Many of you may remember when I reviewed my pair of AiAiAi Tma-1 headphones a few months back. I still have them and love them and use them all the time for work but I did eventually decide that they felt a bit big for my daily carrying needs. I switched to a smaller day bag and like to keep less on me on casual outings so a lightweight option for listening on the go felt like something worth investing in.
This lead me to one of my exhaustive searches for a great pair of portable lightweight headphones. I started with Sennheiser as I usually do when looking at headphones and made my way through every headphone manufaturer I could find looking for a good mix of portability and sound quality which narrows down your options quite a bit. Within this range most headphones were clearly designed for more common, casual listeners. This lead to most products having a higher focus on easily sellable bullet points such as big bass or noise canceling, things that I don’t really care about at all.
After reading a number of reviews and finding a couple of nice overview articles on headphones in this category I narrowed it down to two pairs and the set that won ended up being another pair of AiAiAi headphones, the Tracks. When they had first released them I remember pasing them off as all style, no substance. When they reintroduced them with new, more subtle color choices I decided to look closer.
Finding reviews was not too easy because boutique companies with a focus on good design such as AiAiAi don’t often find their way to the usual headphone, audiophile type review sites. The majority of articles about such products are more of the same old re-links and copy/paste press release info. Among the sites I did find them on, I noticed a trend of their nearly univeral praise among even picky listeners. Reactions were usualy that of surprise at the great experience. In the end I took a chance on them and they ended up being my go to headphones for all casual use.
Now, onto the details. They are lightweight, easy to manage, well constucted despite their simplistic appearance, and sound pretty amazing for such a humble, compact pair of headphones.
At first glance you can see that the design is clearly influenced by the early days of the walkman and some of those early filmsy foam padded, metal banded headphones that ruled the portable listening world. I will admit this made me nervous when buying them because with my always being on the move I am pretty rough on things. They turned out to be a robust pair of headphones and while I do use the provided nylon bag to carry them around in, I have had no trouble at all durability wise. The simplified approach to the design is refreshing and actually leaves less components to break as I have had happen with more ellaborate designed headphones. If they happen to get crammed a little too tight inside my bag the earphones just pop off of the snap on points of the headband rather than cracking or breaking.
Then there is the sound, the life force of any good pair of headphones. While these use a closed back design, the foam pads are very much open so these are not going to block off a lot of sound around you, this was actually a selling point for me. Its nice not always having to take off my headphones when someone nearby starts talking to me or if I need to hear whats happening around me. It manages to have this openness to it yet still hold a nice, well rounded, punchy sound that is fully present in your ears dispite the lack of ambient noise redction.
In some headphones and speakers the lower mids are boosted in attempt to add depth to the sound and you get muggy audio that drowns out the clarity of the rest of the spectrum. The Tracks manage to have a nice punchy low end without causing any of that woofy mess. Bass is well pronounced and thumping without overwhelming the music or distorting which I really love. Mids are clear and strong and highs are crisp without being exhausting to your ears during extended listening times. The best way to describe the sound overall is refreshing and fun. Its a fantastic pair to have around with me throught the day and I find myself using them often because they are such a joy to use.
With a price coming in at around $85(USD) or less it’s hard not to reccomend you check them out if you are ever in the market for a new set of lightweight headphones.
Just as a heads up, I recently bought an additional pair on sale through fab.com and plan on using the new pair as part of a giveaway I will be having during the launch of the new design here on 50ft in September so check back here for the chance to win a pair in the coming month!