The TMA-1 headphones from AIAIAI are among our all time favorite cans. But with their considerably high price tag and DJ oriented design, they’re clearly not for everyone. AIAIAI’s new effort, the Capital are intended for a more active lifestyle with fiberglass construction and a new compact design. Most importantly they hold a price tag of $125 and can be found for just a Benjamin. Read on for our full take on this new contender!
- Reinforced material
- Three button in-line remote
- Weather resistant
- Titanium high performance drivers
The AIAIAI Capitals ship in a large white box, in typical AIAIAI fashion. Opening the flap will reveal the headphones embedded in a chunk of foam with a small manual underneath.
The AIAIAI Capital headphones have a very bizarre design. We’ve even heard of them being referred to as looking like a “prototype design” and we can’t say we disagree. They do bear a similar design to the company’s previous headphones, such as the TMA-1. However, you won’t find many rounded surfaces on the Capital. In fact, even the tire shaped earpads have flat surfaces, something we’ll discuss in the “comfort” section of the review. Gone is also the soft touch matte coating - you now get rough semi-textured surfaces all over the headphones.
Notable features include the sliders to adjust the headphones (an accordion like design rather than the “belt” style previously used) and a thin padded headband. The headband is made of a soft spongy material which is flexible to some degree.
The Capitals, unlike all of AIAIAI’s other on-ear headphones, do not come with a detachable cable. In fact, the cable goes to both earcups, a design which we do not prefer when it comes to larger headphones. Thankfully, the cable is lightweight and fairly tangle free. The jack is a tiny L-shaped, gold plated one that is more mobile-device friendly than the massive, threaded beast on the TMA-1.
In addition, you’ll find a simple three button remote/mic on the right cable. Although it feels relatively well built and even rugged, the buttons are rather hard to press. We found the volume up and down toggles particularly difficult to activate (the buttons under the surface are oddly positioned) an eventually gave up altogether on trying to use the remote.
The headphones can easily be folded up for easy storage, although they don’t come with any sort of carrying bag.
Since the Capital headphones are built for a more active, outdoor lifestyle, AIAIAI put a lot of emphasis on the build quality with fiberglass construction. We’re pretty confident that the headphones can stand up to their durability claims and would have no trouble handling rain.
Although the build quality of the Capitals is amazing, there are certain aspects of questionable quality. The left earcup is manufactured in such a way that it misses the Y shaped arm by a microscopic amount. Thus, when you fold up the headphones, it catches on the arm. We’ve confirmed that this issue exists among other reviewers so it is a manufacturing issue that does not only affect our unit. The easily removable earpads reveal a very cheap looking plastic surface with a messily glued on thin foam filter to cover the driver. The cheap headphones provided on airplanes instantly came to mind. Once you cover up that unsightly abomination, the rest of the cans feel totally solid.
The Capital’s earpads were clearly designed with form over function in mind. The tire shaped pads have completely flat surfaces and are manufactured of a material that is overly rigid. It refuses to conform to my ears and causes searing pain after less than an hour of usage. To make matters worse, the earcups do not swivel laterally to adjust to the angle of the sides of your head (there is a micro notch on the side of each earcup that allows it to slide only a few millimeters) This leaves a gap between each earcup and your ears, negatively impacting seal and subsequently sound quality. A tight clamp combined with oddly designed earcups makes for a very uncomfortable listening experience. If only the earpads were a little softer, as they are on the TMA-1, this whole disaster could have been avoided.
Even though the Capital and TMA-1 are in completely different price ranges, we can’t help but compare the two sonically. Both have 40mm drivers and an easy to drive impedance rating of 32 Ohms. In our testing, we found that the TMA-1 feel much more balanced. In comparison, the Capital’s lose much clarity and detail that the TMA-1 are capable of. The sound isn’t what we’d describe as muddy but the bass is over-exaggerated to a point that is not beneficial to the rest of the audio spectrum. Despite this, vocals still come through clearly. Soundstage, on the other hand, is hardly detectable with the Capital’s. We feel that the sound signature will indeed be pleasing for the target audience that AIAIAI is aiming at. However, the Capitals wouldn’t really be suited for anything beyond everyday outdoor listening.
There are a lot of things to like about the AIAIAI Capital headphones. They offer a well designed exterior, solid construction, and a thumping bass that many will enjoy. But there are also some design choices that we find difficult to ignore - the highly uncomfortable earpads, the near impossible to use remote, and certain areas of questionable quality. At the end of the day, we can’t help but feel that the Capital’s are not as well thought out as the conpany’s past headphones. The bottom line is that you will have to find a pair of these to try out for yourself. If you can look past these subjective flaws, the Capital’s are a lot of fun to listen to.
- Unique design
- Solid construction
- Thumpy low end
- Terrible earpads cause pain
- Remote is difficult to use
Where to buy
AIAIAI — MSRP: $125.00