Today we set off on a quest, an audible quest with a pair of A-Jays Four in-ear phones. Are they worth your time? Should you return yours (if you bought them but haven’t tried them out yet)? Do they at least look good. All good questions to which we have the answers.
We requested a white pair seeing as how we have a white iPhone. Matching accessory colors is a pretty big thing for us as odd as it may sound. There’s nothing uglier than say a white iPhone in a black battery case. And yet we’ve done it time and time again. Brave we are.
As for the A-Jays Four, “stylish” is definitely in their vocabulary (if they had a vocabulary that is) and are actually quite simple looking all things considered. The earphone housing is all-white with a single, silver circle in the middle of each ear piece. The cooler and more functional aspect of the A-Jays Four design, however, is the flat cable. Not only does it look unique, it is actually (supposedly) less prone to tangling. If you’re like us, tossing your headphones in a pocket or bag compartment half a dozen times a day, this “feature” is worth its weight in gold should it prove true. And in our testing, the tangle-free promise rang mostly true. More often than not, a simple tug on either end of the A-Jays Four resulted in any beginning tangle coming right out.
The the right cable going towards the right ear piece is a three-button pod that controls volume +/- and play/pause controls. Having next/previous controls would have been the icing on the cake. But considering we don’t really jump around albums and playlists hardly ever, we can overlook the omission.
We have (at least we think) ear canals on the smaller side. We usually install the small or medium size ear caps on in-ear headphones as the large sizes are often too big to get a proper seal. On the A-Jays Fours, the same practice remains.
One thing we noticed that we don’t particularly care for is that the actual earphone itself is quite large. It’s wide, first of all, making the act of inserting the earphone and getting a good seal kind of difficult even with the smaller ear cups on. And despite trying various ear cup sizes as well as wiggling them around a million different times, we never got that really good seal that any in-ear phone user should be seeking. We didn’t observe a noticeable drop in audio quality as one might expect with a bad seal. Still, it’s worth pointing out if you plan on wearing the A-Jays for multiple hours at at time. They’re awkward in our ears and not exactly the most comfortable.
So this straight cable — it’s bittersweet. The anti-tangle claims that manufacturers who implement such designs are kind of true. While tangling is a little (read: seriously, it’s not that much better) less than your typical cylindrical cable, we don’t necessarily see any reason why you should pay extra for, or go out of your way for a pair of headphones/earphones with flat cabling. In fact, we’d actually say braided, normal, round cables are better than flat ones at resisting tangling.
Physical attributes and well played design can certainly net you a new friend or two, bad audio will not. And when it comes to audio performance on headphones, all other factors you use to weigh a purchase decision ultimately fall by the wayside. Audio performance should be your number one consideration. And that’s where the A-Jays Four fall a bit…ahem…flat for us.
Bass response on tracks such as “Breakn’ A Sweat” by Skrillex didn’t have overly boomy bass — A good thing! — and was actually quite controlled. Still, it was a bit thin in many regards. In our testing it seemed as if the mid-range was fairly “forward” and flat. (This type of sound usually means rolled off lows and highs.) Finally, the high-end was the most relaxed sector of music regardless of genre. Not only did highs sound veiled, but complex sections of songs with a lot of cymbal action turned into high-end noise instead of being able to identify the various cymbals/instruments.
In more fast-paced and complex songs such as Sevendust’s “Hero”, the ride cymbal being hit in the background of the chorus is barely audible and sounds quite “fuzzy”. And then once you start adding in the various crash cymbals being abused during the same part of the song, you get a messy conglomerate of just…noise — barely audible noise in many parts because they’re again, pretty rolled off in the upper range.
We’ve seen several reviews raving about the Fours’ audio quality, so we went into this review with pretty high expectations. Unfortunately, after ~12 hours of literally every type of genre being covered, we just can’t say the audio quality is anything special or worth writing home about.
We’ll admit we’re pretty picky when it comes to headphones and audio quality. Anytime we see an famous celebrity’s autograph or brand scribbled across something, it’s incredibly hard for us to take it seriously. Such endorsements end up stealing money away from what really matters — developing a genuinely good sounding headphone/earphone. In the case of the A-Jays Fours, all of that unnecessary crap wasn’t an issue. The merely “ok” sound quality, was, however.
For $69.99 at checkout, we think there are better options that either sound the same for less, or sound far better at the same price. Take for example, Reid and Heath Acoustics’ (RHA) MA-350 earphones. They are only $50 and sound better than just about any earphone south of $150. Seriously. With such options available, we just can’t recommend the A-Jays Fours as a first or even second choice.