Jays, the Swedish earphone manufacturer, produces a lot of similarly named products, which also happen to have similar designs. The look is clean, simple, and usually black, and the audio performance often emphasizes bass response. The $99.99 (direct) Jays t-Jays Three is the top-of-the-line option in the t-Jays series (there are several other lines, like a-Jays, c-Jays, and q-Jays), and it boasts some pretty powerful audio performance, with deep bass and highly sculpted high-mids and highs. Vocals sound crisp, and stand alongside intense low frequencies. In no way is this a pair for purists, but at $100, the t-Jays Three offers a solid array of accessories (no mobile device controls, though) and impressive sound.
The t-Jays Three are a uniform, matte black, and the overall design is simple—the only real flourish is the etched logo on each earpiece. The earpiece’s angled contour incorporates a vented bass port, helping to provide some of the booming low frequency response, but also to stabilize the earpiece, as it presses gently against the outer ear. Earpieces can be worn either straight, with the cable pointing down, or upside down, for added stability, with the cable looping over and behind the upper ridge of the ear.
While there is no inline microphone or remote control for mobile devices, the t-Jays Three is not light on accessories. Overall, it ships with five pairs of silicon rubber ear tips (which, incidentally, attract dust and pet hair rather easily), a cleverly designed hard shell case that looks a little like Pac-Man when opened (if Pac-Man were made of matte and glossy black plastic), a dual headphone jack adapter for sharing your sound source with another listener, an airplane jack adapter, and a cable extension that allows you to choose between cable lengths of 23.5 or 51 inches.
On deep bass tracks, the t-Jays Three packs a wallop—the sound here is nowhere near flat response, with healthily boosted sub-bass frequencies. At top, (and unsafe) listening levels, the drivers don’t distort, even on tracks with serious sub-bass content, like the Knife’s “Silent Shout.” Clean, distortion-free performance is always what you hope for, but at top volumes, and on pairs around or below the $100 mark, this is not always a given. Because the earpiece design incorporates bass ports, the drivers are able to deliver some serious push and reasonable definition and detail in the low frequency realm.
The t-jays Three are also quite crisp, with a nice amount of focus on the high-mids, allowing a nice treble edge to keep things from getting muddy. Bill Callahan’s baritone vocals on “Drover” benefit from this sculpting, helping to add definition to his rich delivery. Guitars and percussion also get an added mid-high presence. On certain mixes, things can sound a bit too bright, but generally speaking, the tweaked high-mids help balance out the intense bass response.
Classical tracks, like John Adams’ “The Chairman Dances,” don’t always benefit in the same manner as Callahan’s vocals—the higher register strings can sound a bit too edgy and bright, and while the lower register strings definitely receive a boost as well, it’s the high strings and percussion, such as woodblock hits, that stand out. Things never sound harsh, exactly, but at the end of the track, when a huge drum hit alternates back-and-forth with higher wooden percussion and brushes, the entire mix seems to exist at the extremes, and there’s not as much definition or clarity in the middle. It doesn’t sound bad, but it’s not very accurate.
In other words, bass lovers who also favor crisp highs will probably enjoy the t-Jays Three quite a bit, while those seeking flatter response should probably consider a pair with less boosting in the lows and highs, like the MartinLogan Mikros 70. If you do like a more sculpted, boosted sound, but the lack of phone controls on the t-Jays Three is keeping you from pulling the trigger, consider a recent Editors’ Choice, the TDK EB950, which offers a comparable sound signature as well as an inline remote for Apple iOS devices and some Android models. Finally, if all of these options are a bit out of your price range, the RHA MA450i is a solid choice for its considerably lower price—it can’t really compete with the above-mentioned pairs in terms of audio quality, but it’ll cost you less. At $100, however, the t-Jay Three is a no-frills earphone pair with booming low-end and sculpted highs; it should make bass lovers and fans of crisp vocals smile.
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