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Jays breaks the sound barrier with this outstanding $119 on-ear headphone

Jays' headphones deserve wider recognition, says the Audiophiliac.

Steve Guttenberg
Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.
Steve Guttenberg
2 min read

Unboxing Jays' little u-Jays on-ear, my first impression was that these headphones look and feel are distinctly better than I'd expect for $120 (with free shipping on Amazon). I popped 'em on my head, they sounded really nice, so I kept listening. Checked the price again, yup, it's $120. So I listened some more.

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Jays u-Jays on-ear headphones


Specifications aren't all that unusual, the lightweight (7.9 ounces), closed-back, on-ear design features a 40mm Japanese silk driver, and impedance is rated at 32 ohms. The u-Jays comes with a user-replaceable three-button remote cable for iOS or Android phones, and testament to the u-Jays build quality, it comes with a two-year warranty.

It sounds pretty refined with classical and jazz, lows are plenty deep, midrange is natural, and the highs are clear. On-ear designs can sound somewhat claustrophobic or cramped inside my noggin, but the u-Jays' soundstage was admirably spacious.

Kicking back with Dinosaur Jr.'s "Farm," the u-Jays wasted no time establishing their rock credibility. The sound was nicely balanced, not too bright or grating, but there was no shortage of detail. This headphone isn't the least bit fussy about the sound of your music, it's friendly to all genres.

I next compared the u-Jays with Bowers & Wilkins' $300 P5 S2 on-ear headphones, which are more comfortable. The u-Jays' ear cushions put more pressure on the tops of my ears than the bottoms, and after extended listening they felt mildly uncomfortable. Still, everyone's head size and shape are different, so the u-Jays might be perfectly comfy on your head. The only way to know if any headphone is comfortable is to try it on.

Soundwise the P5 S2s are "darker;" much softer in the treble, while the u-Jays are brighter but never overly so. Switching back to the P5 S2s, their richer and fuller tonal balance may appeal to some listeners, but I prefer the u-Jays' clarity. I also felt the P5 S2s narrowed the stereo soundstage relative to the u-Jays'. Still, the P5 S2s' more generous low-end punch cannot be denied, if you crave bass oomph the P5 S2s would be a better choice.

Even so, returning to the u-Jays was never a letdown, but I'm drawn to headphones that let me hear every detail in a recording. The u-Jays really do come across like a more expensive headphone, it's a great deal for the money.