- Nov 17, 2010
A couple of months ago I saw that JLab Audio was going to release a successor to their Epic Air True Wireless, the Epic Air Elite True Wireless Sport Earbuds. I was interested in seeing what they were going to do to improve on the headphone that I use at the gym and on the go. I contacted JLab and let them know I was interested in checking them out and they were kind enough to send me a pair for review.
Epic Air Elite come with the charging case, usb to micro usb cable, and 7 tip sizes. These tips include double flange and triple flange tips. This also includes one set of cloud foam ear tips.
New blue lights show that the earbuds are correctly docked and charging
The Epic Air Elite True Wireless have several new features to entice owners of the previous model or people on the lookout for a new Bluetooth earbud. The Epic Air Elite now come with Class 1 4.2 Bluetooth for quicker pairing and a better connection. They also now incorporate custom EQ3 sound, where you can choose from 3 EQ settings, Be Aware Audio is now provided, allowing for your phone calls to sound more natural and at the same time allow you to be aware of your surroundings. The earbuds allow for 6 hours of play time (38 total with the case). The Epic Air Elite are IP55 rated, which means they are resistant to water and dust. It is advised to make sure they are totally dry before docking them so that you do not damage the charging dock.
The black plastic/rubber sure is a dust collector
The charging case allows for 32 extra hours when using the charging case, making for 38 total hours. The case also includes a recessed built in charging cable and the case also includes the ability to charge another device such as your phone, utilizing the 2600 mAh battery via the built in USB port. There is also a micro usb port built into the case to charge the case. As before with the Epic Air, the case has a series of 5 white LEDs to give you the charging status, but the case now shows two blue LEDs, which represent that the Elites are docked, which lets you know that the earbuds are seated properly and charging.
Here you can see the micro usb to usb cable and the built in usb port
The Epic Air Elites continue the rugged construction of the Epic Airs. They use a nice silicone rubber material that are comfortable and durable. I know that the prior Epic Air were durable because I have dropped them on more than one occasion and they are still working great. The earhooks hold the earbuds to my ears without feeling rigid, and you almost forget that they are there. The headphones stay in when running, doing pull-ups, shrugs etc. The hooks really add stability and peace of mind that they will stay put. The earbuds are powered on as soon as they are taken out of the case, let you know that they are connected\paired, and their current battery level. The nice thing about the Epic Air Elites is that they are lightweight. I tried the various tips and found that the largest tips worked the best for me with a tight seal, allowing for the ambient noise to be quieted and for better bass response. Overall there are plenty of tips for most everyone to find the best fit.
The Epic Air Elites have changed their controls from the previous generation. Volume is now controlled by a single tap to the left bud to lower the volume and the right ear bud to raise it. The previous generation required you to touch and hold the earbud to raise or lower volume. This sometimes would be bad if you took an earbud off an inadvertently left a finger on the earbud, either raising the volume or lowering it. I find the tapping volume control to be an improvement over the Epic Air. Now to skip tracks you press and hold the right bud to advance or the left to back. This seems to work well and I was able to do it fairly easily. To cycle through the 3 EQ settings, you have to put hold a finger to the outside of each earbud simultaneously for 3 seconds. The earbud will let you know that it has switched to the new EQ setting, making it very easy to tell which setting you are on. To start play all you have to do is double tap the left ear bud and to pause you would do the same. Calls are answered via a single tap on the right bud, hanging up is one with a double tap. Siri or Google is accessed via 2 clicks.
The only model I could get to model the Elites was me...
One of the new vaunted features of the Epic Air Elite is the Be Aware Mode, where the sounds from your surroundings are amplified. I mistakenly activated this when I had a plastic bag in my hand. It was crazy, it sounded like I was being electrocuted by static electricity! When I did enable the Be Aware Mode on purpose, I could see how it is useful for phone calls where they would sound better, but more importantly for safety where you are in a busy environment and you have to hear what is going around you. You can still listen to music when in the Be Aware Mode.
For music I either listened to the Signature or Balanced eq. The Signature had plenty of bass when listening to tracks(all Flac or Wav) like Dio’s Killing the Dragon, Filter’s Under. On all the tracks I listened to the clarity was there, the bass was controlled and detailed, as well as the midrange and highs. With the ability to change from the 3 different EQ’s, it should make most people happy. Apt X again is a welcome addition, helping give a CD like sound, while helping with delays and latency problems that can arise from Bluetooth.
When utilizing the Epic Air Elite’s for calls they did an admirable job. I took and made some calls in both the Be Aware mode and without it. The Be Aware mode did help with some quality, but using it without it was ok, and the callers said I sounded fine to them. These earbuds are geared more towards music but I think are fine for taking and making calls.
The battery performance was great, these lasted the whole week and then some. I am usually at the gym for 1.5 hours or more, and it also covered hiking for the week. The ability to have them charging while in their case to provide a total of 38 hours makes them the longest lasting wireless earbuds out there.
After using these for over a week at the gym, office, and hiking, I can recommend Epic Air Elites for people who are active and need good sounding durable headphones for under $150. These are a worthy successor to first generation Epic Air and I think you will be very happy with them. I also want to mention that JLab Audio has included a 2 year warranty should you run into any problems.