Give me a set of earbuds to put in my pocket, and in a matter of seconds I’ll give you a Gordian Knot with a headphone plug. You’ll understand then why I was excited by audio manufacturer JAYS claim that their new a-JAYS Four earbuds are “tangle-free.”
I’m not a big fan of unboxing descriptions, but the a-JAYS Four packaging deserves a mention. The box is elegant in black and shades of grey and exudes quality. It’s quite a different approach from Apple packaging yet is somehow Apple-like in its attention to detail and devotion to design, and beautifully sets the stage that you’re about to enjoy a world-class headset.
All the components are tastefully integrated. Seams and connections are hidden under a rubberized skin that gives the whole product an elegant, polished feel. Even the individual wires inside are so well integrated into the headsets cables that they can’t be discerned. The brushed-aluminum accents on the black headset (white is also available) are a perfect complement to my black iPhone and iPad, and give a much more unified presentation than Apple’s long-in-the-tooth included set.
The a-JAYS Fours are flat — 5 mm wide, to be precise — rather than the typical round design of most earbud sets. Think al dente pasta and you begin to get an idea of the way they feel. It’s that linguini-like shape that gives them their much-touted ability to resist tangling — and I’ll say “tangle-resistant” is a better description than the company’s claim that they’re “tangle-free.” In testing, I frequently managed to pull a moderately tangled ball out of my pocket. The difference with the a-JAYS Four, though, is that it was wonderfully easy to untangle them. The flat shape even allowed the headset to practically straighten itself out with nothing more than a few gentle pulls.
Also worth noting is the unit’s integrated high-quality microphone and remote control. The mic is well-positioned along the wire below the right earbud. It picked up my voice well, delivering great accuracy when using Voice Control or dictation and excellent call quality during phone calls. The remote works identically to Apple’s own offering, providing the ability to play, pause or skip songs, adjust volume or invoke Voice Control or Siri. Incoming phone calls pause the current song (or podcast, movie, etc.), which resumes when the call ends.
Sound quality was exceptional, with deep, rich bass, full mid tones and clear highs. The company says it’s tweaked the Fours to perform even better than its predecessors in voice frequency ranges — a claim we couldn’t test, but certainly don’t doubt.
The a-JAYS Four comes with five pairs of earbud sleeves in assorted sizes. It’s hard to imagine an ear that couldn’t be accommodated. And although not advertised as such, they did such a great job of blocking outside noise that they quickly replaced my over-the-ear, battery-powered noise-canceling headphones when I fly. I thoroughly enjoy the reduced bulk when going through airports. It also sports a clever L-shaped plug to lessen stress on the wire.
a-JAYS Four is a beautiful match of form and function, and its clever design eliminates the frustration of having to spend five minutes untangling my earbuds before I can use them. These are the earbuds Apple should’ve included with the iPhone, and they’ve become the one set I’m determined not to lose.