14 09 2010

My review after the jump…

Headphones are one of the most important pieces of equipment that a DJ has. And for a long time, the Sennheiser HD-25’s have been the industry standard for serious and working DJ’s . They are light, unobtrusive, tough, loud and serviceable with replacement parts available for just about every bit of its construction. The only downer is that it costs around AUD$300 a pair. In saying that, they are a far cry from when they were released almost 10 years ago for a staggering price of $600!

I have had my pair now for just over 7 years and for the last 4 years they have been used on average of 25 hours a week. In that time I have replaced about a dozen pairs of foam ear pads and one cable.

Over the years I have also had an opportunity to try out a few different headphones on the market, but none has ever stood up to the convenience and functionality of the HD-25’s.

When AiAiAi came out with earphones, I was lucky enough to get given a pair to try out by the good guys at Orange Distribution. Using them for a week in my daily travels with the iPod, I was pretty impressed with how good they sounded for how simple they were. With that feedback I was told that the company was in the process of bringing out some DJ specific headphones.

Being the cynical person I am, I automatically brushed the idea aside thinking that nothing would match my $600 headphones. Something pretty doesn’t always equal something that works well.

So after about 12 months since the news, and around 4 months worth of hype, I finally got my hands on a pair and I have had a full weekend of gigs to test them out on. And boy was I wrong! These things are just about all they are said to be.

They come in a hard cardboard box, fully presented with slip-off band and a minimal theme. Inside, the headphones are snugly packed into a form-fit foam jacket. Underneath seats all the other parts including the removable cord and ¾ inch screw on adapter and spare foam earpieces. It also comes with a mesh lined cloth bag with a heavy duty zipper.

The headphones themselves are simple looking but sharp as they are ‘murdered’ out in matt black. No labeling or branding anywhere except for inside the headband and even that is embossed.

The cord is removable from the headphone itself and is a great safety feature. So many times I have ripped the headphones of my head when I take one step too many away from the mixer. Over the weekend this happened a couple of times and the cord just pulled out of the headphones without giving me whiplash!

Now, I guess the most important bit of the whole test was the sound. Testing them on my iPhone and Macbook, they sounded great. As good as any top quality studio headphones would sound like – only with much more bottom end. Set at the right levels, it sounds full and warm.

Normally, good DJ headphones have less of the lower frequencies – because you don’t need that much bass in your ears when mixing. Also you don’t want the bottom frequencies in your ears too often. Especially when you DJ full time! This is the frequency that causes deafness, and that for a DJ is like being a pilot with impaired vision. To my surprise they didn’t sound too over the top at the clubs.

I mentioned that they came with some extra earcups. They were uncovered foam ones and I thought that this might solve the ‘too much bass’ theory. Not so it seems. The foam density was too low, hence loosing practically ALL the low end, turning my cued drums and snares into cymbals and hi hats.

With the original earpads reattached and 18 hours on the decks , I am glad to say that the TMA-1 by AiAiAi wins a big gold star in my books.

First impressions were more than what I had expected, seeing that it had big dreams of entering the market where giants like Sennheiser, Sony and Pioneer to name a few, have been ruling at for so long.  Retaling at around the $250 mark, it might be a lot to ask from the average music fan. But these are DJ standard headphones and for that price, I think its pretty competitive. The solid construction also mentions that it should withstand the wear and tear of pretty anything it gets thrown at in a club/bar environment. Only time will tell, but I be the first to report on any faults or problems.

But best of all – THEY LOOK FUCKING AWESOME!!!

The only critique I have is that there should be some sort of higher density foam or design of earpads that would halve the low end noise – not take it away altogether. I could also do with a shorter cord. DJ’s don’t really run too far from the mixer, and the capability for the cord to unplug itself in an incident justifies (a shorter cord) it.

I would also rock a pair that was frosted in fluro or any bright colour. How cool would that be… ? Are you listening AiAiAi…?

I will post candid pics of myself in action with the headphones on in the coming weeks. Just to rub in how cool they look.





One response

1 03 2011

[…] of this shot with a dismantled headphone. I thought what better headphone to use than the awesome TMA-1′s that I am using at the moment and have been extremely happy with. 6 months down the track of at least 20 hours a week of use and […]

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