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3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The JLab JBuds J2 earphones are inexpensive and offer a definite improvement over stock earbuds. They're comfortable and come in an array of colorful options to match pretty much any MP3 player on the planet.

The Bad The JLab JBuds J2 earphones suffer from a muted high-end and muddled overall sound.

The Bottom Line The JLab JBuds J2 earphones are a comfortable set and a reasonable step up from the stock earbuds that came with your iPod, but audio purists should steer clear.

6.0 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Performance 5.0

After shelling out $100 or more for a new MP3 player, dropping more of your hard-earned cash on a pair of headphones may not appeal to you--especially given that a working pair is generally packaged with the device. However, that stock set isn't doing you any favors in the sound (or comfort) department, which is why we always recommend upgrading, even if it's only to $15 earbuds. Or you could aim a little higher and pick up a set of JLab's JBuds J2 earphones, which carry an MSRP of $80 but list for $30 on Amazon. They're definitely not worth the higher price point--highs are muted and music has a muddled quality on the whole--but they're comfortable, offer some sound isolation, and come in pretty much every color combo you can imagine. Most notably, the J2 earphones offer a stark improvement over stock 'buds.

Other than the color options--of which there are many--the JLab JBuds J2 earphones offer a pretty standard Y-cable design. The cable, which measures 50 inches and terminates in a gold-plated straight plug, feels fairly thick and durable, but there's no slider to help prevent tangles. The earpieces aren't the smallest we've seen, measuring 0.37 inch in diameter, but the straight aperture allowed CNET testers to get a relatively secure and comfortable fit. JLab includes three sizes of silicone sleeves to help in that regard.

The colors spread to not only the cable and earpieces but also the ear tips. There are 12 options: onyx black (all black), boqari blue (navy with light blue tips), black/electric blue, orange citrus (all orange), black/mint green, purple/lavender, lambo yellow (all bright yellow), black/hot pink, red/white, pink martini (all pink), white/grey, and black/chrome silver. You should be able to find a combo that goes with whatever MP3 player you own.

Beyond fit and style, the JLab JBuds J2 earphones offer two other improvements over stock earbuds: sound isolation and bass. In testing, we found the passive isolation to be more than adequate, and it's always a good feature to have as it allows you to listen to your music at lower volumes, thus sparing your ears. Audio quality isn't the greatest overall: highs lack the detail and clarity we desire and the boomy bass lends a muddled quality to most songs. However, at least there is bass, and mids also sound better than what you get from a stock set. If you're picky about audio quality, look elsewhere, but if you just want a step up in comfort, look, and low-end response, the J2s are a decent option.

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