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TMA-2 Headphones

Words by Bronwyn Marshall

AIAIAI’s journey into the audio game began in 2006 in its headquartered home of Copenhagen, Denmark; the epicentre of Scandinavian minimalism and creativity. A name without an overtly-purposed meaning, but coincidently with a number of convincing and quite anecdotal ones, ‘AIAIAI’ has many guises. In Japanese, it means ‘Love-Love-Love’; a Mexican-style form of yelling and appreciation, a nod to the i-everything of Apple’s movement and when flipped 180 degrees, endearingly resembles ‘I heart-I heart-I heart’. Yet at the core of the company’s values is an unwavering sense of quality and the customisable individualisation as the driving force behind their continual innovation; a passionate core. Every element has been considered, in both function and form, with the utmost intentionality.

We chatted with Cofounder and Creative Director Peter Michael Willer for his take on the system and their approach to design, communication (marketing) and staying inspired.

As clichéd as it might sound, I get very inspired when travelling, seeing other cultures and traditions; different architecture, typography and street posters. I like moving oneself out of the daily routines, trying alternative routes than what you would normally go.

Their approach is one focused on experience and uncovering nuances between the obvious and already tried-and-tested. He doesn’t see a direct intentionality for AIAIAI to be overtly minimal, but instead focused on longevity, the appropriateness of classic form and wearability.

“One of the things of getting older is that you experience that ‘trends’ or ‘movements’ seem to go in cycles. And sometimes things can go in and out of fashion quite quickly. For instance, we never sought out to be perceived as making minimalist products. However, we believe in makings things that last, also in terms of aesthetics—functionalism with the merge of function and form. Taking the unnecessary details away; so ‘minimal’ perhaps, but hopefully also with a little twist or quirkiness to it. This way of thinking about design is something we share with our close design partners from Kilo Design and Lars Holme Larsen. It’s part of the continuous dialogue we have with them and every time we create new parts and products.”

Essentially a kit of parts, what defines and sets AIAIAI as industry leading, is the accessibility of the product. Willer suggests that the TMA-2 Modular Headphone System was one way of modernising their approach to the category, allowing the customer to be able to customise and configure their favourite headphones. Whether a home studio, on-the-move or a professional DJ, the ranges can be tailored based on need, sound performance and environmental conditions. Combinations of customisable elements for each customer helps define their experience and relationship with sounds. It sounds obvious, but they’re leading in this area.

Also having a less rigid option of changing to their individual needs and preferences. This will develop even more in the future, also sound wise. We are only at the beginning of more ‘intelligent’ headsets, where personalisation and use of data is a driving factor.

The TMA-2 is a completely customisable piece, and a unique offering in terms of technical capabilities. The range available is quite impressive. At the centre of their philosophy and work is a ‘wholeness’ of design, experience and of the quality of the product and the sound it produces. Through extensive research and development, and consulting all levels of professional and amateur users, the end result is a leading electro-acoustic product designed for future upgrades.

Creativity and technology can work together quite well. They go hand in hand, so to speak, if used the right way. Personally I also get very inspired by new technology and data in terms of ideation—coming up with new ideas. Though always remember that it should not be technology for technology’s sake. Rather as a solution to specific needs and/or challenges.

Conceived out of Copenhagen, a place where the egalitarian is pedestalled, and where design is the ultimate export—in brief, the perfect place for innovation and well-versed design experimentation. The result is one of the most accessible and customisable sound experiences on the market, across vocals, sound stage and sound isolation. With over 750 ultimate combinations of hardware configuration, there is something uniquely beautiful about AIAIAI’s dedication to producing clear and amplified sound, and bringing it to the masses in their own individually personalised way.

This article was originally published in Minimalissimo Nº2

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Rasmus Dengsø
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