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JLAB JBuds EPIC Sound Quality Tests and Conclusion

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epic_box_openIt continues to surprise me how different headphones can sound from each other. In-ear monitors, in particular, consistently amaze in their ability to have completely different tonalities in comparison. It is no wonder that new speakers are coming out every day and they all sound so different - if something as small and compact as an in-ear monitor can sound sound so different, than how much more can larger speakers?

The JLab EPIC headphones have what I would classify as a ton of bass. Not metric, mind you, but imperial. That was the very first thing I noticed about them when I put them on/in and, at first, I found it a bit off-putting. I ran a few bass sweeps and took a listen but the bass wasn't bloated, per se, but just louder. Using some test tracks and sweeps, it was clear that the EPIC earphones have decent low end extension but not the lowest I've heard (not surprising considering the price point). There were no obvious suckouts or bloated areas of the frequency response but there were moments during musical playback where a voice might dip down into a louder region. Sarah McLaughlin, for example, would have moments when parts of her singing would momentarily be louder than the rest of the song. It wasn't too distracting or really all that bad but something I noticed.

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Standard 3.5mm straight plug

The overall bass extension was fine for the price point though the presentation became muddy at louder volumes. This bled over into the lower midrange at times but the overall midrange and high end presentation was remarkably clear and detailed. Listening to female vocalists in general was a joy with the EPIC earphones and male vocals were mostly rich and detailed (though they often sounded louder than their female counterparts).

Often budget headphones suffer from a fatiguing presentation but the EPIC earphones presented none of that. While the high end had plenty of extension, it didn't distort or clip at higher (but reasonable) volumes and maintained composure even under demanding playback. Listening to Sinners and Saints by Euphoria, it starts with a guitar and Tina Dico's voice. The guitar was beautifully reproduced as was her voice. There are both low and high end sweeps in the song and a lot of different pans from side to side. All of these were presented accurately and with conviction.

Value

I started this review off talking about budding audiophiles on a budget. I did that on purpose because I knew that we would end up here talking about value. At $70, the JLab JBuds EPIC earphones are a decent deal. I would have no problems recommending them for someone that cares about audio. They have absolutely no real problems and present music in an accurate (overall) way without any glaring problems. There is a bit of a bass emphasis but nothing as bad as I've heard from other headphones. For audiophiles on a budget (or audiophiles that want headphones that actually stay in during a vigorous workout), the EPICs are an easy recommendation at $70.

But they don't cost $70.

On Amazon and the JLab site, they've been discounted to $50. So, JLab has put me in a corner. If I give them a great value rating, people will say that they really cost $50 so they must be the best headphones EVER! If I give them a lower value rating saying that at their actual price they are a good deal, the manufacturer will complain that I should rate them on their street price. I tend toward the latter as I feel it is more fair to the competition. Just know, at $50, they are an easy recommendation.

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I really thought this picture was going to come out awesome. I was wrong

Conclusion

What do you want in a headphone? Do you want a headphone that will absolutely stay in during a vigorous workout or do you want one that sounds great? Well, in the JLab EPIC in-ear monitors, you can have both. While no headphone costing $70 (MSRP, street price $50) will be perfect, there are really no major flaws in the performance of the EPIC in-ear monitors. For audiophiles on a budget that need a multipurpose headphone that won't break the bank, the JLab EPICs are it. Recommended!

JLab JBuds EPIC In-Ear Monitors

MSRP: $79.99

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www.jlabaudio.com

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
MetricRating
Ergonomics & UsabilityStarStarStar
Build QualityStarStarStar
AppearanceStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStarStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStar
ImagingStarStarStarStar
SoundstageStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarStar
ValueStarStarStarhalf-star
About the author:
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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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