Often, when it comes to budget earphones, success is not dependent on exactly what's missing from the sound, but how well what is there works together. This is where the Jays a-JAYS One triumph, boasting an unusually cohesive signature.
What they can do well is bass. There's plenty of clout and it's not too flabby. Bass control is somewhat limited, but it's slightly better than the otherwise class-leading Sennheiser CX 300.
The treble is smooth and free of harshness and sibilance, but this is in part because the top-end seems to roll off fairly early. Detail and resolution is surprisingly good at this level, but overall treble presence is much greater in something like the Ultimate Ears 200. This can be EQ'd-in without adding much harshness, leading us to believe that the higher a-JAYSs' models improved treble response may be down to tuning rather than an entirely different driver.
The a-JAYS One's frequency response tops out at an unimpressive 18,000Hz, but the slightly more expensive a-JAYS Two reaches to 20,000Hz and the Three 22,000Hz. We're not usually ones for judging sound by specs, but could Jays be sacrificing the frequency curve here to give the product line a more convincing curve of its own?
It's no deal-breaker though, because the timid treble doesn't leave the a-Jays One sounding muddy or veiled. The Sennheiser CX 300 offer a wider stereo image and greater dynamics, but also have that typical boxy Sennheiser sound and a slightly less refined-sounding treble. These two sets of earphones are comparable performers, and that's high praise for the Jays a-JAYS. They're warm, involving and well-balanced for a cheap set. You may prefer them to the "reference model" Sennheiser CX 300 if you find those buds a little too boisterous.
Available for under £20, the Jays a-JAYS One are stonking value, and are some of the best sub-£35 earphones you can buy. If you have a player that can ratchet-up the treble a bit, all the better.
The Jays a-JAYS offer superb value - bringing a warm, involving and thoroughly well-controlled sound, plus decent styling to the budget sector. They benefit from a treble boost, but even without it they produce a thoroughly pleasurable sound.