JLab Epic ANC Evaluate: Caught in limbo

“Although the Epic ANC is comfortable, durable, and cheap, it does very little to separate itself from the crowd.”

Comfortable, safe design

Solid battery life

IP54 waterproof

Average sound quality

Inconspicuous noise cancellation

JLab Audio is well on the way to developing affordable hearing aids, most of which come with features and sound that far exceed their prices. It may have created its own problem. If your products consistently try to cross their own boundaries, the boundaries between them can become confused and you wonder why they exist at all.

With JLab’s new $ 79 Epic ANC wired earphones, we had to ask ourselves: can they differ from similar siblings and challenge competitors from other brands?

Out of the box

In the meantime I have opened enough JLab packages to know what to expect. The Epic ANC earphones are waiting for you in their own plastic shell. The rest of the box’s content is just below it. These accessories include three sets of earplugs, a micro-USB charging cable, a travel bag (JLab calls it a bag, but it’s a bag), and a quick setup guide.

JLab Epic ANC earphonesNick Woodard / Digital Trends

In other words, there is not much pomp to admire here. But that’s not really JLab’s style. The company’s products have traditionally relied on losing the weight of desire to deliver good value at a bargain price. This is exactly what you see again at the Epic ANC.

The connection was easy because the buds automatically switch to Bluetooth pairing mode the first time they are turned on. That may be standard these days, but trust me: With the few products that don’t have this automatic pairing mode, you miss this subtle advantage.

The Epic ANC has built-in Bluetooth 5 technology and I have no connection problems to report. The buds were able to travel freely through my home with me without getting out when my phone was in the living room. Although I haven’t necessarily crossed the line, I’m confident that these buds are enough.


As I’ve said with other earphones of this style, these wired setups are not as noticeable as real wireless alternatives. There are, of course, good reasons for this: the inclusion of wires leads to the possibility that they get stuck or become damaged when you pass through everyday life. In addition, true wireless earbuds generally offer a more attractive aesthetic.

JLab Epic ANC earphonesNick Woodard / Digital Trends

Honestly, it’s a shame that these styles take a back seat because, apart from the wires, there’s a lot to like about the way the Epic ANC was designed. Starting with the buds themselves, the included “Cush Fins” (JLab terminology) helped to create a secure fit in my ears. After several runs with the Epic ANC, I was pleased to find that I only had to adjust them a few times. For a product that is constantly jumping around the neck during intensive activities, this is a win in my book.

I chose the smaller standard earplugs that made it comfortable to hold in my ears. JLab also offers a set of three-flange earplugs and a pair of cloud foam tips, but the standard met my requirements exactly.

JLab was oddly light in terms of specs with the Epic ANC, so I don’t have an exact weight to report. But I can say that they were light enough to train sensibly, even though their siblings, the Epic Sport2, are significantly lighter. As wired buds dedicated to training, their lightness is not only sensible, but is also expected.

The Epic ANC is only available in one color (black). So if you want design options, you won’t find them here. The travel bag / bag is also black and feels durable, which should be useful if you keep the buds in a travel bag or backpack.


The more I used the Epic ANC, the more I thought about the 1More Dual Driver ANC. They are both made in the same style, probably for the same kind of audience. At half the price, it would have made sense not to expect the Epic ANC to compete with the features of the Dual Driver ANC. However, if I have learned anything from previous JLab reviews, this brand knows how to close the gap while reducing costs.

JLab Epic ANC earphonesNick Woodard / Digital Trends

For example, the 1More offers a battery life of 20 hours without using active noise cancellation and 15 hours with the function activated. For JLab balloons that are not used by ANC, a playback time of 25 hours is achieved, although the hearing supported by ANC takes a small step back after 14 hours. However, the Epic ANC comes with an AUC cable adapter that can be connected and listened to if the battery fails.

Through my tests, I can confirm that JLab’s battery requirements are correct. This type of juice should be enough to do a few days of work while using Active Noise Cancellation. If you are still working from home without having to compensate for noisy environments, you can extend the battery of the buds over several days.

The Epic ANC is weatherproof to IP54 and protects the buds from dust and water sprays from every direction. I didn’t expect them to get wet in the heat of summer, but left it up to the good old Pacific Northwest to take a quick shower during a morning walk. Rest assured: The Epic ANC did it without any problems.

For comparison: the Epic Sport2 has an improved protection rating IP66, which protects against high-pressure water jets, while the 1More has an IPX5 resistance, which protects it against jet streams, although it is not protected against dust.

The Epic ANC has an inline remote control that takes over all controls of the earphones. A button on the side of the remote control changes through the ANC modes with arrows at the opposite ends of the volume of the remote control and the track switch. Pressing the lower arrow twice even activates your preferred intelligent assistant, while the middle button turns the device on and off and answers and ends calls. When it comes to controls, most people value functionality, and the Epic ANC well meets that standard.

Audio quality

The main difference between the Epic ANC and the more expensive 1More Dual Driver is in the sound. Because while the Epic ANC offers usable sound quality, it cannot impair the audio experience of the Dual Driver ANC.

JLab Epic ANCNick Woodard / Digital Trends

Of course, this almost had to happen, since these two products are technically between the weight classes. And to be clear, if the epic ANC were to fight someone of its size, it would be cheaper. But when we decide whether to spend the extra money or stick to a budget option, it feels like a comparison that we have to make.

From a general perspective, the Epic ANC sounds decent and offers above-average clarity of what you’d expect from earphones under $ 100. The problems are at both ends of the frequency range, where the bass feels muffled in songs like Eminems Godzilla and tracks like Jimmie Allen’s This Is Us feel a bit hard in the higher frequencies. Compared to the 1More, which expertly navigates through different genres, these topics are only accentuated.

As with the 1More, JLab recommends a burn-in phase (via its own burn-in tool app) in order to get the best sound out of these buds. It takes time that I didn’t have for the purposes of this review, so I went out with stock sound. Which, to repeat, will sound good to the majority of listeners. It just won’t be anything to write home about.

Active noise cancellation

Unfortunately I have more “meh” messages for JLab fans to report here. The active noise cancellation features built into the Epic ANC adequately complement the sound quality of the buds, but do not have the effect many are hoping for.

JLab Epic ANC earphonesNick Woodard / Digital Trends

Turning on ANC has muffled some outside noise in the different environments I’ve tried it in, but in louder situations, like walking down a busy street, they haven’t done nearly enough to mask the excessive noise. In addition, both I and others struggled to differentiate between the two Epic ANC noise control modes (high and low). If you cannot distinguish between these two settings, there is a clear problem.

The 1More for context was much more effective when testing in similar environments. Neither set is the leader in ANC, but the two-driver ANC had a lot more understanding of the technology.

I will say that the Epic ANC’s third noise control mode, Be Aware Mode, did exactly what it said it did. By effectively activating this mode, outside noise is effectively fed in, making it easy to address friendly neighbors while maintaining an appropriate social distance.

Our opinion

The Epic ANC is the affordable alternative to the excellent Dual Driver ANC from 1More in every respect, with the exception of the sound, which leaves something to be desired. This does not completely prevent another valuable set of earphones from JLab. But it hurts.

Are there any better alternatives?

You probably already know this answer. The $ 150 1More Dual Driver ANC is exactly what the Epic ANC hoped for, but at twice the price. If you’re an athlete looking for a similar style at a cheaper price, JLab’s $ 49 Epic Sport2 fits perfectly with its features and design.

How long will they last?

JLab offers a two-year warranty with the Epic ANC, and the product itself feels so durable that I no longer have to worry about exposing it to intensive training sessions. I would say these buds last long enough to get your money’s worth.

Should you buy them

No. The Epic ANC has done a lot right, from the comfortable design to the effective functions. However, it hasn’t done enough to distance itself from cheaper options within its own brand or approach the quality of the more expensive Dual Driver ANC. They’re good friends after all, but they’re stuck in no man’s land.

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