Design and features
The Jays A-Jays Four headphones are almost the exact same design as the A-Jays Three set we gave a positive review last year, but the $70 Four pair adds a remote on the cord that gives you the power to skip, change, stop, and play tracks on your iOS device. They're $10 cheaper than the flimsy Apple In-Ears and we recommend the A-Jays Fours to anyone shopping for a replacement.
The A-Jays Four headphones are the ideal marriage of sartorial design and executive professionalism, so they don't scream for attention like the multicolored Radius Atomic Bass buds. Instead, the silver and black color scheme matches the iPhone 4 and the "fettuccine"-style flat cable is coated in rubber to prevent it from tangling in your pocket or purse.
The headphone cord is longer than average and measures 45 inches, or slightly more than 3 inches longer than the cord on the stock Apple earbuds. The extra material means less drag if you decide to leave your player in your pocket, purse, or backpack. Finally, the A-Jays Fours feature a new silver-plated L-shaped plug reinforced in rubber that puts less stress on the plug and prevents bending.
The in-line remote control sits almost 6 inches down from the right earbud and we appreciate its unobtrusive, lightweight design since we often complain about bulky remotes that pull and create tension on the bud. One side of the remote has three buttons that you can use for a variety of features--we assume most of you will press them once or twice to play, pause, advance, rewind, and control the volume levels, but you can also fast-forward and perform in-call commands. The complete set of controls works flawlessly with an iPhone 4, but 3G users can only play, pause, and rewind with no volume manipulation.
The iPhone 4 also lets you use the A-Jays Fours to call contacts and access your music with voice commands; click to the Jays remote instructions for more detailed controls.
The back of the remote has a small hole that houses the silicon microphone that picks up your voice when you use the headphones for voice calls or commands, but the 360-degree pickup means you don't need to hold the piece up to your mouth to isolate the sound of your voice. Call quality is standard for a pair of wired headphones, and our test call recipient reported no problem maintaining a conversation, even on a busy avenue in New York.
The A-Jays Four headphones come with a hard case that slides out to reveal a detailed instruction manual and four sets of silicone sleeves, making five total earbud covers including the pair that comes already installed. The A-Jays Fours are just earbuds like the ones that come with your iOS device, so the rubbery silicone sleeves are supposed to sit snugly inside your ears. If you want a more isolating listening experience and are comfortable with rubber inserts deep in your canal, check out the Etymotic hf5 series, but keep in mind you'll also pay double the price.
That said, we continue to experience the same fit issues with the awkward circular shape of the A-Jays earbud covers that we did with the A-Jays Three headphones. We found ourselves constantly switching between the sizes, which range from XXS to L, and still couldn't find a comfortable option. We also couldn't wear them for more than half an hour before experiencing discomfort that required slight adjustments. Additionally, the earpieces themselves aren't very wide and sit almost flush with your outer ear flange, so you may experience additional discomfort depending on your ear shape.
If you experience such discomfort with the A-Jays Four earphones, we recommend the Monster Cable Gel and Foam SuperTips that we tested with the Monster Mobile Jamz; they're compatible and provide a better overall fit. As always, we strongly advocate an oval tip like the ones included with the Klipsch Image S4i earphones, although the price jump is significant.
We tested the sound quality of the A-Jays Fours with an iPhone 4 and a variety of different MP3s and came away merely satisfied with the sound quality. As stated earlier, you can get a much more powerful upgrade in fidelity with a pair of in-ear canal earbuds, but the A-Jays Threes are slightly lacking in bass boost. With the iPhone equalizer turned off, the sound design is more suited for loud music like hip-hop, rock, and club hits, whereas jazz and classical fans may be disappointed by its lack of aural definition. That said, the A-Jays Four earphones are certainly an upgrade from the stock pair included with all the iOS devices, and you won't be disappointed if you're making that jump here.