Jays may not be one of the best-known earphones manufacturers in the UK, but it has come up with some of the best-performing sets around, like the bloomin' marvellous q-JAYS. While they sit at the very top of Jays's range, the a-JAYS One are right down the bottom. They're available for under £20, but they don't sound like cheapo earphones.
To date, Jays hasn't been entirely successful in breaking into the mass market audience here in the UK, but it has always had a knack for interesting design. The budget a-JAYS One are no different. The bud design is petite and sleek, but it’s the cable style that sticks out a mile here.
It's flat, like tagliatelle instead of the spaghetti we're used to. Jays claims it'll stop cable tangling. In our experience with the earphones, it did reduce tangling, but kinks-up much more than a standard cable. No cable type - be it braided, rubber or a flattie - is entirely immune to tangling though, so the best method is to avoid dumping your earphones into a cluttered pocket for too long.
While commendably sturdy, the cable does add a little weight to the a-Jays. The earbuds themselves are very light though, made from good old plastic like the vast majority of earphones at this price. With apertures slightly smaller than the standard set down by Sennheiser's CX-series headphones, they shouldn't pose a comfort issue unless you have truly tiny ear canals.
Jays includes a generous five pair of rubber tips with the earphones, ranging from piddly little XXS ones to those in-line with the largest you'll get with a standard IEM set. Although there are no doubles of the tips, this is a wider range than is included with most earphones. We found them slightly less easy to attain a seal with compared to tips from Ultimate Ears's budget earphones, which also fit the a-Jays fairly well.
The 1.1m cable ends in a straight 3.5mm jack. We tend to favour right-angle jacks for their improved ability to handle everyday roughhousing, but it's primarily a personal preference.
Models further up the a-JAYS range, now home to four models, include extras like airplane adaptors and signal splitters. This bottom-end model is all about the basics though - decent sound, decent design and few frills. If you need these accessories, the next model up is available for around £10 more. The top a-JAYS Four model sells for £50 and features a handsfree kit plus claimed improved high-end frequency response. We should be getting them in soon to test these claims. But for now, do these cheapies hold up where it matters most?