Swedish headphone maker Jays isn't exactly a newcomer to the market, but the company's products had yet to make their way to the CNET Reviews desk until quite recently. The first pair to earn the privilege is a sleek on-ear model with a superlightweight and compact design dubbed the V-Jays ($98). These headphones offer reasonably balanced sound and an understated style that will surely appeal to the eye of many an earbud hater, but flimsy elements and an anemic low-end response will turn some potential buyers off.
On first glance, the V-Jays Headphones remind us of the original cassette Walkman models, thanks to their low-profile design, small earpads, and use of a Y-cable rather than a single cord descending from one earpiece. However, the V-Jays certainly look more refined with their square earpads and the glossy black finish on the ends of the headband. Also, the multidirectional pivot of the earpieces proves these 'phones are a step above the cheap-o giveaway models. Plus, the cord is exceptionally thick and features good reinforcement at the gold-plated plugs.
Still, we can't help but think that the V-Jays seem rather flimsy and delicate, probably because of the use of so little material in their construction. Therein lays the double-edged sword of an ultracompact design: it's nice and portable, but usually doesn't feel sturdy. Also, the foam earpiece covers seem cheap and tear easily--the right one on our test unit already had a small hole when we removed them from the sealed package. Finally, we wish the headphones would fold down more compactly, as just having the earpieces fold in does not actually make them all that much smaller. It would be nice if Jays had included a carrying pouch, as well.
As for fit and comfort, we have some mixed feelings. On the one hand, the V-Jays Headphones are exceptionally lightweight, so you might barely feel them on your head--if not for the quite a bit of pressure that the earpieces put on the sides of the head. Some wearers might not find this particularly bothersome, but we couldn't wear them for more than an hour or two without some discomfort. The constant pressure also made it feel as if the headphones were going to be pushed off our head, but luckily, Jays had the foresight to incorporate a strip of felt into the headband. This provides just enough traction on the hair to keep the earphones on the head, though we did have some trouble keeping the earpieces optimally positioned over our ears.
When we got the positioning right, we were mostly impressed by the audio quality offered by the V-Jays Headphones, as they provide a fairly balanced response overall. Music comes through nice and clear, with a reasonable amount of high-end detail, though the response is not as crisp as some might prefer. Mids are warm without being overpowering, but they do have a slight nasal quality that keeps them from the level of richness we like. The low end is also present, but we only experienced the true thump for certain, very bass-heavy tracks, such as the techno dance remix of Michelle Williams' "We Break the Dawn" and I.N.I's "Kross Roads." Tracks with more subtle lows tend to sound anemic, especially when compared with on-ear 'phones in the same price range as the V-Jays. As such, these headphones are really most suitable for those who hate to stick 'buds in their ears.