This article was written by Manish Sain and first appeared in India Today here.
Jays, a Swedish company, arrived in India a couple of months ago. And with it, the company brought a few premium earphones. It was a small beginning for the firm in India, kind of an attempt to test the waters. Fast forward a few months and it seems that the results for Jays have been positive.
So now, the company is entering the highly-competitive headphones market with u-Jays, a wired on-ear headphone. Just like Jay's earlier products this one too is positioned in the premium end of the market. It has been priced at Rs 15,999, a rather high-price when you consider that Jays doesn't have the same brand recognition among Indian consumers that companies like Bose and Sennheiser enjoy.
So, how does it work out for Jays? We will see that in the coming months, but as far as the u-Jays, the headphones in question are concerned, not so well. These are very nice pair of cans but the high price diminishes some of their value.
There are products that catch the eye by being flashy. And then there are gadgets that are plain and yet elegant. The u-Jays is the latter.
The u-Jays is as simple - or in a more fancier way, as minimalist - as it can get. Most wired headphones come with the wire attached, but in u-Jays, the wire is detachable, which is convenient when packing and unpacking the headphones in a luggage.
The headphone is entirely made of metal, so it feels slightly heavy, especially for its size. Its weight of around 240 grams is in the league of around-the-ear headphones even though it is an on-ear headphone. The stretchable headband is covered with soft rubber-type material, which adds to the simple looks of the headphone. However, the headband material also attracts dirt and fiber. If you are fond of tossing your headphones in a backpack, you will have to often clean the u-Jays. Thankfully, there is a carrying case supplied in the box so you can use that to keep the cans clean.
The ear-cushions of the u-Jays are soft to touch and don't exert much pressure on the ears even after long hours. The fit of the headphone is snug and firm, although the headband does start to dig into the head and becomes a little uncomfortable after several hours of use.
The build quality of the u-Jays is top notch. The finish is fantastic and all that metal in the body, including in the headband, makes it very sturdy. The ear-cushions can also be removed, and that makes cleaning the headphone easier. The cable, as noted, is detachable. It also houses volume controls and microphones, something that helps if you pair the headphone with a smartphone.
It is true that if you like your headphones funky - the kind sold by Monster or Skullcandy - you will fine u-Jays bland. But the fans of minimalist style or those who seek products that exude a certain class, will definitely appreciate the overall subdued style of the u-Jays.
The u-jays headphones while being comfortable to wear are also capable of offering good audio output.
The first and foremost thing that we noticed is that the u-Jays can get loud, really loud. This helps while using these headphones with smartphones, which often struggle against the high-end headphones that require more amp to pump out audio at high volume. Not u-Jays. These can be comfortably driven by most smartphones. The other good bit about the u-Jays is the size of their ear-cushions. They may not wrap around the ear but they are not small either. For most people, the these ear-cushions would cover whole ear, and that offers good passive noise cancellation. It is not something that you would get with a closed full-size headphone but for a on-ear headphone the isolation is respectable.
When it comes to the sound quality, the u-Jays offers mixed performance, though on most occasions we would call the sound coming out of it good.
In our tests, it performed well with almost all genres of music. The u-Jays offer brilliant sound while playing Rock, Hip-Hop, and EDM songs, especially at the higher volume. For example, the subtle sounds of drum during the opening of Shine On You Crazy Diamond can be enjoyed quite distinctly. And on the other hand the odd Skrillex songs are equally enjoyable.
The build quality of the u-Jays is top notch. The finish is fantastic and all that metal in the body, including in the headband, makes it very sturdy
Even while playing Metal, we found it to be better than most headphones in this range and higher. It doesn't kill any essential notes, while balancing the bass impressively. About bass, it may feel on a lower side if you are all about the thump in your ears. However, we feel if the bass were any more than what it has, it would have distorted the overall sound signature of these headphones.
Toning down volume only improves the performance. With some of the distortions that occur with almost all headphones at high volume no longer an issue, the u-Jays resolve an impressive amount of detail in the music. The sound is clearer with finely balanced bass and treble. There is no cracking sound, no mishmash of instruments.
But during the tests we also found some inconsistencies. In complex pieces where there is a mishmash and high and low notes, the u-Jays struggle to resolve them clearly. It doesn't sound bad but the music loses some of its airiness. Although, this is the kind of detail that only audiophile are going to notice. But then if you are spending over Rs 15,000 on a headphone, we do expect it to be almost flawless.
Overall, we find the u-Jays impressive enough to recommend it. The u-Jays offers good sound packed in a classy design. But at the same time, it is a competitive world. There are other headphones that offer equally or better performance. One such headphone is theBose SoundTrue II, which looks equally elegant, is more comfortable to wear and overall sounds slightly better.And if you are looking for at the same time, you haveSony MDR-XB650BT andMDR-XB950BT, both of which offer a more fun and colourful sound.
The price of the u-Jays also doesn't help it. At Rs 15,999 it is priced a few thousands of rupees higher than what it offers. If you get it, especially if you like its looks, you won't be disappointed. But keep in mind that it's not the only option in this price bracket.