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JLab Epic Air Sport ANC
September 29, 2020
Original: $99 USD
January 2023: $79 USD
9.5 x 7.5 x 4.5 cm (case)
100g (earbuds and case)
JLab has another ear hook true wireless in its lineup, this time with active noise cancelling (ANC). The company calls the JLAB Epic Air Sport ANC the ultimate sports earbuds with ANC, but can it live up to that hype?
We spent a week with the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC to see how it really holds up.
Editor’s note: this review was updated on January 13, 2023, to update formatting.
Athletes will find this pair of earbuds to be affordable and versatile for any kind of action, and anyone who wants very secure earbuds will appreciate the ear hook design.
What is the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC like?
The JLab Epic Air Sport ANC is a pair of wireless earbuds for people who like to work out, evidenced by its ear hook design that keeps the buds secure while you jog, lift, climb, or do whatever you want. The buds stay in place well, regardless of how intensely I move. Though the hooks are plastic, they have some give and I can adjust them to sit comfortably on my ears. An IP66 rating denotes the buds’ dust and water resistance.
The case is made of lightweight plastic, and it’s pretty large. However, it can still fit in some deeper pockets and will find a nice home in your gym bag or backpack. The case has an integrated USB-A cable, so you don’t have to carry one around with you. Note that the way the buds are arranged in the case is counterintuitive: the right goes on the left and the left goes on the right. This design is similar to the Grell Audio TWS 1 and takes some getting used to.
Each earbud has an infrared sensor to detect whether you’re wearing it, so it can automatically pause or play your music easily. The earbuds also have microphones on the outside to detect noise to either cancel out or let in sound, depending on whether you’re using ANC or Be aware mode.
Yes, the buds come with six pairs of interchangeable ear tips. Three of them are standard silicone ear tips, two are longer ear tips to stay more securely in your ear, and one is a foam tip to mold to the contours of your ear for a comfortable fit.
How do you control the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC?
The outside of each bud features a touch panel, and you can remap the default controls from the JLab Air ANC app (iOS/Android). Sometimes my gestures misfire or don’t get registered, but it’s not a super common occurrence and it doesn’t make using the earbuds bad at all.
Press and hold
Reject incoming call
Is the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC good for working out?
The JLab Epic Air Sport ANC is great for working out, since it’s secure on the ears, comfortable, water-resistant, and has a transparency mode for hearing your surroundings. This is a good option for any type of athlete, since it won’t fall out of your ears, and can also handle dust, so hiking, rock climbing, and lifting won’t pose any issues. If you, like I, enjoy an all-black workout gear situation, you will lose track of the case in your bag, though thankfully it’s big enough to feel with your hands even if you can’t see it.
The earbuds stay in place really well, regardless of what exercise I engage in.
While running, I find Be Aware mode really helpful so I can hear nearby cars or people and stay safe on the sidewalk. Hiking in it is also great for the same reasons, since I want to hear people around me on the trail or be able to hear unique bird calls in nature. Running motions never loosen the earbuds, though my mask gets caught on the ear hooks very easily when I take it off, which can pull the earbuds out.
When doing bodyweight workouts at home, ANC really helps block out distracting household noises, so I can just focus on the music and my workout. The earbuds stay in place really well, regardless of my position—whether I’m on my back doing crunches, doing a side plank, or doing push-ups.
Should you download the JLab Air ANC app?
The JLab Air ANC app is a really useful companion app for this pair of earbuds. Here, you can turn ANC on or off, or turn on its transparency mode which is dubbed Be Aware. Transparency is helpful if you’re working out outside and need to be aware of your surroundings, like cars or people around you.
The app also lets you switch between EQ modes, set your own custom EQ, customize touch controls, and get firmware updates for the earbuds.
What codecs does the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC support?
The Epic Air Sport ANC supports the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs, and uses Bluetooth 5.0. AAC connectivity means iOS users have a reliable high-quality audio option, but Android devices don’t always get consistent performance from AAC. Android users can force SBC instead in Developer Options menu.
How long is the battery life of the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC?
JLab claims that the Epic Air Sport ANC battery lasts 15 or more hours, and in our objective testing we found this to be quite accurate. When subjected to continuous music playback peaking at 75dB(SPL), the earbuds lasted 15 hours, 31 minutes. JLab also claims that the case adds an additional 55 hours of charge, and nothing led me to believe otherwise while using it.
Yes, when you place the earbuds in the case for 15 minutes, you can enjoy about 60 minutes of playtime.
How well does the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC block out noise?
Isolation from this pair of earbuds is good, especially with higher frequencies, and the ANC helps a lot with lower sounds. The ANC cancels out droning noise, like washing machines and dryers, cars and trucks, and even some speech. The JLab Air ANC app allows you to adjust your level of ANC, as well as adjust passthrough levels, so you have full control of how much of your environment is allowed in.
If you listen with ANC off, you’ll notice that the passive isolation alone is also really good as long as you get a good fit with your ear tips. We recommend playing with the ample tip options JLab provides. If you’re unable to get a reliable seal with the tips, then environmental noise will make it through the physical barrier of your earbuds and mask the sound of your music.
How does the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC sound?
The JLab Epic Air Sport ANC has a frequency response that follows our consumer curve fairly closely overall. The standard listening mode, JLab Signature, slightly emphasizes the sub-bass and bass ranges, slightly under-emphasizes the low mids, and rolls off a little prematurely in the highs (starting around 6kHz). Overall, it follows the gist of our consumer curve and will sound great with most music—though it will probably be most enjoyable with bass-heavy genres like EDM. A bass emphasis is great for workouts since a lot of athletes enjoy following the rhythm of the bass line in songs while training.
There are also other EQ options that bring some variation to listening. Bass boost, predictably, has a boost in the bass range, although not where you might expect (actually around 200Hz). The “Balanced” preset under-emphasizes the higher bass frequencies and emphasizes highs more than the other EQ options, which might work better for spoken word content like podcasts and classical music.
Lows, mids, highs
When I listen to Kiss Me More by Doja Cat featuring SZA, the bass emphasis from the standard signature EQ setting makes the already prominent bass much louder than the continuous synth melody throughout most of the song. Doja Cat’s and SZA’s voices are still clear enough to hear with this EQ setting, but if you really want to hear them, changing the EQ to “Balanced” makes their voices much more prominent.
In the 2011 remaster of This Charming Man by The Smiths, the bass is much louder than it is on my reference headphones and can be a bit distracting from the guitar part, though Morrissey’s voice still prevails. Changing the EQ setting to the “Balanced” preset makes the snare and cymbals more dominant comparatively, and the bass isn’t as overpowering.
How is the microphone on the Epic Air Sport ANC?
The microphone on the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC is fine for phone calls, but if you’re in a noisy environment, those sounds will come through and make it harder for the person on the other end of the call to hear your voice. Incidental sounds like car horns and keyboards are handled the worst, while the mics cancel droning sounds like wind a bit better.
Give it a listen here:
JLab Epic Air Sport ANC microphone demo (Ideal):
JLab Epic Air Sport ANC microphone demo (Street):
JLab Epic Air Sport ANC microphone demo (Wind):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Should you get the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC?
Anyone interested in earbuds that can handle a workout should consider the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC. At $99 USD, and sometimes even less than that, you get good isolation and ANC, good sound quality, and software that adjusts both of those and more. The buds are comfortable and durable, while the ear tips are likely to fit you. The biggest downfall is the microphone quality, but it’s not even that bad, and perfectly good for phone calls as long as your environment isn’t too noisy.
What should you get instead of the Epic Air Sport ANC?
The Jabra Elite 3 is a similarly priced pair of workout earbuds, and it has aptX for high-quality Bluetooth audio. It also has an IP55 rating, has EQ presets in the Jabra Sound+ app, and a similarly bassy frequency response. The biggest difference is that it doesn’t have active noise cancelling, so if you don’t care as much about ANC but want aptX, this is a good choice. You can find it for $79.99 at Amazon.
For those with an additional $100 USD to spend, the Jabra Elite 7 Active has ANC, an IP57 rating, and fast charging for a more premium experience. It also has Bluetooth 5.2 for better connection strength, and it also uses the Jabra Sound+ app for adjusting ANC, an equalizer, and firmware updates. It doesn’t support aptX like the Jabra Elite 3, however. It’s available for $99.99 at Amazon.
If you’re an iOS user, you might want to consider the Beats PowerBeats Pro, since it has an H1 chip for better integration with iOS. This means you get access to features like Apple’s Spatial Audio, as well as fast pairing with iOS devices. It’s double the price at $220.49 at Amazon, but if you want some extra luxury from workout earbuds, it might be worth considering.
Frequently asked questions about the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC
After you take the earbuds out of the case, press the touch sensor on both earbuds for three seconds. The lights will blink blue and white, and can then go into your Bluetooth settings on your device and pair it.
Tap each earbud seven times, until the light on the earbud flashes blue three times. Once you’ve done this to both earbuds, you can take them out of the case to pair to your device.
With the earbuds inside the case, place the case on any Qi wireless charger, and the lights on the case will indicate that it’s charging.