The JLab Audio Epic Air Elite are a set of sports focussed wireless earphones which come with an extensive list of features.
JLab sent us a set of these earphones to review and we were excited to put these feature-packed units to the test.
What’s in the box
Inside the box, you’re presented with the earphone’s charging case and the earphones in place within. There’s a quick start guide which contains plenty of useful information and a total of 7 sets of different material and size ear tips. It’s great to see such a selection of ear tips included as they make a huge difference to the sound and fit.
The earphones are small and light with a rigid over-ear hook which helps to keep them in place but which also double as Bluetooth antennas. Because of this antenna function, there is no adjustment possible to the shape of the hook so it’s a one size fits all approach.
If you have never used ear hooks before it may take a little getting used to until you get the knack of rotating the hook over your ear as you insert the earphone, but after a couple of attempts you should be fine.
The earphones have an on/off button on the inside which can be used if there are issues with the automatic startup or if you don’t have the charging case with you.
The outward facing surface of the earphones are touch sensitive and there is also a small LED light to indicate power and connection status.
The earphones are charged by placing them back in their charging case and indicator lights on the case let you know the status for that.
The JLab Audio Epic Air Elite is the second set of Bluetooth 5.0 earphones we have tested lately. Like I mentioned in the last review, Bluetooth 5.0 has sorted out a lot of the issues that true wireless earphones experienced when they came on the scene first. In general, these earphones were flawless and connectivity was not something I was concerned with at all during my time reviewing them.
The included start guide does mention that your phone pairs with the right side earphone and that in turn pairs to the left earphone. With previous versions of Bluetooth, I know people had issues where if they kept their phone on the opposite side to the earphone that was being paired with, the connection would drop out. Even writing that seems crazy but it was an issue that made wireless earphones a horrible experience in the past. We had no such issues with these earphones. No matter where I left my phone the connection was solid. While in the gym, my phone spent most of the time far away from where I was working out and everything worked fine.
The earphones take about 2 hours to charge fully and that’s good for 6 hours of use then. The charging case has a 2600mAh battery which can add another 32 hours of use, which should be more than enough for most people.
There’s a button which can be pressed with the case open or closed to check the charge level of the case and when the earphones are in place there are also charging indicator lights for each earphone.
The charging case itself is a bit of a mixed bag. The body is made from hard plastic and has a heavy feel to it. The lid, on the other hand, is made from a somewhat softer plastic and marks up quite easily. It also doesn’t close well. If you just close the lid over it doesn’t really close properly and you have to give it a good squeeze to lock. It just doesn’t feel quality and it lets the overall product down a little.
The case is charged via a micro USB port and takes 4 hours to charge. The case comes with a charging cable that wraps around the case for storage.
The case doubles up as an external battery which you can use to charge your other devices if needed. There is a full-size USB port alongside the micro USB port to facilitate this function. This is a handy feature to have and even more so if your phone has a micro USB port as you won’t need an additional cable.
JLab Audio Epic Air Elite Features
Tap, Tap, Tap….
Both earphones have touch controls built in with different combinations of taps on either side performing different tasks.
There’s a bit of a learning curve here and thankfully JLab supply a handy little guide to help you remember what selection of taps does what.
I was never a fan of these type of controls on headphones as I don’t think having to remember what taps do, and the hit and miss nature of the actual taps on earphones, offer a good user experience but you certainly can’t fault JLab for cramming in just about all of the features people look for in earphones like this.
In total, I count 12 different actions that can be performed by single tapping, double tapping, triple tapping, tap and holding for 1 second, tap and holding for 2 seconds or tap and holding for 3 seconds on either or both earphones. If you can remember all them in the middle of your gym session then you’re a better person than me!
The earphones come with 3 equaliser presets that can be cycled through by pressing and holding both sides for 3+ seconds. There is an audio confirmation of each preset so you know when to stop holding.
The three presets are Balanced, Bass Boost & JLab Signature.
Balanced mode produced a flat low volume sound which I found was insufficient to be heard above the noise in the gym.
Bass Boost as the name suggests cranks up the base levels but overall the volume was still too low.
The JLab Signature made a huge difference to the sound and brought it right where I wanted it to be. It is the mode I left it in during the majority of my testing and I was more than happy with the sound produced.
Be Aware Mode
When activated by a triple tap on the left ear, Be Aware Mode uses the mics on each earbud to pass through some of the ambient noise to the earphones.
In use, it sounds similar to if your earphones had become loose and were letting noise in. Not something you really want in a gym or even in an office but this is obviously meant for use when you are out and about.
The earphones provide a good level of sound isolation so it’s easy to get lost in your own little world. Having this mode allows you to be more aware of your surroundings and will hopefully prevent you from wandering out in front of a car or cyclist.
Both Siri and Google Assistant are supported here and can be invoked with a double tap on the right ear.
JLab has an App available for both iOS and Android to assist with the burn-in process of the earphones. Their proprietary process helps to tune the earphones to produce their best sound.
Purchasers of these earphones will be entitled to a free 3-month premium subscription for this music streaming service.
If I could change two things about the JLab Audio Epic Air Elite it would be to make the ear hooks a little more flexible and to change the lid of the charging case.
The earphones are light, easy to wear and generally are unnoticeable in your ears so they make a great set of earphones for sports activities.
You can take calls, use your voice assistant, they’re sweat proof and generally have most features you’ll look for.
It’s worth noting that the first set of earphones we were sent had an issue with the left earphone so we returned them for a replacement. The earphones come with a no quibble 2-year warranty and the JLab emphasised that any such issues will result in a replacement being issued straight away.
If you are in the market for a set of wireless sports earphones, the Epic Air Elite are well worth considering.
They are available now for $149.99 at jlabaudio.com