Not interested in the microphone included with Aiaiai’s curiously funky Y-com headset? No matter, the Danish design cooperative knows how to build a stripped-down pair, too. Aiaiai’s Pipe earphones discard many of the frivolous novelties from the Y-com in favor of a design that’s right on par with Apple for sheer minimalism, but miles above stock earphones in sound.
Testing and Performance
Much like the Y-com, the Pipe comes squiggled into a clear acrylic tube that looks fit the for the pneumatic tube system down at the local bank. The hollow end caps each come filled with extra silicon ear gels for a total of four different sizes: small, medium, large, and an additional bizzaro shape that looks like a baby’s pacifier. Maybe they’re just for raver appeal – that particular pair couldn’t even hold the phones in our ears.
Both Aiaiai earphones use a distinctive Y-shaped splitter to cleave a single stereo plug wire from the plug into two mono wires headed to each earbud – and annoyingly, no slider to control where the left and right cables peel apart. But beyond that, we found few similarities. The unwieldy cable we complained about on the Y-com has been replaced by a much thinner model on the Pipe, and the earbuds themselves are narrower, too, making them easier to fit them into the ears. We never had a problem with the gels crunching too far down, either, which seemed to persistently happen with the Y-com.
Yet not all the changes were for the better. Aiaiai seems to have inexplicably forgotten to mark the left and right headphones, meaning you’ll never know whether you’ve got them in the proper ears. Industrious types will easily overcome this with their own markings for which ear is which (a strip of tape, perhaps?) but it’s anyone’s guess how Aiaiai slipped up and forgot to ship them that way.
Sound quality on the Pipe seemed a hair better to us than on the Y-com, despite drivers that actually measure 1mm smaller in diameter. You’ll get the same big, punchy bass, but with treble that seems a little bit more put together. They still don’t rival Klipsch’s Image S4S4 or Grado’s SR60 for the brightness and clarity in the top end, but we suspect rock and hip-hop fans who prefer a little extra kick in the ear canal will be quite pleased with the grunt these deliver. Just don’t pick them out to find new nuance and instruments in your favorite jazz songs.
For nearly $30 less than the Y-com, Aiaiai delivers a pair of earbuds that look better, fit better, and a sound ever-so-slightly better, to our ears. Audiophiles may not line up to sing praise for this reasonably priced pair of earphones, but music lovers looking for a low-key pair of everyday earbuds will find refuge – and some serious thump – in the Aiaiai Pipe.
- Rock-solid bass
- Firm, comfortable fit
- Minimalist styling
- Unremarkable highs
- No markings for right and left
- No slider