If you own an iPhone (or any smartphone, really), chances are you use it to some degree to listen to music, whether that be your music stored on the device, or through apps like Pandora, Rdio, etc. And those of us who listen to a lot of music generally like it to sound as good as possible. The problem with that is that most people never upgrade their earphones/headphones past the freebies that are included with their device. Well, to give music lovers an entry level upgrade option, Jays recently introduced their new a-Jays One+ earphones. How do they perform? Our friends over at MobileFun sent us a pair to take a look at. Jump past the break to find out more!
From the get-go, the a-Jays One+ earphones give a sense of real quality. The packaging itself even lends to this impression. The earphones come in a very robust soft-touch coated black plastic oval shaped box that will probably frustrate you to no end (like it did me!), until you figure out the secret to getting into it…there’s a press tab on the back bottom right of the box covered by a barcode sticker that, when pressed, will allow the package to slide apart. Once you’re finally inside that box you’ll find the earphones themselves, user manual, and one of the best assortment of different sized eartips I’ve seen in an entry level pair of earphones. There are 5 different sizes total (4 in the box and 1 already on the earphones) that should accommodate all but the most extreme sized ears.
The earphones themselves continue this impression of a quality product that should be at a much higher price point than it actually is. The cables are a flat-ribbon style as opposed to the more traditional standard round profile, which helps a bit with avoiding irritating cable tangles, and should add a bit of strength to the cables as well. The overall finish on the a-Jays is a matte, soft touch black rubberized surface that is only broken by the white printed “a-Jays One+” just below the earbuds, and the in-line one-button remote/mic about halfway down the right side earbud cord. This remote/mic allows the user to take calls while listening to music, and also gives play/pause, track skip ahead and back capabilities. Coming to the bottom of the earphones you find a thin, right-angled headphone jack that, due to its slim-design, should allow compatibility with all but the deepest (headphone port) openings. This right angled design also allows the connector to sit much flatter against your device, giving a much more compact profile in your pocket than a typical straight jack. Plus, it should prevent damage to the typically vulnerable headphone jack.
If all you’ve ever used to listen to your music is the included earbuds/earphones, then you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise once you put the a-Jays One+ to use! If you’re accustomed to the stock Apple earbuds which sit outside the ear canal, the first thing you’ll notice is that the a-Jays are more of an “in the ear” design, which seals off the ear canal with the silicone tip on the buds themselves. It sometimes takes a little fiddling with the buds to find the right fit, but once you do, they are leaps and bounds more comfortable than the typically pain-inducing, uncomfortable to wear for long periods, stock Apple earbuds. This “sealed off” design also blocks out much more ambient noise than that of the Apple earbuds, which may be a good or bad thing depending on where you’re using the earphone.
On the working end of things, the One+ uses an 8.6mm dynamic driver, which seems to be the same one used in all of Jays’ a-Jays line-up. This driver gives the a-Jays a very warm, pleasing sound signature. They are a little bassy, which is typical of sub-$75 earphones and of the a-Jays lineup in general (it’s one of their advertised characteristics), but not anything that will tire the listener out during long sessions. As far as high-end resolution (treble), they actually are surprising performers in this area, having a nice bright (but not overbearing) tone to the higher frequencies with good clarity. And being dynamic drivers, with more use (break in), the drivers should open up more and more over time, further enhancing the sound signature.
In use, the inline mic/remote is a welcome feature, and works just as advertised. Click once to play/pause your music, two clicks will move you forward one track, and three quick clicks will take you back one track, and these controls also seem to work with all iOS apps that support it (I tested it with Pandora). The mic seems to allow great sound quality when on a call using the earphones, as none of my test callers ever noticed that I wasn’t using the phone’s own mic. For Android users, Jays offers a free app called “Jays Headset Control” that allows customization of what different series of taps and presses on the remote’s button do. Unfortunately this isn’t offered on Apple devices, so I didn’t get the chance to try this functionality out. My only complaint regarding the One+’s would be that there’s no volume control buttons, but conveniently enough those ARE offered on a higher end a-Jays product, the a-Jays Four.
One negative I did find regarding the a-Jays design, specifically that of the flat ribbon style cable, is that it does suffer from microphonics, which is the transmission of vibrations in the cable (rubbing on your clothes, for instance) up to the earphones themselves, resulting in audible noise, i.e., you can “hear” anything the cable hits or rubs against. This doesn’t come into effect at higher volume levels (such as running or at the gym), but at lower volume levels, it can come into play a bit.
Are the Jays a-Jays One+ earphones a good upgrade for those users who are still on the stock earbuds?Absolutely! At this price point (£39.95 Europe, approx $60 U.S.) they are an outstanding value. With their warm sound, they are earphones that can easily be listened to for hours on end. The inline remote/mic comes in very handy in adding basic controls to your music playback, and if you’re using an Android device, the free Jays app will gain you even more functionality from the remote. While true “audiophiles” might shy away from the a-Jays due to their lack of accuracy (the added bass they provide), the average user is going to be upping the sound quality of their music enormously. At around $60, the a-Jays One+ earphones would be a great investment for anyone looking to upgrade their stock earphones without getting into the stratospheric price-points that other earphones can quickly climb into.
Jays a-Jays One+ are available at Mobilefun.co.uk