It’s becoming a wire-free world and wire-free earbuds are becoming more popular. We’ve reviewed a handful of these new buds and the JLab Epic Air are the latest to come across our desk. JLab says these buds will deliver massive sound and stay put in your ears. The JLab Epic Air earbuds are sport earbuds so they’ll resist sweat, a plus for those who are physically active. Let’s take the JLab Epic Air wire-free earbuds for a spin and see how they fare. Read on for the full review.
The JLab Epic Air have the following features and specifications:
- Touch Control – Forward/Backward/Play/Pause/Volume Up/Volume Down
- Power On and Off with Earbud
- 6 Hour Earbud Battery with 30 additional hours in charging case
- 2200 mAh Battery Charging Case
- Bluetooth® 4.1 with aptX Technology
- Hard Charging Case Provides 30 Additional Hours
- JLab’s World-Class Service and One-Year Warranty
- Microphone in Both Earbuds
- 8mm Drivers
What’s In The Box
- JLab Epic Air
- Charging case
- MicroUSB cable
- 8 Sets of Silicone Gel Tips: Single Flange (XS, S, M, L), Double Flange (S, M), Triple Flange (M), Shallow (M)
The JLab Epic Air wire-free earbuds are probably one of the bulkiest wire-free offerings I’ve yet to see. A lot of this has to do with the giant ear loops that help keep these earbuds in place. But the housing is also pretty fat and they do protrude from your ears quite a lot. The ear tips are also fairly girthy and long making for an overall large design. Some won’t mind the extra girth and size but some may be looking for something slimmer, these are not slim.
The build quality is spot-on. These are made from some nice high-quality materials. They look and feel like they can take a beating. The JLab logo is on both earbuds and looks very nice and it flows well with the design. JLab includes 8 sets of gel ear tips so you can find the right fit for your ears.
The charging case is huge because the earbuds are large, the charging case had to be larger. This thing will fit nicely in a backpack or purse but don’t expect to put this in your jeans pocket. The JLab branding is on top along with 4 LED indicators that tell you how much charge you have left in the case. One thing we struggled with was keeping the charging case lid clicked closed. It was finicky and didn’t always want to latch closed and would pop open from time to time.
The MicroUSB cable that is included is a fat flat cable that wraps around the case for storage. At first, I thought, what a brilliant idea! But then it wasn’t so fun when I struggled to get the cable to slide into place for storage. While it’s not a deal breaker, it is frustrating to wrestle with putting your charging cable into its place. I would have liked to see the cable built into the case with a pull and retract system that keeps the cable neatly tucked in but is also easy to operate.
Overall the design is nice in terms of aesthetics. Yes, they are slightly girthy and bulky but I didn’t mind that at all. The charging cable storage situation and charging case lid was frustrating to deal with but not the end of the world.
Ease of Use
Getting started and set up is fairly simple but does involve a few extra steps not associated with regular Bluetooth earbuds. First, you must choose which earbud you want to be the master, right or left, you pick. This will be the earbud that connects to your phone while the second will connect to the master earbud. JLab suggests you pick the earbud that is closest to where you keep your phone in your pocket. So if you put your phone in your right pocket, choose the right earbud as the master.
Once you have picked you can press and hold the power button on your chosen earbud. This will initiate Bluetooth pairing mode and you can pair the bud with your Bluetooth settings on your phone. Once you have the master bud paired you can press and hold the power button on your other bud and you’ll get an audible indicator that both buds are paired with each other.
You only have to do this once. From then on, when you turn on your master earbud it will connect to your phone and when you power on the second it will pair to the master. If you power off the master earbud it will shut down both earbuds, but you don’t even have to do that. You can simply take them out of your ears when powered on and put them back in the case, this will automatically power them off.
Once you’re all paired and ready to go, it’s just a matter of firing up your music and listening. The JLab Epic Air earbuds do have touch controls on each earbud which are convenient and easy to use. Here’s what you can do with each earbud:
- Play/Pause/Answer/Hang Up: Single Tap
- Activate Siri/Google Assistant: Double tap activate – Double tap deactivate
- Volume Down: Press and hold 1+ second (volume will continually decrease until released)
- Track Forward: Single Tap
- Track Backward: Double tap
- Volume up: Press and hold 1+ second (volume will continually increase until released)
Overall these are very simple to use. Yes, there are a few extra steps due to these being wire-free and the way they connect with each other but it’s not hard to figure out. The touch controls are intuitive but you should be aware, if you’re adjusting these in any way, you’ll need to be careful not to accidentally invoke a gesture.
I’ve reviewed a few JLab products in the past and have really enjoyed the sound they produce. The JLab Epic Air is no different in this respect. They sound really amazing for being wire-free earbuds. The soundstage is pretty well balanced with a slight, and I mean just slight, favoring of the low end. It’s just enough bass to give you some punch but not so overpowering that it drowns out the mids and highs.
Be sure to play with the supplied ear tips and find the right fit for you. If you don’t get the right tips installed, you’re likely not going to get a good seal and that will affect the sound. I really liked what I heard from these, the soundstage is pretty well balanced and nearly hits the settings I like. I would have liked just a little more bass but what is provided is not bad. If you are into heavy bass, these will not please you. Either use an EQ app or look elsewhere for a beefier low end.
Overall, the sound is great just make sure to have the correct ear tips so you get a good seal. If you don’t have a good seal then you’ll experience a lot of sound leaks and you won’t like the sound at all.
Bluetooth reception is good and gives you the standard 30-40 feet away from source before things start cutting out. I did have a few instances where the left earbud would cut out and disconnect from the master right bud. This is something that is known to happen with wire-free earbuds and it can get annoying if it happens too often. While this didn’t happen often, it is something worth mentioning and to consider when buying these earbuds.
Call quality was OK, not stellar but just OK. Callers sounded good, but some callers said I sounded distant. Overall, Bluetooth reception is good, earbud connectivity can be flaky from time to time and call quality is passable.
The JLab Epic Air earbuds are billed as having 6-hours of battery life with 30-hours in the case. I consistently got just under 6-hours which is pretty near the advertised time. I did get 5 full charges out of the case so that should be about 30-hours. Battery life is highly dependent on factors like volume and distance from the source so your results may vary.
The JLab Epic Air wire-free earbuds are priced at $149.99USD and they’re in the price range their competition is in. One advantage these have over some others is the ear loops that really do help keep them in place. There are a few clunky design choices in the charging case and a few instances of earbuds not staying connected. Because of those, I scored this category a little lower, but these are still a great buy.
A great sounding pair of wire-free earbuds with some quirky connectivity issues and somewhat clunky charging case. If you can live with some small issues, these are great.