, go for the wireless version: welcome to the modular system 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