If you make music, you've probably bought the best wireless headphones you can afford and tried to use them while recording or playing. And like me, you probably stopped pretty much straight away. As clever as headphones such as AirPods Pro, AirPods Max and Sony WH-1000XM4s are, they're no good for music makers. And that's because of a three-letter word: lag.
Lag is the delay between something happening and it reaching your ears, and over Bluetooth it can be significant. You'll never notice it if you're just listening to music rather than playing it too, and you probably won't notice it in voice or video calls either. But when I put on a pair of the best wireless headphones, I can never get them to keep up with my playing – not because I'm some kind of mad shredder, but because Bluetooth simply isn't fast enough. With latency of around 40ms on more modern headphones and 100ms or more on older kit, Bluetooth headphones are always slightly behind my fingers making it impossible to concentrate on what I'm doing.
AIAIAI Audio has the answer. It isn't cheap – it's $350 – and you have to built it yourself from the supplied parts because it's a modular system. But the TMA-2 Studio Wireless+ headphones claim to be the very first wireless headphones for music creators, with a wireless connection that's as close to zero latency as you could desire. When you play, there's no delay.
Sound quality that other wireless headphones lack
Musicians and producers don't just need low latency. They need high quality too: you want to be certain that you can hear absolutely everything in the mix so there are no alarms and no surprises when the music makes its way to people's ears. And most wireless headphones simply aren't good enough: the standard SBC codec in Bluetooth delivers about 256kbps in real-world use, aptX HD is 576kbps and Sony's LDAC is 990kbps. Those are all sub-CD bitrates: a CD is 1,411kbps.
The TMA-2 studio wireless headphones have thought of that, and their W+ Link delivers up to 1,500kbps. That's interesting for non-musicians too, because Apple has previously discussed needing more bandwidth for higher resolution audio on its AirPods Pro and AirPods Max and this is the most likely way they'll do it. For now, though, the big-name wireless headphones aren't delivering what the pro music makers need – and that means Aiaiai Audio pretty much has that market to itself.