The sub-5000 category of earphones is starting to heat up; with more consumers demanding good audio quality, buyer consciousness about high-standard audio products has drastically increased.
To start your journey towards high-end audio, this is a great budget, where offerings have a solid build, polished sound and extras that were missing from lower end earbuds.
Today, we’ll be comparing three contenders, arguably some of the best in this price segment that have their own sets of strengths and weaknesses, each geared towards a specific set of consumers. The three nominees are the Jays-A-Jays Five, Klipsch Image S3m and the Sony XB70AP.
It’s a triple threat match folks, without any further delay, here it goes:
The a-Jays Five boast a rather understated and minimalist styling that’s a slight departure from their existing design language. This is because it's geared more towards practicality rather than only aesthetics It's not that they don’t look good, because oh they do. Premium materials such as machined aluminium and thermoplastic have been used in the construction, which gives it a classy look.
Practicality is the key basis in their design. They are more comfortable to wear than any other previous iteration of the Jays’ series of headsets in this price range. Noise Isolation is on par with some of the best, owing to the great fit that’s achievable using suitable eartips, a plethora of which are bundled with the earbuds.
They also come in different variants according to their mic and three-button remote compatibility. So, you can get different ones if you have an iOS, Android or Windows phone.
Striking is the word that comes to the mind while looking at these buds, unlike the a-JAYS Five, they are anything but understated. They are big, too big compared to an average run of the mill earbud, but darn they look good. The metal parts have been crafted well. The cable is a quality offering with thick high quality polymer coating.
While the XB70AP aces the design, the large profile and the unusual style may not fit everyone correctly, or even comfortably for that matter. The earbuds are heavy, if a proper fit is not achieved, they do tend to fall off even slight activity of the head. The noise isolation is passable at best. Using foam tips could improve this.
These have a one button remote and mic that claims to be compatible with most smartphones.
If there’s a fine balance between the eye catchy design of the Sony XB70 and the practicality and the ergonomics of the a-JAYS Five, it has to be the Klipsch S3m.
While the design language is reminiscent of the pricier Klipsch offering, which is
an attractive one by the way, the overall design also has a touch of practicality.
It’s like a perfect crossover between being elegant and bold. Owing to the engineered design, the S3ms fit brilliantly, the earbuds don’t protrude much, and they are comfortable and can be easily worm for hours. The noise isolation is good, probably on far with the course, just not as good as the A-Jays Five.
Just like the Sony XB70AP, the S3m also has a one button remote and mic that claims to be compatible with most smartphones.Getting to how these sound...
The audio quality of the Jays Five is interesting. Their sound resembles that of earphones with micro-drivers, despite that, bass is still admirably present and little bits of detail are reproduced well. But where they really tend to surprise are the mids, vocals are reproduced with the desirable texture. Jazz, blues, soul and country music lovers will love the fairly balanced and decently detailed sound.
There could have been a little more detail, undoubtedly they have a slightly warm touch, but as a whole, the sound is mature. The soundstage could definitely be better though. They aren’t gonna win the hearts of audiophiles, but possibly they're some of the best sounding in this price range. There’s a touch of neatness in the audio, and are probably the least distorting earbuds in this price point, a note worthy achievement.
XB stands for Xtra Bass. That’s pretty much the crux of the XB70’s sound. The bass is astronomical, too intense at times to overshadow the mids completely. The highs are slightly emphasized to sound sparkly and shimmery. Basically this is a very fun sounding earphone. The frequency response resembles a steep ‘V’. EDM, hip-hop, disco pop, etc basically any bass centric genre will sound good though.
Something that was a complete surprise was the sound stage, it’s got probably some of the widest soundstages out there. The average crowd these days will actually enjoy the forward fun sound of the XB70’s especially owing to the immersive feel of their because of their wide stereo imaging.
This is a story very similar to the design, if there can be drawn a fine balance between the subtle tonally accurate sound of the A-Jays Five and the fun forward sound of the Sony XB70, it would probably resemble the sound of the Klipsch S3, which is either the best possible thing or a disaster, depending on the way you look at it. While the other two earphones have their audiences sorted; a purist would grab the a-Jays while a bass head would pick the Sonys, the Image S3 would not please either of the aforementioned crowd. But, for a set of people who aren’t bass heads or audiophiles, but still want a nice sounding earphone, this is heaven to them.
Bass is strong, not XB70 level strong, but it has its presence, the mids are ever so slightly coloured, but aren’t washed away, the highs are given a tad emphasis, this frequency response resembles a very very flat ‘V’. This makes the S3ms immensely versatile to the point where they sound good with almost any genre of music. If there’s any earphone capable of holding a candle to the effortless neat audio of the A-Jays Five, it has to be the Klipsch’s S3m.
This is a difficult task, especially given when the contenders are all champs in their own ways.
For the Average consumer, the Klipsch Image S3 will offer a good value.
For the Basshead, there’s no two ways about this, the Sony XB70AP is a convincing choice.
For the discerning ear, the enthusiast audiophile on a budget, a referrer of classily designed products, the JAYS a-Jays F fits the bill best.
Overall, in terms of design, comfort, accessories, Sound, etc basically as a package, the A-Jays Five probably trump the competition.
Which earphones do you prefer? Do let us know in the comments below!
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