The a-Jays Four Heavy Bass Impact Earphones are, as the name suggests, bass-heavy in-ear headphones for iOS devices, namely the iPod, iPad and iPhone. As well as being headphones, they also include an inline volume control and microphone, similar to the earphones included with the iPhone 4.
They’ve got excellent reviews from our customers, so I thought that I’d give them a go and see if they’re a worthwhile upgrade over the Apple earphones.
Let’s have a look at the listed features and specifications for the a-Jays Four, then get into the meat of this review.
- Superb sound quality from 8.6mm dynamic driver
- Flat, tangle free cable
- In-line iPhone remote and mic
- L-shaped plug design for more convenient fit
- Includes replacement buds for the perfect fit
- Driver: 8.6mm dynamic driver
- Isolation: Jays sound isolating system
- Sensitivity: 96dB SPL @ 1kHz
- Impedance: 16 Ohm @ 1kHz
- Frequency response: 20Hz – 21kHz
- Cord length: 115cm (45in)
- Weight: 14g (0.49oz)
- Plug: Silver-plated 3.5mm stereo plug
Box and Packaging
As you can see, the box is quite a stylish one, with a nice shot of the a-Jays on the front and some specifications on the back. You can also see on the back that the box includes four pairs of replacement silicone sleeves in various sizes, a welcome inclusion.
As you can see, the a-Jays Fours have a distinct visual appearance.
We’ll start with the plug, which you can see on the right hand side of the photo. The plug moulding is heavily reinforced and L shaped, allowing it to rotate freely in the socket without becoming twisted or frayed over time. The plug itself is like the iPhone’s, incorporating an extra band in order to transmit the microphone pickup and the buttons.
The flat, tagliatelli shaped cable is designed to resist tangles, although the key word there is resist, not eliminate… tangled cables have been a problem since Victorian boat towing cables, and it seems unlikely the fight has been won now! Still, it’s a nice classy touch very much in keeping with the Four’s appeal.
The cable is matte black, with the words ‘a-JAYS Four’ written near the earbuds themselves. The cable is otherwise free of decoration, and is slightly longer than the iPhone 4′s earbud cable.
The cable is not free of addition functionality, however. The Four sports an inline remote control with three buttons in a line and an integrated microphone on the back. Of the three buttons, the two at the top and bottom are volume control buttons (no prizes for guessing which does which) that will also fast forward or rewind when pressed down. The middle button is a jack-of-all-trades; one click pauses, two clicks skips, and three clicks skips back. If you press down on the middle button, it activates voice commands.
The buds themselves continue the look of the product, being mostly flat and coloured matte black. These are designed to rest directly in your ear canal, with the silicone sleeves resting deeper than simple spherical earbuds like those included with the iPhone.
This allows for more aural precision, and also means you can listen to your music at a lower volume level. These type of headphones typically block out much more sound than their counterparts, again decreasing the volume required and increasing the level of aural immersion.
It’s also worth noting that typically this type are easier to keep in your ears, particularly with five sizes to choose from. However, the deep fit is not one that all people enjoy, and it’s generally worth having a go to see how you feel about it.
That is just about all of the physical features, so we’ll move on now to our testing.
To test these headphones, I tried them out for a few days in as many situations as possible. These included:
- Calls, over the phone as well as Skype
- Music, including genres such as K-Pop, DnB, Metal, Electronica, Rock, Classical and Jazz
- Games, most notably Battlefield Bad Company 2 and Beat Hazard
- Films, specifically the Watchmen and YouTube clips
Calling is perhaps the easiest test of a headset’s abilities, but as a complete hands free device it’s essential to ensure this base is covered. As I expected, the Fours performed admirably as a hands free headset, with excellent audio quality throughout.
I could hear my test participant with good clarity, and had no problem understanding him even in a very noisy environment. The sound-blocking properties of the Fours were quite intense, and it must be said I was a bit worried about them blocking out an oncoming car — remember to stay safe and take these headphones off when you’re crossing the road!
On the other end, my test participant reported that the integrated microphone was performing quite well, at least the equal of the Apple-made headset.
On the voice communications front, the a-Jays performed quite well, and I’d comfortably use it even for important calls.
Musical performance is probably the biggest reason that you’d invest in a set of good in-ear headphones, and the a-Jays Fours don’t disappoint on this front. In each genre of music that I tried, I was continually impressed by their performance, from bass-heavy DnB and Electronica tracks to Classical and Jazz numbers that hit in the mid and high ranges.
The aural blanket that ensconces your ears when wearing these earphones is quite impressive, and certainly allows you to pick out individual notes in tracks that you hadn’t noticed before.
The bass response is good, comparable to a mid-range pair of full-size earphones, as you’d expect from the ‘Heavy Bass Impact’ part of the name, but I honestly expected even better performance given their prominence in the title. I suppose that’s the downside of using smaller drivers; you can’t really move that much air around.
Still, these were by far the best sounding in-ear headphones that I’ve tried, although I must qualify that by saying I haven’t heard a $1000 set of in-ear headphones yet, so I can’t really speak to how they compare with the very upper tiers. As compared to the iPhone 4 headphone that these will replace for many, this is definitely an upgrade.
I’m a keen gamer so the performance of these headphones on the games front was quite important to me. I loaded up my favourite iPhone title, last year’s Battlefield Bad Company 2. Like the PC and console game of the same name, Bad Company 2 is a modern-day shooter that features an excellent sound engine and good sound effects, so I thought it a fitting test of the Four’s abilities.
In-game, I had no complaints with the Four, although I did notice more clearly how terrible the voice acting was. The music piped through just fine, and the weapon sounds were comparable to their console counterparts. While the sound system as whole wasn’t quite as good as it was on the PC, this is more downs to the limitations of the platform rather than any failure on the part of the headphones.
I also loaded up Beat Hazard, a game in which you dodge and destroy incoming orbital debris, enemies and powerful boss ships, all of which are controlled and trigged by the music you choose to play with. Unfortunately Beat Hazard has yet to make its way to the iPhone, so I played this one on PC.
It was a great experience whilst wearing the a-Jays Fours, and made for a much more immersive and gratifying experience than playing on speakers. I finished the game convinced of two things — the Fours were impressive as anything, and Beat Hazard should really be made for iPad.
A final consideration for the a-Jays are their performance in films. I’m a fan of action-type titles, so I loaded up The Watchmen and watched that on my iPhone. Usually I find that watching films on the iPhone is a bit tiresome (mostly due to the small screen), but the extra audio definition really helped. Where for most reviews I stop somewhere around the ten minute mark, this one I made it all the way through, although I ended staying up far later than I’d hoped!
All in all, the good mid to low-range performance of the headset translated into a very good film-going experience; as I’ve mentioned before the sound blockage was also a contributing factor. I also happened to watch a few YouTube clips with the headphones and found they performed well too, although I was coming to expect that by now.
As with most in-ear headphones, your comfort levels will vary with how well the buds fit inside your ears. Thanks to the five pairs of silicone sleeves that are provided in varying sizes, this shouldn’t be a problem. I found them quite comfortable, although again it’s worth mentioning that having them lodged so deeply in your ears can be an odd feeling at first, and one that some people won’t necessarily enjoy.
Ease of Use
As this headset is entirely plug and play, the only potential ease of use issue concerns the buttons on the inline remote. While perhaps too much is pinned on the center button, with four different actions possible depending on the number and length of presses, overall the scheme is quite easy to use.
The cost of the a-Jays Four is £50, so these are in the higher ranges of a reasonable set of in-ear headphones (I’m not including custom fitted £1000 in ear headphones in that classification).
I feel this price is pretty reasonable, as the level of audio quality delivered for the price is substantial. It’s worth noting that the a-Jays range also includes a-Jays One, a-Jays Two, and a-Jays Three, which are each available for a lower price, at £20, £30 and £40, respectively. I haven’t had as much hands on time with these, but they seem to deliver comparable fractions of sound quality, with the £20 a-Jays One being the best value.
As compared to the iPhone 4 headphones these will be replacing for many, the a-Jays Fours are definitely a worthwhile step up. If you’re looking to combine the convenience of in-ear headphones with the aural quality of a good headset, then the a-Jays Fours are an excellent option. They are an improvement upon the in-ear headphones included with the iPhone 4 in every way, and I think that’s worth the price.
If you’re looking for a similarly high quality audio without the inline remote and microphone, then the a-Jays Three are what you’re looking for. For budget buyers, the a-Jays Ones represent the best value.
- Excellent aural quality
- Polished, professional look
- Solid in-line remote and mic
- Heavy Bass Impact is a bit misleading
- Relatively expensive for in-ear headphones
I hope you found this review useful, as always feel free to contact me or get more information on these products via the links below. Thanks!
- a-Jays One Heavy Bass Impact
- a-Jays Two Heavy Bass Impact
- a-Jays Three Heavy Bass Impact
- a-Jays Four Heavy Bass Impact