JLab Epic Lab Edition earbuds boast crisp highs and deep bass but basic EQ leaves gritty mids

JLab expands upon tried-and-tested wireless earbud specifications by broaching the dark art of preferred listening curves. Does it pay off?

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JLab Epic Lab Edition earbuds

JLab Epic Lab Edition earbuds

Review Overview

Our rating

6

Our verdict

Solid build quality
Effective ANC
Handy USB-C dongle for Bluetooth LE streaming
Bright and punchy Signature voicing
Decent battery life and handy wireless charging

Basic EQ customisation — contours shown in the app don’t always match what you’re actually hearing
Mids aren’t always pleasing and need scooping out

£199, jlab.com

With so many wireless earbuds to choose from, brands try to differentiate their products and get a little edge over the competition. JLab’s new Epic Lab Edition buds boast dual driver technology for deep bass and sparkling treble reproduction, a typical charging case, a dongle for streaming over Bluetooth LE from a laptop or other device, and active noise cancelling, among other expected features.

But the unique feature that piques our interest is a new EQ voicing option that’s based on research into a new listener-preferred target curve.

Target curves define the EQ contour for headphone listening to provide a deep bass and clear treble response. They’re often intended to approximate the experience of playing back music on large speakers. Headphone geeks will likely be aware of the well-established Harman curve, but JLab has taken on board research from Knowles to include its new target curve as an EQ option. For those with the inclination, Soundguys explores the difference between the two but how does the new curve sound in practice?

Epic Lab Edition earbuds
Epic Lab Edition earbuds

How are the treble frequencies on Lab Epic Lab Edition earbuds?

With the Signature sound EQ preset enabled in the app, highs are crisp and sparkling, accompanied by recessed mids and powerful bass. The Signature preset is a joy for general listening, but we’d prefer a slight cut on the high end. Frustratingly, there’s no way to copy the Signature preset to the user-adjustable Custom slot, so we attempt — in vain — to match the EQ sliders of the custom preset to the Signature one, but the result is nowhere near as pleasing.

Presumably, the Signature contour uses more graphic EQ bands and deeper cuts than the app graphic shows.

Disappointed, we do eventually get used to the bright, Signature preset presentation and just stick with that.

Epic Lab Edition earbuds paired with the app
Epic Lab Edition earbuds paired with the app

What are the mids like on JLab Epic Lab Edition earbuds?

Research into and development of preferred target curves is laudable but it’s dependent on your playback system’s capabilities. While we prefer bolder mids than a typically scooped ‘hi-fi’ response, the new Knowles target curve is a poor experience on these buds with mids sounding brittle to our ears and desperately in need of attenuation.

As before, we’re unable to properly tweak this preset to taste and end up retreating to the sanctuary of the Signature preset, which has a more subdued, pleasing mid-range — albeit with the slightly forced treble range described above.

Epic Lab Edition earbuds in case
Epic Lab Edition earbuds in case

How’s the bass on JLab Epic Lab Edition?

Down at the low end, the 10-mm low-frequency dynamic drivers produce a deep, pleasing bass that’s still articulate. There are no complaints from us here — the depth of bass reproduction offering thump in the very lowest octaves of tracks, such as Naughty Boy’s catchy La La La – perfect for everyday listening.

The range of earbud tips provided ensures you can achieve a tight seal, allowing you to get really immersed in your music — once the mids have been beaten into shape, that is.

Epic Lab Edition earbuds in use
Epic Lab Edition earbuds in use

JLab Epic Lab Edition extras

The provided USB-C dongle does well to stream audio from our MacBook and, despite the associated battery life hit, active noise cancelling makes listening even more immersive. This is particularly noticeable on our long train journey, where the incessant high revs and vibrations of the engine are pushed right into the background.

All-in-all, the JLab Epic Lab Edition earbuds have a premium build quality and offer deep bass, crystal-clear treble presentation plus solid battery life and noise cancelling. They’d be an easy recommendation for the £199 price if only the EQ customisation was a bit more flexible (and reflected the actual shaping taking place) as mids need to be carefully contoured to avoid a plasticky edge to the sound. Hopefully, this will be addressed in a future update.

The buds have the potential to produce a compelling sound, but the promise of a new curve ends up being a damp squib since the midrange needed to reproduce the curve is not that pleasant.

Epic Lab Edition earbuds with case and USB-C dongle
Epic Lab Edition earbuds with case and USB-C dongle

Key features

  • Dual drivers
  • AAC on iOS/LDAC codec on Android
  • 13 hours of playtime per bud / 9 hours with ANC enabled
  • IP55 water and dust resistance
  • Basic app for settings and over-the-air firmware updates
  • USB-C dongle for Bluetooth streaming from a laptop
  • USB-C and wireless charging
  • Active noise cancelling (ANC)
  • Touch gestures to access controls
  • Onboard microphones
  • 6 sets of silicone and foam tips (small, medium, large)
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