On-ear headphones often get overlooked in favor of their larger, over-ear counterparts. To be fair, the on-ear design usually falls short of over-ear in terms of overall sound quality, but certain models still distinguish themselves as quality options for even the most demanding of listening tastes. One such headphone: the Jays U-Jays. Utilizing a minimalist design, this $199 headphone offers an impressive listening experience.
Jays U-Jays Review
The U-Jays are packaged opulently. With cardboard and foam inserts holding the headphones, removable earpads, audio cable (with built-in mic and remote), and a carrying case, the immediate impression is one of quality.
Despite the on-ear design of this headphone, it sits comfortably on my head for hours at a time. The headband utilizes a thick rubber pad, while the earcups employ soft pleather padding. The extenders, though a little chunky, move fluidly to accommodate any fit.
Type: JAYS 40 mm dynamic
Sensitivity: 100 dB SPL @ 1 kHz
Impedance: 32 Ohm @ 1 kHz
Frequency responce: 10 – 20 000 Hz
As we can see from this basic spec list, the Jays utilize a fairly standard driver size, while offering a little bit more on the low end of the frequency range. The impedance is low, and thus perfect for portable devices like your phone or computer. Volume levels are decent, but they could be a little louder for a closed-back design.
The low end on the U-Jays sounds deep and articulate, though at times it can seem somewhat overshadowed by the high end. The bass offers good impact, lending these headphones well to any genre of music with a beat. Masterful control in the low end results in no bleeding – even on the trickiest of tracks.
The mids are almost perfect, with minimal distortion. Vocals are especially clean – cleaner than we’ve seen in some headphones approaching the $400 price point. This robust and clean midrange can sometimes border on revealing – thanks to a slight sense of soundstage and some good clarity and separation.
While just a tad bit bright, the high end on the U-Jays never gets too piercing or uncomfortable. There’s good control in there, leading the sound to the brink of sparkling, while eliminating the aberrations that usually accompany such a sound. Female vocals sound fine, but strings sound downright amazing.
If there is one major shortcoming to the sound of the U-Jays, it is the lack of soundstage. While there is some sense of placement lurking in these headphones, there is little depth to that placement. The compressed soundstage is still accompanied by some clarity and separation, so while it isn’t abysmal in this regard, it’s still not as great as we’d like it to be – something all to common with the closed-back design.
Packing a great dynamic sound with a midrange that doesn’t cut corners, and with a slightly weak soundstage that is compensated by a good amount of clarity and separation, these headphones offer a sound that can adapt to just about any genre. For $199, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better-sounding on-ear model. Even over-ear options would skew one direction or another, and you’d miss out on the whole package offered by these headphones.
Are there alternatives to the U-Jays? If you’re searching for an on-ear headphone, then no. No other on-ear headphone can do what the U-Jays do. They are just that good. However, if bulk isn’t as much of a deal breaker, there are certain models that would offer more audio quality in one direction or another. Huge fan of classical music? Check out the AKG K553 Pro (at $199). Big rock fan? Try the Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro (also at $199). If you really want a sound as close the U-Jays as possible, and you don’t mind spending more money, your best bet would be the Sennheiser Momentum M2 Over-Ear – but even then, you’re paying almost twice as much for a headphone that sounds almost as good.