An exercise in minimalism: u-Jays Review by My Smart Price

by Shanika Jhunjhunwala May 16, 2016

This article was written by Ershad Kaleebullah and first appeared in My Smart Price here.

Sweden has been home to a number of music groups and artists. It gave us ABBA, the international music sensation back in the 70s, and Eric Prydz, a modern-day dance music sensation. So, it comes as no surprise that the country is reportedly the third-largest exporter of music after the United States and the United Kingdom. That apart, Sweden is also the birthplace of IKEA, the do-it-yourself (DIY) furniture brand that is famous across the globe for its minimalistic design language.

Taking Sweden’s rich history in music and design as inspiration, Jays, a headphone/earphone maker based out of the country, infuses good sound quality and great design in its products. The u-Jays is the company’s latest pair of headphones to be sold in India. And, as usual, it boasts of a stark, minimalistic design language and a clean sound signature. Headphonezone India loaned us a unit of the u-Jays and we used it as our primary driver for more than a week. Read on to know our thoughts about this pair of headphones.

Exquisitely built, slightly cramped for comfort

The moment we set our eyes on the packaging of the u-Jays, we realised that the company wasn’t kidding when it claimed “commitment to design”, “engineering excellence” and “rigorous attention to detail” for its device. The black box is an exercise in minimalism and reminded us of the design language used by a certain other famous brand called Apple. While the u-Jays does look understated, it blends really well as a fashion accessory.

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The headphones are black in colour and come in two variants – one for Android smartphones and the other for Apple’s iPhones. In the box, you will find that the earcups are packaged separately from the actual headband. This essentially means that you can use larger earcups by Jays or any other third-party manufacturers for better comfort. Also packed in the box is the detachable 3.5mm cable, which is as solid as they come. The cable also includes an inline remote with microphone. The buttons have a distinctive click to them and the tactile feedback is really good.

The headphones feel exquisite thanks to the use of the silicon-skin pad on the headband. While the headband feels comfortable, the ear cups clamp a little too tightly. Thanks to the higher clamping force, the passive sound isolation is pretty decent too. However, the headphones don’t fold up like the Audio-Technica M50x, which means that you will have to rely on the bespoke cloth-based carry bag that comes with the package. The u-Jays use two 40mm dynamic drivers. These headphones operate at a frequency range of 10Hz to 20,000Hz, which means that it covers the entire sound spectrum.

Tuned for laid-back listening sessions

Sonically, the u-Jays are clean and present crisp sound ideally tuned for longer listening sessions.If we had to force an analogy for better understanding, the u-Jays’ sound signature can be compared to the taste of a slow-cooked smoked piece of meat; you need a fair bit of patience to appreciate its quality. In a nutshell, the apparent lack of attack on the first few listens is soon taken over by the comfort of the u-Jays’ laid-back sound.

Now, whether this is good or not completely depends on your listening preferences. If you like listening to music for long durations of time, then this sound signature will suit you best. On the other hand, if you like your music to sound powerful and exciting, the u-Jays might not be the one for you. We are fans of a such a sound signature, though. The sound-staging is not as expansive as even on the Audio-Technica M50x, which is a closed-back headphone, let alone on an open-backed alternative like the Grado SR60e. On the other hand, the imaging (distinction of different instrument sounds) is exemplary, even in highly dense compositions like Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Do I Wanna Know’. We played some modern day EDM tracks, like Aron Chupa’s ‘Albatraoz’, to test the bass response. We noticed that the bass has a lot of weight to it and doesn’t feel bloated one bit, which is generally the hallmark of any high-end headphone worth its salt. However, the low-end frequencies tend to settle in the background and do not exhibit the attack that is present in the V-Moda Crossfade M100 or any Beats by Dr. Dre headphones. The mid frequencies are more forward sounding when compared to the bass. And once again, there is a lot of weight to the mids as well. Tracks with heavy locals like Sam Smith’s ‘Latch’ sounded rather tight. The treble is the only weak link in the otherwise decent sound signature. It has a tendency to roll off and doesn’t really reach the peaks we would have ideally liked for it to. The microphone on the remote of the u-Jays works well in phone calls and serves the purpose.

Should you buy it?

Both in its design and sound signature, the u-Jays have a clear goal of minimalism. It looks gorgeously understated and has a laid-back sound signature. However, the Swedish brand is demanding quite a premium for the u-Jays. It costs Rs.15,999 at the moment, and we think that these headphones might not be actually worth such an exorbitant price tag. Especially when you have cheaper, and definitely better, alternatives like the Audio-Technica M50x, Grado SR60e, Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro, and the Beyerdynamic Custom Studio. Buy the u-Jays only if you like exquisitely designed pieces of technology and want a pair of on-the-ear headphones that provides a good sound signature without stressing your ears.

Pros:

  • Minimalistic design
  • Tight sound
  • Replaceable earcups

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Clamping force is high
Shanika Jhunjhunwala
Shanika Jhunjhunwala


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