Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Gear Closet: JLab Epic Bluetooth Earbuds for Runners

As a runner who logs a lot of miles each week, my smartphone plays a vital role in keeping me going. Sure, it logs my mileage and keeps track of my pace, but more importantly it provides entertainment in the form of music and podcasts while I'm out on the road or trail. Without these audio files playing in my ear, I'm not sure I'd be able to stay as motivated as I do.

Of course, having a good set of earbuds is important too. They need provide good sound of course, but more importantly they should be comfortable to wear over extended periods of time without cables and cords getting in the way. That pretty much sums up what you'll get with the new Epic Bluetooth Earbuds from JLab, which managed to surprise me with how well they performed.

These aren't the first pair of Bluetooth earbuds for runners that I've tested. In fact, I've reviewed a couple on this blog in the past. I've always enjoyed the freedom that comes from not having a cable running to your audio device, as it keeps those wires out of the way, and avoids snagging them on branches or shrubs. But the one thing that I struggled with when using wireless earphones is that they need to be recharged frequently. That's not a big deal if you only use them a couple of times a week, but when you're running for over an hour every day, you'll have to recharge them often. That isn't the case with the Epic earbuds however, as they boast a battery life that is nearly 10 hours in length. Thats enough to easily get me through a week without having to recharge. It is also about twice the playback time of other models that I've tested, some of which are considerably more expensive.

I was also impressed with the audio quality from these earbuds. When I'm out for a run, I don't expect the greatest sound quality of course, but it is nice to be able to hear a full auditory range, particularly when listening to music. These earphones delivered solid mid- and high-range audio playback which was more than adequate for listening while working out. As you would expect, the bass levels aren't going to blow you away, but the low ranges could still be distinctly heard none the less. Volume levels were also quite high, and unlike some of the competition that I've tried out, there weren't many times when wireless connection distorted the sound either.


The Epic earbuds deliver in terms of comfort as well. The "memory wire" that wraps around your ear holds them in place nicely, and shapes itself to fit properly. As a result, you can put them on when you head out for a run, and trust that they are going to stay in place for your entire workout. JLab also includes a wide variety of sizes for the silicon tips that fit over the earphones as well, allowing you to find the ones that match the size of your ear canals. In my case, one of the earbuds fit like a glove right out of the box, while I've struggled to find the proper size for my other ear. This makes one of them sit a bit more loosely in my ear, although it has never popped out during the time that I tested it. This is more of a minor annoyance than anything else, and is also an issue with my ear and not necessarily the product itself.

An inline remote on the earbuds gives you control over what you're listening to, allowing you to adjust volume, skip tracks, and power the headphones on and off. That remote features large, easy to identify buttons that makes it a snap to operate these earbuds while on the move.

While listening to music or audio books is great while running, it is also essential that your earbuds don't isolate outside noise to the point that it becomes dangerous. The Epic earbuds recognize this, and allow in enough outside noise to keep you aware of your surroundings, but not so much as to prevent you from actually hearing what is being played in your ears. Using the inline remote for instance, I can turn the volume down and easily have a conversation with someone, without ever having to take the earphones off.

Pairing these earphones with your smartphone or mp3 player via Bluetooth is a snap. The entire process takes seconds, with audio clues provided by a voice built into the headphones themselves. That same voice alerts you to when the earbuds have been powered on or off, and when the battery is getting low. In the latter case, I would have actually preferred more notice of when that was happening, as I actually got caught out in the middle of a run when they did finally die.

As if all of this wasn't already impressive enough, the Epic earbuds are also have an IPX4 waterproof rating. I can attest to the fact that they hold up well in moisture, as during my testing I used them in very humid environments, while also running in the rain and sweating all over them. They held up great however, and never showed the slightest sign of having a problem. I think it is safe to say that short of taking them swimming or getting caught in a deluge, they'll survive around water just fine.

In addition to plenty of silicon ear tips, JLab ships these earbuds with several other accessories as well, including a USB charging cable, clips for adjusting the length of the cable, and a surprisingly nice case for carrying the earbuds and your smartphone. While that case isn't one that I would personally use while working out, it could come in handy for traveling.

As you can tell, I'm quite impressed with these Bluetooth earphones. They are comfortable to wear, sound great, and most importantly have excellent battery life for a product of this kind. If you've been searching for a set of wireless earbuds for your workouts, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with what JLab has to offer. They also make a great gift for the holidays for the runner on your list, and at a price tag of just $99.95 they are affordable too. In fact, that is about half the price of the previous model that I had been using, which only adds to how impressive the Epic earbuds truly are.

2 comments:

TT said...

How about Soundpeats, budget Bluetooth earbuds, they sound really good for the money. I haven't had a chance to test Jlab Epic yet. You said, the bass levels aren't going to blow you away, can you recommend an alternative for more bass.
Thanks

Kraig Becker said...

You're not going to find too many earbuds with great bass. I'm getting a new set next week that may be better. We'll see.