Jays is the name of a Swedish headphone manufacturer that has evolved a lot over the past year. Their rapidly expanding line of products now also features their first set of supra-aural headphones. These new headphones are dubbed c-Jays and are the first headphones on the market to feature a SGSCC type cable, which is free of crystal dislocations. This should yield a better sound quality due to the fact that there is no cross-crystal distortion. Besides this special cable, the c-Jays also feature a customizable sound signature because you can change the ear pads. At the moment there are three types of pads made from different thicknesses and density foam. Albeit not new or revolutionary this is quite an effective way to alter sonic characteristics, Grado has done this for years.
The c-Jays ship in a plastic box. You can clearly tell if the unit has been mangled before opening it which is a good thing.
Jays has really gone out of their way to deliver the c-Jays with a decent bundle. If you do not feel sure about how to change pads you can always look in the manual.
You get a thorough bundle with each set of c-Jays. Besides the usual airline adapters you also get a 1/8" to 1/4" converter and a carrying pouch. The foam pads are made in three different designs that alter the sound signature of the headphones to a certain extent, these will be thoroughly examined later on in the review. There is also an extender cable in the bundle this is neat because the cable that is soldered to the ear cups is relatively short.
The first thing that strikes you when you pull them out of the box is just how tiny these headphones are. They do not feel like a set of semi high end headphones because of their low weight, however, they are remarkably strong compared to the size of the construction. Jays are clearly very fond of the cable, and they have even put a sticker on it. Whether it is a marketing gimmick or an actual improvement over a normal high quality OFC cable has not been tested as this is the first set of headphones with an SGSCC cable.
The ear cups are made of plastic with a gloss finish. They look quite nice, and are small compared that of most headphones.
The driver used in the c-Jays has a diameter of 40 mm. The driver housing is held to the headband with a pivot joint which allows the driver assembly to align with your ears better. The degree of articulation is somewhat limited when using the big foam pads.
I think it is pretty safe to say that the c-Jays can accommodate even the largest and smallest of heads. The size can be adjusted to a great extent as shown on the pictures above.
What makes the c-Jays a bit special is the way you can tailor the sound to your liking by putting on different foam covers. The variation between the three sets of foam pads is huge, both in terms of size and design. The biggest of the pads features a small parabolic cavity in the center and is so large it completely engulfs your ears. The medium sized pads are only a bit larger than the driver assembly, but a lot thicker than the thinnest sets of foam covers.
The quality of the cable is outstanding. The rubber jacket feels solid and the jacks are of a good quality.
The c-Jays main force is that you can alter the sound a bit by swapping the pads. The thinnest of the sets provides you with the biggest bass, but also the smallest sound stage. Those thin pads also have the worst wearing comfort of all the pads because they do not dissipate the clamping force of the headband that well.
Moving up to the medium sized ones you get a really good wearing comfort and still retain a good bass performance, considering it is a light weight set of portable headphones. The variation in sound stage width and depth is basically non existing between the thinnest and the medium sized pads. Before I began my listening sessions, the headphones had about 120 hours on them so their performance should not change that much beyond that point.
Sound signature wise they are a bit on the cold side with a quite aggressive sound sort of like Yuin OK1s, however, not as extreme. The bass is where it needs to be for the majority of music types with the two smallest sets of pads. With the huge bowls on, the bass gets pushed back in the mix to an extent were it damages the sound balance.
The signature is a bit cold, but not overly analytical. They have a quite good midrange and bass with the right pads on. What they lack is sound stage, but portable headphones with a good sound stage are a rarity. Timbre wise they are a alright, but the note decay is to fast in order to be believable. The whole customizable aspect of the sound signature is something that is fun to play with, it does not alter the listening experience that much, but as a way to "tweak" the sound it does an alright job. Do not expect a night and day difference in the sound signature between the using the flat pads or the big bowls.
Treble and bass extension is quite good for a set of open back headphones, especially when taking into account that these are made for portable use.
What I like about the c-Jays is that they are incredibly light and much tougher than they look. Being supra-aural headphones with a medium amount of pressure exerted by the headband they are quite comfortable to use on the move. They do leak quite a bit of sound though so they are not ideal for listening to obscure tones on the bus. Another noteworthy aspect of their performance is that they can be driven by a normal DAP, no need for lugging around an expensive headphone amplifier. The gain in sound quality between running these from my DAP or one of the headphone amplifiers I currently own is slim, and on the move in a noisy environment I would never be able to tell the difference.
The c-Jays are worthy of consideration if you are looking for a set of balanced sounding supra-aural headphones and value mobility high. Compared to a set of Grado SR-60 the c-Jays offer a slightly more balanced sound with a wee bit less bass, and less sparkle. The only aspect where the Jays headphones pull ahead is in terms of wearing comfort, and practicality. The c-Jays also leak less sound than their Grado equivalent which is nice.
Compared to a set of clip-ons like the Yuin G1s the c-Jays have a leaner sound and are not quite as resolving. The two headphones cost the same $129, but the G1s crave a headphone amplifier to show their true self. Extension wise the c-Jays hold their own against the closest competitors, they are a bit brighter than the G1s and not quite a spikey in the upper mids as the Grados.
Even though the Jays c-Jays have a very slim design they are still durable enough to be used on a daily basis. The headband construction seems solid enough and so does the ear cup and driver suspension mechanism.
Value and Conclusion
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The c-Jays represent a new take on how to make a portable supra-aural headphone. The whole customizable aspect of them is definitely a plus and a fun thing to play around with. Personally I have fallen for the medium sized pads because they provide me with a good wearing comfort and sound quality. Jays are definitely on to something with their c-Jays, with a portable design that folds and even has great drivers to boot. Sound signature wise these are biased toward the analytical side which is alright by me, but some may want a warmer, lusher sound.<br />
As a practical set of headphones made for the everyday commute these are pretty ideal. They are light, small, and foldable, how much more could one want.
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