The q-Jays are in-ear headphones from upstart Swedish brand Jays aimed at the high end market. They've got excellent sound quality and are very small and light, they're an excellent match for an Apple iPhone 4 or portable media player player.

Design, build quality, fit and comfort

The Jays q-Jays are in-ear headphones, so they sit deep inside your ear canal. This means they offer excellent isolation against outside noise. However, using in-ear headphones can be a confronting experience if you're not used to them. Inserting the q-Jays headphones into your ears is easy thanks to their miniscule size.

They're among the smallest in-ear headphones on the market. A variety of different silicon eartip sizes and shapes are included, so it's easy to find an appropriate fit. A pair of foam eartips provides the best seal possible, but fitting them inside your ears is a fiddly process.

Be prepared to spend a while finding the best-fitting eartips, as changing between different sets is a difficult and awkward process. If you feel like shelling out some extra cash, the company has teamed up with a Swedish audiologist to offer custom eartip moulding.

These headphones are solid and well constructed, with no flimsiness and high quality cable construction and connections. The cord of the Jays q-Jays is split into two lengths, with a 60cm main cable from the earphones and an included 90cm extension cord. We would have preferred a single cable of around 1.2m rather than a split, the 3.5mm connector in the middle of the current cable adds bulk and unnecessary weight.

Once fitted and inserted with the best eartips for our ear size, we found the Jays q-Jays to be relatively comfortable for extended listening periods. Wearing in-ear headphones comes down to personal preference, some people like it while others baulk at the deep fit and in-ear intrusion. If possible, try a pair before committing to the purchase.

Sound quality and volume levels

The Jays q-Jays have excellent sound quality. We weren't expecting much from a relatively small headphone manufacturer, but once properly fitted the q-Jays can uncover a great deal of detail in high quality audio recordings.

When un-equalised, no artificial boosts to treble or bass, the q-Jays have a relatively flat frequency response, with no evident bias towards high or low notes. This makes them great for detailed listening and accurate reproduction of sound.

The q-Jays also respond very well to software equalisation. We selected a bass-heavy preset and found the Jays headphones had a noticeable lift in the lower registers, without any audible distortion or loss of quality. If you listen to lots of music we'd recommend a bit of a boost to treble and bass to give the Jays q-Jays a bit of musicality and warmth.

We'd put the Jays q-Jays roughly on par with the Ultimate Ears 700, Ultimate Ears Super.Fi 5vi and Klipsch X5 in-ear headphones in terms of sound quality, they're in esteemed company.

Being in-ear headphones, the q-Jays don't need a lot of power to achieve loud volume levels. The combination of efficient armature drivers and good isolation means that if you like your music loud, you'll be happy with the q-Jays. To achieve roughly the same volume level, we generally had the volume a few increments lower on the iPhone 3GS compared to the stock Apple earbuds.

OUR VERDICT

The Jays q-Jays are excellent in-ear headphones that have sound quality equal to other high end established headphone brands. If you are interested in shelling out more than a hundred pounds on high quality portable in-ear headphones, these should be among the models you consider.