JLab Epic Sport2 Review: Wired For Workouts

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JLab Epic Sport2 earbuds

“The Epic Sport2 are another pair of weatherproof, long-lasting fitness buds from JLab”

  • Multiple fitment options
  • IP66 weatherproof rating
  • 20 hours of playback

From the outside looking in, it sure seems like JLab took the qualities of its popular Epic Air Sport true wireless earbuds, applied them to a set with a wire tethering the two buds, and dropped the price by $100.

While it’s not quite that cut and dried — JLab’s new $49 Epic Sport2 do have some significant differences besides a wire and a price drop — it does feel like if you’re looking for the same sound quality of the true wireless earbuds but want them at a lower price and don’t mind a wire, these headphones were made for you. These fourth-generation buds are still meant primarily for workouts like their predecessors before them, and though they may not be the same true wireless spectacle that the Epic Air Sport were, the Epic Sport2 are darn good for fitness.

Out of the box

The packaging of the Epic Sport2 is simplistic, but the usual by JLab standards: A sky-blue box with a small assortment of goodies inside. There are the buds themselves which sit in plastic molding, plus a handy foldable quick-start guide and a small carrying case that holds a charging cable, extra eartips and “Cush-fins” (those are the foam pads of the buds that rest against your ear, for those not familiar with JLab’s lingo).

JLab Epic Sport2 earbuds
Nick Woodard/Digital Trends

The in-line remote’s power button brings the Epic Sport2 to life, complete with a voice prompt that greets you with a “hello.” The buds go into pairing mode after holding that power button for eight seconds, allowing you to then go into your mobile device’s Bluetooth settings to finish the connection. This process is not as foolproof as buds that automatically enter pairing mode when you first unbox them, but it’s still simple to set up.

Design

I’ll be the first to say that immediately out of the box, I wasn’t happy with the fit and comfort of the Epic Sport2. Of course, that’s precisely why the company has as many extra sets of eartips and Cush-fins as it does.

JLab Epic Sport2 earbuds
Nick Woodard/Digital Trends

JLab includes four sets of standard gel eartips, which are the kind that I usually gravitate toward, however, their set of triple-flange foam eartips proved to be the most comfortable for me and fit my ear canals best in this case. I had to swap out the Cush-fins for another of the three sets, ultimately finding something with a little more padding to press against my ears.

With that, my comfort problem was solved. The initially ill-fitting buds instantaneously became comfortable to wear on long runs and were very secure. All credit to JLab: They recognize perhaps more than others that ears aren’t one-size-fits-all and provide you with a large selection of the proper tools to find what works best for you.

The black earbuds (the only color JLab is offering with these buds) themselves aren’t tiny but aren’t too big either. I think they strike a decent balance. The earhooks they’re attached to are flexible, although slightly flimsy, and transition into a thin wire running from one ear to the next. At 14.8 grams, these buds are lighter altogether than the Epic Air Sport, which weigh in at 10 grams per bud. During a week’s worth of runs and workouts, I can probably count on one hand how many times I had to readjust these buds.

The lightweight and comfortable fit combine for a set of earbuds that, design-wise, are excellent for their intended purpose: Working out.

The carrying case for the Epic Sport2 resembles a slimmed-down sunglasses holder, with JLab’s logo inscribed on the cover. I wouldn’t say the case is pocket-sized, unfortunately — it is too large for that moniker. That said, the case makes up for its bulk with added security. I am comfortable saying that it’s robust enough to go into your backpack or workout bag without fear of damaging the earbuds.

Features

By and large, it was the features of the JLab Epic Air Sport that made them our favorite earbuds for working out. It’s no surprise, then, that JLab kept many of those same features intact with the Epic Sport2.

JLab Epic Sport2 earbuds
Nick Woodard/Digital Trends

The Epic Air Sport had an IP66 weatherproofing rating that protected them against powerful water jets and rendered them completely dustproof. The Epic Sport2 get the same treatment, once again giving these buds better protection than the Powerbeats Pro (IP56) and Jabra Elite Active 75t (IP57).

The Epic Air Sport had 10 hours of playback in a single charge, with an unheard of 60 hours of extra charging available in their case. The Epic Sport2 aren’t quite that generous with their battery life, but they do offer 20 hours of playback – eight hours better than the previous Epic Sport – and a quick-charging feature that gives you 1.5 hours of playback from just 10 minutes of being plugged in. That is likely to be plenty of battery for most fitness-minded folks, and I’m honestly still working on draining the battery out of these buds after a little over a week with them.

Both the true wireless and wireless versions have Bluetooth 5 technology, with an estimated range of 30+ feet. With the Epic Sport2, I would say that range was accurate, as the buds let me move dropout-free between my front and back yards while my phone stayed in place on my porch. The buds do only have support for audio codecs AAC and SBC, and I would have liked to see aptX included in the mix. But for sub-$100 earbuds, that’s not a deal-breaker.

The in-line remote features the ability to control volume, pause/play, change tracks, and call upon your preferred voice assistant. It’s not as easy a process as the better touchpads on the market have made it, but it’s still functional for most needs.

Audio quality

Let’s just admit it: We’re all podcast listeners during workouts these days, right? There’s nothing like hearing Marc Maron pontificate about life during the WTF podcast while slogging through a six-mile run.

JLab Epic Sport2 earbuds
Nick Woodard/Digital Trends

You don’t need great sound quality for Maron, although he does offer some tremendous transitional guitar riffs. But eventually, podcasts do momentarily lose their luster and you find yourself pulling up your go-to playlist. JLab knew you’d come around to the music side of things at some point and prepared accordingly.

The same 8mm dynamic, neodymium magnet drivers power both the true wireless Epic Air Sport and these Epic Sport2 buds, and they both have three-mode EQ that offers Signature, Balanced, and Bass Boost modes.

With that in mind, our original thoughts on the audio quality of the Epic Air Sport hold true a year later with the Epic Sport2. The various EQ modes help the buds lend themselves to different genres well, with the Signature mode serving as the best mode to blanket most sound with. We said the Powerbeats Pro had more fidelity than the Epic Air Sport back then, and that comparison holds up here as well. A more comparable option for the Epic Sport2 may be the 1More Dual Driver ANC, a pair of earbuds that are also tethered together by a wire. They aren’t workout-ready earbuds, but they do offer superior sound quality for about $100 more than what the Epic Sport 2 retail for.

There is one fairly problematic area of the Epic Sport2’s sound quality: Calls. JLab’s website says the Epic Sport2 have built-in microphones for phone calls — and I believe them — but based on my experiences I just don’t think they’re very good. Especially when I was on the go, the primary environment that these buds are meant for, both ends of my calls came across with a certain scratchiness, like the buds themselves were trying to clear their throat. I don’t know if you’re going to be making many phone calls during an intense workout, so maybe this isn’t a huge issue. But nonetheless, it is an issue worth noting.

Our take

The JLab Epic Sport2 are nearly the spitting image of their true wireless cousins the Epic Air Sport, with solid features and sound quality stuffed into a design explicitly tuned for athletes, and they even saved a few bucks in the process. The only catches are that you have to be alright with a wire occasionally tickling your neck, and know to expect subpar call quality at best.

Are there better alternatives?

The Epic Air Sport originally retailed for $149 and represent a more convenient true wireless design, albeit at a greater cost. If you like the tethered style of the Epic Sport2 but don’t need a workout-centric pair of buds, the $150 1More Dual Driver ANC sound excellent and offer active noise cancellation.

How long will they last?

JLab offers a two-year warranty and an air-tight weatherproof rating. I don’t think these buds are going to falter anytime soon.

Should you buy them?

Yes. Call quality takes a hit with the Epic Sport2 and true wireless has far surpassed the tethered look in popularity, but you can’t deny the features and design of these sweet-sounding buds. In short, they’re just as well-suited for workouts as the Epic Air Sport, for a fraction of the price.

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