Jays V-Jays

What's surprising, then, is what a big sound the V-Jays deliver. Combine the tuned 40mm Mylar speakers and a low 24Ω impedance rating and you have a pair of portable headphones that go louder sooner than you might expect, putting out a tight, punchy sound with a strong, controlled bass but also lashings of high-range detail. The signature won't be for everyone - frankly, it can be a bit too bright for comfort with some styles of music - but it's certainly got personality. At the bottom end, meanwhile, the V-Jays offer more power and definition than Sennheiser's PX100s, though less deep bass than the Sony MDR-XB500s.

The iGrados make an interesting comparison point. Play Fixed Income, from DJ Shadow's The Private Press, and both sets of headphones put out a great sound, with big, punchy beats, a warm, musical low-end and a wider, better defined soundstage than you normally get from headphones of this size and at this kind of price point. The V-Jays have a brighter sound and a slightly clearer soundstage, while the iGrados seem to have a little more mid-range control.
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Sometimes you feel the V-Jays are trying, maybe, just maybe, a little too hard. Even the iGrados can be a bit wearing with more poppy, up-tempo dance tracks like The Juan Maclean's Accusations, and the V-Jays take that direct, in-your-face approach to a higher level. The mid-range delivery also means that the V-Jays don't make such great headphones for metal or hard rock - the heavy guitars in Mastodon's Oblivion have plenty of attack, but not that thick, heavy crunch that gives the track more power with the junior Grado cans.

Overall, though, while they can't quite match the iGrados for rich sound or subtle nuance, the V-Jays make a good alternative if - like me - you enjoy the iGrado sound but find the street-style, head-clamp design uncomfortable. Just one word of warning: like the iGrados, the V-Jays leak sound like crazy, so they're not absolutely ideal as a public transport headphone. They might be small, but use them with caution if you want to avoid nasty looks (or worse).

Verdict

Ultra-compact headphones that still pack a powerful punch, though the bright sound won't be to everyone's tastes.

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