With the second generation of TMA headphones, Aiaiai has taken a unique approach. They now manufacture numerous cross-compatible parts, enabling you to build up custom headphones by picking the parts you want. This allows you to easily replace the worn-out parts or even add Bluetooth receiver capability by switching out the headband. There are numerous custom configurations possible or alternatively, 7 specific use-case optimized presets to choose from. We’ll review the TMA-2 HD preset, which is marketed by Aiaiai as the most neutral-sounding one.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Easily available replacement parts
  • Excellent adaptiveness
  • Easy to drive

Pros list with Sonarworks Reference calibration

  • Neutral frequency response
  • Increased low-end extension
Cons
  • Not the greatest channel balance
  • Makes noises when handled
Use cases Best use case:
Mixing
Production
Mastering
Recreational listening
Tech specs Type
Closed back, Over-ear
Impedance
32 Ohm
Connector
Threaded straight 3.5 mm jack
Adapter
Screw-on 6.3 mm adapter
Weight
195 g (without cable)
Require headphone amp
No
Cable
1.5 m straight
Headphone amp

That’s uncommon for pro-grade headphones to have such a low impedance of 32Ω. This means that no mobile device should have any issues driving TMA-2 HD’s to more than sufficient volume, even with calibration and safe headroom engaged.

Build quality

Both headband and ear cups are made from lightweight plastic with a rubber-like coating that feels great to touch and enables the headphones to weigh less than 200 grams. The headband has microfiber padding and ear pads are covered in gentle Alcantara, both materials feel very similar and are pleasant to touch. On a less positive note, when handling the headphones, you’ll get all kinds of squeaking and cracking noises from the ear cup – headband interface. That offsets the relatively luxurious impression provided by nice-feeling materials and makes the build feel a bit cheap.

The easily available spare parts aid longevity and drive the build quality score up.

Sound

According to Aiaiai, the TMA-2 HD preset is equipped with the most neutral-sounding drivers they have on offer. It’s a massive improvement over TMA-1 Studio but still has issues to solve. It helps that there are no high amplitude resonant peaks in the range up to 10kHz, so the sound isn’t harsh or boomy, but the huge high frequency boost above 10k makes it overly bright. All these shortcomings can be easily erased by calibration.

Channel balance

For most pairs channels were evenly matched, but for a few, there were inconsistencies in the low end of about 2.5dB which is a noticeable difference for a trained listener. However, this flaw can be addressed with individual calibration service, and since on other fronts TMA-2 HDs perform great, that is a worthwhile investment.

Comfort

The clamping force is on the light side – that helps comfort but also lets outside noise in and makes the noise isolation very weak for a closed-back set. The contact points feel very comfy at first and the low weight surely helps, but the ear pads, at least for large pinnas, get slightly annoying sooner than expected. This is due to the volume inside the ear pads not being large enough to fully accommodate a large outer ear, and the pressure, even if it’s a gentle one, gets tiring for the ears. Nevertheless, testers with average size and smaller pinnas found them to be comfortable for extended sessions.

Value

At €300 they’re not cheap headphones, but once calibrated, there’s very little left to complain about. Add the benefits of the modular design and the price seems fairly adequate. The biggest factor that hurts the value score is the suboptimal left-to-right channel consistency.

Observations on how headphones perform after applying Sonarworks Reference calibration Total Harmonic Distortion

As with virtually all modern studio headphones, any distortion worth mentioning is only down low in the sub bass range and even that doesn’t translate to perceivable artefacts.

How accurate and consistent is the correction effect among different listeners?

TMA-2 HDs perform exceptionally well when it comes to delivering virtually the same frequency response to a wide range of listeners and are among the top closed-backs in this regard, outperformed only by Focal Listen Professional.

How much do they differ pair to pair in terms of frequency response?

Our measurements show that pair-to-pair consistency is not as great as some Beyerdynamic or Sennheiser models, yet still falls in the +/-3dB range for most of the frequency spectrum and there were no extreme outliers in our sample pool.

Rating

6.6 / 8.3 / 9.3

Sound rating is a weighted average of Frequency Response, Adaptiveness, Harmonic Distortion and Channel Balance scores, with Frequency Response and Adaptiveness having the greatest influence.

4 / 9 / 10

The flatter the frequency response – the higher the score. When evaluating the frequency response score with the Average calibration profile, the pair to pair consistency of the given model is taken into account – if we have measured a considerable frequency response inconsistency among multiple pairs of the given model, the score drops, as the profile loses accuracy. Individual calibration will grant perfectly flat frequency response.

8.5

Adaptiveness shows how capable these headphones are at delivering the same perceived frequency response to any listener. Headphones with high score will sound nearly identical to everyone.

8

Harmonic distortion – the lower the Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) figure, the higher the score. Headphones with prominent 3rd harmonic distortion above 100 Hz will score lower.

7 / 10

Channel balance – the closer to identical the frequency response of both channels, the higher the score. Individual calibration delivers perfect channel balance.

7.5

Comfort – shows if headphones can be used for long listening sessions comfortably. Every model is tested by at least a few individuals.

8

Build – evaluates how well the headphones are put together, the materials used and indicates the expected longevity. Easily replaceable (and easily available) parts will boost the score. We don’t do any stress tests and very few models are used for longer than a couple of days, so this is a fairly subjective score.

7

Value – indicates the price-performance ratio of the given headphones and how they stack up against the competition. High score means that you won’t find more neutral sounding alternatives for the price.

Conclusion

TMA-2 HDs are a massive upgrade over their predecessor TMA-1 Studio and are now a pair of very solid headphones that we can recommend for production and mixing in the studio or on the go, as long as you’re not using them in loud places since the noise isolation is not very effective.

One of their strongest assets that makes them especially great pairing with SoundID Reference is their excellent adaptiveness, which’s the second best for closed-backs we’ve ever tested and grants superb calibration accuracy.

Keep in mind though that Reference model average calibration profile is developed for the HD preset and won’t deliver accurate results for TMA-2 configurations using other driver units, ear pads, and maybe even headbands, as nearly all components have an impact on the perceived acoustic frequency response.

Final Rating

8.2
With Sonarworks Reference 4
Calibration Enabled
6.7
Without Sonarworks
Calibration

Remove coloration from your
headphones with Reference 4

Learn more Supported headphones