When it comes to headphones, wireless is increasingly the norm. Even some laptop makers have ditched the headphone jack. (Looking at you, – You monsters. ) And, while Bluetooth does offer a lot of convenience, there’s one group of users you can’t really take advantage of: music producers. See, the latency introduced by the latest generation of Bluetooth devices can reach 40ms even under ideal conditions. For older hardware, this can stretch to over 100ms. And it’s not just hardware that can cause problems.Android has long been known to have serious latency issues over Bluetooth, although this has been , at least according to Google. This makes it very difficult to keep time if you’re recording and it’s barely available for live monitoring.
Then, last December, AIAIAI launched what it claims is “the world’s first wireless headphones for music creators” for $350. . The key selling point is a special This guarantees a consistent 16ms latency. It’s not zero lag, but it’s close enough that wireless headphones actually sound reasonable around the studio.
Now, before we get into the wireless details, let’s talk about TMA-2 Headphones are more common.Like the rest of AIAIAI’s lineup, these are You can replace various parts as needed due to damage or changing needs. This also means you have to assemble them when they first appear. However, it’s a very quick and easy process, even if it seems a little intimidating at first. It took me less than 10 minutes from opening the box to connecting the headphones to my laptop. Basically, if you’ve ever assembled a set of LEGO bricks, you can handle a pair of AIAIAI.
Studio headphones use the company’s “,” and they sound great. They’re not the most neutral-sounding headphones I’ve ever used, but they’re not seriously out of balance. I found my Sony MDR-7506s to have a bit better high frequency response and less bass Emphasis. AIAIAI is still great for mixing – just know that the tone is skewed towards the dark side. But the soundstage is very open.
My two loudest complaints are relatively minor.as Have , will introduce some noise when used with the transmitter in 2.4Ghz low latency mode. It’s a mild static that you can start to hear at around 50% volume, but becomes more noticeable above 75%. You can mitigate this by changing the volume on the source rather than the headphones themselves, but it’s worth noting.
The second problem is that when you use the Studio Wireless+ via Bluetooth, they are surprisingly quiet. For Jaybird or Sony, I usually set the volume on the phone to 75% or 80%. But even at 100% I still find myself wishing the AIAIAI was louder. Casual talk won’t overwhelm your music, but they may not provide the level of cover you want on a plane.
Studio and Studio Wireless+ also feature comfortable Alcantara wraparound ear cups. I’ve been wearing it for hours straight without any issues. These are some of the most comfortable headphones I’ve ever used. I was slightly apprehensive about the headband at first, it’s all rubber without any noticeable cushioning. But these turned out to be unfounded, as there was a gentle gift within the band that provided enough padding for marathon recordings.
Battery life is also more than adequate for marathon races. AIAIAI says that Wireless+ will last more than 80 hours in Bluetooth mode. Frankly, I don’t have the patience or time to test this claim. I can tell you that I’ve been using them almost every day for three weeks in a mix of Bluetooth and Low Latency mode and still have juice left. However, I did test the claim of 16 hours of battery life using 2.4GHz and got 15 hours and 58 minutes. That’s pretty close – I even get more life by turning them back on in bluetooth mode.
What’s both shocking and confusing, however, is that both my MacBook and iPhone say 40% battery life remaining, despite the low-battery beeps when I power them back on. I even walked for 20 minutes listening to music and the battery gauge didn’t move. Then I could sit in front of the laptop for almost an hour, playing videos and listening to music occasionally, until the headphones completely died and couldn’t be turned back on. However, until the end macOS insisted on 40% left, so something was wrong. I’ve asked AIAIAI if they have any theories as to why this is and will update this review if I hear back.
Oh, and you can always use a plain old TRS cable to connect the headphones to an audio source of your choice, even if the battery is completely dead.
Of course, the real reason to buy the AIAIAI Studio Wireless+ isn’t for the great battery life, but for the special low-latency mode, and let me tell you: it delivers. Now, that’s not zero latency. You can detect it in very specific cases, but it’s not enough to have an impact.I use a laptop and a MIDI controller for field recording and and no problem.
The only time I noticed the tiny 16ms delay was during live monitoring while recording in the same room as my guitar amp. Being able to hear the amp through the headphones almost made my guitar sound like a dual track. But the effect wasn’t noticeable enough to cause me any trouble.
However, I don’t think I’m ready for this freedom. While yes, turning the headphones on and off, or lugging the long, heavy coiled cables of my MDR-7506 is a pain, my “studio” is pretty small. It completes the first third of the loft and it does triple duty as my office and guest room. So, there isn’t a lot of room to maneuver and it’s a bit messy.
Still, being able to pick up my guitar without first taking off the headphones or worrying about getting the cables out of the way is awesome. Going back and forth to swap out the pedals on my board, or swap out the drum machine on my desk without thinking, makes experimenting a lot easier. Any creative effort is about getting into a state of flow and staying there. Even the tiniest hurdle can ruin that, and AIAIAI Studio Wireless+ removes one of those hurdles.
Those with larger, better-equipped studios may appreciate this freedom of movement better. The range of the 2.4GHz transmitter is also fairly stable. I was able to go all the way from the attic to the first floor before I started losing contact.
Now, the question is whether the convenience is worth the $350. I would say, at least for me, the answer is yes.Although I tend to set up my studio on a budget (after all: I’m not a professional musician and life in NYC is expensive and I have two kids), which seems like a worthwhile indulgence. If you’re the type who makes music entirely out of a box (on a computer that only uses software instruments), the appeal may not be as strong. But being able to run around, untethered and record, while also avoiding waking up my family in the middle of the night, has been a godsend.
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