Wireless earbuds are fantastic for any mobile listening scenario, but there is one place where they can absolutely blow the competition away: At the gym. Or the mountain, the track – wherever you get your workouts. If you’re looking to break a sweat alongside your favorite tunes, podcasts, or audiobooks, there is no better way to do so than with no strings attached. Jlab Audio Epic Air Sport model is the latest pair to pluck at our heartstrings during our sweatiest moments, and for good reason. The latest JLab buds – the company’s third-generation — offer beefed-up battery life, water-and-dust resistance that outdoes the pricier Jabra and Beats alternatives, and they sound great to boot.
Review of Jlab Audio Epic Air Sport
The design of the JLab Audio Epic Air Sport headphones is very similar to the Epic Air Elite — especially when it comes to the earbuds themselves. The headphones feature an over-ear hook-type design, with the JLab Audio logo on the cap of each earbud. The earbuds are a sleek black, and they’re mostly made from plastic and rubber — though we never felt like they would ever break.
The earbuds feature touch-sensitive controls, with a touch surface on each earbud. Once you get used to the controls you’ll find it easy to control the earbuds — touch the right bud to turn the volume up, the left for volume down, and so on.
The case that comes with the JLab Audio Epic Air Sport headphones is very similar to the previous-generation Epic Air Elite — though with a few refinements that make it even better. The case is still pretty big, which is good for those that want to use it as an external battery too. Speaking of, there’s a USB port on the side of the case for charging external devices. On the bottom of the case, there’s a USB cable attached to the case — so you don’t have to carry around an extra charging cable. On the front of the case, you’ll get LED lights that indicate battery level.
In the box, you’ll get pretty much everything you need. There are a hefty seven pairs of ear tips, including foam tips and different gel tip sizes — so there should be something there for everyone.
Generally speaking, the JLab Audio Epic Air Sport headphones are well-designed and look great. The charging case is a little bulky, so the headphones are a bit more suited to being carried in a bag rather than your pocket.
2. Sound Quality
We first tested the earphones in the default Signature mode they are set to out of the box; we’ll discuss the other two modes, Balanced and Bass Boost, at the end of this section.
On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the earphones deliver tremendous low-frequency presence—deep bass lovers will be pleased. At the top, unwise listening levels, the bass doesn’t distort, but there are times when, even at moderate levels, the lows can feel like they are overwhelming the mix a bit. Things never sound muddy, but the bass sounds a bit too boosted on certain tracks.
Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with far less deep bass in the mix, gives us a better sense of the JBuds Air Sport’s general sound signature. The drums here sound almost comically boosted in the lows—there’s some serious thunder happening. Even Callahan’s baritone vocals sound too rich and booming here. The crispness in this track isn’t lost—we get some higher register percussive snap and the attack of the acoustic guitar is fairly bright, but it is often overpowered by the bass nonetheless.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop receives so much bass boosting that the high-mid presence, which usually makes the attack punchy, sounds almost dull here. There is boosting in the highs—the vinyl crackle and hiss are pushed forward notably, but the high-mids, where we’d be getting much of the clarity and definition of the mix from, are somewhat overshadowed by the bass.
Orchestral tracks, like the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, also sound notably boosted. The lows are pumped to an unnatural degree, and the orchestration here sounds like it’s being funneled through a subwoofer.
In Bass Boost mode, things get even more intense in the lows, and in Balanced mode, things sound nasal, hollowed out, and anything but accurate. So we’d stick with Signature mode, as it offers the best experience of the three EQ settings, though none are terribly accurate.
When we say the Jlab Audio Epic Air Sport earbuds have the best battery on the market, we ain’t kidding. Jlab advertises a 10-hour battery life, but in testing, we regularly beat that number! At 100% volume, they were able to squeeze out an average of 7 hours 53 minutes, but at 60%, that number swelled to 11 hours 4 minutes! Very impressive.
4. Calling Quality
The mic offers decent intelligibility. Using the Voice Memos app on an iPhone 8, we could understand every word we recorded cleanly and clearly, with decent volume. There was some typical Bluetooth fuzziness around the edges, but nothing terrible.
Those interested in spending a bit more on workout earbuds but feel intimidated by the Bose SoundSport Free’s $200 price tag will enjoy these if you can find them in stock. It appears the company is pushing the Jlab Audio Epic Air Sport instead, which forgoes the multipurpose charging case. That said, the Epic Air Elite battery life and connectivity are stellar, and while the physical appearance may not be eye-catching, it’s discreet and sophisticated for the workout variety. If you’re enticed by these but feel it’s not worth spending $100-plus on exercise ‘buds, then the company’s JBuds Air Sport may be more financially viable. Ultimately, though, the JLab Epic Air Elite is a great compromise with few compromises.