The t-Jays THREE is more Sennheiser than Sennheiser’s former flagship dynamic headphone, the HD650. If you like rich and smooth dark, you’ll fall in love with the t-Jays. Jays have three of them to tailor to your ear and your wallet. TMA has THREE for the skillet today. If you dig low profile, neutral, and modular, again, Jays are the only horse in town and the t-Jays THREE is quite a ride.
Speaker: 10mm Dynamic Speaker
Sensitivity: 98dB @ 1kHz
Impedance: 16 Ohm @ 1kHz
Frequency Response: 15 Hz – 25 000 Hz
Cord length: 60 cm, TPE coated & Kevlar reinforced cables
Plug: straight, Gold-Plated Stereo Plug 3.5mm (1/8 in)
Package and Fit
The t-Jays THREE package is virtually identical to the new a-Jays case. It’s new, looks pretty, and is a bugger to open. The t-Jays earphones, however, are completely different to the a-Jays. The a-Jays is a cute button of an earphone that slides right into your ear with little difficulty in any position. The t-Jays is somewhat of a different beast. At first glance, you might suspect it to be a master of ergonomics. It can be. It fits well over the ear and, for the lucky portion of the population, it fits comfortably down. Bad fit is caused by the sharp casing design that can dig right into the ear. My wife, I, and one friend fall into that group – about half the people I’ve had try the t-Jays.
The neck cinch is a fiddly bit of plastic that can move up and down the cable at the slightest breeze. Overall, however, it does its job. As with all Jays earphones, there is a measure of microphonic noise that the t-Jays will never shake. But then, where would the world be without the quirks of Swedish design? The t-Jays cable also tangles easily thanks to its friction-fiend cable. That cable can grip onto any surface – a feature I reckon should be adopted for ice climbing.
Build Quality and Cable
Jays changed a lot of things with their new earphones. some for the good, and some for the not-so-good. The good things are very practical. The large 10mm driver makes for a stress-relaxing body. Unlike the tiny q-Jays or even the cute a-Jays, I am hardly ever tempted to grab at the cable when removing the earphones. Considering the fact that Jays’ cables don’t always have the last word when it comes to quality stress relieving and anchoring; I expect that there will be some trouble where the earphone meets the cable.
The extension cable is still a sturdy mixture of decent stress relief and very good contact points within the female portion, but the cable itself just isn’t as strong as it should be. I’ve chipped a few morsels from its hide by merely shoving it in its carrying case and can repeat this with other t-Jays. This is all thanks to its table tennis-grippy rubber surface that practically sticks to glass. The plastic case is a perfect place for the cable to rub and then catch. Negligent cramming can damage this cable’s soft exterior.
Overall, however, Jays have come a long way from the nubby, weakly supported q-Jays.
Here’s where Jays always recoup their mostly minor losses. The t-Jays is a keeper, especially for sulky musical genres and bright sources. It is warm, reasonably deep and well extended.
The t-Jays is accented with clean if not overly clear tones. The mid is lush and vocals, especially female vocals, are wonderful. In general, everything from guitars to piano is natural, if a bit dark. Even lower mid tones are clear free of echo artefacts despite the confined plastic case. Whereas the a-Jays THREE can get boomy, the t-Jays is controlled. There is only the faintest hint of mid-bass/lower mids echo.
The same midrange is decently detailed with lots of air. That isn’t to say that the t-Jays casts an immense shadow: space and separation of instruments is good, but the feeling of openness is the mainstay.
I’d take this over the Sennheiser IE8 any day. Its upper bass is much smoother and overall, the t-Jays isn’t as dark. In some ways, it is like an older Sennheiser HD600, doing all the same things as the 400$ headphone, but at a slower pace.
The final piece of good news is that the t-Jays isn’t overly sensitive and hissy. It won’t throw a fit when attached a Sony or an older iPod. Similarly, it performs well unamped, though users of the iPhone 3G and older iPods can enjoy better low end resolution and overall reduced distortion with a good headphone amp. Now, with darker, fuller sources such as the Hifiman HM601, synergy isn’t excellent, but the t-Jays THREE shines fine with my new favourite, the Go-DAP battery extension and headphone amp.
Because the t-Jays sits on the dark side of neutral, it sounds great with most music, even fast trance. The trick, which Jays nailed, is not to let the 10mm driver boom and break over every bass beat. They’ve done a fabulous job.
Out and about
Again, it needs to be stressed that the t-Jays is another departure from the Jays of old. Overall, the changes in housing size and cable stress reliefs are good, but the new, soft cable is a liability. It isn’t that much noisier, just weaker than almost all of its predecessors, especially when used in conjunction with the new plastic carrying case that just loves to carve notches in the cable.
The total cable length is a bit long, but Jays, in sticking with their guns, have a great compromise for those who want to strap their iPods to their arms, and those who want to keep them in their purses. Of course, for half of the population out there, the only option is to loop the cable over the ears in order to keep the earphones in the ear.
Finally, the t-Jays is a ported. Sound will leak in and out. Still, like the Final Audio FI-BA-SB and A1 models, it isn’t too much that you can’t enjoy the commute.
When relatively modest-priced earphone can scrunch its face up like the legendary HD600, it deserves props. The t-Jays is a good-sounding, good-looking at earphone, with a great accessory kit. If you like it long and dark, you’ll love the sound of this little gem. But, in my ‘seen it before’ eyes, the main problem: a rubbery, easily-notched cable, is a liability. Handle the t-Jays with kid gloves and you should be able to enjoy it for a long time – especially if keep care when using the carrying case.
If Jays can fix their the spat between their cable and their carrying case, they’ll have a true winner on their hands. Despite a few flaws, the Swedish rat, Poodoo, says Grab It!