Hands-on review: JLab Epic Air Sport ANC earbuds
Image credit: JLab
Feeling the urge to burn off that excess lockdown lard? With gyms reopened and good weather encouraging more outdoor running, these sport earbuds could soundtrack your return to peak fitness.
JLab is a company that makes a lot of earbuds. It aims to offer something for everyone, at all price points - including the rarified upper echelons, where consumers quite reasonably become more selective and demanding. When you're going to be plunking down anything even close to a three-figure sum, the product in question has got to deliver on all fronts.
The Epic Air Sport ANC are JLab's specifically sport-oriented version of its regular higher-end, in-ear Epic Air active noise-cancelling (ANC) 'buds. This Sport set feature the classic ear hook retention design widely used to keep such earbuds in place, in spite of your most energetic exertions. Insert 'buds into ears; rotate counter-clockwise to hook the arms over your ears; go ahead and feel the burn all you like - these 'buds will stay put. They look good, too, with a subtle and low-profile design.
As true wireless, active noise cancelling earbuds, which connect to your device via Bluetooth 5, the Epic Air Sport promise up to 70 hours of total playing time, with around 15 hours per charge and several recharges stored in a fully-charged case. That's a decent number and even though such figures inevitably vary a little with real-world use (e.g. high volume and/or ANC features), we weren't disappointed or taken by dying surprise whilst out and about.
Sound-wise, JLab pitches the Sport as "the ultimate true-wireless experience for any fitness-loving audiophile". That might sound like a rather specific niche, but really all it means is that these 'buds are intended to be great-sounding headphones, full stop - not just headphones that stay in your ears while you're out jogging. It's not like you're going to be out jogging for hours at a time - there's still the day job to consider, after all - so reasonably enough even the most committed gym bunny will want their 'buds of choice to do double, even triple duty. Immersive music? Check. Voice and video calls? Check? Muting external distractions? Check.
The Smart Active Noise Cancellation offers three different modes: ANC On, ANC Off and Be Aware, the latter allowing some ambient sound to pass through. A total of six microphones continuously analyse the sound around you, working together to cancel out noise. Further sound-shaping, tweaks and refinements are possible using the JLab Air ANC app, which is also intended to deliver over-the-air software updates.
Other nice touches are two different charging options, either via a wireless pad or using the integrated USB-A charging cable (which is very neat, as it's impossible to lose the cable); the infrared sensor in each bud that pause the music automatically when you remove them from your ear, resuming playback just as automagically when you put them back in; auto dual connect for each bud, so if you only want to use one in some situations, that's just fine; a super low-latency 'Movie Mode', which can be very helpful in fixing that annoying "person stopped talking, lips still moving" lag when streaming; the six sets of earbud tips supplied, including a very nice 'Cloud Foam' pair that really help seal in the sound; and the IP66 sweat resistance. There's also a two-year warranty from JLab, which is decent.
If you're someone who wants a good-sounding pair of earbuds that can very effectively block out both distracting noise at home and office (and home/office these days), as well as mask the hi-NRG pumping beats favoured by most gym PAs, and do so whilst staying firmly in place no matter how much you move, the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC earbuds could be a great - even epic - choice.
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