We’ve reviewed these before (back in 2015!) but now this version comes with earcups made from recycled vinyl, supplied by Ninja Tune no less. It’s a neat idea. The headphones are more eco-friendly anyway than most, due to their modular design, and they sound as good as ever, so they get five stars from us.
First Impressions / Setting up
The headphones come in a number of plastic bags, thankfully made from 100% recycled plastic! So you get bags for the coiled cable (these can operate over Bluetooth or a wired connection), the two sets of ear pads (on-ear and over-ear), the 40mm driver units themselves, the Bluetooth headband, and… a bag for the bag. Surely the fabric bag could have been pushed into the box without the need for a bag around it? Anyway…
The idea is that you assemble them from the provided parts, which we did (you can see me doing it in the video), choosing whether you want to add the over-ear or the on-ear earcups, depending upon where you’re going to be using them, and I guess personal preference. Both were nice and comfy, made of PU leather, something that, unlike six years ago when we made our original review, I now heartily approve of.
The charging socket for the supplied USB-A to USB-C cable is built into the headband, so just plug that in to charge. To turn them on you press the middle of three discrete buttons on one side of the headband, which is also the button to tap once, twice or three times for play/pause, next track, and previous track. These buttons can also be used to control incoming calls.
The provided cable is in a cool Ninja Tune light blue colour, and securely fastens into your choice of earcup, with a twist. You get a ¼” to ⅛” adaptor, too.
After we made the unboxing video that accompanies this review, we gave them a real-world test for a few days. They charge pretty fast (can’t give you an exact number as they came partly charged), and AIAIAI claims they last for 20 hours – we certainly didn’t run them flat in a week of normal use daily testing.
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We’re told they’re Bluetooth 5.0 audio transmission with SBS and AAC codecs – all we care about is whether they work, though, and they did. No dropouts from phone to headphones when used for bobbing around town and jogging. I found the buttons easy to access for volume and music control.
The supplied recycled earcups are the company’s S05 model, which has a detailed sound with an emphasis on the mid range. This would probably be the preferred audio profile for producers, but other sound profiles are also available – basically, a bassier one (for DJs), and a more trebly one (general use). I actually liked how these sounded, but without the other two here to compare them against, I can’t tell you how much they all differ from each other.
The over-ear ear pads are seriously luxurious and soft, but the on-ear ones are probably best for day-to-day use and definitely for DJing – it’s nice that they give you the choice.
This is a neat little partnership, AIAIAI and its headphones have an environmental edge to them anyway, and the Ninja Tune subtle colouring and branding are pleasing (plus they’re a cool label – check out their releases from TSHA, one of my current favourites).
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It would be nice if they could find a way of not providing all the parts in plastic, even if it is recycled, and it’s a shame the headband isn’t from recycled plastic too. But overall these are AIAIAI, but just that little bit flashier, and that little bit more sustainable. They sound great, they’re modular, flexible, and durable – and we reckon they deserve another half star from our 4.5 rating six years ago, for a straight Digital DJ Tips five out of five.