We present to you q-JAYS – the world’s smallest in-ear headphones. Though small, the q-JAYS pack huge audiophile-grade sound. JAYS, a Swedish born headphone company, has managed to squeeze dual micro armatures and sound isolating technology into these tiny high-end ear buds. There’s no denying that the Swedes know how to engineer!
The q-JAYS packaging comes with a plethora of accessories. Aside from the q-JAYS headphones, it includes two 90 cm extension cords, seven pairs of silicon ear tips, one set of foam ear tips, four pairs of canal filters, a stereo splitter, an airplane adapter, and a leather carrying case. One extension cord has a straight plug while the other has a right-angle plug. The ear tips are sized from extra-extra-small to large, and there are double sets of medium and small. The leather carrying case is really nice, but it is much too small to comfortable fit the headphones with an extension cord. There is also a user manual included, which is worth the read.
The q-JAYS are small for earbuds, and extremely small for what they’re packing on the inside. Each q-JAYS earbud is shaped like a lima-bean and is similarly sized. The curvature of the earbud is a good indicator of which ear it’s intended for, as is the “Left” and “Right” labels on the side of the earbud. The earbuds are entirely black, although they are also available in red, white, or blue. Each earbud is half glossy black and half matte black. The q-JAYS are very sleek looking, at least upon close inspection.
The cord on the q-JAYS is only 60cm (2 feet), this cord length is really only appropriate if you leave your music player in your shirt pocket or use it with an armband. Most users will need to use one of the two included extension cords. The q-JAYS, and the extension cord, both have gold-plated 3.5mm stereo plugs. The extension cord is 90cm, which give the headphones an actual length of 150cm. 5 feet is very long for a headphone cable. The cord itself is relatively thicker than most headphone cables and is TPE coated with kevlar filling. It is not completely tangle-free, but the thick cable does a pretty good job at preventing complex tangling.
There are a few measures I took to ensure I was getting absolute optimal performance with the q-JAYS. The most important is finding the right ear tip, we can’t stress this enough in our headphone reviews! q-JAYS clearly understands the value of the perfect fit because they include 6 different sizes of tips (including the foam tips). These tips are meant to nestle inside of your ear canal. Using the perfect-fitting ear tips, I apply a bit of moisture to the silicone before inserting them into my ear. This measure helps keep the buds from slipping out of my ear; a useful recommendation from the user manual. Lastly, before passing any serious judgment, I made sure to break-in the headphones with about 10 to 20 hours of use.
The q-JAYS are an extremely impressive set of earbuds that pack a serious audiophile-grade listening experience into a very small package. They produce a very balanced sound with a ton of detail and no distortion. Each headphone has a woofer for the mid and low frequencies, and a tweeter for the high frequencies. The dual armature makes for a very clear and realistic sound. The highs and mids are extremely precise and really accentuate the finer details in music. The lower frequencies are well-defined, and the bass is present, though a bit light. There’s an overall warmth to the music that you just don’t feel with most other headphones. JAYS make the claim that the headphones eliminate up to 90% of ambient noise. After using them on the train and on the busy streets of New York, I can say that metric sounds about right. On the train, when using a relatively normal volume, no background noise could be heard unless a buzzer or bell went off. Depending on the volume, if somebody is talking to you, you will hear a low mumble.
If you have been mainly using inexpensive headphones, you have gotten used to unnatural-sounding highs and lows. It may take some time to fully appreciate the fidelity of the q-JAYS. There’s also a very noticeable difference between listening to lower bitrate mp3s (128kbps) and higher bitrate (256kbps). Lower bitrate mp3s don’t sound bad per se, but it is apparent it doesn’t have the detail of a higher bitrate. In other words, these headphones may turn you into a bitrate snob. Bassheads will be disappointed with the lack of bass. We really loved anything jazz, classical, electronic, and rock. This type of music really brought the q-JAYS alive. We were not as satisfied listening to hip hop, R&B, pop, techno, and dance.
One of the big gripes we had with the headphones is the cord. Two feet is too short to use in most situations, and 5 feet is too long. The 5 foot cord is not only long, but the connection adds a considerable amount of weight to these light headphones. The weight and the extra slack will both work against you at pulling the earbuds from your ears. A smaller gripe we had was that the zippered carrying case is too small to comfortably house the headphones with the extension cord. We do not like having to cram headphones (which JAYS warns you should not “bend”) into a case that has interlocking metal teeth.
q-JAYS are without a doubt an impressive set of earbuds. They are the smallest ear buds out there and yet manage to squeeze two micro-armatures in each bud and block out most ambient noise. The audio is very clear and extremely detailed. Both the black (pictured) and white q-JAYS cost $229.00 on Amazon.com, the red q-JAYS cost $159.90. We are not quite sure how to account for the big difference in price. Either way, it is an expensive set of buds for the average consumer; but for a set of audiophile buds, comparable to high-end Shure or Sennheisers, it is actually a pretty good deal. If you prefer to really feel your bass, or you are perfectly contempt with how inexpensive headphones sound, the q-JAYS may not be your best bet. If you are looking for earbuds full of raw quality and rich detail, in a small package, this is it.
Good: Small, full of rich detail, natural sounding, noise cancelling, includes slew of accessories
Bad: Light on bass, short cord, cord extensions weighs down buds, carrying case is too small