Cool app, rubbish headphones
Sometimes a product can seem like a really good idea on paper, but be let down by poor design. In my view this sums up the a-Jays One+ headphones entirely. On the surface they seem like a perfectly reasonable set of headphones, but this review turned into a bit of a nightmare for me.
I’ll start off by saying that I don’t like giving negative reviews, but sometimes there’s no choice. Reading on, you might just think that I’m a victim of circumstance, and I hope that’s the case, but what follows is an accurate account of my experience with this product.
Look and feel
The a-Jays One+ are a set of in-ear headphones with a built in microphone and control system built into the right earpiece wire. In terms of design, Jays have opted to give this earphones a flat, rubberised lead, coupled with some quite cheap looking earbuds and a right-angled 3.5mm connector.
Some people may like the look and feel of the rubberised leads, but personally I found that they constantly rubbed against fabric and my skin, which often pulled the buds from my ears and was generally an uncomfortable experience.
As well as this, I found that the sharp edges of the earbuds would cause discomfort during prolonged periods of listening, especially when the earbud was pulled sharply from my ear due to the rubberised lead catching on pretty much anything.
That being said, it was a nice surprise to see a set of four different earbud sizes included in the packaging. Most headphone sets in this price range provide a “one size fits all” solution, so it was a pleasant surprise to see that Jays are trying to cater to people of all ear sizes.
The first set of earphones that I received were sent straight back to the supplier as the right angles connector was faulty, and the slightest touch led to drop-outs and distortion. Every product line will have a few duff examples, so I wasn’t particularly worried. Unfortunately, the second set of earphones suffered from much the same problem, although admittedly to a lesser extent.
My personal belief is that the problem is caused by the use of a rather flimsy looking right-angled connector. Due to it’s positioning it constantly catches while the connected device is in a pocket, which leads to the connector being bent and swivelled around inside the jack. Quite why Jays opted for a right-angled connector is a mystery to me, when most portable devices would generally benefit from using headphones with a straight connector.
When sat flat on a desk, audio performance was actually pretty good. Bass notes were well defined, and both mids and highs were well presented at all volume levels. Only when the volume of my Nexus 4 was turned up to maximum did I suffer any loss of clarity.
Bundled Android app
One saving grace of these earphones is the inclusion of a free Android app which allows for the bespoke configuration of the in-line controls. Download the app from the Google Play store and you’re able to program exactly what the button does, and how it distinguishes between single, double and triple button pushes:
This actually works really well, and using the advanced options I was able to set it up so that the button functioned exactly as I’d like. Distinguishing how big of a gap to allow between button pushes is a major advantage, and after a little bit of tinkering I was happily using multiple clicks to skip tracks and change the volume level.
While the bundled app is a breath of fresh air and a brilliant inclusion, unfortunately it doesn’t excuse what feels like some poor design choices and a low level of reliability. As stated above, sound quality is acceptable for this price point, but what good is sound quality if the build quality of the device means that it can’t be used effectively? If only the first of the review samples had demonstrated this problem then I wouldn’t have even mentioned it, but to have two different products arrive with the same fault seems an awful lot like poor product design to me.
As such, it’s really hard to recommend this product, hence the low score below. And although the free Android app does add an excellent level of functionality, my view is that this product should not make it on to your list of Nexus 7 Accessories.