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Headphones item created by , May 5, 2010
Pros - Comfort, clarity, detail, musicality
Cons - Sibilance is heavy until hours of burn-in, bass is a bit shy
Much thanks to Urban at JAYS for giving me the opportunity to review these fantastic headphones!
Pros: Comfort, clarity, detail, musicality
Cons: Sibilance is heavy until hours of burn-in, bass is a bit shy
Big and sleek are the first two things that come to mind when I received my q-JAYS. The box is easily bigger than any DUNU offering I've received, about the width of a marble notebook and almost the height for some imprecise measurements. The box does include a lot of accessories though, so it's excusable.
The front of the box is very minimalistic. The q-JAYS are each shown through a small window sitting on a lime green plastic case. At the bottom it has the q-JAYS name with some information. When turned over to the back the packaging suddenly seems a little congested. In the two rectangle window the various silicon tips are shown. Above them there is a lot of text. The text is the various accessories included as well as specifications in English and many other languages. While it does congest the back, I think it's nice they cater to various regions. On the right the content list is shown in a diagram.
Opening the q-JAYS is a little bit of a feat. The plastic container holding everything in place was surrounded by a plastic casing which I unfortunately wasn't careful enough when opening to save for further storage. Everything was carefully packed away though and very secure. Nothing fell out or looked damaged, despite being a wealth of accessories.
Included with the q-JAYS is 7 sets of single flanged silicon tips that should provide a good fit for everyone and a pair of Comply T300 tips that come in one size, medium. Plenty of replacement filters are included which should last the lifetime of the q-JAYS with clean ears. I do wish though that JAYS had used screw off metal mesh filters like the Apple Dual-Driver IEMs include. Two cables are included, an L-plug extension cord and an I plug extension cord to add necessary length while giving the user an option of an L or I plug. Lastly a 3.5mm spitter, an airline adaptor and a small zipper carrying case are included.
The q-JAYS come in a stylish box with everything secure. The accessories are honestly overkill, but I love that. JAYS gives users almost everything they could possibly need for any travel condition here, call me impressed. The addition of the Comply foam tips is really icing on the cake here. Top notch packaging for top notch headphones.
Design and Build Quality
Tiny. It's really hard to comprehend how tiny the q-JAYS are until you see them in person. JAYS claims that these are the worlds smallest IEMs and while I have no verification, I'm not going to dispute it. I've always wondered how companies managed to fit two drivers into normal sized IEMs, but with the q-JAYS I think they've simply used magic to fit two drivers into these. The q-JAYS seem to be meant to be worn down as the slight curve and branding of the plastic housing is suited for wearing them down, unless you want to wear them in the opposite ears. Some users do claim to prefer these over ear though, I'm really not sure how though as the curve of the IEM would cause it to sit awkward in the ear.
The housing itself comes in either black or white plastic. While the white looks sleek, especially for those who are avid Apple users, the white does show wear and tear more than the black. On one side "right" or "left" is imprinted on the inside of the IEM, while the JAYS logo is printed on the other side facing outwards. The nozzle is small and allows for deep insertion and has a removable mesh filter on the edge of it, which once removed exposes another permanent filter. The JAYS plastic housing is coated in rubber on the outside edges to allow for a better grip which is where the cable comes out of. The cable has a very small stress relief which is slightly inside of the housing itself barely protruding. Despite the small stress relief the cable is durable feeling and I have no qualms about it.
The cable leads to a small plastic rubberized y-split with a cinch that looks almost seamless. From the y-split the cable terminates shortly after to a 3.5mm I plug in-which the extensions come in use. From here you can choose the L or I plug which both terminate in a well built 3.5mm gold plated plug.
The q-JAYS sit deep and securely in the ears, but very comfortable with the included Comply tips. With the Comply tips isolation is above average, about 75% outside noise blocked without music playing. Microphonics are a slight issue on the q-JAYS unfortunately. When worn down it's noticeable unless using the cable cinch which still allows for some microphonics. Wearing them over ear though stops the microphonics.
The q-JAYS are well built and designed IEMs. They are not only comfortable but they isolate well. microphonics unfortunately are present unless worn over ear, which I never found an ideal fit with. The only thing I would change about these in-fact is the microphonics, everything else is above average.
As always I burned these in for 50 hours before listening. After 50 hours the treble was still harsh so I gave them another 50 hours allowing them to settle in. I highly recommend giving these 100 hours before forming an opinion on these, I also highly recommend the Comply tips for these.
When I opened the q-JAYS I was very excited to hear them as I'd heard many good things. What I was treated to was a very bright sound with a lot of sibilance. The first thing I did was switch the included silicon tips for the included Comply tips to give them a warmer sound, then I allowed them to burn in to let the treble settle in. Boy am I glad I didn't.
After allowing them to burn in I found myself treated to a clean, detailed, airy, quick, neutral sound with a slightly warm tinge to them. To compare these to another headphone I easily compare them to my Ad900. While the sound signature is very similar to the Ad900, the q-JAYS are more analytical and far more revealing. Despite that the q-JAYS still retain a lot of musicality and are just as fun to listen to music on as my Ad900.
The bass is tight, quick, and punchy. The bass is simply fantastic in quality, though the quantity will definitely disappoint bassheads. The bass extends well, but it lacks any authority in the sub-bass making it rather disappointing for dubstep and other heavy bass genres. The mid and upper bass though is punchy and very quick though giving appropriate impact for kick drums and presence in bass guitars for most music. The mids are clean and detailed. Slightly forward, but not as much as the Ad900, they give guitars a nice crunch and vocals a nice presence to them making these fantastic for vocal oriented music or alternative rock. The highs are the star here, not only do they sparkle, but they shine. The highs are incredibly detailed, extended and clean. Sibilance is definitely heard when these are out of the box, but with the Comply tips and 100 hours of burn-in it's very slight and not a problem.
Some may call the q-JAYS grainy, yes they're very grainy and distorted at times. Thankfully that isn't a problem with the q-JAYS, but unfortunately a problem with bad mastering. I took some loudness war offenders and some other notably bad recordings and the q-JAYS showed the flaws. This can be seen as a good or bad thing, depending on the music you listen to, but one thing is for sure it shows the clarity and detail of the q-JAYS.
The soundstage is actually rather impressive on the q-JAYS giving a nice airy wide feel to it with good imaging. The soundstage is very similar to what open headphones provide. While the soundstage is rather large and airy it doesn't make these less engaging, in-fact these are very engaging with their slightly forward sound. As for needing an amp I find that the q-JAYS are adequately driven from my iPod Classic though it doesn't hurt to have a little extra juice or something with bass boost to make the sound a bit warmer.
Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
This is a classic song with good mastering and a great clean sound to it. Boy do the acoustic guitars sound wonderful through these. Absolutely clear as if looking at the bottom of a Caribbean sea. The vocals are warm and sweet and the drums sound incredibly natural. The piano sound clear and perfectly balanced in the mix to my ears. Honestly I have not one complaint with this song through the q-JAYS, it's absolutely stunning and clear.
Sigur Ros - Agaetis Byrjun
A beautiful song with excellent balance, recording and a variety of instruments. One thing about this song, and album, for that matter I find many headphone lacking or messing up is the balance of the album. The album was recorded beautifully and while a very warm album still has a lot that can be left out. The bass is usually either underwhelming or overwhelming depending on the headphone. The q-JAYS leave me slightly underwhelmed in all honesty. The bass is easily heard and extends well but it doesn't have enough presence. Don't let that deter you though, I've never heard Jonsi's vocals sound so clear, the piano so detailed, or the acoustic guitar in such clarity from the position changes to the slides. The only thing lacking is the bass, but even so I find myself enjoying this on a level I've almost never experienced.
Kanye West - Power
I wanted to test this song not only for it's bass, but because the mastering is questionable and I wanted to see how revealing the q-JAYS are. The vocals and samples actually sound excellent through the q-JAYS, I'm really liking these with their aggression on the vocals making them more than suitable for rap. The bass is where the problems really are though with the mastering and there's definitely clipping heard in the heavy bass, which is hard hitting and showing authority. Thankfully though the song is just as listenable as I've ever heard it. Thumbs up here.
Feist - So Sorry
I chose this because of the beautiful female vocals and delicate sound of the song in combination to being a good sibilance test. While some sibilance is heard it's honestly not bothering unless I'm concentrating on it. Out of the box this song hurt my ears, but after burn-in the q-JAYS have toned down. The vocals sound absolutely clean and controlled. I'm thoroughly impressed with the clarity and warmth of this song.
Sufjan Stevens - Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois
This is a beautiful song with a winter suited piano, hushed vocals, and a nice sibilance test. The piano sounds warm, yet cold at the same time, the sort of piano tone you would hear on a Christmas recording. The vocals are hushed, clear, and intimate, oh boy do they sound good. There's some grain in the woodwind and some of the backing vocals, but this album is lo-fi in a way so it's simply the q-JAYS revealing it.
As a fan of the Ad900 I've been searching for months to find an IEM to satisfy me when I'm away from my Ad900. The combination of a slightly forward sound with a warm tinge that's incredibly detailed and clear while still being musical has made the q-JAYS my new favorite IEM. These won't suit everyone, especially bassheads, but the q-JAYS will be a perfect on the road companion for AD900 fans and even possibly AKGK701/K701 fans.
At the current asking price near $200 depending on where you look these are a good value. While they may not be the best price to quality ratio there is nothing, absolutely nothing, I find disappointing about these from the comfort to the sound. Well done JAYS, well done.
Come see more photos of the q-JAYS here!