Copenhagen’s AIAIAI, which emerged from the city’s Studio 54-esque club The A-House, is a relatively new entry into the audio equipment scene, having manufactured headphones and earphones since 2005 (it also designs and sells laptop accessories and t-shirts).
Form follows function
The brand’s Pipe earphones have received widespread positive reviews for their high-quality sound and simple design, the latter being a step back from the cool-looking but confusing Y-Model. The Pipes retail for approximately €40, placing them firmly in the mid-range price bracket aimed at people who want a richer listening experience than that provided by the token gesture that is stock headphones, but also a longer-lasting product than, say, a $30 Skullcandy earphones.
AIAIAI’s latest innovation is a line of Pipes with colourways paying tribute to things that have inspired the AIAIAI peeps over the years. To date, two colorways have been released — the green and grey Airtrainer, a salute to the Nike Air Trainer tennis shoe, and the Golden Lady, a gorgeous metallic thing created in the image of AIAIAI’s favorite brew, Tuborg’s The Golden Lady.
As is standard with most earphones, the Pipes come with three interchangeable sets of noise-reducing sleeves in order to best fit the user’s ear; the sleeves are narrower than those of the Y-model, which had received complaints about their diameter and their resulting inability to fit comfortably into the ears. The driver is also 1mm smaller than the Y’s, but never fear; they deliver a similar sound while retailing for almost $30 less.
Full technical specifications can be found on the company’s website.
The Pipes have a sibling, the Pipe headset, which retails for €45 and features an in-built microphone, handy for the iPhone user in transit (or the iPhone user who simply can’t find the energy to remove their device from their bag/pocket/wherever in order to attend to a call). The button on the mic which is used to answer calls and hang up is pretty neato in other ways as well – when playing music you press it once to play or stop a song, and twice to skip to the next song. Otherwise, the specifications are the same and the headset is available in the same colors as the original earphones.
So, thus far we have a reasonably-priced, attractive-looking set of earphones with more than adequate sound. Are there any negatives? Well, firstly, the left and right headphones aren’t marked in any way so you get to figure out by yourself which is which. Obviously, this isn’t too difficult, but it’s a simple design flaw that could have been easily rectified to save customers the annoyance. Like the Y-model, the Pipe’s cord is also lacking in a slider, but that’s a minor detail (for me at least; after a long-standing relationship with a pair of Panasonic’s confounding RP-HJE200-As, I’m not ever going to complain about cords again).
Essentially, the Pipe represents good value for money. As the most reasonably-priced of AIAIAI’s earphones, it has the sound quality to compare with the Y-Model and the €55 Swirl, with a less complicated design than either. AIAIAI have announced that they will be intermittently releasing new colorways in the series — given the high standard of the line’s existing products, it will be interesting to see what they come up with next.