BiGR Audio Jam Master Jay Headphones
For those uninitiated to hip-hop and DJs, a word about the headphones’ name is in order. Jason William Mizell AKA “Jam Master Jay” was one of the icons of this musical genre and a central player in the group Run-D.M.C that included his childhood friends Darryl McDaniels and Joseph “Run” Simmons. The current headphones that bear his monogram memorialize the ten-year anniversary of his untimely death. BiGR (“bigger”) Audio has become identified with lifestyle headphones with their custom logo units, most of which are dedicated to major league baseball teams.
Bigger and Bigger
Being a limited edition with its own personal carrying case, you get a left earpiece with a turntable icon and a right one with the JMJ (Jam Master Jay) monogram. Earpieces are easily hooked up with a cord with 3.5 mini plugs for each channel, terminating in a 3.5 mm miniplug that hooks up with your music source. A pause/play control for iPods is embedded in the cord. The comfortable surround cushion makes for hours of “easy” listening if you are a ‘phone-head. Given their 32 ohm impedance, I assume that most listeners will use these phones with i-devices or other portable units. My critical evaluation included an iPod 160 Classic, iPhone 4, and MacBook Pro (recently upgraded with the Audirvana DAC program that puts out 96kHz-24bit sound from high-res files).
Break-in and Break-out
Dynamic drivers, such as those included in these phones require some break-in to get the best results. I ran a white noise program at slightly greater than listening levels for three days before serious auditioning started. A comparison of what I heard before and after this exercise convinced me that such break-in is essential to getting the best performance from the JMJs.
Getting to the nitty gritty of the JMJs, I used a number of music files, including mp3 (bitrates of 320 kbps), Apple lossless, FLAC, and CDs. Selections included Train’s “Hey Soul Sister,”(320 kbps), Esperanza Spalding’s “Inutil Pasaijem” (Apple Lossless), and various high- res files like the newly minted “Crosby, Stills and Nash,” Paul Simon “Live in New York” and the Beach Boys “Smile” sessions. For fun, I dialed in the HDTracks Dr. Chesky special “Explorations in Time and Space” a 176.4 kHz/24-bit exercise in binaural listening.
In all fairness, hey nothing’s perfect, the JMJs do have strengths and weaknesses. First, and this is very important for headphone fans, they are very comfortable for a circumaural design, particularly during extended listening. Next, the highs and midrange that sounded a bit recessed in the beginning, did open up after break-in although they never quite got to be as “lively” as other ‘phones that I have auditioned. On the other hand, the bass response of the JMJs is pretty darn big, maybe a bit too rich for some tastes, giving them an overall sound with a mellow tendency. Perhaps not the last word in airiness or definition, the JMJ’s painted a euphonic rather than analytic sound picture.
- Smooth coverage of frequency spectrum
- Wide dynamic range at normal listening levels
- Good build quality
- Design limited to portable devices
- A bit shy in detail and airiness
The Definitive Word
BiGR Audio has acquired a “big” name for its style-oriented headphones, many of which feature the logos of major league baseball teams. Now we get a limited edition model inspired by the late lamented hip-hop legend, Jam Master Jay. While the cool factor of having the JMJ logo and turntable on the outside of the earpieces may impress you, the real deal-maker is how the phones sound. In this case, you get a pretty good bang for the buck, particularly if you have a coupon code that will drop the $149.00 sticker price to $99.00. As these ‘phones are aimed at the portable device market, once you plug them into your player, you will want to pitch those crappy earbuds and, from now on, treat your precious ears to the JMJs. Their smooth tonal balance makes them rather kind to mp3 sources that usually sound tinny and undernourished through lesser ear-speakers. While not as analytic or spacious as my reference B&W P3, they can be had for a much lower price, so you can buy more downloads to enjoy. Attractively packaged in their leather drawstring carrying case and seductively styled with designer ear-speaker covers, you will certainly turn heads when you take the JMJs out in public! You can buy these babies online at https://bigraudio.com/JamMasterJay.
Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
Driver Size: 2 x 40 mm
SPL: 101 + 3 dB
Impedance: 32 Ohms
Recommended power: 15 – 250 mW
Maximum input power: 1500 mW
Cable length: 6 feet
Inputs: 3.5 mm Stereo mini-plug (on cable), 3.5 mm mini-jack (on headphone)
Weight: 169 g
- BiGR Audio Jam Master Jay Headphones (SRP $149)