JLab GO Air review

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Busybodies rarely have time to fiddle with half-baked features, which is why the JLab GO Air has made an impression among the utilitarian crowd. As the name implies, these true wireless earphones are for listeners constantly on the go. For $30, you can’t go wrong, but let’s cover the pros and cons before hopping on the GO Air bandwagon.

Editor’s note: this JLab GO Air review was updated on July 8, 2020, to address a customer service and warranty-related question in the FAQ section.

Who should get the JLab GO Air?

A photo of the JLab GO Air cheap true wireless earbuds being removed from the charging case.

The open charging case looks cool, but the internal magnets aren’t strong enough to ensure the earbuds stay in place.

  • Listeners on a budget should get the GO Air because they’re some of the best ~$25 true wireless earbuds you can buy. They’re durable, have a nifty USB charging cable integrated into the case, and have touch controls.
  • Athletes may want to snag these earbuds because they’re IP44-rated, and can handle all sorts of sports from rock climbing to running. Plus, they’re uniquely affordable; if they do break outside of the two-year warranty, it won’t be too devastating to replace.

How are the JLab GO Air built?

A photo of the JLab GO Air cheap true wireless earbuds with the earbuds outside of the case on a mulch pile, almost obscured by leaves in the foreground.

The IP44 rating means the earbuds can resist both dust and water to varying degrees.

Just like the JLab JBuds series, the JLab GO Air is all plastic from the charging case to the earbuds. While it may not be the most eye catching, it to reduces the cost and weight of the headset. Each earbud has an angled nozzle protruding from it; these are large in diameter, and may prove uncomfortable for listeners with small ear canals.

A graphic depicting the JLab GO Air onboard touch controls whereby each earbud has a designated function.

JLab The left and right earbuds have designated controls.

A touch-capacitive pane on each bud is easy to operate, and allows users to control virtually anything without removing their phones. Each earbud panel has different controls that take a moment to memorize, but the relatively steep learning curve is worth it. Commands aren’t registered 100% of the time, which I’ve experienced with other JLab products too.

While the IP44 rating means the earphones are durable, they’re not impervious to scratches. The case’s always-open design looks unique and makes it easy to grab the earbuds, but isn’t very protective. I dropped it a couple of times by accident, and some plastic chipped from the edges. The magnets aren’t strong enough to hold the earbuds in place, so I ended up scuffing the touch panels too.

The GO Air earbuds are great for listeners looking for just the bare necessities.

On the bottom of the case is JLab’s famed integrated USB charging cable, featured in all of its true wireless products to date. This means you can charge the case from anywhere without fiddling around with a separate charging cable. While I was initially skeptical of its durability, JLab claims to have tested this component to withstand 10,000 bends before showing signs of wear.

Connection strength is good

A photo of the JLab GO Air cheap true wireless earbuds on top of a rain jacket with one bud in the case and another outside of it for mono listening.

The GO Air supports mono listening, which is great when listening outside.

While these buds are extremely cheap for the true wireless category, JLab didn’t skimp on the wireless technology. They use Bluetooth 5.0, and the same proprietary Dual Connect technology as the more premium JLab JBuds Air Icon and JBuds Air. Effectively, this works similarly to Qualcomm’s TrueWireless Stereo Plus, and creates an individual connection to each earbud, yielding fewer connection stutters. Bluetooth multipoint isn’t supported, but that would be pretty remarkable if it was included here.

As far as high-quality Bluetooth codecs are concerned, the Go Air supports AAC and SBC exclusively. This means iPhone users can stream high-quality audio with consistency, but Android still struggles with the AAC wireless codec depending on which device you use. This is ultimately okay, though, because auditory masking proves a greater problem than on-par codec support. There’s only so much you can demand of $30 earbuds.

How to pair the JLab GO Air

In order to initiate pairing the JLab GO Air with your smartphone, remove both earbuds from the case. This action will make the LED indicator on each bud flash white and blue. Enable the Bluetooth function on your device and select JLab GO Air.

Related: Best AirPods alternatives

To perform a manual reset of the GO Air, keep the earbuds in the charging case and remove the JLab GO Air from your phone’s Bluetooth devices. Then tap on earbud in the charging case seven times, until the LED blinks blue three times. Do the same tapping on the other earbud. Afterwards, you can remove both earbuds from the case, and one LED will be a solid white color, while the other will blink blue and white. You’re now ready to re-try the pairing process.

How long does the battery last?

The earbuds lasted 4 hours, 5 minutes in our 75dB battery test, and the case itself supplies three extra charge cycles. Quick charging is also supported: 15 minutes in the case yields an hour of listening. This isn’t nearly as impressive as what we’ve seen from the likes of Anker SoundCore, but it’s better than nothing (and matches the rate of the more premium JLab JBuds Air Icon rapid charge feature). The case takes two hours to fully charge, while the earbuds take 1.5 hours to fully charge. This is fairly slow, but again: these are just $30—more premium components will be more expensive to manufacture.

The JLab GO Air don’t sound amazing, but that’s okay

A chart depicting the JLab GO Air true wireless earbuds frequency response that heavily amplifies sub-bass and bass notes, making it difficult to perceive vocals and harmonic detail.

Bass notes are 2-3 times louder with the JLab GO Air than they’re engineered to sound.

It’s important to keep realistic expectations when purchasing a pair of cheap earbuds. While the GO Air does afford some premium features and a durable build, the fact remains that corners have to be cut to keep the price down.

JLab’s products tend to loosely target ISO226:2003, which is an attempt at reproducing each note at the same perceived loudness (as opposed to all sounds at the same pressure). The problem with this tuning is that it assumes the audio engineers didn’t apply some kind of corrective engineering to the original recordings. By also tuning the GO Air to follow this curve, it could theoretically further amplify what are presumably properly-mixed bass notes. This kind of frequency response can result in some issues.

Bass notes are 2-3 times louder than midrange notes; the latter is where the fundamental frequencies of most instruments fall. Unfortunately, this means auditory masking can potentially make your music sound worse than it should, for example: making it sound like songs are lacking clarity, when it’s really the fault of the cheap dynamic drivers. The sound is perfectly fine for the price though, and to be expected. Plus, if you’re coming from super cheap gas station buds, you may even find this to be a good upgrade.

A chart depicting the JLab GO Air true wireless earbuds isolation performance: low frequencies are blocked out a little bit, but can't compete with noise cancelling technology.

Passive isolation is pretty good if you can find the proper ear tips.

Isolation is very good if you’re able to maintain the seal. If reviewing earbuds has taught me anything, it’s that I subconsciously move my ears a lot. Some ear tips and large-diameter nozzles lose their seal easier than others, and that’s the case for the JLab GO Air. That said, when I was able to achieve a proper fit, background noise was blocked out substantially and made very difficult to hear when music was playing. JLab doesn’t provide nearly as many ear tips with the GO Air as it does with its more premium options, which makes sense, so you may have to look into third-party ear tips.

Lows, mids, and highs

The song Save Myself by VINCENT begins with an upbeat chord progression on a bass guitar as VINCENT vocalizes the first verse. By nature of the emphatically emphasized low-end, it’s immediately apparent how the bass makes it hard to hear any vocal notes once the kick drum enters at 0:19.

As VINCENT sings, “Maybe we could fix this,” the breathlessness of his voice is audible (0:30). If you skip ahead to the chorus, even the fundamental notes as he sings the word “myself” are lost while enunciating -self. While it’s common for vocalists to drop the last sounds of a given word, this is the fault of the dynamic drivers rendering VINCENT’s harmonic resonances nearly imperceptible, a shame. The headphones have a fine sound for commuting and working out, but shouldn’t be used with the expectation of accurate audio.

Bassheads won’t mind this sound and will likely embrace it, but for most listeners, the heavy-handed bass will become tiring. I did, however, appreciate it when exercising.

The microphones are fine for phone calls

A chart depicting the JLab GO Air true wireless earbuds microphone frequency response, limited to the human voice band; speakers will sound distant or echoey when using this headset.

The microphone system relays speech intelligibility well, but fails to accurately transmit a speaker’s voice.

Each earbud has a microphone, which is great because it means you can use either bud for mono listening and still accept calls. That said, microphone quality leaves quite a bit to be desired as it heavily attenuates low frequencies while retaining accurate reproduction from 600Hz and higher. JLab prioritized speech intelligibility over vocal accuracy. The emphatic low-end de-emphasis results in a “hollow” or “distant” sound.

JLab GO Air microphone demo:


While I wouldn’t recommend this headset for long professional calls, the mic system is perfectly fine for quick, casual use. I will say, my mother wasn’t a huge fan of how I sounded with these earbuds, but she’s a great critic of embedded systems. Speaking outside with these earbuds is a nightmare as wind noise is overwhelming to the person on the other line.

How does the JLab GO Air compare to other true wireless headsets?

The JLab GO Air earbuds don’t have much in the way of comparably priced competitors, but here are a few comparisons that are bound to be made by those shopping around.

JLab GO Air vs. JLab JBuds Air Icon

A picture of the JLab JBuds Air Icon, a more expensive version of the JLab GO Air, true wireless earbuds worn by a woman looking to the left of the frame.

The JBuds Air Icon housings aren’t nearly as large as the original JBud Air, making them easy to wear for more than an hour at a time.

Both the JLab JBuds Air Icon and GO Air are economical headsets, but the latter is much more affordable than the former. The GO Air earbuds and case are more portable than the JBuds Air Icon, but that’s at the expense of battery life. What’s more, the more expensive variant affords greater durability—IP55 compared to IP44. The Air Icon case is also more protective than the GO Air because of the closed design.

Related: best cheap true wireless earbuds

Neither headset sounds great, but you get a more accurate sound with the JBuds Air Icon memory foam ear tips. They don’t create a suction-like seal to the ear and are much more comfortable for extended listening sessions. The biggest factor when considering these headsets is the case: I reached into my bag with the GO Air only to realize one or both buds were knocked out of the case, something that never happened with the JBuds Air Icon’s closed lid.

JLab GO Air vs. Anker SoundCore Liberty Neo

A picture of the Anker SoundCore Liberty Neo true wireless earbuds atop a brown paper bag; thes are pricier than the JLab GO Air.

The Liberty Neo earphones are some of the best $40 you can spend on true wireless tech.

The Anker SoundCore Liberty Neo costs $10 more than the JLab GO Air, and the buds are more impervious to water damage: IPX7 compared to IP44. Passive isolation is fabulous, especially for a set of cheap in-ears, but this comes at the expense of feeling the earbuds’ seals place a great deal of pressure on the ear canal openings. Sound quality is more neutral-leaning than with JLab’s earphones but not by much: bass notes are still exaggerated, subjecting music to auditory masking. The microphone array makes voices sound a bit more natural than the GO Air mics, but it’s basically a wash.

Should you buy the JLab GO Air?

A photo of the JLab GO Air cheap true wireless earbuds sitting atop the charging case; punch cards are nearby for a size comparison.

Listeners can control virtually everything directly from the touch panels.

The JLab GO Air are the utilitarian’s earbuds, and are definitely worth picking up. Listeners who want something affordable that does plenty of things well enough should get these buds. Sound quality isn’t the best but you can always tame the bass response by cycling through JLab’s EQ presets. The integrated charging cable is a feature that I’ve grown quite fond of over the years, and something I’m happy to see included here. Anyone who wants a more technologically impressive pair of true wireless headphones will have to ramp up their budgets.

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