JLab Epic Lab Edition true wireless earbuds review: A solid AirPods Pro 2 alternative with a cool extra USB-C dongle in the box

Some snazzy buds with a surprise in the case.

JLab Epic Lab Edition True Wireless Earbuds
(Image: © Future)

iMore Verdict

JLabs AirPods Pro 2 alternatives are proof that the company can contend in the big leagues — they’re a solid-sounding, comfortable pair of earbuds with some cool extras that are more useful than gimmicky.


  • +

    Compact, comfortable buds

  • +

    Solid noise canceling

  • +

    Slick, easy-to-use app

  • +

    Far above-average sound quality

  • +

    Wicked little USB-C adapter


  • -

    Touch controls remain a pain

You can always trust iMore. Our team of Apple experts have years of experience testing all kinds of tech and gadgets, so you can be sure our recommendations and criticisms are accurate and helpful. Find out more about how we test.

JLab isn’t known for its expensive, top-of-the-line AirPods rivals. The company's stomping ground has usually been bang-for-your-buck, inexpensive buds that sound great for the price but pale in comparison to the more expensive competition. But with the JLab Epic Lab Edition earbuds, the firm looks to make a pair of true wireless ear buds that not only undercut Apple’s AirPods Pro 2, but beat them in features and sound. Can JLab's not insignificant chops in making excellent and inexpensive buds translate into brilliant, more expensive ones?

JLab Epic Lab Edition buds: Price and availability

JLab Epic Lab Edition True Wireless Earbuds

(Image credit: Future)

The JLab Epic Edition buds cost an extremely reasonable $199, putting them solidly below the AirPods Pro 2 they’re trying to beat. For the feature set and the quality of the package on offer, that's a pretty special price — and one that makes the Epic Lab Edition worth looking at if they perform as well as the company claims (spoiler alert: They do).

You can pick up a pair as easily as any of the alternatives through Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart. Where you can buy earbuds, you can buy the JLab Epic Lab Edition buds. They are very new at the moment so there aren’t any reductions in price, but there could be in one of the upcoming sales throughout the year — not that they really need a reduction, it’s a very reasonable price.

JLab Epic Lab Edition buds: Build and fit

JLab Epic Lab Edition True Wireless Earbuds

(Image credit: Future)

To justify their higher price point, JLab has made the case for the Epic Lab Edition buds out of aluminum. It’s weighty enough to feel premium, and it’s cold metallic feeling gives the buds an expensive feel. Because wireless charging can’t go through metal, however, Jlab has made the bottom of the case out of soft-touch plastic. It adds a cool visual contrast and makes them stand out from their monotonous competition, who all seem to be covered in either black or white plastic.

Pop the case open (which is perfectly slim enough to slip comfortably into a skinny jeans pocket), and you’ll find the buds themselves — and a little surprise. We’ll get to later, because we need to talk about the materials in use here: The buds are small, dense with circuitry, and made out of top-quality plastic. There’s a JLab logo on the outer edge of the buds themselves, which hides the touch buttons, and there’s a choice of different silicon or foam ear tips that you can affix to the end that goes into your ear.

Choose the tip that works for you and you’re off to the races. These are a very comfortable earbud, with a low weight and a “put them in and forget you’re wearing them” fit. The seal from those tips is good as well, whether you use the silicon or the foam options, making their passive noise canceling pretty good as well. For those that are used to the less intrusive fit of the AirPods Pro 2, these might feel a little more invasive on the ear canal. But get used to it, and you’ve a very comfy wearing experience.

JLab Epic Lab Edition buds: Features

JLab Epic Lab Edition True Wireless Earbuds

(Image credit: Future)

JLab has packed the Epic Lab Edition buds with some epic features, one of which I’ve personally never seen before in a pair of buds. The first and most obvious is the little USB-C adapter that comes in the charging case. It slips in between the buds and plugs into any USB-C port on a MacBook, iPhone, or what-have-you and instantly takes over the connection. If you have a device without Bluetooth LE support or you want to connect them super quickly to something so that you don’t have to go through the standard connection rigamarole, the dongle is perhaps one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. It works well too, instantly connecting the earbuds when plugged in, and sending them back to their original source when unplugged. Slick.

The rest of the feature set is about as you might expect on a pair of true wireless earbuds that come out in 2024. There’s active noise canceling (ANC) on board, with a transparency mode and what JLab calls ‘Be Aware.’ That last mode will activate noise canceling and then turn it off when it thinks there’s something you need to hear. It’s like Apple’s adaptive mode, and just like that mode, I leave it permanently off — it keeps activating when my keyboard clacks, for example. 

JLab Epic Lab Edition True Wireless Earbuds

(Image credit: Future)

Overall noise canceling performance is very solid, blocking out all the most horrible noises with aplomb. There is perhaps a little of the high-frequency stuff that bleeds in when you’ve got music turned on, but leave your music playing, and you won’t hear a peep from the outside world.

The app, which you can use to control various aspects of the buds, is also well-made. Install it on your phone, and you can control the noise canceling mode, muck about with a graphic equalizer, configure the touch controls, choose movie or music mode, adjust the ‘Safe Hearing’ volume limiter, and turn the auto-play pause sensors off (they stop your music playing when you pull them out of your ears). It's got everything you could ever want in an app, and I found it to be laid out in a friendly and responsive manner.

Battery life is exemplary, lasting for a combined 56 hours with the buds and case taken into consideration. They’ll easily last you through a work day, with nary a charge throughout the time you wear them. Noise-canceling activation will reduce that battery time, of course, but even then you won’t notice too much of a dent. Whichever way you look at it, the battery life thrashes that of the AirPods Pro 2, so if for no other reason than staying power, they show that Apple has some work to do to improve its flagship in-ear wireless buds.

JLab Epic Lab Edition buds: Sound quality

JLab Epic Lab Edition True Wireless Earbuds

(Image credit: Future)

JLab is no newcomer to making excellent sounding buds, but now that the sound engineers have a little more budget to play with, they’ve been able to really show off their chops and use some very cool audio bits and bobs. The Epic Lab Edition buds are packed with some seriously impressive next-generation audio hardware, starting with their dual driver setup. Where the likes of the AirPods Pro 2 rely on a single driver (or speaker to the non-audio person), the JLab Epic Edition buds have two drivers — one dedicated to the lower frequencies and one that handles the highs. This latter driver matches the ‘Knowles preferred listening sound curve,’ a complex thing I don’t have the word count to explain. Thankfully, JLab does — here’s what the Knowles preferred listening sound curve is.

What does it all mean? The buds can reproduce higher and lower frequencies with great clarity — you don’t need to rely on one speaker to do everything. It works, too, as the buds sound really, really good.

The bass line of Creedence Clearwater Revival's ‘Fortunate Son’ pulsates, giving way to the drums and the guitars — with no one part being given more attention than the other. John Fogerty’s vocals are perfectly placed, revealing more detail than you might expect, given the depth of the bass. This is an impressive audio experience — forgetting the price, and stacking it up against the AirPods Pro 2 makes for some very interesting listening.

JLab Epic Lab Edition True Wireless Earbuds

(Image credit: Future)

Netsky’s ‘Moving with you’ brings the bass, and lots of it — and the Epic Lab Edition buds bring you right next to the subwoofer. Thanks to the dual driver setup, however, none of the higher frequencies are lost to what could be an all-encompassing bassline. There’s detail where necessary, and plenty of depth to the mids and clarity to the highs.

The smooth country stylings of The Chicks ‘Wide Open Spaces’ suit the audio sensibilities of the buds to a tee. There’s a surprising sound stage here, and some very tasty instrument separation to enjoy within the ensemble. Each element of the track has its place, and you're quickly drawn into the narrative.

Overall, the sonic performance of the buds puts them a mark above the AirPods Pro 2 — there’s more weight on offer here to go with some extra detail, which makes for a more pleasing listening experience than the more neutral-sounding AirPods Pro 2.

JLab Epic Lab Edition buds: Competition

AirPods Pro 2

(Image credit: Mike Sawh)

There are loads of earbuds out there within the $200 - $300 price bracket, not least of all Apple’s excellent AirPods Pro 2. For our money, the AirPods Pro 2 are more comfortable, and the noise canceling is better — but the JLab Epic Edition sound far superior and have much better battery life. 

There’s always the competition from Sony, Bose, and Sennheiser, but those all cost more — and don’t offer the same sound or feature set for more money. In this case, the JLab option is more than a compelling option.

JLab Epic Lab Edition buds: Should you buy these?

You should buy these if…

  • You don’t want to spend over $200
  • You want something different from the heavy hitters

You shouldn’t buy these if…

  • You want the AirPods seamless connection experience

JLab Epic Lab Edition buds: Verdict

The JLab Epic Lab Edition True Wireless Earbuds are an excellent pair of buds that make for a compelling alternative to the Apple AirPods Pro 2. They sound stellar, block out plenty of noise, and they happen to look pretty cool, too — all for $50 less than the white buds from Cupertino.

The touch controls might not be spectacular, but the rest of the package more than makes up for their very few shortcomings.

Tammy Rogers
Senior Staff Writer

As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.