Details: Tiny dual-driver monitors from Swedish audio house JAYS
MSRP: $249 / manufacturer’s page
Current Price: N/A (discontinued) / amazon page
Specs: Driver: Dual Armature | Imp: 39 Ω | Sens: 95 dB | Freq: 20-20k Hz | Cable: 2’ I-plug + 3’ extension
Nozzle Size: 3mm | Preferred tips: Klipsch gels, stock single flanges, Sony hybrids
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear
Accessories (5/5) – Single-flange silicone (7 sets / 5 sizes) and foam tips, 4 sets of replacement filters, 3.5mm splitter, airplane adapter, L-plug 3’ extension cord, I-plug 3’ extension cord, and small zippered carrying case
Build Quality (3.5/5) – The tiny plastic housings feel sturdy but lack proper strain reliefs. The Kevlar-reinforced cabling is of medium thickness and robust but has a tendency to harden over time. The ability to switch between L-plug and I-plug extension cables is a welcome innovation, though
Isolation (4/5) – The tiny housings allow for an extremely dip fit and isolation is excellent with the right tips
Microphonics (4/5) – Present when worn cord-down, nearly nonexistent when worn over-the-ear
Comfort (5/5) – The tiny housings are bent slightly for a comfortable over-the-ear fit but can be worn cable-down as well and are one of the few sets of earphones I can sleep on my side with. Five sizes of silicone tips are included, ensuring a comfortable fit for all ear sizes except maybe the very largest, which would swallow the q-JAYS whole
Sound (8.8/10) – The q-JAYS are claimed by the manufacturer to be the smallest IEMs on the market, which doesn’t seem at all unreasonable from looking at them. For something so small, however, these dual-armature earphones pack quite a punch. For me the strength of the q-JAYS lies in their low end. For a pair of dual-BA monitors, the bass of the q-JAYS is excellent. It is controlled, impactful, detailed, and accurate. The low end is smooth and carries just a hint of warmth. Depth and texture are quite good and the overall bass weight is slightly heavier than with the DBA-02/CK10. Impact lags slightly behind the hard-hitting CK90Pro. Low end extension is very reasonable as well. Attack and decay are quite realistic for a BA-based earphone but of course similarly-priced dynamics (HJE900, DDM, MTPG) are capable of a more realistic experience on that front. Still, I rate the bass of the q-JAYS very highly among all of the dual-BA earphones I’ve heard.
The midrange, on the other hand, is not particularly noteworthy. The mids of the q-JAYS are clear and quite detailed but yield easily to those the DBA-02 and CK10. Compared to the highly present bass and treble, the midrange of the JAYS is oh-so-slightly recessed and somewhat dry. In contrast, the high end is slightly forward and quite crisp and energetic. There is some unevenness which accentuates sibilance if it is present on the track and generally causes the treble to sound a bit edgy. However, the q-JAYS don’t quite have the hot-tempered nature of the CK10, DBA-02, or PS200 when it comes to treble, though they are far from laid-back. Treble sparkle and extension lags slightly behind these three as well – the q-JAYS are not dark earphones (a la CK90Pro), but they lack the brightness of the aforementioned trio.
The presentation of the q-JAYS is relatively airy and quite three-dimensional in feel. The soundstage is neither very wide nor very deep but keeps up with most of the competition while providing rather accurate positioning. Among the high-end dual-drivers I’ve had in my possession, the presentation of the JAYS falls closest to the Klipsch Custom 3. One last matter of note – the q-JAYS boast relatively high impedance and low sensitivity. They aren’t particularly difficult to drive and fail to justify the expense of a portable amp. However, they do sound slightly flat and dull at minimal listening volumes and a couple of notches above my preferred volume level are required to really bring them to life.
Value (8/10) – Despite being a three-year-old design, the JAYS q-JAYS still impress greatly with their ergonomics, aesthetics, and of course sonic qualities. The miniature construction and comprehensive accessory pack make the q-JAYS one of the most versatile in-ear sets on the market. Aside from small quibbles such as the lack of proper strain reliefs and unwieldy modular cable lengths, the q-JAYS are enormously agreeable in day-to-day use. Their sound is rather agreeable as well. The bass of the q-JAYS stands among the best I’ve heard out of dual-driver monitors. The midrange is competent, if a bit dry, and doesn’t draw attention to itself over the bass and treble. The high end is crisp but lacks the brightness and effortlessness of competing earphones such as the CK10 and DBA-02. For sound quality alone the price tag of the q-JAYS could be considered slightly excessive but as a total package, the tiny Swedish earphones make quite a lot of sense.
Pros: Wonderfully small and comfortable, excellent accessory pack, high isolation with the right tips, clear and crisp sound
Cons: Cable lengths can be frustrating, slightly edgy & dry-sounding