- JLab Epic Air Sport review
- Who is the JLab Epic Air Sport for?
- What’s it like to use the JLab Epic Air Sport?
- How long does the JLab Epic Air Sport’s battery last?
- How do you connect the JLab Epic Air Sport to your phone?
- What do the JLab Epic Air Sport sound like?
- How good is the JLab Epic Air Sport’s microphone?
- Should you buy the JLab Epic Air Sport?
- Beats Powerbeats Pro alternative: The JLab Audio Epic Air Elite sport earbuds for $74.50
- All the latest deals delivered to your inbox. It’s FREE!
- Where to Buy
- Our Best Headphone Picks
- Headphone Product Comparisons
- Further Reading
- Best headphone deals this week
- Classy comfort
- How do they sound?
- Pairing and practicalities
- Cool controls
- Waterproof wonder
- Rad battery life
- Bluetooth blues
- The final word
JLab Epic Air Sport review
When you’re working out there are two criteria your earbuds need to meet: they must be reliable and comfortable. Fortunately, the JLab Epic Air Sport fit the bill and for much less than competing true wireless earbuds.
Who is the JLab Epic Air Sport for?
The JLab Epic Air Sport earbuds can handle dust and water thanks to the IP66 rating.
- Athletes will get plenty of mileage out from these dust- and water-resistant earbuds. The hooks rest neatly behind the ear and keep the earbuds stable while you’re jumping about.
- Power users should consider these earbuds for their 2600mAh dual-purpose charging case. This allows you to charge both the earbuds and your phone.
- General consumers will also enjoy the earbuds: just because they’re targeted toward athletes doesn’t mean the features are limited to athletic use. You never know when you’ll get caught in a downpour or need to hear your surroundings, and the Epic Air Sport can accommodate both situations.
What’s it like to use the JLab Epic Air Sport?
The charging case can top up your phone, too.
Usability is akin to the company’s Epic Air Elite. The Sport earbuds preserve the earhook form. We’ve seen this design with the Beats Powerbeats Pro and Plantronics Backbeat Fit 3100. Slightly angled nozzles extend from the housings. They’re a bit wide and may prove uncomfortable after an hour or two. If this happens to you, swap out the default silicone ear tips for the memory foam ones.
Each earbud has its own touch panel and is responsible for an assortment of controls. You may decrease volume, reverse tracks, access a voice assistant, and cycle through EQ settings with the left earbud. The right one is for increasing the volume, skipping tracks, playing and pausing music, as well as call controls. Just like the JLab JBuds Air Sport, responsiveness is immediate with sweaty and chalky hands alike. No matter what sport you’re partaking in, the controls should hold up.
A glossy touch panel adorns each earbud.
The JLab Epic Air Sport’s charging case is one of the bigger options out there for true wireless earbuds and for good reason: it’s dual-purpose. This means you can charge your phone and earbuds simultaneously. Of course, charging your phone with the case will deplete it faster, but no worries. You can top it up from anywhere, a benefit of the integrated USB-A cable. My one gripe about the case is its slippery texture. I fumbled it more than once. Not that it matters too much, but the plastic isn’t particularly drop-resistant and has a few scuff marks.
Can I work out with the JLab Epic Air Sport?
Just like the Epic Air Elite (pictured) you can sweat to your heart’s content with the Epic Air Sport.
Working out with the earbuds is great. The ear hooks hug the back of my ear friction-free. Whether I jumped down to descend from a bouldering wall or was riding over a poorly paved road on my bike, the buds stayed in my ears as I put them through their paces. I would advise against using the memory foam ear tips for exercise as the material wears down faster than silicone. I split my time between the materials and a bit of the foam material shed onto my fingers when swapping them out for the default ear tips.
How long does the JLab Epic Air Sport’s battery last?
We were able to squeeze out 9 hours, 17 minutes of playback before the earbuds were depleted. This is excellent. At the time of publication, only the Beats Powerbeats Pro ‘buds have a greater standalone battery life, and they’re $100 more expensive. To completely charge the earbuds, you’ll need to set aside 2.5 hours, while the massive 2600mAh case requires four hours for a complete charge. This is a long time to wait, however, it then provides an additional five charge cycles to the earbuds.
How do you connect the JLab Epic Air Sport to your phone?
The ear hooks feature cutouts which grant flexibility.
You can connect via the standard Bluetooth pairing process: remove both earbuds from the case and find the JLab Epic Air Sport in your phone’s Bluetooth menu. They’ll immediately pair to your device. Subsequent connecting is quick thanks to the Class 1, Bluetooth 5 technology. Connection quality is also stable even outdoors; you’re afforded 10 meters of untethered freedom.
If you don’t care for voice-activated Siri access, these are a good, affordable alternative to the Powerbeats Pro.
Unfortunately, you can’t connect to more than one device at a time. If you’re streaming music from your laptop and get a call, you’ll answer it sans-earbuds. Another pithy shame, but not a surprise, is the lack of high-quality codec support. In all fairness, the earbuds do support AAC. However, AAC performance is only acceptable and reliable with iOS devices.
What do the JLab Epic Air Sport sound like?
Bass notes sound twice as loud as midrange notes, which is bad news for vocal clarity. Granted, bass notes aren’t as overstated as they are with the JLab JBuds Air Sport and Executive. While these aren’t my first choice for casual listening, they’re fine for exercise. I always prefer a bit more volume in the low-end for workouts as it helps me keep a steady pace with the beat. JLab provides three EQ presets: signature (default), balanced, and bass boost. You can cycle through these by triple-tapping the left earbud.
Isolation is similar to the Epic Air Elite, which makes sense as they have a nearly identical design to the JLab Epic Air Sport. Hardly any low-end noises are filtered out by the earbuds, but general chatter and background noise are attenuated. If you notice an excessive amount of environmental sound disrupting your music, test out the various ear tips. JLab provides seven pairs, so you should be able to find something that suits you. Worst-case scenario, third-party tips may be the answer.
Lows, mids, and highs
You can manually power the earphones on and off via the button behind each nozzle.
In Aly & AJ’s song The Distance, the lack of detail is particularly apparent when the duo harmonizes. Skip ahead to 3:02. They sing in unison, “I keep on going the distance,” while a quieted drum beat thumps in the background. The drummer’s part is controlled and tempered. However, the disparate reproduction quality between the bass and midrange frequencies makes it hard to hear Aly harmonize with AJ’s dominant vocals. That said, in songs with fewer instruments drum kicks, in particular, vocals sound surprisingly clear for sport earphones.
Treble frequencies sound accurate. Similarly to vocal harmonics, detail can be lost during a specifically cacophonous part of a song. Generally speaking, though, they sound pleasant in The Distance.
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How good is the JLab Epic Air Sport’s microphone?
Due to technical difficulties, we were unable to get an objective measurement of the microphone’s frequency response. However, the demo below should help you determine whether you feel the quality is good enough for your usage. While on the phone with my mom, she had nothing bad to say about the sound quality. My only note for phone calls is how audio is only relayed through the left earbud. To JLab’s credit, this is common among true wireless earbuds.
JLab Epic Air Sport microphone demo:
Should you buy the JLab Epic Air Sport?
The charging case’s novelty is the main selling point of the Epic Air Sport.
If the dual-purpose charging case is a must-have for you, then yes, the JLab Epic Air Sport makes sense. However, if the dual-purpose charging case is overkill, the JLab JBuds Air Sport may be a more appropriate choice. They feature a similar earhook design with touch controls, use Bluetooth 5.0, are IP66-rated, and support AAC. Sure, battery life isn’t as impressive and they’re more bass-heavy, but seeing as most of us put the ‘buds in the case when inactive, it shouldn’t pose too much of an issue. Plus, they’re half the price for the Epic Air Sport.
Disclosure: We may receive affiliate compensation in connection with your purchase of products via links on this page. Even though we may receive compensation, we always give our honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on each product. See our ethics policy for more details.
Beats Powerbeats Pro alternative: The JLab Audio Epic Air Elite sport earbuds for $74.50
These sweatproof sport ‘buds come in a pretty big case, but it doubles as a mobile charger (with built-in cable!). Plus, you get lots of ear tips to ensure just the right fit.
Here’s a public service announcement: Apple AirPods are not waterproof. They’re not even sweatproof. This may come as an unpleasant surprise to anyone who routinely exercises with them — and then discovers that water damage isn’t covered under warranty. Now, AirPods Pro are sweatproof, and so are Apple’s Beats PowerBeats Pro. But those true-wireless earbuds each sell for $250. Um, thanks, no, buh-bye.
Good news: There’s a much more affordable exercise-friendly earbud solution, and Cheapskate readers can get a substantial discount. For a limited time, the JLab Audio Epic Air Elite true-wireless sport earbuds for $74.50. That’s after applying promo code CNETEPIC at checkout. Regular price: $149.
Read more: The best sport headphones for 2019
From a design standpoint, the Epic Air Elite hews much closer to Powerbeats Pro than to AirPods Pro, especially considering that the latter employs active noise cancellation (ANC), while the former are merely noise-isolating. Like the PowerBeats Pro, the Epic Air Elite have ear hooks to keep them securely in place.
You also get a whopping seven different sets of ear tips, including one Cloud Foam pair. The idea is to help you get the best, and most comfortable, inner-ear seal, which is crucial for both noise isolation and sound quality.
The earbuds automatically connect to your phone upon removal from the case and begin charging once they return to it. However, that case is quite large compared to most, and the earbuds go in backward: The left one on the right and right one on the left. It’s a minor annoyance, but still an annoyance.
The case doesn’t support wireless charging, but it does have a few tricks up its plastic-lidded sleeve. First, there’s a built-in cable that pries loose from the edge, so you can easily recharge the case via any available USB port. But the case itself is also a mobile charger, with a Type-A USB port you can use to power a phone or other device.
Assuming you use it solely for earbud charging, JLab Audio promises a hefty 38 hours of total playtime.
The earbuds themselves are IP55-rated sweatproof. Each one has a single touch control — not my favorite option, because they’re easy to graze by accident. (I often found that they didn’t work consistently, either.) What’s more, there are a lot of functions to learn. For example, to play or pause music, you double-tap the left earbud. To skip to the next track, you tap and hold the right earbud for at least one second. You can even cycle between different equalizer presets by tapping and holding both earbuds for at least three seconds. Chances of me remembering all that: slim.
I initially had trouble getting a good seal, because you also have to position the ear hooks just so to make that happen. Thankfully, once you learn the trick of it, it’s not hard — and I’m glad to report the Air Elites sound really, really good. I’m particularly impressed by JLab Audio’s two-year warranty, which is double what you get with just about every other headphone.
Although the big case may be off-putting to some and the touch controls can be frustrating, there’s a lot to like about the Epic Air Elite. With a good seal, the sound quality is superb, and when you look at the price compared with similar products from Apple, Bose, Jabra and the like, you won’t find anything even close.
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The $99.99 JLab Epic Sport Wireless are bass-forward Bluetooth earphones with three EQ modes, a waterproof design, and an exceptionally secure fit. The sound signature isn’t for purists, as the mids are scooped and the highs and lows are sculpted and boosted dramatically regardless of the EQ mode you choose. But generally speaking, these are solid Bluetooth in-ears, ideal for exercise.
The Epic Sport Wireless is a neckband-style pair, available in black. The earpieces are connected to adjustable memory wire that pops up, over, and behind the ears, and can be molded to stay in whatever position fits you best. This, and the excellent included eartips and fins, ensure an extra-secure fit. In all, JLab includes five pairs of eartips in various sizes and materials, and three pairs of fins (S, M, and L) that help add stabilization to the fit. An IP66 rating means the earphones are dust and waterproof.
Nearest the right earpiece, there’s an inline remote control and microphone. The remote automatically redials whoever you last called when you double tap it, which is more often annoying than it is useful. The plus/minus buttons are for volume when tapped, and track navigation when held longer. We’re not fans of this button array, as it easily results in accidentally skipped tracks. So we’re not thrilled with the inline remote control in general, but it works, and once you memorize the buttons, mistakes will be less likely.
In addition to all the eartips and fins, the earphones ship with a USB charging cable that snaps on to the bottom of the remote control compartment, rather than using a micro USB cord as much of the competition does. There’s also a cable cinch for adjusting the neckband’s slack, a cable clip, and a small zip-up protective case.
The mic offers so-so intelligibility. Using the Voice Memos app on an iPhone 6s, we could understand every word we recorded, but the audio was fuzzy and distant. This, however, is common with Bluetooth earphone mics. JLab estimates battery life to be roughly 12 hours, but your results will vary with your volume levels.
In the default EQ mode, on tracks with intense sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the earphones deliver powerful, thumping bass response. At top, exceptionally loud and unsafe listening levels, the bass doesn’t distort, and at more moderate levels it is still quite powerful. Those motivated by deep bass during their workouts will appreciate the low frequency response, which can be adjusted (more on that in a moment).
Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with far less deep bass in the mix, gives us a better sense of the overall sound signature. The drums on this track can sound overly thunderous on earphones with heavily boosted bass, but through the Epic Sport Wireless, have a roundness and fullness that is boosted, but not to insane levels. Callahan’s baritone vocals are delivered with rich low-mid presence and use a smidge more high-mid presence to balance things out. The guitar strums get a solid high frequency presence—they pop with brightness and stand out more in the mix than usual. In other words, this is sort of a scooped sound signature—strong bass response, bright highs, and a little less in the way of mids than might be ideal.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop receives slightly less high-mid presence than we prefer—its attack isn’t dull here, but it lacks the crisp punch it often has, while the sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are delivered with strong depth, but are not quite as intense as we have heard on some seriously bass-boosted earphones. The vocals on this track receive added brightness and less high-mid presence, and we notice the high frequency crackle of vinyl in the background a little more than usual.
For orchestral tracks, like the opening scene in John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, the lower register instrumentation is boosted far more than usual—this tells us that much of the bass presence pushed out is in the lows and low-mids, while sub-bass frequencies are delivered more or less as they are. This is why Callahan’s vocals sound so rich, and why the deepest bass elements on the previously mentioned tracks are well-represented, but aren’t necessarily as powerful as they are on some bass-forward earphones. Here JLab is all about pushing the lows (and some low-mids) up in the mix, as well as the highest frequencies. It can translate well on most pop, rock, and rap music, but it doesn’t sound quite as ideal on orchestral tracks such as this one.
You can adjust the EQ, as mentioned, by holding the two plus/minus buttons at once—this switches from the default signature mode we tested in to Balanced mode, and doing it again switches to Bass Boost. Unfortunately, there’s no announcement of which mode you’re in, nor an LED that tells you. We found the Balanced mode seemed to even out the treble and bass response a bit—sometimes the Signature mode sounded crisper and clearer, sometimes it was the Balanced mode. But the Bass Boost mode sounds a little ridiculous—the lows are pushed even more forward in the mix while the highs are dialed back significantly—it’s a muddy sound, and we suggest sticking with the two more crisp choices, both of which still offer plenty of bass.
JLab’s Epic Sport Wireless earphones deliver strong audio performance that can be adjusted. They’ll appeal to those who like deep bass and want bright highs to balance it out, but will probably irk listeners who want the mids to be more consistently represented. The design is excellent in terms of secure fit and exercise-friendliness—that IP66 rating is no joke, and plenty of companies don’t even bother to test for dust ingress. Throw in the generous array of included accessories, and the major gripe here is the layout of the remote control panel.
For the price, though, the Epic Sport Wireless is a solid pair, albeit one with some stiff competition. We’re fans of the JBL Reflect Fit, the Jaybird X3, the JBL Reflect Mini BT, and the Bose SoundSport Wireless in this price range. JLab gets a lot of things right here, but it’s worth looking at these other options before you commit to this one.
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JLab Audio Epic Air True Wireless Sport $149.99 The Good Comfortable • Sweatproof • Good battery life The Bad Lag with video • Fiddly controls The Bottom Line If you’re looking for waterproof, wireless, sports earphones for music, JLab Audio’s Epic Air deserves a serious look. ⚡ Mashable Score 4.0 😎 Cool Factor 3.0 📘 Learning Curve 5.0 💪 Performance 4.0 💵 Bang for the Buck 4.0
Apple, Jabra, Sony and Bose are just four of the big brand names with major products in the wireless headphone market, so what can a relatively new Californian headphone maker bring to the party? The answer: The Epic Air True Wireless Earbuds, which JLab Audio has thrown into the increasingly crowded and competitive headphone marketplace.
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Priced in the middle of the options out there (although you can pick up refurbished ones from around $120) the JLab Audio’s Epic Air earbuds’ big selling points are its charging case, IP55 sweatproof certification, and a design that guarantees a secure fit for active use.
Looks-wise, these earbuds have an aesthetic that will prove familiar to people who have worn sports-style headphones in the past. What you can’t tell from the photos, though, is the pleasant feel — the silicone has a great tactile finish.
Image: AMY-MAE TURNER/MASHABLE
The shiny logo on each Earbud might not be to everyone’s taste, but generally the clean, sleek looks present a modern, unisex option. They are a little larger than would be ideal, but you don’t feel self-conscious wearing them, and they are certainly lightweight.
The charging case also boasts slick black looks with curved edges and a matte finish. It’s too large to be pocket-friendly and has a bit of heft to it, but it’s definitely small enough to slip into a bag.
The specially contoured and fitted inside perfectly holds and protects the earbuds while the USB cable feels sturdy and is easy to detach and re-attach. It closes with a really nice snap, so you can be confident it’ll do its job of protecting your ‘buds, even if you just chuck it in a disorganized gym bag or purse.
Image: AMY-MAE TURNER/MASHABLE
Included in the Epic Air bundle are no fewer than eight sets of gel-tips, a great selling point for anyone who has struggled with the fit of in-ear products previously. These include three standard ear tips of varying size, a super shallow option, and double- and triple-flange sets. You’d be hard-pressed not to find a set to fit your ears.
The earhooks give a great feeling of security even during active use. You would really have to be moving suddenly to dislodge them, even in your most athletic moments.
Once you have them on, you really don’t notice the soft silicone hooks, and if you play around with the different gel-tips to get the perfect fit, you won’t notice the earbuds at all. They really are supremely comfortable to wear.
Image: AMY-MAE TURNER/MASHABLE
The great fit also means others can’t hear your music, so you won’t drive them crazy with sound leakage. In our tests, I had to turn really bassy rock music up to a level that meant it was uncomfortable to listen to via the headphones before it could be heard by anyone else.
How do they sound?
We were genuinely impressed with the quality of music playback. The sound is really immersive, 360-degree, bold, punchy and the Earbuds can do loud very well — with little distortion. This is thanks to the large 8mm drivers and JLab Audio’s “C3” (Crystal Clear Clarity) technology that it claims “delivers a clean, crisp, immersive sound with vibrant highs, mids and pumping bass.”
Anything that’s beat-y or bass-y — so in theory you standard workout fare — sounds warm, rich and quite fabulous. The bassline in Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain,” for example, sounds insanely rich, while Pretty Lights’ “Rainbows and Waterfalls” is a great track to hear both the bold bass and how the headphones handle higher notes.
Image: AMY-MAE TURNER/MASHABLE
The earbuds also handled orchestral and acoustic sounds very well. You can really hear each violin note in Brahms’ “Violin Sonata No 3,” while a simple guitar and harp combo such as Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” sounds fresh and crisp.
All kinds of vocals, from growly blues voices like Lucinda Williams to pop princesses such as T-Swift, sounded great too.
The Earbuds don’t have built-in active noise reduction, but if you can ace that sung fit — which I did with no difficulty — the noise isolation is so good that you’ll struggle to hear anything other than your tunes.
Voice call quality was fine, although did seem better indoors than out, suggesting in windy or noisy conditions (and, again, with no noise cancellation) you might sound a little muffled to the person on the other end of the line.
Pairing and practicalities
Pairing the earbuds to your device is a very simple process, with a slight twist: You select either the right or left earbud as the primary ‘but, then pair the other earbud to the primary. I had no trouble at all with the setup process, and was using the earbuds within a matter of minutes after unboxing.
Once the earbuds are fully set up, you can initiate Auto-Power On, which means the earbuds are always on and ready to go the moment you take them out of the case, making for a really simple user experience.
The earbuds let you know when they’re connected to Bluetooth and joined to each other with simple voice alerts, so you’ll always know when you’re ready to go.
JLab Audio has developed some slick touch controls for the earbuds but they do take some getting used to and might be more of a challenge for the heavy-handed.
Image: AMY-MAE TURNER/MASHABLE
You just have to tap the left earbud to play, pause, answer a call, or hang up. This part works really well in practice — the button is responsive and the action is fast. To skip a track, it’s one tap on the right earbud; to track backwards, it’s a double tap.
You can also use the touch controls to activate Siri or Google with a double tap on the left earbud.
The volume control is what I struggled with, especially initially. To turn the volume down, you need to press and hold the left earbud, while increasing the volume is the same with the right earbud. I just kept pausing when I was trying to decrease the volume as the sensor reacted to the touch as if it was a single tap command.
In the end, I gave up and retreated to controlling the volume on the handset rather than the earbuds most of the time… although someone with a lighter touch might have more success than I did.
The earbuds offer a useful IP55 waterproof rating, meaning you can sweat all over them and even use them outside in the rain.
Image: AMY-MAE TURNER/MASHABLE
Obviously for a product aimed at the sports market, this could be seen as an essential feature, but it’s worth noting that some similarly priced rival True Wireless products do not boast this kind of functionality.
While the Earbuds can stand a good splash, the charging carry case is not waterproof, so you have to be aware of this and ensure the ‘buds are bone-dry before you put them back in their case.
Rad battery life
The Epic Air earbuds’ case doubles as its charger. This portable power pack can also juice up your handset on the go, too. The included microUSB-to-USB cable works for Android devices, while there’s a port to stick your iPhone charging cable into.
JLab claims a six-hour battery life for the earbuds, with the case boosting this to 30 hours. The case has a neat little row of lights to show you how much power is left at the touch of a button.
Image: AMY-MAE TURNER/MASHABLE
Because we docked the earbuds back in their charging case after use, in a week of testing we never ran out of juice. The case also seems to keep its charge really well. From our tests, we’d say these earbuds will cover you easily for a gym session, your commute, and a good few calls in between.
If you do get to the stage when you’re taxing the battery, the earbuds will give you a “Low Battery” voice prompt when you get down to 10%.
The Epic Airs are equipped with Bluetooth 4.1 and aptX technology, which is supposed to mean “high sound quality and low latency in audio when transmitted over a Bluetooth connection.” However, when watching video we noticed very definite lag.
Latency occurs in all wireless headphones to a certain extent, but with the Epic Air earbuds we struggled to sit through even short videos as the delay was so pronounced.
Image: AMY-MAE TURNER/MASHABLE
Obviously these aren’t marketed as the best headphones for movie watching and this is not an issue if you just want to listen to music, but if you were planning on using the Earbuds for a lot of video, it’s definitely a point to consider.
Otherwise the Bluetooth connection was just peachy, dropping out very rarely and when it did it was usually only one earbud that lost the connection.
The final word
If you want to go wire-free in the gym, wireless when running, on a bike ride or even cable-free on your commute and you like listening to your music loud, these Earbuds from JLab Audio are a very strong option to consider.
They are comfortable, competent, and practical in terms of a realistic battery life. The charging case’s ability to offer your Apple or Android phone an on-the-go power boost is also an attractive extra that alternative products don’t offer.
The hooks-round-the-ear look might not be to everyone’s taste, but if knowing your headphones are going to stay put when you’re active is important to you, the Earbuds from JLab Audio really will give you a good sense of security.