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JLab’s new earbuds are smaller than a dime, and it says $99 hearing aids are on the way

Ahead of next week’s CES 2023 show in Las Vegas, JLab is giving us a sneak peek at what it will be showing to attendees. The company, which has a reputation for very affordable audio gear, is showing off its JBuds Mini, a $40 set of wireless earbuds that are tiny — 30% smaller than the JLab Go Air Pop, which were already remarkably small. They come in a charging case that’s designed to attach to a key ring, much like the Skullcandy Dime, and the entire package is no bigger than most wireless car keyfobs.

JLab Jbuds Mini.
JLab

Previous JLab earbuds have come with charging cases that have integrated USB cables, but the JBuds Mini take a more conventional approach, with a separate USB-C cable. The JBuds Mini are expected to hit stores in the fall of 2023, with six hours of playtime per charge in the earbuds, and 24 hours when you include the charging case. They’re also compatible with Bluetooth Multipoint for simultaneous connections to two devices.

JLab also has something new for those who want a more premium wireless experience. Also arriving in the fall, the $199 JLab Epic Lab Edition earbuds use a hybrid driver design that combines a 10mm dynamic driver and a Knowles balanced armature (B.A.) driver. JLab says this produces the most detailed, balanced, and clear sound the company has ever achieved from a set of earbuds. They also support JLab’s customizable active noise cancellation (ANC) and transparency modes, plus wireless charging.

JLab Epic Lab Edition.
JLab

The most unusual aspect of these new buds is the included USB-C dongle that stows away inside the case. This gives devices like phones and computers the ability to connect to the Epic Lab Edition using Bluetooth LE Audio. LE Audio offers a new codec called LC3, which is more efficient than the previous Bluetooth standard, SBC, but JLab is most interested in LC3’s low latency capabilities, which make it a very good choice for gamers.

There’s no word yet on battery life, Bluetooth Multipoint, or whether the Epic Lab Edition will support additional Bluetooth codecs like AAC, LDAC, or Qualcomm’s aptX family of codecs.

JLab OTC hearing aids.
JLab’s OTC Hearing Aids. JLab

Finally, JLab is taking a stab at the newly opened market for OTC hearing aids. Though the details remain thin, the company says it intends to sell two types of these devices: an OTC Hearing Aid ($99), and a Self-Fitting OTC Hearing Aid (price still TBD). JLab hasn’t said how these two devices will differ, but claims they will both offer a discreet design, iOS, and Android streaming compatibility, “impressive” battery life, and a two-year warranty.

Considering that typical hearing aids cost in the thousands and that even new OTC hearing aids from companies like Sony cost as much as $1,000, a set of devices that cost only $100 would be a remarkable achievement — if they’re effective. JLab hasn’t indicated when its hearing products will be available.

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Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
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