Jays a-Jays One+ review

In this affordable price range, the Jays a-Jays One+ represents a good deal for in-canal earphones, but it's not the only option worth your attention.

For the uninitiated, Jays is a no-frills, stylish Swedish brand that makes affordable earphones—usually in all-white or all-black. The Jays a-Jays One+ is an update to one of its entry-level models—the plus sign stands for the addition of the inline single button remote and microphone that works with most mobile devices, not just iPhones. Generally speaking, the One+ is a solid value: It’s affordable at $59.99 (direct), and it delivers distortion-free music that doesn’t skimp on the bass. The One+ is neither for purists nor bass fiends, as it has a nice amount of low-end boost without going overboard, but the earphones could stand to be a bit brighter.

Design
The design of a typical Jays product is about simplicity, and the a-Jays One+ is no exception. It’s offered in all-white or all-black, with the product name gracing the left and right ear’s cables just below the earpiece. Along the right ear cable, at about chin-level, is a single button remote and microphone that works for a wide variety of mobile devices. Jays dryly declares the remote “Works with Most” on their website. (Meaning: It works with Android devices, too, and they avoided the “Works with iPhone” branding route, which requires Apple-approved remote designs.)

The cable for the One+ is flat, like the linguine-esque cables you’ll see on most Beats by Dr. Dre products. This means the cable is (a little) less likely tangle, though it can still happen. Generally, I think the flat cable is a good look, but on the One+, it feels a little too wide for these relatively small earpieces.

When wearing them, you look like you’ve got half of a stethoscope on—and the cable thump is more noticeable than on typical pair, presumably because of the added surface area and rigidity of the cable. In light of this, a shirt-clip would have been a useful inclusion. The cable also seems to add a bit more tug to the ears when wearing them, but the ear tips are secure nonetheless.

Included with the One+: a user manual and five total pairs of ear tips in various sizes. There’s also a rarity: An Android-only app, the Jays Headset Control, which allows you to adjust volume, skip tracks, even add delays to your music. The design of the app is all black and white, and fits the overall aesthetic of the Jays line well. You can download the app for free from Google Play.

Call clarity through the inline mic is typical for cellular fidelity—not great, but you and your call partner will be able to understand each other.

Performance
On tracks with serious deep bass, the One+ holds its own. The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” for instance, has tremendous sub-bass frequency content, but even at top volumes, it doesn’t distort. As affordable earphones and headphones get more powerful and capable of delivering enhanced low-end, it’s less of a surprise when a $60 pair can play lower frequencies at high volumes cleanly. Regardless, it’s a test plenty of pairs still manage to fail—even in higher price ranges.

The One+ sounds as if it is teetering on the edge of distortion at absolute top volume, but this is not a safe listening level, and it never actually goes beyond the distortion threshold. Serious bass fiends might not feel that the One+ is pushing out quite enough rumble, but those looking for a flat response-style pair might feel it has too much bass response—the One+ splits the difference on bass.

On Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” his baritone vocals are delivered with a nice low-mid smoothness to them, but also enough of a high-mid edge to allow them to take the forefront in the mix. The drumming in the background packs a sufficient amount of low-end, as well, without going over the top. The overall response could probably use a touch more of high-mid/high frequency presence, which would help the guitar strumming and vocals cut through a bit more, but the mix is anything but muddy.

Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild” could also use a tad more high-mid boost—the kick drum loop might sound a bit more powerful with more treble presence on its attack. The sub-bass synth hits underneath the loop have a nice roundness to them through the One+—nothing too intense, but it definitely adds some dimension to the sound signature. On this and the Bill Callahan track, however, things seem a bit too rooted in the mids, overall—a bit more crispness might’ve gone a long way.

One genre for which this is not an issue is classical music, which is typically recorded in pristine, transparent ways that don’t exaggerate bass and thus naturally favor the high-mids and highs. The bass response of the One+ adds some subtle, natural-sounding depth to the lower register strings on John Adams’ “The Chairman Dances,” but the higher register strings, brass, and percussion take the spotlight. Here, the attack of percussion and growl of the brass sits perfectly in the mix; it’s not too bright, nor is it lacking in high-mid presence.

I don’t expect any earphone pair in this price range to be perfect, so the distortion-free delivery of audio with some decent bass response makes the a-Jays One+ a strong value. It’s hard for me to get past the cable tugging down, and its microphonics creating a louder-than-normal thump when I walk around. If you like the Jays aesthetic and this is your price range, consider jumping over to the on-ear headphone realm—the Jays v-Jays lacks the wide cable, and delivers solid audio in a lightweight frame. If you’re married to the idea of an in-ear pair, the Jays t-Jays Three is a more expensive option we’ve tested and enjoyed—it also lacks the wide, flat cable.

In this price range, the RHA MA450i is a decent option with a much brighter (sometimes too bright) sound signature, while the Moshi Dulcia is another comparable option with a better-feeling fit. The RHA MA150, meanwhile, is about as cheap as earphones get without sounding bad, and is our budget Editors’ Choice earphone pair. The a-Jays One+ is a solid option for $60, but there are plenty of competing models worthy of your attention.

Specifications
Connection Stereo 3.5mm
Removable Cable No
Phone Controls Yes
Impedance 16 ohms
Type In-Canal
Frequency Range 20Hz-18kHz

Verdict
In this affordable price range, the Jays a-Jays One+ represents a good deal for in-canal earphones, but it's not the only option worth your attention.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc