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Aiaiai Tracks Headset w/mic review: Aiaiai Tracks Headset w/mic

Aiaiai Tracks Headset w/mic

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Justin Yu
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Justin Yu

Associate Editor / Reviews - Printers and peripherals

Justin Yu covered headphones and peripherals for CNET.

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4 min read

The Aiaiai Tracks headphones are inspired by the original Sony MDR-006 headphones that came with Sony Walkman portable cassette players in the 1980s. Aside from keeping the steel headband, Aiaiai completely reinvents the shape of with an innovative rail-style headband that offers unprecedented adjustability. The black paint on our test pair's headband is already starting to chip away, giving us some doubt about its durability, but we still consider $84 a fair price for open headphones with such spacious sound quality. And with many online retailers charging half price for select color combinations, we have no reservations recommending the Aiaiai Tracks for your new set of on-ear cans.

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8.7

Aiaiai Tracks Headset w/mic

The Good

The innovative <b>Aiaiai Tracks</b> headphones combine a broad sonic range with a built-in microphone for hands-free calling, and the clever microadjusting rail system improves comfort.

The Bad

The thin steel headband is susceptible to nicks and chips, and we're apprehensive about its long-term structural durability.

The Bottom Line

The affordable Aiaiai Tracks push headphone design forward with an unobtrusive aesthetic. They sound as wonderful as they look and deserve your consideration if you're shopping for a new pair.

Design and features
The Tracks headphones come disassembled in the box, so it's up to you to put them together. The three parts consist of the curved steel headband (ours is the black version, but they come in multiple colors), the two padded earcups, and three sets of sliders that attach to the outside of each earcup and guide them onto the band.

We don't have evidence to support our suspicions, but we're concerned that the hard plastic connecting the earcup to the slider may erode over time with constant adjustment. We recommend assembling the headphones with the slider of your choosing and sticking with that combination to prevent unnecessary wear on the pivoting stress points.

The obvious benefit of the rail headband over traditional designs is that the tapered opening gives you a range of sizes to choose from, as opposed to the preset adjustments you see in traditional headphones; think of it as the difference between using a notched belt with holes versus a sliding-clasp buckle that can clamp onto any part of the strap.

Our only critique of the headband is that the steel is susceptible to chips and nicks in the paint that, depending on your taste, can create either a beautiful patina or an ugly display that cries out for clearcoat.

Either way, our test model is already developing several nicks on the edges that reveal the silver finish underneath, so expect to see similar results if you listen to music on the run or store your headphones in a carry-all bag.

A thinly coated rubber cord protrudes from both sides of the padded earcups and extends slightly longer than the average headphone cord at just under 4.5 feet from the reinforced connection points. At 6 inches down, you'll find a small remote control on the wire with three buttons that control the music on your smartphone; we tested the track navigation and volume features on a series of Apple iPhone and Android models and the remote worked well.

The lightweight Aiaiai Tracks are also comfortable on your ears thanks to the small buttons that cause the earpads to pivot a full range of angles to accept multiple head sizes and ear shapes. The design itself is supra-aural, meaning the earpads sit directly on top of your ears with a light pressure that you can control with the slider. The wafer-thin headband sticks out only slightly from the sides of the wearer's temples for a unique look that seems to almost disappear on your head.

If you're not into showing off a conspicuous pair of headphones like the JVC HA-M5Xs or Monster Beats by Dr. Dre Studios, the Aiaiai Tracks are certainly a more graceful alternative.

Performance
On-ear headphones under $100 typically underwhelm us with their shallow sound stage and shrill sibilance, but the Tracks' dual 10mm drivers blew us away with their rich, thumping bass and vibrant structure that accurately translate spatial cues. In listening to our test tracks, we could easily perceive the different instruments present in the recording session, especially in terms of relative distance and direction from the microphones used to pick up the audio.

The headphones also have no shortage of tight bass that shapes itself well to the even-toned midsection for satisfying fidelity all around, and not just in music; we also played a variety of podcasts encoded at bit rates from 44KHz and 96KBps all the way up to 128KBps, and all the recordings sound precise, especially the ones recorded with music markers and background music.

Conclusions
The versatile sound of the Aiaiai Tracks headphones and their unique rail design make them valuable contenders for a range of aesthetic tastes and music tastes. The in-line remote control earns the Tracks high marks for smartphone owners and bass-loving listeners won't be disappointed with their low-end bump, but no matter what kind of music you prefer, the $84 Tracks are excellent performers and deserving of your consideration to be your next pair of headphones, at home or outside.

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8.7

Aiaiai Tracks Headset w/mic

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 9
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