Secure shopping

Studio equipment

Our full range of studio equipment from all the leading equipment and software brands. Guaranteed fast delivery and low prices.

Visit Juno Studio

Secure shopping

DJ equipment

Our full range of DJ equipment from all the leading equipment and software brands. Guaranteed fast delivery and low prices.  Visit Juno DJ

Secure shopping

Vinyl & CDs

The world's largest dance music store featuring the most comprehensive selection of new and back catalogue dance music Vinyl and CDs online.  Visit Juno Records

AIAIAI TMA-2 Studio XE review

The Danish brand introduce an affordable new model. Does the lightweight XE version still sound as good as the more expensive versions? Greg Scarth finds out.

Founded in 2006 in Copenhagen, AIAIAI is a highly specialist company. Look through the brand’s product range and you’ll find only one thing: headphones. With such a clearly defined focus, it’s unsurprising that AIAIAI very quickly became a staple of the music world, with their original TMA-1 headphones becoming a fixture of studios and DJ booths.

What’s unique about AIAIAI’s approach is that their main range of headphones is modular. That is, you can mix and match combinations of headbands, drivers, earpads and cables in order to customise the fit, sound and feel to suit your personal taste. Your intended use will also determine the best options, whether it’s for a different sound profile for DJ use, or a more comfortable earned for longer use in the studio.

The flagship model in the range is the TMA-2 Studio Wireless+, an outstandingly versatile model which we reviewed recently. Lower down the range you’ll find the standard TMA-2 Studio, but our focus here is on the new TMA-2 Studio XE, a slightly more lightweight model which aims to offer a more affordable alternative for those on a budget. The XE model follows the standard TMA-2 formula, with stylish Scandinavian design meeting top quality engineering. Coming in around £30 cheaper than the TMA-2 Studio, the XE model is the cheapest model in the TMA-2 range.

Given the modular nature of the TMA-2 design, there’s a big overlap in terms of components: the XEs feature the same ‘detailed’ S05 speaker units, soft PU leather over ear pads and coiled C02 cable as you’d find in the standard Studio model. The key difference is the inclusion of a slim and lightweight H01 headband instead of the more padded band of the Studio. In the box, you’ll also find a soft, mesh-lined travel pouch with a chunky zip, designed to protect the headphones when carrying them in a bag or case. A special 10th anniversary model is also available, featuring limited edition earpads.

Putting the headphones together is a simple matter of attaching the drivers to the headband, adding the earpads and hooking up the wires. Slipping the headphones on and playing a few tracks, it’s immediately clear that the sound is identical to the standard TMA-2 Studios I use on a regular basis: the XEs have the same sound profile, with punchy bass and good clarity in the mid frequencies, without sounding overly harsh and aggressive in the highs. For production purposes, the XEs sound just as good, allowing you to focus in on synth and drum sounds, program beats with confidence in timing, or arrange and mix with clarity.

In terms of comfort, there’s surprisingly little difference between the models despite the thinner padding of the XEs. The standard Studio model has a wider plastic headband with a padded PU leather strip where it meets your head, while the lighter H01 headband is entirely wrapped in a dense foam. In use, you can’t feel much difference unless you really pull the headband tightly down to your head. Instead, what you really feel is the similarity in comfort from the soft, nicely padded over-ear pads, which fully enclose your ears and rest comfortably on your cheeks and head.

It’s worth mentioning that the modular design of the TMA-2s gives you the option of customising or upgrading the XEs if you choose to do so. There’s one particularly appealing component on offer, which is the Wireless+ Upgrade bundle, effectively giving the XEs the same wireless capabilities as the flagship model. Even if you’re on a strict budget when purchasing the XEs, upgrading to wireless when funds allow would give you the best of both worlds: a budget introduction to the TMA-2s and the option to switch between wired and wireless use depending on what you’re using the headphones for.

The bottom line is that the XEs might just represent a new sweet spot in the TMA-2 range, offering better value than the standard Studio model with identical sound and very little trade-off in terms of comfort. At 190 grams, the XEs are a little lighter than the standard Studio model, which is also a bonus. Some might prefer the feel of the more padded Studio headband, but the Studio XE offers great value for newcomers to AIAIAI headphones, plus the option to upgrade to a wireless headband in future.

Greg Scarth

More info/buy
Like this? Get more by following Juno Studio here...

You may also be interested in…