What we have here is a flagship IEM from Swedish company, JAYS. Starting at just 400 euro it is a competitively priced mid-tier entry into the ever growing market of premium universal fit in ear monitors, a market where you have to stand out to succeed! What about JAYS though, what are they all about? Well 2006 was the year it all began in Sweden for JAYS, they had ‘a simple idea and a big vision’ which was to create great music experiences that everyone could enjoy and love. This is undoubtedly a huge goal for any company.
Interestingly enough, they are now based in an old brewery in central Stockholm, audio and indulgence always seem to find each other somehow or another! They believe that by “humanizing innovative technology with good design, we can create memorable music experiences with an emotional impact”. This tells me the music is at the heart of what they do, always a good sign when a company are music lovers not just tech freaks. Let me give you a quote from their website…
“Our promise to you is a steadfast commitment to design and engineering excellence and a rigorous attention to details. To deliver on that promise means we have to stay true to our core value of simplicity in everything we do, in order to make products that are beautiful, easy to use and are built to last.”
This is the most expensive product in their range and labelled as the reference earphone of their line-up. JAYs also have some cheaper models which I have always happened to see in high street stores, something I can’t say about a lot of products I review.
These are a dual balanced armature product and the drivers are custom tuned by JAYS themselves to achieve their desired performance and sound signature. The configuration we have here is one BA for low end and one for mid and high (although it is a twin driver) giving a frequency response of +-5dB 8 Hz – 16 kHz, a sensitivity rating of 103dB and an impedance of 50 Ohm. For a BA earphone, that is quite a low sensitivity and also a higher than average impedance, not hugely important abut something to note.
The earphones themselves are made from injection moulded stainless steel with a rather impressive PVD matte finish, and have a claimed isolation of -40 dB at 2kHz.
I will just quickly give you a run down, we have a gorgeous metal case finished the same as the earphones themselves which is threaded beautifully and a genuinely premium product. The feel, design and finish are absolutely brilliant and the softer rubber insert is a great addition to the case. This was clearly a very well thought out decision, there has been no quality compromise here and that is rare in today’s mid-priced earphone market. A very nice accessory indeed! We also have 5 pairs of silicone ear tips and a pair of Comply foam ones too. Sonny just wanted to chime in on the unboxing as well as he handled that.
“The experience from the moment of the delivery to the first time I wore this was stunning. Companies like Dunu do a great job of having loads of accessories but nothing felt as luxury as this, not even my most expensive custom IEM or flagship headphone. presentation was stellar and the little touches such as the hardback manual went a long way in my eyes. I am very impressed!”
I hate having more and more connectors for removable cables HOWEVER this is my new favourite connection for removable cables, bar none. It is truly brilliant; a tiny threaded MMCX basically, it is called an SSMCX. If you are careful I think this could just be the most reliable, long lasting solution to removable cables. It is easy to use and a genuine step forward for connector technology.
Obviously there is the issue that replacement or upgrade cables are going to be very difficult to get hold of unless you get a replacement from JAYS. This is the consistent downside to new connections that is going to be fairly impossible to overcome, it will be much easier if there is maybe, two standard connections for IEM and CIEM’s. I would love to see the connector available to the after market cable companies and also see other that use the poor and often failing standard MMCX and converting to this much more sturdy solution where you tightly screw in the connector instead of snapping it in place.
The cable itself though is actually a point of disagreement between Sonny and I, he thinks it’s really not a good cable at all; he doesn’t like the feel of it. I feel this is harsh though. It doesn’t tangle, it is flexible, I guess the strain reliefs are a little large and stiff, but they certainly serve a purpose. The right angled jack is tough too which gives me the confidence to bung my player in my pocket without worrying about snapping the jack. My only real complaint is that it is quite microphonic which is a little disappointing but very seldom will you come across a stock cable that isn’t! At any price that is!
There is the option to have them cabled with a 3 buttoned remote with a MEMS Technology microphone for an extra 70 euros. You have compatibility with iOS, Android and Windows devices which is essential obviously.
I’m pretty pleased with the cabling overall, I would take this over a Linum cable any day.
Onwards we go, to the best thing about this product…
Build Quality and Ergonomics
I’ve already touched on the quality of the case and this continues through to the earphones themselves. The actual housing is made from injection moulded solid stainless steel before CNC machining and laser-cutting, creating one of the most exquisitely formed earphones I have ever come across. To finish, the housings are coated in a ‘proprietary scratch-resistant anti-fingerprint coating which is what results in the matte black finish. Gorgeous.
These things are tiny! I think you would be hard pushed to find a man/woman/child that these were too big for, or someone that struggled to get a good comfortable fit. I have tiny ears so believe me when I say this; I have no issue with getting a good seal immediately and have never had any issues with the fit. It is rare I have this experience with a UIEM, the Lime Ears LE3 universal are an earphone that I think sounds brilliant but I really struggle to get a comfortable fit, and it was the same story with the like of the Heir 8.0 and sometimes even the DUNU DN2000’s.
Oh by the way, you can also remove the silicone tip and unscrew the filter at the tip of the nozzle to give it a clean without the risk of pushing ant debris into the earphone itself, I know that isn’t unique to JAYS by any means but what a cool feature hey?!
There isn’t much more to say other than these are built beautifully and no expense has been spared to give you a truly high quality product.
The unfortunate truth of this industry is that everyone has a different reference point to judge sound from. If, like us, your reference points are earphones such as the DUNU-DN2000J, the UERM and the Hidition Viento R, then these earphones will be perceived differently to someone who uses the Heir 8.0, Jomo 6 or the Campfire Audio Lyra. Now that is why we give you a measurement Monday, so we can give you our sound impressions alongside a technical measurement, the best of both worlds!
So, for me, the overall signature of the q-JAYS is actually closer to neutral than I was expecting, there is not the huge bass quantity I have come to expect in recent times but there is a little warmth and softness to the bass to pull everything together. This is a positive; it’s great that a better known “commercial” brand is producing an earphone with this kind of sound. The thing that became apparent to me right away was the detailed, airier nature of the q-JAYS, they have clearly been tuned to appeal to people wanting a glimpse into the high end, reference sounding end of the market.
As I say, we don’t have a huge emphasis on big bloated bass BUT the bass does sit above the mid-range of the spectrum, it’s fairly fast but it isn’t punchy like I have come to expect TWFK’s (the driver looks like a TWFK and the original q-Jays used one, apparently this doesn’t so maybe something similar or a modified one) to be. There is a touch of softness and vagueness to the bass which gives it a more relaxed feel which can help an earphone like this. Another benefit is that it also creates a less aggressive sound. It can have a detrimental effect though and for my preference I don’t get the tight slam and precision that I want in a reference product. The extension isn’t the best either to be honest; the q-JAYS share this quality with the UERM actually!
Bass is quick and unimposing with a nice tonality to it; it just lacks the oomph and extension it needs to provide a convincing reference.
The mids are a little recessed behind the rest of the spectrum and this does affect the “reference” claims, however as a benefit of the bass, the mids never become overpowered by it. This is really important in maintaining an insightful, clear sound; something the q-JAYS do well in this area. The sense of space is something lots of people will be fond of as it really allows the music to speak for itself, these earphones will show up a poor source recording or components!
One thing I will say on this area is that I do get some sibilance which is an unwanted harshness and one that I don’t really expect from a $400 earphone. Having said this, comply tips do soften this, along with creating a slightly warmer overall sound as comply tips generally do.
There is quick decay in the treble which makes it, snappy, metallic and shimmery. Treble detail isn’t bad but there is a lacking in extension when compared to the offering from DUNU with the 2000 and 2000J. As I say, the better the source the better return you will get but these JAYS do offer a good treble response even off a decent smartphone which the DUNU’s don’t do so well, something that I think gives these something to shout about.
I gave been super critical of the sound, they are an earphone that offer a really decent sound that will get people that are used to a commercial, thicker, bass heavier sound signature more interested in really good reproduction. I think that’s great and I really hope they do achieve that. With a few refinements and alterations I have no doubt JAYS could produce a really outstanding sounding unit, but, at the moment they will have to settle for a ‘good’ sound but arguably the best design, build and engineering in the business.
Vibro Treatment with Sonny
So now it is time for us to have a look at the measurements made from the Vibro Labs Veritas too see things a little more objectivley and so that you can compare them visually to the list of other earphones we have measured.
As Josh pointed out, this does indeed have a slight bump through the mid-bass, not huge by any means, but there none the less. As he also noted we do get a slight roll off with things tapering after 100Hz but take my word and check some other measurements, it could do a lot worse. The midrange actually does an amazing job of keeping balanced and I am very impressed to see a lack of any notches. 3kHz sees an almost non exsistent bump down but other than that it doing really well in that regard. The response is impeccably smooth. Even at the upper end of the treble we only get a little peak. Looking at the measurements and even the tight driver matching, it shows that quality control is not only good on the build but also the sound and they are matching their drivers and have taken care in the tuning, even if Josh has said it is wasn’t quite perfect.
The q-JAYS are a beauty to behold; the design, form, feel, comfort and connectors are absolutely outstanding, I cannot stress this enough. They are comfortable and isolate pretty well too! They sound pretty good to back it all up as well, but certainly not my favourite in the price bracket sonically. People ask if they are worth the $400? Absolutely they are, I just wish every universal earphone could be such a joy to wear and use as this one is.
I can’t wait to see what the future holds for JAYS, what is next?!