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JLab Epic Lab Edition

True Wireless in-ears with hybrid driver technology and Knowles sound curve

In a nutshell

With the JLab Epic Lab Edition, the Californian manufacturer has added a new top model to its True Wireless range, and these headphones are equipped with quite effective noise cancelling and, in addition to Bluetooth 5.3, also support Bluetooth LE Audio via a USB-C dongle that can be stowed in the charging case. In combination with Dolby Atmos, the “Tempest 3D AudioTech” engine or Windows Sonic, these wireless in-ears also enable you to enjoy an immersive 3D listening experience.

Pros:
  • IP55 dust and water resistant handset
  • Fast charging function
  • Case can be charged wirelessly via Qi
  • Multipoint connections
  • Compatible with Spatial Audio (Dolby Atmos, "Tempest 3D AudioTech" engine and Windows Sonic)
  • Optional hearing protection function
  • Support AAC, LDAC and LC3 via USB-C dongle
Cons:
  • Quite high price
  • No manual on/off switching possible
  • Stronger background noise in Be-Aware mode
  • No USB adapter included in the scope of delivery
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The JLab Epic Lab Edition are IP55 dust and water resistant and offer a stable, sporty fit that can be customised. The package includes both foam and silicone ear tips in three sizes.

While these compact earbuds are relatively light at 5.5 grams per side, the charging case, which weighs in at 64 grams, feels a bit more robust. The USB-C dongle that comes with the package fits directly into the case between the earbuds, which is a clever touch.

Battery life

These True Wireless in-ears can achieve a listening time of twelve hours and 20 minutes per charge at a high volume setting when using the AAC codec. However, if you use the noise cancellation at the maximum setting, you can plan for a good eight hours of battery life. It is also possible to fully charge the headphones in the case three times before you need an external power source, giving a total runtime of more than 49 hours in standard mode. This was reduced to 32 hours and 30 minutes in ANC mode. It takes 90 minutes to charge from the case’s power supply when the headphone batteries are empty, while a ten-minute quick charge provides capacity for up to two hours and 15 minutes.

The case can be powered either wirelessly or via the USB-C port, with the battery reserve being restored after 100 minutes via cable. A USB-C charging cable with fabric sheathing is included with the headphones, but there is no USB-A adapter.

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Bluetooth specs

The JLab Epic Lab Edition support Bluetooth standard 5.3, multipoint connections with two devices simultaneously and Google Fast Pair for fast connection with Android devices. Audio codecs include SBC, AAC and LDAC, as well as LC3 via USB-C dongle, which bypasses the device’s Bluetooth chipset. This made it possible to achieve higher audio quality with lower energy consumption on PCs, laptops or mobile devices with a USB-C connection that does not support high-quality codecs. The dongle offered particular advantages when gaming or watching films, as the latency was also noticeably lower, which increased the synchronicity of image and sound. However, you cannot pair a second device if you are using a wireless connection via the dongle.

Operation

The headphones have touch-sensitive surfaces to control playback, adjust the volume and make phone calls, and this also supports skipping forwards or backwards when selecting tracks and calling up the voice assistant. It was also possible to switch between EQ modes and between basic, ANC and Be-Aware modes, and here, the touch controls can be freely customised to suit personal preferences in the app. However, there is no option to switch the headphones on and off manually, which means that the charging case is always required despite the long runtime. However, single-sided use in single mode is possible. These in-ears are also equipped with a wear-detection function that can be activated or deactivated as required.

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JLab app

The app’s noise control (Android and iOS) is divided into an ANC and Be-Aware mode, both of which are adjustable. The JLab Epic Lab Edition’s noise cancellation is “adaptive” and adjusts to the environment.

To customise the sound, three preconfigured EQ modes are available: “JLab Signature”, which is the default setting, “Knowles” and “Bass Boost”, which can be supplemented with your own settings. However, it is not possible to create multiple sound curves using the ten bands, as these cannot be saved.

Hearing protection can be set up by limiting the maximum output level to 85 or 95 decibels, which was a welcome addition to the features. In addition to the customisable touch control, the app functions also include a latency-reduced film mode. It is also possible to carry out Firmware updates in the app.

Voice intelligibility when making calls

In a quiet environment, the voice transmission of the JLab Epic Lab Edition was perfectly understandable. Outdoors, wind noise was also completely cancelled out by the microphone technology, although we noticed that stronger gusts could lead to dropouts that “swallowed” individual words or short voice sequences. There were also certain limitations in a louder environment, as background noise tended to be slightly attenuated.

Noise cancellation (ANC) and Be-Aware mode

Noise cancelling worked with low noise levels, but I needed a moment to adjust to the environment. Afterwards, attenuation was noticeable from a medium setting, and it proved to be quite effective at the maximum setting. The low-frequency range was reduced most effectively, while there were minor fluctuations in the mid and upper-frequency ranges. The attenuation of voices worked well and appeared significantly quieter. This also applies to street noise. In contrast, the attenuation was somewhat less effective with keyboard noises or birdsong. However, I noticed that in ANC mode, there was an increase in the bass range, and the sound reproduction had a little more fullness.

In Be-Aware mode, the surroundings were also amplified cleanly from a medium intensity, meaning that conversations could be held and announcements could be understood when playback was paused. It was also possible to improve external perception so you could hear announcements. However, there was a background noise that increased progressively, so I would not necessarily recommend the maximum setting in this case. However, effective results could be achieved at an intensity of around 80 per cent.

Sound

The hybrid design of the JLab Epic Lab Edition combines a dynamic 10mm driver with a balanced armature driver (BA) from Knowles. While the basic sound (JLab Signature) was tuned in a rather fun way and aimed for more direct reproduction, the Knowles mode is based on the so-called “Harman curve”. However, the Knowles Preferred Listening sound curve has an extended high-frequency range, which should give the reproduction more width and liveliness. It was certainly recognisable that the Knowles mode provided a larger listening area compared to the basic sound and that the stage shifted further into the depths when listening to live recordings, which gave the presentation more spatiality.

The basic sound was characterised by a rich bass reproduction, which revealed a full, rather soft low bass when listening to modern music styles, but otherwise seemed controlled and worked across all genres. The mid-range could be described as warm but appealingly natural. Another advantage was that the sound was not cramped but seemed spacious and contoured. Even when vocals and lead instruments moved powerfully into the foreground, the central positioning was not too energetic; instead, it was well-measured. The upper registers were neither restrained nor overly present, with sibilants being skilfully smoothed out. A more striking impression can only be created at higher volume levels.

Compared to the basic sound, the Knowles curve had a brighter sound with a leaner bass foundation. The low bass, in particular, was more precise and powerful. The vocal reproduction also had slightly less body, which was more homogeneously embedded in the arrangement. At the same time, the mid-range reproduction seemed more expansive and better illuminated, especially in more complex productions, allowing details to be revealed in a targeted manner. It was characterised by a more present treble reproduction, which was spirited and further opened up the sound stage. However, the treble range above a normal output level could quickly be perceived as somewhat sharp, especially as, on the whole, sibilants seemed more concise.

Conclusion

The special thing about the JLab Epic Lab Edition is the ability to combine high-quality sound reproduction with a low-latency wireless connection via a USB-C dongle. This feature should make these True Wireless in-ears attractive for gaming but also offers advantages when watching boxsets and films. Other plus points of these dust- and water-resistant earphones include long-lasting batteries, support for multipoint connections and largely impressive noise cancellation. However, the increased background noise in Be-Aware mode could be improved. This was especially true when making calls in a noisy or particularly windy environment.

4 weeks ago by Maike Paeßens
  • Rating: 3.88
  • Sound
  • Handling
  • Price/Quality
  • Function

Technical specifications

  • Ear couplingIn-ear
  • Typeclosed
  • Transducer principledynamic + Balanced Armature
  • Weight without cable5.5 g each, case: 44 g

What's in the box

  • Foam and silicone ear tips in three sizes each (S, M, L)
  • USB-C dongle
  • USB-C charging cable
  • Charging case

Special features

  • BT codecs: AAC, SBC, LDAC, LC3 per USB-C-Dongle
  • BT version: 5.3

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