AIAIAI TMA-2 Studio XE Preset review | Juno Daily

AIAIAI’s affordable XE range serves up the goods again, this time tailored for producers. Greg Scarth finds out more.

Things have changed a lot since we first reviewed AIAIAI’s XE range last year. Back then, the Danish brand only made headphones. In the year or so since, they’ve expanded into studio monitors and hinted at a broader future. But what remains the same is the focus on modular headphones. The revamped AIAIAI TMA-2 Studio XE Preset model tells the story, and it’s still as good as ever.

The background story is important here. AIAIAI’s modular headphones have been a staple in studios and DJ booths for well over a decade now. The original TMA-1s and their TMA-2 successors offer a unique modular design, which has a lot of advantages. Not only can you customise the headphones to match your own preferences in terms of headbands, cables, driver units and the like, but you can also rest assured that every individual element is available to buy as a replacement unit should something get broken – great for peace of mind but also great for sustainability and reducing environmental impact.

The XE series offers a slightly more affordable take on AIAIA’s standard formula, with lightweight headbands but otherwise similar components to the more premium models. When we reviewed the original XE model back in 2022, we hailed it as a sweet spot in the TMA-2 range, slightly cheaper and lighter than the standard model but essentially offering 99% the same experience as the standard TMA-2 model. The XE has been tweaked since then, but rest assured that the philosophy remains more or less the same.

In terms of sound and performance, the revamped Studio XEs follow a well-established formula for AIAIAI headphones. There are variations between the different models, and things have changed slightly since the initial release of the XE series, but the overall ethos is still solid bass, clear mids and non-fatiguing highs. The TMA-2 Studio XE now use AIAIAI’s ‘balanced’ S01 drivers, which aim to deliver a flat response across the frequency range. It’s always tricky to judge headphones given how personal they are in terms of fit on the ears and the sound which you might perceive. Among my own regular rotation are a couple of pairs of TMA-1s and TMA-2s, which use similar drivers to the Studio XEs. In my own experience, these drivers tend to open up and become a little brighter over time, but the key characteristics remain the same: clear, revealing, but not fatiguing.

AIAIAI is a relatively young brand, but one which has already defined itself as a staple of studios and DJ booths worldwide. With the XE series, there are a few small changes since the first release of the TMA-2 model, but ultimately we’re still very much in the same ballpark as that first TMA-1 way back in 2010. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. In this case, that’s a good thing.

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