Nearly all earbud headphones give you a bundle of tips to choose the best fit for your ears. Likewise, the Jays c-Jays on-ear headphones give you three sizes of earpad covers, each offering a distinct experience in terms of comfort and sound quality. We tested all three with a week-long break-in period, and the c-Jays continue to impress us with their crisp, clear sound mixing through an Apple iPhone. The $120 headphones aren't cheap, and we wish the C-Jays were tougher considering their marketing as portable cans, but we recommend them for their well-balanced frequencies and comfort options.
Design and features
The Jays c-Jays gave us flashbacks of the simple black, plastic headphones that came bundled with the Sony Walkmans of decades past. If you're looking to make a fashion statement with your headphones, the c-Jays will likely bore you with their simplicity, but we actually find the black and white color choices appealing for the same reason. Besides, function-oriented design seems to be the aesthetic credo at Jays, which also makes the utilitarian Jays A-Jays Four earphones. If you're actually hunting for a pair with retro appeal, check out the Koss PortaPros, one of our favorites that sells for $50 with a lifetime warranty.
The headband and the dual 1.75-inch speakers are both made from fiber-reinforced nylon with a joint at the bottom of the size adjuster that lets you fold the two cups up into the headband for storage in the accompanying case. The materials make the headphones very lightweight, coming in at just under 2.6 ounces--you can barely tell they're on your head.
Jays assures us that the fiberglass nylon is durable enough to handle daily tumbles in a handbag or briefcase, but we're still more comfortable using the padded drawstring bag in the package. The headband is also flexible in all directions to accommodate a wide range of head sizes, and we can imagine them as an adequate pair of semiactive headphones for the gym.
The c-Jays include no shortage of accessories in addition to the soft drawstring transport bag. You also get a dual-pronged 3.5mm adapter for airplane travel, a stereo splitter for group listening, and a 6.4mm stereo adapter for at-home listening. Jays also provides an extra cable that extends the original 23.5-inch y-cord an additional 27.5 inches. If you prefer to keep your music player in your pocket, you'll definitely need to keep the extension cord permanently attached. The cord is wrapped in a thermoplastic rubber that retains its shape well and doesn't seem prone to tangles.
The three interchangeable earcup pads make the c-Jays unique from other on-ear headphones. In addition to small, medium, and large sizes, the pads are made from three different foam densities that get thicker with each size.
The smallest pads are made of the thinnest amount of foam that allows for the most sound to penetrate through the membrane, so this pair is ideal if you're looking for the most bass and treble. At the same time, the thin pads also allow for the most direct contact with the hardware underneath, so you might need to take a break or adjust the headphones on your ears every half hour or so. Still, these are our favorite pads to use in terms of audio fidelity--you get an even balance of rich treble and bass support, although their exposed design means anyone in close proximity will hear what you're listening to.
The medium pads are the closest in density to the stock Sony Walkman headphone covers we mentioned earlier (if you're old enough to understand the comparison) and still allow an adequate amount of sound to sift through, although the muffled sound clarity is palpable at this size. These are also the most acceptable compromise between sound quality and comfort over long listening sessions, so they earn our recommendation if you plan to use the c-Jays over a full day of work. Alternatively, we like the smaller size better for quick listening sessions over errands or in between classes.
The largest diameter cushion is the thickest and changes the headphones from an open design into a circumaural set that fully cover your ears, but the sacrifice in sound quality isn't worth the comfort. Bass thumps are practically inaudible, and the oversize padding barely allows any instrumental distinction through its barrier. Whichever size you choose, Jays makes it easy to slip the pads up around the speakers for simple experimentation before you make a decision.