For every portable music lover, JBL speakers appear to have it covered. So, how does the JBL GO measure up for sound quality, durability and value for money in a market burgeoning with fresh, ever-more compact contenders?
Bluetooth speakers fall into two categories. Some are meant to stay indoors and the portable ones you can take along with you. While the former kind offer powerful audio performance, the latter compromise on that aspect but make up for it with their portability. The JBL Go falls into the portability category and is one of the lightest and smallest Bluetooth speakers out there. But is portability the only pro that the JBL Go has in its corner?
JBL Go Bluetooth Speaker Specifications:
- Bluetooth version: 4.1
- Battery type: Lithium-ion polymer (3.7V, 600mAh)
- Weight: 130g
- Frequency response: 180Hz – 20kHz
- Signal-to-noise ratio: ≥80dB
- Support: A2DP V1.2, AVRCP V1.4, HFP V1.6, HSP V1.2
- Driver: 1 x 40mm
- Output power: 3.0W
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 68.3 x 82.7 x 30.8 (mm)
JBL Go review: Design
The JBL Go speaker is block-shaped. This Bluetooth speaker resembles an oversized matchbox as it is very light at 130 grams and is small enough to fit into most handbags. The dimensions of 82.7 x 30.8 x 68.3mm mean it will even fit inside a trouser pocket, though the weight of 222g is on the higher side.
It’s also available in blue, black, pink, red, light blue, yellow and grey. The front of the speaker has a plastic grill with the JBL logo printed on it whereas the rest of the body is covered in plastic with a smooth rubberized finish. The top has the power, Bluetooth, volume and call receive buttons while the right side has the USB and 3.5mm port along with a mic pinhole. The Go’s back also has the JBL logo painted on it while the left side has a lanyard loop to keep the speaker in place.
The front of the speaker consists of a perforated grille through which the sound emanates. The top edge holds the controls for power, volume up, volume down, Bluetooth and a speakerphone. The markings are of the same colour as the body and as a result they are not visible in the dark. The 3.5 mm input jack, Micro-USB port and microphone are all on the right edge. There are two unusually large holes for a lanyard to loop through on the left. There are JBL logo in bold orange lettering( the company’s logo) on the front and rear.
The JBL Go has a single 40 mm driver which can operate in a frequency range of 180Hz to 20KHz, which means it cannot achieve really low-frequency sub-bass sounds. We’ll check how this affects performance in the next section. To pair the speaker to any device via Bluetooth, is a fairly easy process. The JBL Go can hold on to the connection at distances of up to 3m if there is no obstruction in between.
All in all, the design of the JBL Go is a good mix of the functional and the aesthetic.
Considering its size, people tend to be surprised by the audio performance of the JBL Go but not to an extent where it would be able to compete against the larger, more expensive Bluetooth speakers.
The JBL Go speaker is reasonably loud and the audio output is does not have distortion until about 60 to 70% of the maximum volume level. However, beyond that, there is audible crackling.
Now, in terms of sound quality the JBL Go is most comfortable with genres of music that depend on treble and highs. When it came to acoustic tracks or rock songs without too much instrumentation, the Go was very impressive. On the contrary, the Go disappoints when it comes to genres that rely on bass and quite frankly, if you’ve got a lot of EDM or other club music in your playlist, you won’t get the best out of the Go.
The JBL Go has good battery life and even though the company claims that it’s able to deliver about five hours of continuous playback. The range though, isn’t so great. Without a direct line of sight, the speaker couldn’t be heard around 81 feet away from the source smartphone. Which means that you can only trust the Go speaker to play music without issues when your smartphone is in the same room or a few rooms away.
One song that most speakers this size cannot reproduce properly is Do I Wanna Know by the Arctic Monkeys, especially in the final section of the song where a lot of instruments are layered together. But, the JBL Go did a fairly decent job of separating sounds and all the different instruments are clearly audible. Bernhoft’s C’mon Talk to Me is another great song to test your speakers for mid-range and treble performance, thanks to the use of vocals, percussion which are all layered on top of each other as the song progresses. The JBL Go speaker is really surprising with its tight mid-range sound if you ever happen to play this song.
If you want a Bluetooth speaker to enhance your laptop’s sound, the JBL Go speaker could be the best bet. The mid-range response also ensures that dialogues when you watch movies is clearly audible. Moreover, like most Bluetooth speakers, it fires the sound from only one side and you cannot expect to hear a multidimensional sound. The JBL Go can last at least 5 hours on a single charge, which is not too great but it should suffice for most practical purposes.
The JBL Go is currently available for Rs. 1,699. It’s a good product if you’re looking to buy decent Bluetooth speaker that you can carry around anywhere without issues. However, if you want better audio quality and don’t mind losing out a bit in the portability department, and also don’t mind spending more, then you should look at the Marshall Kilburn.
Hope you found our JBL Go review useful.