The JLab Epic Air Sport ANC prove above all to be a sports performer with their extremely long endurance of a whopping 70 hours, IP66 certification for protection against dust, sweat and heavy splash water, plus the fixing bracket for a secure hold. The ANC provides even more joy, including transparent mode, individual sound setting, movie mode, dual pairing, automatic start/stop of music via sensor and the so-called C3 technology, which includes three microphones per earpiece. In addition, the eight-millimetre drivers deliver a very appealing full and transparent sound. Only the noisy and spongy voice quality of the microphone should be mentioned as a disadvantage, but this does not stand in the way of their many advantages and their quite reasonable price (119.00 Euros RRP), so in my opinion, this makes them a recommended purchase.
The JLab Epic Air Sport ANC differ from the Epic Air ANC primarily in their more ergonomic and thus more comfortable design, including improved playing time. Technically, they are blessed with the same luxurious features, such as active noise cancellation, sound management via EQ and app pairing for individual customisation of all functions.
With their ergonomic bracket, you can tell that the Epic Air Sport ANC are designed to fit the ears of the active user. Nevertheless, the relationship to the Epic Air ANC is immediately apparent: a very similar design, but in the Sport version, the stem leads into a curved extension with a rubber fixing bracket to clamp the earphones behind the ear. Their appearance makes them stand out, and the logo also serves to locate the touch buttons.
The housing conceals three microphones, an indicator LED and two pins for charging the in-ears in the included case, which in turn receives its injection of power either via contact with a compatible charging surface or via the USB cable, which is hidden at the bottom and firmly connected and therefore cannot be replaced when worn. On the front of the case, four LEDs demonstrate the charging status of the case or the earpieces.
Confusingly, the two in-ears are placed upside down in the box, which meant that I put the in-ears in the wrong ear when I first used them.
Comfort and functionality
The Epic Air Sport ANC weigh ten grams because of their supporting bracket, which is a little more than other products from this manufacturer, but they also fit more snugly. This bracket, along with the earpieces that come in different sizes, shapes and materials, whether silicone gel or foam, provide the kind of security that is required for sporting activities. Thanks to the fairly flat design of these headphones, they barely protrude above the outer ear, so there should be no unwanted air circulation when running. When jogging, no significant impact noise is noticeable either. With IP66 certification, these in-ears are also protected from dust and heavy splashes of water. A number of functions can be operated with a tap of the buttons, although some taps are lost, and you sometimes end up in the wrong menu with multiple assignments. How often have I activated Siri although I wanted to get into EQ mode? Touching them also transmits to the ear canal as a light audible tap, which I found a bit unpleasant.
These in-ears virtually run a marathon, eventually managing 15 hours, or with active ANC in continuous operation for eleven hours, all this without intermediate charging in the case, which also stores another 55 hours. According to the manufacturer, charging the headphones takes three hours; in my test, this was after a little more than two hours, and charging the case took 3.5 hours. A quarter of an hour of power-napping in the case gives these headphones more than another hour of playing time.
The eight-millimetre dynamic neodymium drivers transmit frequencies from 20 to 20,000 hertz, their impedance is 32 ohms, and their output is 110 +/- 3 decibels. This data is completely identical to that of the JLab Epic Air ANC.
JLab relies on Bluetooth version 5 with a range of over ten metres.
To connect the Epic Air Sport ANC, all you have to do is confirm them as a Bluetooth-enabled device in the corresponding menu of your Smartphone; after all, these earphones go into pairing mode as soon as you take them out of the case. Thanks to Dual Connect, the headphones also allow you to pair a second pair with the same smartphone.
Functionally, the headphones not only control the obligatory functions for playing music, such as skipping, pausing (thanks to the infrared sensor also automatically works when an earbud is removed from your ear) or volume control. In addition, the sound can be adapted in four EQ modes, and the active noise reduction can be switched on and off, or the transmission of ambient noise can be added. The movie mode shortens the latency between picture and sound.
JLab advertises the built-in C3 technology, which has three omnidirectional microphones that are supposed to improve the sound of the phone call with the suppression of ambient noise. You can understand the person you are talking to quite well. However, like the Epic Air ANC, this test sample suffers from a reduced speech quality of the microphone. Voices sound slightly noisy, not qualitatively constant and interspersed with an audibly fluctuating phase. Of course, phone calls can be accepted, rejected and ended using the tap button, and communication with voice assistants is also supported.
The associated app is not only advantageous when it shows the current battery status in per cent. Because I can use it to set up the headphones to my liking, such as the tip buttons with eight functions, the sound options with four additional EQs using a ten-band graphic equaliser and the step-less level of noise reduction.
Sound and noise reduction
You can’t go wrong with the Epic Air Sport ANC in terms of sound, as their sound can be individually adjusted to personal taste using modes and a ten-band graphic equaliser in the app. The three pre-sets, particularly the “JLab Signature” with its homogeneous balance between warm basses, balanced mids and assertive highs, are impressive. The saturated bass layer provides volume and a hefty thump at the same time, without blurring the notations of basslines and without sacrificing transparency. Even more clarity is provided by the balanced mode, a linear sound image dominated more by mids and less by bass. Although the highs are not boosted as in the “JLab Signature”, they are clearer and sometimes exaggerated in sibilants. This mode comes into its own particularly well with organic music such as jazz, as well as audiobooks. The Bass Boost only boosts the bass, so that the treble is left behind. For me, however, there is a lack of transparency here.
In terms of volume, I wouldn’t call these headphones a show-off. I found music mastered according to the latest standards pleasant at full volume because the level didn’t blare. However, since older tracks are often much quieter, the output would have benefited from a little more reserve.
Generally, the sound is impressive, even with streamed music, although the Epic Air Sport ANC only use AAC and SBC as audio codec.
These earpieces hold another ace up their sleeve, Movie Mode, which reduces the latency between picture and sound to below 100 milliseconds for improved lip-sync. It’s a well-done feature that’s less noticeable when watching movies on your phone, but more so on your tablet.
Another selling point is undoubtedly the Active Noise Cancelling, which can be set to three levels. It audibly attenuates ambient noise so that it does not have to adjust the otherwise increased volume. In order not to be shielded from the environment, to hear something of your surroundings, like with road traffic, one can select “Be Aware”, which feeds noises via the microphones to the drivers. However, with fast movements such as jogging or cycling, there is a lot of noise from the breeze on the ear. In the case of loud impulse-like noises, such as a loud bump, the signal is audibly muffled for a short time. The clearly perceived atmosphere of the environment, as well as the sound of your own voice, may sound somewhat artificial through the microphone, but this did not bother me at all.
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
- Impedance32 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)110 +/- 3 dB
- Weight without cableapprox. 10g each, Case 144 g
What's in the box
- Ear molds: 5 sets of silicone gel, two of which are longer, 1 set of cloud foam
- Charging case with integrated USB cable
- 3 months free subscription to TIDAL
- BT codecs: AAC, SBC
- BT version: 5.0