JLab Epic Air Sport ANC Gen 2
JLab Epic Air Sport ANC Gen 2 Review
So, I’m back evaluating a pair of sports earbuds, a pretty good one, but they still don’t fit my ears. This may be my last pair of sports earbuds to evaluate if no solution arrives for longer-than-average ears. The JLab Epic Air Sport ANC Gen 2 (or 2nd generation) earbuds cover all the bases save for fit. If I push the ear tips into my ear canal, the earbuds sound better. That’s why I know fit remains an issue. I do have to give Jlab credit for acknowledging this issue by including “tall” ear tips, which are better, but not as good as earbuds that don’t require constraints added by ear loop positioning. But hopefully, most readers will have ears more amenable to the loops.
I’m also not a fan of the loop-and-press of sports earbuds. They always feel awkward to me as I convolute while placing them over my ear. That said, I feel more confident walking with a loop over my earlobe, especially in crowded spaces.
What we like
- Active Noise Cancelation (ANC)
- Movie mode
- Great battery life
- Wear detector
- Tall ear tips
First of all, let me make it clear that the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC lists for $99. That price makes all the other features seem like epic experiences that you will never forget at a party you crashed with a Groupon.
So, let me start. Over 15 hours of playtime with around 55 more stored in the charging case’s battery, slightly less with ANC on.
And that case…it charges via a built-in USB-A cable and Qi wireless charging. They take about 3 hours to charge, but a 15-minute charge results in an hour of playtime.
The ANC offers full noise canceling, which JLab calls Smart Active Noise Cancelation™, a “be aware” mode for pass-thru audio, and a noise canceling off mode. I found the ANC good, although because they don’t seal on my ears completely, I’m not getting the full ANC effect.
I never felt that almost eerie hush often felt with over-the-ear ANC headphones. I did not have an opportunity to test these earbuds on a plane before writing this review, but my guess is that given the fit issues, I would not make them my first choice for air travel.
Movie mode decreases the latency, so video playback audio remains synchronized with the lips of the actors as they speak their lines. A good feature, but I rarely see that issue with current Bluetooth® 5.0+ earbuds.
Six microphones cover audio pickup for calls and ANC. The microphones also integrate with C3 Calling, reducing external noise during calls. C3 also means that if both earbuds are in place, the wearer hears their calls in stereo. Call quality is okay but not outstanding. Not recommended for long conference calls where the wearer is a primary speaker.
The JLab Epic Air Sport ANC earbuds may be used independently without the need for special tricks or configurations. Just put in one earbud and make a call.
8mm Dynamic Neodymium Magnets handle the audio reproduction. And they do a pretty good job, with crisp highs and adequate bass. I ran through my regular list of headphone testing tunes and found the Epic Air ANC delivered sufficient quality sound overall.
Again, because of the fit issue, they are not my first choice in listening to music, but they were far from the offensive audio reproduction I have experienced with other earbuds. Owners with good ear fit will likely enjoy listening to music on these buds.
And while listening, feel free to take the Epic Air ANC earbuds on an adventure. They rate IP66 for dust tightness and withstanding powerful jets of water. Think survival on a trip down the Grand Canyon on the way to a white water rafting experience on the Colorado River.
The touch controls are relatively intuitive and straightforward but, as in the case with all earbuds, unique to this design. If you have more than one pair of earbuds, you may want to keep the PDF of the manual handy on a device so you can reference the taps and holds when you forget the sequence.
The JLab Air ANC app includes Active Noise Control settings, touch controls, EQ and firmware updates. It’s one of the better, straightforward audio apps that doesn’t try to be cute or complex.
And then there’s Tile. Yes, JLab built a Tile tracker into the case for those who might misplace their earbuds and want to reclaim them without recounting all the places they visited that day or week.
The JLab Epic Air Sport ANC, available in black only, comes with a 2-year warranty.
What could be improved
- Bulky case
- Short built-in charging cable limits where it can be charged
- Better specifications
The 3.33in x 2.38in x 1.3in, 68.3g is a bit bulky, but most sports earbuds require extra space to accommodate the earlobe loop. I’m also not a fan of the earbuds sitting in the case opposite the ear they go into. I would rather the case be designed with the buds flipped upside down. It’s just less confusing.
The built-in charger can prove convenient in some circumstances but doesn’t work well in a hotel room, for instance, where the USB charging port is on a wall. My recommendation would be to do away with the aging USB-A adapter and just put in a USB-C port for charging, which would also simplify the design and make it more rugged, eliminating the built-in cable that can get caught on keys, for instance. Any exposed cable that doesn’t offer a quick release just wants to be pulled out of its housing. I’ve experienced that more than once with old one-piece chargers and wired headphones.
The specifications on the website did not state what version of Bluetooth 5 or other codecs are supported. Other reviews assert SBC and AAC without Qualcomm aptX, but I don’t see that in the available technical specifications.
JLab Epic Air Sport ANC Gen 2: The bottom line
JLab created some pretty epic earbuds with the Epic Air Sport ANC design. These earbuds include every feature on an earbud checklist, from wireless charging to ANC, plus a few most people don’t even think possible at this price point like Tile tracking. The only downside is fit for people with “tall” ears—but for those of average ear length seeking a good, inexpensive pair of sports earbuds, it makes almost no sense to look beyond the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC.
JLab provided the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC for review. Images courtesy of Lab unless otherwise noted.
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