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The JLab JBuds Lux ANC sitting atop a wooden desk.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
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JLab JBuds Lux ANC review

For under $100, these are crazy good value.
By

Published onApril 24, 2024

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8.2
JLab JBuds Lux ANC
The bottom line
As far as inexpensive ANC headphones go, the JLab JBuds Lux ANC are one of the best of 2024. They focus on the fundamentals, and not fighting the spec wars.
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JLab JBuds Lux ANC

As far as inexpensive ANC headphones go, the JLab JBuds Lux ANC are one of the best of 2024. They focus on the fundamentals, and not fighting the spec wars.
Product release date
2024
Price
$79.99
Dimensions
Headphones: 198 x 163 x 90mm
Ear cup: 65 x 42mm
Weight
235g
Model Number
HBJLUXANCGPH20WEB
Waterproof
What we like
USB-C audio
Sound quality
Comfort
Value
App
What we don't like
Limited options
No IP rating
8.2
SoundGuys Rating
6.5
User Rating
Rating Metric
Our Rating
User Rating
Isolation / Attenuation
7.2
6.8
7.0
Active Noise Cancelling
8.1
6.8
7.0
Durability / Build Quality
6.7
6.3
6.0
Value
9.5
7.0
7.0
Design
8.0
8.0
8.0
Connectivity
7.5
5.5
6.0
Portability
7.7
7.0
7.0
Battery Life
9.9
6.3
6.0
Feature
9.5
5.5
6.0
Comfort
8.5
5.3
5.0
MDAQS rating
Learn more
Timbre
4.8
Distortion
3.4
Immersiveness
4.4
Overall
4.5

Commuters looking for active noise canceling (ANC) headphones often face the prospect of spending hundreds of dollars to hush out unwanted noise. However, a burgeoning value segment has seen rapid improvement over older headphone models. Enter the JLab JBuds Lux ANC: a sub-$100 set of ANC headphones (not buds as the name would suggest) by JLab Audio that look the part — but do they deliver? Let’s listen.

Editor’s note: this is the first version of the article. Updates will follow as the market changes.

About this JLab JBuds Lux ANC review: We tested the JLab JBuds Lux ANC over five days. The headphones' firmware version was v_0.1.3.5, and the JLab app ran version 1.8.0.5. The company provided the unit for this review.

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC is a decent set of ANC headphones for the budget-conscious.

What’s it like to use JLab JBuds Lux ANC?

A photo of the JLab JBuds Lux ANC sitting reverse upon a wooden table.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The padding of the JLab JBuds Lux ANC is substantial.

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC is a set of over-ear headphones primarily constructed of matte-finished plastic and a band with an aluminum skeleton. Each ear cup is ringed by soft foam ensconced in plastic leather, shaped with a wider opening at the top of the cup to accommodate real ear shapes better than other headphones. At the top of each ear cup, a hinged yoke attaches each assembly to the band, allowing the headphones to fold up.

The band is padded underneath where it meets your skull, covered in a more breathable fabric. Though those with longer, finer hair might find that it tends to get caught in the clicky metal slider the band employs to keep your adjustment. Glasses-wearers will find little to complain about here as the padding is deep enough to handle the arms of most glasses.

A photo of the JLab JBuds Lux ANC's band padding.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The substantial padding of the band is cloth-covered, making for a more breathable fit.

Because of the padding, I had no issue listening to the JLab JBuds Lux ANC for hours, though the heat buildup on the subway was notable. Usually, I’d swap to fabric ear pads, but for $80, I’m not complaining here.

A photo of the JLab JBuds Lux ANC sitting atop a wooden desk, folded up.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The JLab JBuds Lux ANC fold up quite nicely.

For frequent travelers, the JLab JBuds Lux ANC folds up quite compactly, allowing you to huck the cans into your bag at a moment’s notice. Though the headphones don’t have an ingress protection rating, considering the top brass at JLab are all fitness nuts, I wouldn’t be surprised if these headphones couldn’t handle a little sweat in your day-to-day life. Please don’t go to extremes to test that theory (we didn’t).

How do you control the JLab JBuds Lux ANC?

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC's control cluster.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
On the back of the right ear cup is the control cluster.

On-headphone controls come in the form of buttons on the back of the right ear cup, which are rubberized and impossible to miss if you’re fumbling for them. Though the buttons are very straightforward, advanced commands will rely on your knowledge of the following table:

JLab JBuds Lux ANC controls layout:

ButtonSingle tapDouble pressLong press
Button
NC button
Single tap
Noise control
Double press

Long press
Music / Movie mode
Button
Volume up
Single tap
Volume up
Double press

Long press
Track forward
Button
Both volume up and down together
Single tap

Double press

Long press
Switch EQ modes
Button
Volume down
Single tap
Volume down
Double press

Long press
Track backward
Button
Multifunction
Single tap
Play / Pause
Double press
Voice assistant
Long press
Power / BT pairing

That said, you can customize the multifunction button, assigning different actions to each of the 1, 2, and 3-tap options via the app. You can also change the long press behavior on the volume buttons. But that’s it.

Should you use the JLab app for the JLab JBuds Lux ANC?

Though we’re always a little leery of installing an app to use headphones, you get a good software companion for your cans. JLab has one of the better apps to provide comforts like a 10-band EQ, adjustable ANC modes, a volume limiter, etc. It also will automatically check for new firmware so you can take advantage of important bug fixes and updates.

We strongly encourage you to tinker with the EQ if you find the sound objectionable. I say this because the most significant flaws with the JLab JBuds Lux ANC’s sound are relatively easily dealt with, and some EQ presets avoid this altogether. If you don’t like the sound out of the box, you can make it better, so don’t return these immediately.

How do the JLab JBuds Lux ANC connect?

The USB-C port of the JLab JBuds Lux ANC.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The JLab JBuds Lux ANC’s solitary port is the USB-C connection.

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC connects to sources using Bluetooth 5.3 via SBC or wired over USB-C, though there is no option for a 3.5mm jack cable.

If you were hoping for a higher-bitrate codec, you won’t find one here. However, it’s been years since “SBC = bad” has been true, so we advise you not to worry about it so much. Bluetooth should be adequate here unless you’re listening to a library of FLAC files. If you are listening to FLAC files, that’s what the USB connection is for.

When connecting over Bluetooth, the JLab JBuds Lux ANC is as easy as it gets with the Fast Pair. However, if you don’t want to deal with that, you can do things the old-fashioned way.

  1. Hold the multifunction button until the headphones first turn on, then enter pairing mode.
  2. On your source device, enable Bluetooth and open the list of available devices.
  3. Select the JLab JBuds Lux ANC on the list of available devices.

How long does the JLab JBuds Lux ANC battery last?

In a valiant fight against our standardized battery test, the JLab JBuds Lux ANC held on for 44 hours and 22 minutes, playing back music peaking at 75dBSPL. That’s a respectable amount of time, given that most other ANC headphones clock in around the 30-hour mark. The JLab JBuds Lux ANC doesn’t have the best battery in the segment, but that 44.3 hours per charge is more than enough for a week’s worth of work, plus most of your commutes. I’d call that a win.

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC indeed advertises fast charging. A ten-minute charge from a wall wart should net you about 4 hours of listening time.

How well do the JLab JBuds Lux ANC cancel noise?

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Here is where the price point of the JLab JBuds Lux ANC starts to show, and that’s through somewhat weak noise canceling. Though they can’t match the segment they’re chasing, the ANC of the JLab JBuds Lux ANC allows you to hush out the commuting noise you encounter daily. For example, quieter metro systems like Vancouver BC’s are much more easily handled by the JLab JBuds Lux ANC than Boston MA’s MBTA.

With between 10 and 20dB of noise cancelation under 700Hz, you can expect between 50 and 75% of outside noise in the lows. But the JLab JBuds Lux ANC shines with high-frequency noise, as the ear cups do an outstanding job of creating a seal to your head. Because of this, the headphones isolate your ears from outside noise and physically block up to 46dB of outside noise the higher in frequency you go.

JLab’s implementation of transparency mode is typically hit or miss, but it’s okay with the JLab JBuds Lux ANC. I didn’t find any faults with it, but it didn’t do an amazing job of recreating the space around me.

How do the JLab JBuds Lux ANC sound?

In short, the JLab JBuds Lux ANC sound pretty decent.

Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Scores (MDAQS)

The chart below shows how the sound of the JLab JBuds Lux ANC was assessed by the Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Score (MDAQS) algorithm from HEAD acoustics.

This chart shows the MDAQS results for the Jlab JBudsLux in SBC Default mode. The Timbre score is 4.8, The Distortion score is 3.4, the Immersiveness score is 4.4, and the Overall Score is 4.5).
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
An overall mean option score of 4.5 points to a consumer-friendly sound with little in the way of unpleasant surprises.

Our virtual panel of listeners rated the JLab JBuds Lux ANC highly when it comes to the timbre and immersiveness of the headphones, leading to a respectable overall score of 4.5. That means someone needing cans for the subway will find little to nitpick here.

That high immersiveness score is worth pointing out, as they should faithfully reproduce the stereo image.

Timbre (MOS-T) represents how faithfully the headphones reproduce the frequency spectrum and temporal resolution (timing information).

Distortion (MOS-D) represents non-linearities and added noise: higher scores mean cleaner reproduction.

Immersiveness (MOS-I) represents perceived source width and positioning: how well virtual sound sources are defined in three-dimensional space.

See here for an explanation of MDAQS, how it works, and how it was developed.

Reviewer’s notes

Though I’m usually one for listening at home more than someone who straps on the cans to head outside, my trips to and from the office were pleasant enough with the JLab JBuds Lux ANC. The headphones are a bit bassier than I like, but when there’s a lot of street and engine noise around you, that’s a feature and not a bug.

A photo of the JLab JBuds Lux ANC being used with a USB cable.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
USB-C audio is an uncommon feature at this price point.

For example, a strong bass synth backing the chorus of Joji’s Ew can fade into the background noise if you’re in a loud area. However, with ANC and the strong bass emphasis, it was preserved even while waiting for a convoy of earth-movers to pass downtown. Conversely, mids can sometimes take a little bit of a backseat, but it’s something you can fix with the EQ.

I had a hard time listening for long periods because of the peak from 5-10kHz, boosting the volume of cymbals and sibilant sounds. Though manageable for the first few minutes, it can get grating over time. For tracks like Psychedelic Porn Crumpets’ Buzz or Bad Nerves’ Baby Drummer, this gets frustrating if you’ve been listening for a while.

Objective Measurements

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Here, we can see that the JLab JBuds Lux ANC have some bass emphasis — about 2-5dB over what we like to see — from 300Hz down to 20Hz. There’s a little dip in the mids and then a large bump at 5-10kHz. This can help with spatial cues and sounds that typically get lost in mixes.

We’ve come to expect this frequency response from headphones for the commuting crowd. Even though it doesn’t conform to our preference target well, we know that headphones with widely different frequency responses can satisfy large numbers of people. A bass-heavy sound with plenty of high-end will appeal to someone listening for relatively short periods (i.e., less than a couple hours) and those who have to deal with lots of environmental noise.

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Though we don’t always see the sound change when disabling the ANC, sometimes foibles come up like the one above; when you turn off the ANC of the JLab JBuds Lux ANC, the low-frequency performance changes with a bump at 100Hz.

Can you use the JLab JBuds Lux ANC for phone calls?

Like any Bluetooth headset, the JLab JBuds Lux ANC can be used for calls. If you’d like to hear how it performs, below are samples recorded using our standardized recording setup.

JLab JBuds Lux ANC microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

86 votes

JLab JBuds Lux ANC microphone demo (Office conditions):

JLab JBuds Lux ANC microphone demo (Street conditions):

JLab JBuds Lux ANC microphone demo (Windy conditions):

JLab JBuds Lux ANC microphone demo (Reverberant space):

As you can hear above, the JLab JBuds Lux ANC does an excellent job fighting reverb, though it’s not amazing against wind noise. Outside of extreme circumstances or issues with your network, you should be able to be heard by your conversation mates with this headset.

Should you buy the JLab JBuds Lux ANC?

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC sitting atop a wooden desk.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The JLab JBuds Lux ANC is a compelling buy under $80.

At $79.99, it’s tough to say no to the JLab JBuds Lux ANC. They may not come with eye-popping specs, but the headphones get all the main things right — with some software features thrown in. These are by far and away one of the better values on the market, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better price-to-performance ratio. If you’re as allergic to spending money as I am, this is a set of headphones you should keep on your radar.

JLab JBuds Lux ANCJLab JBuds Lux ANC
SG recommended
JLab JBuds Lux ANC
USB-C audio • Sound quality • Comfort
MSRP: $79.99
For under $100, these are crazy good value.
As far as inexpensive ANC headphones go, the JLab JBuds Lux ANC are one of the best of 2024. They focus on the fundamentals, and not fighting the spec wars.

That said, anyone hoping for high-end ANC, spatial audio with head tracking, or health sensors will be out of luck — but it’s unreasonable to expect these features below $100. The JLab JBuds Lux ANC is a solid set of headphones that do precisely what’s expected with few frustrations or shortcomings.

What should you get instead of the JLab JBuds Lux ANC?

If you’re looking for alternatives at this price point, you will have to make some tradeoffs. JLab makes a point of out-competing others in the entry-level segment with good fundamentals, and the JLab JBuds Lux ANC very much fits that ethos.

A man controls the Sennheiser ACCENTUM Plus with his finger.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The Sennheiser ACCENTUM Plus’ touch controls are easier to use than hunting for buttons.

You could try the Anker Soundcore Space One ($99.99 at Amazon) if you’re looking for better ANC, but since the difference is so marginal, the poorer audio quality might be enough to dissuade you from spending the extra $10. The rest of the sub-$100 crowd doesn’t have much to offer over the JLab JBuds Lux ANC, and it may be the new king of the ring.

If you’re looking for a step up, you’ll have to shell out a lot more money. Specifically, I’m talking about the Sony ULT WEAR ($199.99 at Amazon), the Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless ($179.95 at Amazon), and the Sennheiser ACCENTUM Plus ($217.95 at Amazon). These three headphones have similar ANC and sound quality performance to the JLab JBuds Lux ANC despite its disadvantages regarding higher-bitrate codecs. Still, they all offer improved controls and wider ear cups. However, the ACCENTUM Plus is the only other set of headphones here that offers USB-C audio — surprising, given the huge price disparity.

Frequently asked questions

There is no ingress protection rating listed for the JLab JBuds Lux ANC.

There is no ingress protection rating listed.

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC are fine for gaming, but we suggest using the USB connection for this, as there’s going to be a bit of latency over Bluetooth.

You could, but it might not be the wisest idea, given that it has no ingress protection rating.

Yes, see above for samples.

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