Review: JAYS v-JAYS II Headphones
If you didn't know better, it would be very easy to confuse v-JAYS II (aka v-JAYS 2 or v-JAYS Two, €43/$55) with its 2009 predecessor v-JAYS: the models have been given different names by the company, but their packages -- at least for now -- both say "v-JAYS." What's changed? Well, just enough to justify a higher rating: at roughly half the price of its predecessor, v-JAYS II is a much better buy than before, though its sonic performance and features still aren't going to blow anyone away.
As a brief primer on the v-JAYS family, it suffices to say that Swedish designers JAYS came up with the original version as a lightweight, foldable headphone with an unusually slender headband and flexible, foam-padded square earpieces—an attractive enough design, saddled with less than stellar sound quality. As we said at the time, those extra dollars bought iPod and iPhone users roughly the same sonics as they’d get for free with Apple’s packed-in earphones, which wasn’t a particularly good value for a nearly $100 accessory.
JAYS didn’t completely redesign the original, but v-JAYS II has changed a little for the better. Glossy plastic has shifted to a nice and consistent matte finish all across the headband and ear stems, while the previously boxy JAYS logo has been replaced with the smaller word “JAYS” on each side. There’s still a soft fabric lining inside the headband, two pairs of soft foam earpads, and a two-piece headphone cord that separates into halves if you want to reduce dangling cable. Everything else is similarly the same, except the price, which has fallen by nearly 50 percent for the sequel.
While v-JAYS II hasn’t adapted much more for 2012—there’s no microphone, no remote control, and no other new features to speak of—the slightly polished headset is unquestionably a better value for the new price than it was before. Sonically, you’re still getting Apple earphone quality: tuned to perform optimally at or above 50% volume on an iPhone, v-JAYS II delivers an acceptable balance of bass and treble with budget-priced clarity, such that users of pricier headphones will notice that they’re missing some background details from their favorite songs, and careful listeners will hear a little low-end distortion, too. Additional information on audio performance can be found in our original v-JAYS review. But by comparison with Apple’s earphones, which easily slide out of some ears, v-JAYS II does a good job of staying on a head without causing fatigue; the padded earpieces pivot enough to fit different heads quite well.
Back in 2009, v-JAYS merited a C+ rating: it was a nice idea with less than thrilling execution for too steep of a price. Today, v-JAYS II scores higher primarily because it’s been right-priced for what it offers: an inexpensive but nice-looking, comfortable pair of headphones with slightly better styling and acceptable enough audio quality. If you’re looking for a compact pair of on-ear headphones, these are good enough to consider amongst other options, and worthy of our general recommendation. Just be aware that JAYS isn’t fully advertising all of the changes; in fact, the only definitive way to know that you’re getting the newer version is a T00084 model number on its package, along with box side images of the headphones that both say “JAYS” in clear lettering. Here’s hoping that JAYS takes what it’s learned from the two v-JAYS models and brings additional features—a remote, microphone, or wireless functionality—to a future sequel.