JLab Epic Air Sport ANC Headphones Review
If you have a budget of £100, and want an ear hook to keep headphones in while exercising and value long battery life, you can stop reading at the end of the next sentence. Just buy the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC headphones. They offer excellent value at £99.99, particularly with the 15 hours of juice you get from one charge.
There’s another 55 hours in the carry case too which will recharge the buds whenever they’re in it. The case has a cable built in for charging, an ingenious feature that makes it very hard to lose said cable. Unless you lose the case entirely, of course, but that probably won’t happen – it’s fairly chunky.
The reason the case is a little large is the ear hook design of the Jlab Sport, which offers as secure a fit as you can get from truly wireless buds. If you can get by with in-ear headphones with or without wings on them, then the ear hook is superfluous and can be an annoyance, but for many the hook is vital to keep headphones in place during runs or vigorous workouts.
I like the security of an ear hook, and I found the JLab Sport headphones’ hooks comfortable and non-intrusive, even when wearing them under a headband or with a hat.
The headphones also have an in-ear bud, which I rested just outside my ear canal rather than plunging it into it. You can plug it in further to block out more external noise, and there is one set of moldable ear-tips in the box that are ideal for a tight fit, but I prefer the comfort of wearing it loose, plus the small bit of extra awareness when exercising outdoors.
For more awareness you can use the Be Aware feature, and the first time you do I expect you will be alarmed, as I was, by how loud the outside world suddenly becomes. You can lower the amount of noise let in by this feature in the partner app, which I did. There’s such a thing as too much awareness, it turns out.See related The Best Gym HeadphonesThe Best Running Headphones Of 2021
The companion active noise cancellation (ANC) feature, however, is a bit of a dud. Even when I turned it up to its maximum level in the app I noticed very little difference in how much external sound I heard.
I also found the touch controls frustrating. You can set up what tapping each bud does in the partner app, picking up to three controls for each side, including the option of switching the EQ mode and turning ANC/Be Aware on or off. However, my taps often went unregistered and it generally took a few attempts to achieve whatever I was trying to do, at which point it would have been as easy to get my phone out to adjust what needed adjusting.
In the app you can also set up four EQ presets to your preferences, and adjust the settings to one of JLab’s three options – balanced, JLab Signature Sound and Bass Boost – by using the headphone controls. Bass Boost does really punch up the bass and there’s enough there to satisfy most people, I’d say, though you can crank up the bass even more using the EQ settings in the app.
Overall the sound quality is pretty impressive. The Signature Sound setting is the best for music, amplifying the vocals and the bass, and although I encountered a little distortion at high volumes I was more than happy with the sound in general given the price. If you’re willing to pay more for better sound, I recommend the Bose Sport Earbuds or the very expensive B&O Beoplay E8 Sport buds.
The headphones have an IP66 rating, which is more than enough to ensure they’ll be fine with sweaty or rain-drenched workouts, and you can run them under the tap quickly afterwards to wash them without fear of damaging the buds.
I had no problems with connectivity either: the headphones found my phone reliably when taken out of the box and didn’t drop out whether my phone was across the room during strength workouts or in a belt on runs.
The JLab Epic Air Sport ANC headphones are very solid on the fit, sound and connectivity fronts, and the exceptional battery life takes them up a level. The iffy ANC can be forgiven considering the sub-£100 price, and while the controls are a little hit and miss that doesn’t stop these being some of the best-value sports headphones you’ll find.
Buy from John Lewis | £99.99 (currently reduced to £69.99)