The true wireless earbud market is under development, with features such as noise reduction and built-in artificial intelligence that become ready for the course above a specific price point. At the other end of the scale, there are options like the JLab Go Air earbuds, which are part of a growing phalanx of super-cheap true wireless earbuds that skimp on smart features to keep prices below $50/£50. We’ve spent some time with the Go Air True Wireless Earbuds, and we’ve concluded that you get what you pay for when it comes to buying wireless earbuds- but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This is our JLab Go Air Review.
JLab Go Air Review: Design
Available in white, black, khaki green, and navy blue, the JLab Go Air True Wireless Earbuds have a functional design that closely resembles that of the JBuds Air. Just like these buds, the Go Airs click magnetically into their charging case, but a quick look at the case gives you an idea of how JLab managed to keep the price of these buds so low: there is no lid, the buds are exposed to the elements.
Because of the magic of the magnets, the earbuds won’t fall out of their case if you hold them upside down, and we can confirm that a powerful shake won’t shake them out of their case (we can’t promise that if you decide to swing the charging case through the chamber). Although the JLab Go Airs feel safe in their case, the lack of a lid does mean they are exposed to dust or other debris in your bag or bag – you’ll probably have to clean these knobs quite regularly as a result.
The materials also indicate the low price of these earbuds, where everything feels somewhat plastic. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing (especially when you consider that these buds have an IPX4 sweatproof rating, making them suitable to work with), the Go Airs certainly won’t win any design awards. As with the previous JLab models, the charging case has an integrated USB charging cable that sits in a groove at the bottom of the case.
It’s a handy feature that means you don’t have to fight for a cable every time you need to charge, but it’s worth keeping in mind that if that integrated cable breaks, you won’t be able to refill your charging case or your buds. The JLAB Go Airs themselves are a lot smaller than the JBuds Air (20% smaller, to be exact), and come with three sizes of gel earbuds, so you should be able to achieve a good fit. We found them quite comfortable, and they felt safe enough to work with – although the option of adding ear fins wouldn’t be a problem for an extra level of safety.
The outer housings of the earbuds carry the JLab logo, and here you’ll also find the touch-sensitive controls, which you can tap to play and pause your music, skip tracks, change the volume and adjust the sound profile (more on that later). You can also tap the left earbud to call up your phone’s Voice Assistant, whether you’re using Siri or Google Assistant. We found that the controls usually worked well, although they sometimes had trouble registering the difference between two or three taps. In essence, we won’t stop this, however, as it will have to be rectified in the coming weeks (we will certainly test this feature again to verify this).
However, we have no complaints when it comes to connectivity. With Bluetooth 5.0 support, pairing is fast and efficient, and after you initially pair the Go Airs with your device, they automatically connect when you take them out of their cases. A cool feature that ridicules the low price of the JLab Go Airs is the ability to connect the two earbuds independently. It means you can listen with one earpiece while the other stays in the charging case, which can effectively double battery life (if you don’t mind listening with just one ear).
JLab Go Air Review: Performance
The sound quality of the JLab Go Air True Wireless Earbuds leaves a lot to be desired; so, although at this price point, we would not expect audiophile fidelity, it might be worth spending something extra if you want to do your songs justice. Like other JLab headphones, these earbuds support three different equalizers presets: JLab Signature, Balanced, and Bass Boost. JLab Signature boosts high and low frequencies, while Bass Boost boosts only the lowest frequencies. As you can probably guess, Balanced is designed to deliver an even sound without amplifying any one frequency above the others.
Of the three, we generally preferred to listen with the Balanced preset, as we found the mid-tones too submerged in JLab Signature, and the bass frequencies too muddy with Bass Boost. When listening to Little Simz’ Selfish, the maverick rap vocals were prominent enough in the mix, but we found that the bass was extremely muddy, so the mid frequencies were too unclear, and the track sounded somewhat ambiguous.
The outstretched string blossoms, which usually swells beautifully with the melancholic background vocals, sounded subdued and tinny, while the percussion frequently sounded boring. The lighter, lighter sound of the same artists’ 101 FM did better, with a pleasant musicality in the bouncing sine waves, yet the bass overwhelmed just about everything. In both songs, there was a noticeable hissing that clouded the music itself – that hissing is also present when no music is played.
The Beach Boys’ Wouldn’t It Be Nice sounds more elaborate than some of the bassist songs we listened to. Although the JLab Go Airs do not do well in terms of audio fidelity, they convey the character of the song well, with exuberant brass and daring vocal harmonies. When watching the video with these earbuds, there’s a noticeable delay that can get annoying, especially if you want to use the Go Airs for mobile gaming. There is no support for codecs such as aptX Low Latency, which is to be expected at this price point; however, even at less than $30/£30, these earbuds are too sneaky to recommend for video.
JLab Go Air Review: Battery Life
Again, when it comes to battery life, you get what you pay for with the JLab Go Airs. You get 15 hours of battery life from the charging case and up to five hours of playtime from the earbuds alone. That’s at the bottom end of the range for true wireless earbuds, though it’s no worse than the Apple AirPods, which offer a total of around 24 hours. We thought the claimed battery life was about right when listening to a mix of music and podcasts at medium volume.
Price and Availability
The JLab Go Air True Wireless Earbuds only cost $29/£29. That’s remarkably cheap for a pair of true wireless earbuds. For the context, the new Go Airs $20 are less expensive than even the brand’s previous budget model, the JBuds Air, which we awarded four out of five stars in our review. However, it’s when you compare them to our current favorite true wireless earbuds that you get a true sense of how cheap the new JLab earbuds are: the Sony WF-1000XM3’s cost $230/£220/AU$400, so the Go Airs come in for a fraction of that price.
JLab Go Air Review: Conclusion
The big takeaway of a few days with the JLab Go Air True Wireless Earbuds is that, as we suggested, you get what you pay for. These are certainly not suitable for audiophiles looking for great sound, or gamers looking for low latency Bluetooth connections – but we can’t ignore that extraordinarily low price. The advent of true wireless earbuds for less than $30/£30 means that the once-expensive form factor is suddenly accessible to more people than ever before. Are you looking for a cheap pair of true wireless earbuds for your kids? The JLab Go Airs could be the way to go.
They can even make a right choice if you just want a pair of earbuds wireless earbuds in your bag, in case you run out of battery for your best headphones on the go, or if you want a budget-friendly pair for camping or going to a festival, so you don’t have to worry about losing your prized Sony WH-1000XM3s.
The JLab Go Airs usher in a new era of truly affordable, true wireless earplugs. They are so cheap that they can make a good pair of 'backup' buds to store in your bag and forget about until your main earbuds' battery runs out.
- Amazing price
- Good connectivity
- IPX5 sweatproof rating
- Poor audio quality