Hands on: JLab's Epic Air Elite fully wireless sport earbuds

in iPhone edited March 16
Adding to competition for Apple's AirPods, JLab is out with a new pair of fully wireless earbuds, the sport-focused Epic Air Elite. We're putting them through the wringer.

JLab Epic Air Elite

The first thing to know is that while you can still get the original Epic Air, you should automatically get the $149 Elite if you're looking in JLab's direction. The Elite improves wireless connections between the buds and your Apple device, making it more reliable. That's in no small part because it uses a Class 1 Bluetooth 5 connection, which has the knock-on effect of increasing range, even if you're unlikely to wander far from your iPhone or Apple Watch in the first place.

The Elite also has a slightly larger battery in its charging case. The case can theoretically provide up to 32 hours of playback on top of the 6 the buds themselves have, which gives it at least one edge over AirPods, which have 5 hours of internal power and just 24 hours with the case.

Another is that while you'll see plenty of people with AirPods at the gym, they aren't officially sweat-resistant, whereas the Elite has an IP55 rating.

The Elite has hooks for each bud, which in early testing seem to do wonders at keeping them in place. For fit there are also seven bundled tips in different sizes, materials, and shapes. There's a pair of blue foam tips for example, and double- and triple-flanged ones may reach deeper into the ear and/or prevent slip-outs.

JLab has modified and expanded its touch-sensitive controls. The most important is "Be Aware," which amplifies and mixes in ambient noise so that you're aware of your surroundings -- especially important when you're riding a bike, board, or scooter. We've so far left this off most of the time since it can be distracting when it's unnecessary.

As always we'll have more to say in a full review, but audio quality has so far been good. It's not the best fidelity but it's extremely clear, and you can toggle between three EQ settings without an app. Bass hasn't been as strong as we'd like, even with Bass Boost on, but that seems to be a question of choosing the right tips for better isolation. We'll see.

Keep following AppleInsider for our final thoughts.

Where to buy

Ready to get your hands on a pair now? JLab Audio's Epic Air Elite wireless sport earbuds are in stock at Amazon for $149 with free shipping.


  • Reply 1 of 2
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,381member
    Bass hasn't been as strong as we'd like, even with Bass Boost on, but that seems to be a question of choosing the right tips for better isolation. 

    This more often than not is the case for seemingly poor bass response, at least for someone interested in balanced sound.

    I've got a pair of very nice Shure 'buds that many 'commenters' claim 'lack bass'. Those people generally take no care in fitting the 'buds either with proper size tips or placing them in their ears or are all about the bass.

    But sealing them in the ear canals does increase isolation and could attenuate important ambient cues, so it's listener beware. Being able to mix in those cues sounds like a nice feature. Shure had an accessory mic that could be added for the same utility but it's long out of production.

  • Reply 2 of 2
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,045member
    The secure fit must be nice.  My pods do fall out sometimes while I’m working and sweating.  On the flip side, I dropped one in paint.  I rinsed it off and dried as much as possible.  It was fine within a day or two.  I ended up getting a new pair and giving my old ones to a family member. With that set?  I put them through the wash by accident...in the case.  They were 100% fine.  Not even wet.  Apparently the case is virtually water tight.  
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