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JLab Epic Air ANC Review

The Epic Air ANC are the priciest true wireless earbuds that audio brand JLab has to offer, but how do they perform?

Verdict

The JLab Epic Air ANC are an ambitious pair of true wireless earbuds with an extensive list of features for just £100. While they fall short in some areas, such as the app and a bass-heavy audio performance, JLab has packed in enough features to ensure there’s plenty to be impressed with here.

Pros

  • Feature-packed
  • Good fit
  • Integrated USB cable is handy
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Bass heavy
  • App doesn’t work well

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £100
  • ANC and Be Aware modes
  • Wireless charging case
  • IP55 water-resistance
  • Wear-detect sensor
  • Movie Mode
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 32 hours with ANC/48 hours without ANC

If you’re on the hunt for an affordable pair of earbuds with no shortage of features, JLab’s Epic Air ANC will certainly catch your eye.

The true wireless pairs are the most expensive from US audio brand JLab, but they pack more than enough features to justify their £100 price. While it isn’t uncommon to spot a lower-end pair of earbuds with support for wireless charging or even ANC, JLab takes its skillset a step further, promising perks such as a 48-hour battery, wear-detect sensors and even a Movie Mode for those who like watching flicks on the small screen.

But, with so many features, can the true wireless earbuds offer quality to accompany that quantity? Read on to find out how our experience with the Epic Air ANC fared.

JLab Epic Air ANC price and availability

For £99.99 / $99 / €119.99, the Epic Air ANC offers a greater number of features than many of JLab’s higher-priced rivals. However, the most important factor here is how those features perform.

JLab Epic Air ANC design – Plenty of ear tips and a unique charging case

  • Packaged with a wide array of ear tips
  • The earbuds feature a black stem design with silver detailing
  • The case supports wireless charging and includes a built-in USB cable

Opening the box for the first time, I was greeted with a wide array of ear tips. The Epic Air ANC comes with six in total – small, medium and large gel tips, medium and large extra-long tips (promising a tighter seal), and a medium pair of cloud-foam ear tips. I tend to reach for the smallest size available, and here they offered a snug fit that felt secure in the ear and produced a tight seal. If you usually struggle to find the perfect fit, you’ll appreciate the variety in sizes offered here.

JLab Epic Air ANC

The earbuds themselves are less personalised. They feature the stem design popularised by the AirPods, but visually (and in terms of cost) they’re more comparable with the EarFun Air. There’s only one colourway – black with silver detailing – and the branding takes centre-stage at the top of each earbud. If you’re used to the fun colours presented by other low-priced rivals, such as the Urbanista Paris and the Urbanears Luma, you might find the design here more ordinary.

The earbuds come in a leather-style wireless charging case. The case itself is a little clunky compared to slimmer designs from other brands, but the most interesting feature here is the integrated charging cable. The use of USB-A feels outdated, but the built-in charger makes it super-easy to plug the earbuds into a port on-the-fly, without worrying about digging a separate cable from your bag.

JLab Epic Air ANC

Finally, the earbuds are water-resistant to the tune of IP55, so they can withstand sweat and dust. JLab also sells a sports model of the Epic Air ANC, so that might be something to consider if your main use for them is for workouts.

JLab Epic Air ANC features – No shortage of features here

  • The Epic Air ANC take advantage of ANC and a ‘Be Aware’ mode
  • Includes wear-detect sensor, three EQ settings and a Movie Mode
  • 48 hours of battery total

As suggested by the name, the Epic Air ANC take advantage of active noise cancellation. The earbuds have three levels of ANC – On, Off and Be Aware – which can be accessed by pressing and holding the left earbud.

The ANC is effective at cutting out background distractions and regular chatter, while the Be Aware mode amplifies ambient noise, meaning you can listen out for traffic or have a conversation with a friend without taking the earbuds out. I found the Be Aware mode to be very effective, but I did encounter a minor issue when removing the earbuds that caused a short feedback sound when I put them back in my ears. You shouldn’t need to take the earbuds out in Be Aware mode given its purpose, so I don’t see this being a big issue. Just something to, ahem, be aware of.

JLab Epic Air ANC

JLab also has an app called JLab ANC. While the ability to customise the EQ is always appreciated – and isn’t necessarily expected at this price point – the app is otherwise very basic. JLab offers a few controls, including the aforementioned equalizer settings and an ANC slider. I found the EQ controls worked well, but the app’s interface felt clunky and I struggled to notice any difference playing around with the ANC slider.

You can also access the EQ presets by triple-tapping on either earbud. JLab offers three settings: JLab Signature, Balanced and Bass Boost, with the former the default setting.

The Epic Air ANC also packs a very effective wear-detect sensor. This allows the earbuds to automatically pause and play your tunes by sensing whether the earbuds are in your ear or not.

And because we’re not done yet, the earbuds come with a built-in low latency Movie Mode to minimise lag when you’re streaming Netflix.

JLab Epic Air ANC

With so many features, memorising all of the touch shortcuts is a challenge. The earbuds didn’t always do what I wanted either, at times pausing when I tried to cycle through the EQ, for example.

JLab claims the Epic Air ANC has 12+ hours of playtime, with 48 hours total if the wireless charging case is factored in. I found the earbuds lasted around 12.5 hours in my testing, easily falling in line with JLab’s claims.

JLab Epic Air ANC sound quality – Energetic, but lacking balance

  • The earbuds offer a warm and energetic sound
  • The bass is punchy and the mid-range crisp and detailed
  • The high-end could receive more attention

The Epic Air ANC put in an energetic performance, with a greater emphasis on the low end of the frequency range.

The bass makes an impact the moment you hit play on Billie Eilish’s Therefore I Am. There’s a good amount of detail definition in the low-end and the mid-range is crisp, allowing Eilish’s raspy vocals to take the spotlight when needed.

JLab Epic Air ANC

A listen through of Time by Hans Zimmer shows a similar leaning toward the bass. The low-end is overwhelmingly warm and struggles to capture some of the detail conveyed in the Inception track. The Epic Air ANC deliver on dynamics, but the treble doesn’t quite get the attention it deserves.

The same can be said of the higher frequencies in less bass-heavy tracks. The low-end continues to sit front and centre in BTS’ Life Goes On, taking away from some of the softer qualities of the chorus as the treble scrambles to keep up.

JLab Epic Air ANC

The high end is much more capable of holding its own in The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s Take Five, a track that produces a spacious soundstage. The stereo imaging feels a bit muddy, but the dynamism is there and it’s by no means a boring listen with the Epic Air producing plenty of energy.

My biggest issue with the Epic Air ANC is balance. If well-balanced sound is important to you, the Cambridge Melomania 1 offer better balance along with plenty of energy at a similar price point. If you like the design of the Epic Air ANC, you should also take a look at the EarFun Air. The earbuds from newcomer EarFun offer a similar style with less emphasis on the bass for less than £60.

JLab Epic Air ANC conclusion

The JLab Epic Air ANC are talented in many areas. The earbuds boast an extensive battery life and useful features not always seen on cheaper headphones, including a wear-detect sensor and a Be Aware mode. However, with so many features to cycle through, the earbuds aren’t without their faults (even just memorising the touch shortcuts can be a challenge). Here’s the reasons you should buy the Epic Air ANC, and the reasons you shouldn’t.

JLab Epic Air ANC

You should buy the JLab Epic Air ANC if…

  • You want lots of features: The Epic Air ANC pack more features than you can shake a stick at for less than £100. Their talents include ANC, a Be Aware mode, wear sensors, a low-latency Movie Mode, wireless charging and an IP55 water-resistance rating.

  • You want a good fit: The Epic Air ANC come with a wide selection of ear tips in different sizes to ensure a secure fit and a tight seal.

  • You want a long battery life: With 12 hours in each earbud and 32 hours in total with the case (or 48 hours without ANC), the JLab outlast similarly priced competitors.

You shouldn’t buy the JLab Epic Air ANC if…

  • You want better sound for similar cost: While it’s difficult to compete with the Epic Air ANC’s feature-set, the audio performance isn’t as remarkable. While the sound is warm and full of energy, it lacks the balance and stereo imaging its rivals’ boast.

  • You want simpler controls: The Epic Air ANC rely on two touch panels for music, volume, ANC, EQ, voice assistant and more. With so many combinations, it can take time to adjust.

  • You want a high-end app experience: While the JLab ANC app is handy for adjusting the EQ, it’s a little clunky to use and I noticed little difference using the ANC slider.

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