If you go into any electronic store or supermarket which sells Bluetooth speakers, you can be sure that you find the JBL Go on the shelves.
This is the small, cheap and very popular speaker of the JBL.
Something that you choose if you need a last minute speaker for your camping or holiday.
However, is it really a good choice?
Let’s find this out in this in-depth JBL Go ultra-portable speaker review.
It comes in a small transparent box with a micro USB cable included.
- 60 feet
- 70% volume: 5 hours 50 minutes
- Maximum volume: 2 hours 30 minutes
- No water protection
- Good built quality
- Long Bluetooth range
- Weak bass, missing deeper lows
- Short battery life
- No battery indicator
JBL Go Review Video
The JBL Go is a small and lightweight speaker with a minimalist, boxy design.
It is solid and well-built, the materials are nice, it does not feel cheap in hand, so it won’t disappoint you when you take it off from the box.
It got nothing interesting in terms of design, however, I still like it, it gives a bit of retro feeling.
The JBL Go is one of the smallest speakers on the market, something which easily fits into your palm or pocket.
The form is classic, however, if you would like to have something extreme and youthful, it is available in several vivid and bright colors.
The speaker can be bought in eight different colors: black, blue, gray, orange, pink, red, teal, yellow, so everyone can find the color they like.
On the front, you can find the metal speaker grille with the JBL logo painted on it.
While the other parts of the speaker are covered by a matt finished rubberized plastic.
There are five buttons placed on the top of the speaker: the Power, the Bluetooth pairing, the Volume up/down and the Phone button.
They are not real buttons only carved markings with matching color so it can be hard to use them especially in low light conditions, except the volume control buttons, which are slightly raised from the plane of the speaker.
On the right side, there are the charging port, audio input jack, and the microphone pinhole.
The ports are not covered, so the speaker does not have any water protection.
On the left side, there is a loop, what you can use to attach a carabiner or a lanyard to the speaker, however, none of them was included in the box.
How to setup
The speaker has an indicator LED on the top, under the speaker grille.
If the speaker has not been paired to any device yet it starts automatically in pairing mode, the LED light is blinking in blue and the device is discoverable, you can easily find it with your phone or computer.
However, if you want to connect a second device then you have to switch the speaker manually to pairing mode.
You can do this by quickly pressing the Bluetooth button.
Till you pair your second device, I suggest turning off the Bluetooth on your first device otherwise the speaker will automatically connect to it and quit from pairing mode.
If the connection was successful, the speaker plays a quick confirmation sound.
When your devices are paired then you do not have to care about the connection anymore, they will automatically connect if you turn the speaker on.
If you have a problem with the speaker, you can reset it back to the initial state by pressing the Bluetooth and the volume up buttons simultaneously until the speaker turns off.
Limited Music Control
The JBL Go has limited music control capability which means you can play/pause the music by pressing the Phone button and you can jump to the next song by double pressing it.
However, it is not possible to go back to the previously played song or forward/backward in a song.
This is okay, usually, the speakers provide these music control capabilities in this category.
Since the speaker has a built-in microphone it can be used as a speakerphone to answer phone calls.
The JBL Go got a 600mAh lithium-ion battery and according to the manufacturer it lasts up to 5 hours and it takes 1.5 hours to fully charge it.
In my test, when I tested the speaker with various types of songs, I got 2 hours 30 minutes playtime on full volume and 6 hours 50 minutes on 70% volume, so the JBL GO provides what it promises.
When the battery level is low, the LED of the speaker turns to red and start blinking, however, it does not have any other battery level indicator, so it cannot tell you, how much battery percentage remained.
In my outdoor test, I measured around 60 feet Bluetooth range, which is good, longer than the average in this category.
So you will not have connectivity problems with the speaker in everyday usage.
JBL Go Sound Test
Under the hood, a single 40mm driver provides the audio.
It has 3W output power and provides sounds in the 180Hz-20kHz frequency range.
In terms of sound quality, it produces a surprisingly clear sound, there are not too many distortions even on full volume.
The volume level is absolutely enough to fill a smaller room.
Despite its size, you do not feel the music to be boxy, the mids and the highs are nice and clear, it is good to listen to the speaker.
However, as its frequency range foreshadowed, the bass of the JBL Go is very weak and the deeper lows are completely missing, so some songs can sound empty and lifeless on the speaker.
Overall, the JBL Go will not disappoint you, despite its size and price it can provide an enjoyable audio experience.
The speaker does not feel cheap in hand, it seems well-built and sturdy.
In terms of the size and weight, it is really the speaker I would put into my pocket and carry a whole day without a problem.
However, for your money, you get a decent but only a basic speaker without any plus features.
You will not get water protection, outstanding battery life or an SD card reader.
So if your budget allows it might worth to pay some more bucks for a more advanced speaker.
Good built quality
Long Bluetooth range
Weak bass, missing deeper lows
The most obvious alternative of the speaker is its newer model the JBL Go 2.
The Go 2 has a more stylish premium look and it got a full water protection.
The sound quality of the two models are really similar but the Go 2 is more expensive.
If you are on a budget, one alternative could be the AmazonBasics portable speaker, which is not that portable as the JBL Go and was made from cheap materials, however, it costs even less and provides a similar sound.
Another strong contender is the Anker Soundcore Mini, which has a similar size and price but has an SD card reader and built-in FM radio as plus features.
It also has a stronger battery life and better sound than the JBL Go.
How does it compare to other speakers
JBL Go vs JBL Go 2
The JBL Go 2 has an updated look with curved, smooth edges and a metallic look, which fits well into your hand and feels more premium.
The other main improvement of the newer model that it got an IPX7 water protection, which means it is completely waterproof, it can be submerged into 1-meter-deep water for 30 minutes.
It has a slightly longer, 70 feet Bluetooth range.
Its battery life is also a slightly better, at 70% volume it can play music for 6 hours 40 minutes, while at maximum volume level for 3 hours 30 minutes.
However, it is more expensive and it does not have a loop, so it is not possible to attach a lanyard to it.
In terms of sound quality, the two models are pretty similar.
The Go 2 has a slightly bigger sound and a more pronounced bass, however, the difference is not significant.
You can check my detailed comparison of the two speakers here: JBL Go vs JBL Go 2 comparison review
JBL Go vs Sony SRS-XB10
The Sony SRS-XB10 is the portable, outdoor speaker of the Sony.
It is a more advanced speaker than the JBL Go, it got an IPX5 water protection, so it is splash-proof, it can be used as a shower speaker.
To improve its portability, it has a detachable strap which can be used to hang the speaker or attach it to a backpack.
As a plus it has an NFC chip which makes the pairing process easier, however it has a shorter 20 feet Bluetooth range.
The XB10 has a much longer 15 hours battery life compared to the 6 hours 30 minutes of the JBL Go, so it has almost three times longer battery life.
In terms of sound, it has a stronger, punchier bass but it distorts quite often and its highs are a bit too muddy compared to the Go.
You can check my detailed comparison of the two speakers here: JBL Go vs Sony SRS-XB10 - The Ultimate Comparison
JBL Go vs JBL Clip 2
The Clip 2 is the bigger brother of the Go, with an improved sound and water protection.
In terms of Bluetooth range, the Go is far superior compared to the Clip 2 with its 60 feet range versus the 20 feet of the Clip 2.
However, the Clip 2 has a much better battery life, while it provides 13 hours 20 minutes playtime at 70% volume the Go provides only 5 hours 50 minutes.
Regarding the sound quality, they have a quite similar sound, the Clip 2 has slightly more low and better treble so it sounds more spacious compared to the Go.
You can check my detailed comparison of the two speakers here: JBL Clip 2 vs JBL Go comparison
JBL Go vs AmazonBasics (BSK30) portable speaker
The AmazonBasics is a bigger speaker, however, it is still cheaper than the Go.
It does not have a so good build quality as the Go, it was mainly built from cheap, hard plastic.
The AmazonBasics has a very limited music control capability, you can only pause/play a song.
It has a shorter 33 feet Bluetooth range, however, it has a longer 12 hours 30 minutes battery life at 70% volume.
Comparing the sound of the two speakers, the AmazonBasics is louder and has a bigger sound with more bass and deeper lows.
However, the JBL Go has better highs and a more natural overall sound.
The AmazonBasics is too noisy and harsh sometimes.
You can check my detailed comparison of the two speakers here: AmazonBasics vs JBL Go – The two budget speakers.
Transducer: 1 x 40mm
Rated power: 3.0W
Frequency response: 180Hz – 20kHz
Signal-to-noise ratio: ≥80dB
Battery type: Lithium-ion polymer (3.7V, 600mAh)
Battery charge time: 1.5 hour
Dimensions (H x W x D): 68.3 x 82.7 x 30.8 (mm)