Jays, a Swedish manufacturer, has come out with the world's smallest dual-armature earphones, available from their Web site. 'Dual-armature' means there's both a sub and a tweeter in each earpiece, and the earpieces themselves are miniature to say the least!
Could the q-Jays really be the underdog of the £120-region earphone market?
A variety of silicon tips come with the q-Jays to ensure the diminutive earphones fit snugly in any ear. They also provide far above average sound isolation. The absence of any significant body means these are among the most comfortable and easy to wear 'phones we've ever worn. Only the soft silicon tip touches the inner ear -- good news for anyone who considers bulky canalphones about as comfortable as dysentery.
Sound quality is as impressive as their 'Honey, I Shrunk The Earphones' form-factor. Twin drivers in each 'phone give an exceptionally balanced and accurate sound across the audible spectrum. Stengah, the powerful opening track from Meshuggah's superb album Nothing, exploded with power and clarity. The overdriven twin guitars sawed their way into our brains, their utter disregard for time signatures making the process all the more enjoyable. Crisp and bright cymbals were undisturbed by this onslaught of complex guitar work, retaining the beautiful quality of their original sound -- the china crash was notably well reproduced.
Gold-plated connectors feature on every part of this modular cable. The cable can be separated halfway down in order to provide the perfect solution for iPod shuffle owners who clip their tiny MP3 player to their jacket's lapel. In this scenario, only a few extra centimetres of cable will hang below chin-level.
A heap of accessories are bundled with the q-Jays, from a leather carry pouch to replacement silicon tips to extension cables and airline adaptors. Jays have exceeded in providing everything you could possibly need -- significantly handy is you're planning on using the 'phones away from home.
Our only real complaint is that the audio cable used could be a lot tougher. The cable of the q-Jays is reasonably thin and certainly less resilient to RF interference, though this should only be a concern to hardened sceptics as interference is virtually undetectable by the average ear.
Fans of heavy drum 'n' bass may find the bass isn't quite deep, despite Jays' AirBooster technology. Bass response is generally excellent, but those would-be chest-pounding bass lines from the likes of Pendulum or Roni Size aren't quite as powerfully reproduced as we'd like.
Finally, personal preference might push you away from a model that features such a sheer lack of body. This isn't strictly a weakness, and no one here voiced any complaint, but bear in mind these 'phones are truly ultra-tiny.
These superb earphones are stylish, insanely comfortable and they sound terrific to boot. Their twin drivers produce a solid and accurate sound that, together with their tidy presentation and array of bundled accessories, justify their £129 price. Only deep bass obsessives would find reason to complain, and most of them should probably be looking at headphones anyway.
The most suitable alternative would be Denon's AH-C700s. These bullet-shaped aluminium earphones boast a more powerful bass and a slightly higher accuracy in the high end.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday