I noticed that all of the reviews I've done so far were quite bitter. I broke the habit and came up with a product I actually recommend. So here is the best headphones that I have found: good sound, stealth look, fixable, durable, upgradeable.
Unboxing videos are cool but won't give you insight on reliability. We prefer to write our reviews after months of use.
Purchased: January 2018 | Frequency: Daily | Price: 295€ — $350
- ✅ Design and sound
- ✅ Modular and upgradeable
- ✅ Buy It For Life (sort of)
- ❌ Less compact than average
- ❌ Soft coating does not age well
Aiaiai is a Danish brand making modular headphoness. You can build your own by selecting headbands, speakers etc. They have a distinct everything-black look and no visible branding that I increasingly noticed in use by DJs and producers. I built mine with comfort in mind, a Bluetooth headband and bassy speakers.
Look and Feel
First of all, the headphones is quite comfy. With 270 g / 9.5 oz, I find it on the light side. I like the simple and sturdy plastic construction, no fancy rare woods, nonsense 3D patterns or Italian leather. It feels solid and utilitarian. The black plastic is covered with a thin layer of rubbery texture, giving it a matte aspect and a soft touch. It holds in place firmly enough to run but not enough to headbang a double clutch slayer intro. The earpads I chose remain comfy for hours at the computer. There are three knobs on the bluetooth headband. They act as pretty standard controls, nothing remarkable here. The charging port for the bluetooth headband is USB-C, which is cool, but it's awkwardly placed. Charging impedes the headphones. That being said, to me it's all very minor issues since I use bluetooth as a bonus.
My configuration uses both Bluetooth and 3.5 mm cable. This was important to me both for DJing and not being left without music when the battery is empty. The large E05 earpads don't isolate very well form ambient sounds, but they are so soft I can wear it for long work sessions without discomfort (even in hot weather). You will have to deal with people dancing around to your music, lower the volume if you're listening to a shameful tune, or if you take public transports, hear what the guy who talk to his imaginary friend is saying. No noise cancelling whatsoever, this is better for situational awareness I guess.
As I wear the TMA-2, I immediately feel happiness. The soundstage is very wide, the bass is clean and generous, highs are bright and clear. Quite versatile, it's a delight for most genres I listen to: from dark techno to Irish folk, and bass-heavy rap. Battery stamina is good enough in my opinion. I believe I charge it every two to three days. Using it for calls is ok, although some clients complained about the mike quality (not sure if it wasn't due to network).
It's not a real "buy it for life" item per se, but every part can be replaced. Most other brands will have you throw away a perfectly working set just because one
Beats bit is broken and not meant to be repaired. AirPods will become trash after a year of use, because this is how long their battery is intended to live.
Some people had issues with the early bluetooth band but aiaiai fixed it before I bought mine. A couple of month ago, they released a new Bluetooth headband. In order for it to be perfect, some details could have received more attention. The matte coating, good looking when brand new, became slightly sticky and started to peel.
After a year I had to glue back the fabric on the ear pads. Actually, I just replaced them with faux-leather of the same size. The ones I had first are discontinued.
The dedicated protection case has fragile zippers. There is a special locking system for the 3.5 mm audio cable, meaning you can only use aiaiai cables. This is a bit annoying but nothing too bad since their cables are durable, and they have a large variety of them. The price could seem high for some, but that's what you pay for the a fashionable pair of headphones with lesser sound quality, and those will only last the lifespan of their weakest component. Dammit, when I'm not bitter I'm salty!
Finally some good shit
Overall this is a good looking, good sounding, comfy and durable headphones. Over time you will repair and upgrade it.