by Anthony Kershaw
I received a very pleasant email from Urban Kindult, rep for Sweden’s JAYS, promoting its line of higher end earphones (manufacturing since 2006). The noise canceling, dual armature, small beauties sounded intriguing, so I requested a pair of the top end q-JAYS for review. A week later they arrived safe and sound from the Stockholm suburb of Västerås.
Straight into the ear, the sound was heavily balanced towards the upper end. I decided to enlist the help of my son to aid with driver break in. Off he went for 25 hours of indie music and Miles Davis.
Upon their return, the sound was very much improved. Balanced and very detailed. If you are lucky enough to own a pair, be sure to break in at least for 25 hours before critical listening.
Technically, the q-JAYS are very impressive, especially technology on such a small scale. The dual micro armatures of q-JAYS are the smallest in the world. Each earphone has one woofer for the mids and low frequencies and one tweeter for the detailed highs. JAYS suggest ‘…by dividing the frequency curve on separate drivers it is possible to get an even clearer sound than with single armature drivers.’
The specifications of the q-JAYS are 95 dB SPL @ 1 kHz Sensitivity, Impedance of 39 Ohm @ 1 kHz and a Frequency Response of 20 Hz - 20 000 Hz. Size is (L)19 x (W)7.5 x (H)7.4 mm with a weight of 8 grams (0.28 oz).
The shipping box contains lots of accessories, including …’a stereo splitter, flight adapter and a carrying case [too small for anything other than the shortest cable - Ed]. A wide range of silicone sleeves and a pair of foam sleeves will make sure you find a proper fit. The eight pairs of changeable ‘Sound Tube Filters will make your earphones last forever so make sure to change them every now and then if they get dirty or if you’re experiencing a decrease in performance.’
I opted for the largest silicone tips for comfort. Even these had difficulty staying in during workouts, more a criticism of my odd canals rather than the very comfortable tips! If you’ve read any Audiophilia earphone reviews, you know of my problems finding tips that stay in during workouts. [After the review period, I changed to the smaller tips and that worked!]
The noise canceling ‘JAYS Sound Isolating System’ is a little confusing. There is no Bose wizardry, here, but the small size of the armatures and the fit of the silicone tips allows for up to 90% of sound isolation. I can attest that this ‘analog’ solution works. The ambient noise was drastically reduced with the earphones stuffed into the canals.
They do not burrow like Etymotics or some of the other devilishly shaped ear tips, but the snug fit is extremely effective without the feeling of a weevil burrowing into your brain!
The sound continued to improve over the lengthy listening period. The balance was excellent but the actual information retrieval (and recorded ambiance) was spectacular. Very refined and detailed. The sound spectrum is ever so slightly balanced in the treble, but the bass is rock solid and the mids rich and also very detailed. I enjoyed the soundstage replicated from the original recorded event, be it Chicago Symphony Hall with Reiner conducting Rachmaninov or Coldplay’s processed sound from Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends. Miles’ Kind of Blue was also excellent on the q-JAYS, the famous idiosyncrasies of that seminal recording date intact.
The q-JAYS are not inexpensive at US$270. But, they do offer the listener a very refined experience, at least as good as the Shures and Etymotics in the same price range. There are add ons that iPhone fans will need to purchase. From the JAYS site: ‘The m-JAYS is designed to give you the free option of using any earphone or headphone you like. We believe in freedom for the user and m-JAYS will give you first class audio performance with a microphone that has a superior speech quality. A big button makes controlling the cell phone much easier. It controls all the functions your original iPhone headset does with the difference that you can connect your favourite earphone or headphone to it. Your choice.’ For the price, and with the obvious care the company takes with its products, I think JAYS should have included this with the original manufacture. Also, the aforementioned case needs a size upgrade!
Those two small caveats out of the way, I can recommend the q-JAYS for a wonderful aural experience. They’ll bring more of the music to your ear canals in comfort.
The q-JAYS Dual Micro Armatures Sound Isolating Earphones
Manufactured by JAYS
Source: Manufacturer loan