Companies making micro-sized Bluetooth speakers have to ensure harmony (pun unintended) between sound, portability, and design. It is a tough task to achieve this but we've seen some really competent products from Logitech and Harman in the recent past. Sporting circular designs, both, the Logitech X100 and Harman's JBL Clip had good sound quality as well.
The JBL Go is Harman's latest micro-sized Bluetooth speaker was announced at CES this year and made it to Indian shores in February. We got to spend some time with it and find out if it is worth the money, even though its price is quite low.
Design and specifications
We've always liked the design of Harman's products, and the JBL Go is no different. It may not have the flair of Red Dot award winners such as the E40BT headphones or the Clip, but the JBL Go's minimalistic boxy design is pleasant in its own way. We got the blue variant for review but the JBL Go is also available in seven other colours: black, red, orange, pink, grey, blue, yellow and teal. The dimensions of 82.50 x 29.95 x 67.91mm mean it will even fit inside a trouser pocket, though the weight of 222g is on the higher side.
Harman has used the same high quality materials on the body of the JBL Go as it does on its other products. The tough plastic has a rubber finish on all edges and the rear. The front consists of a perforated grille through which the sound emanates. The top edge houses the controls for power, Bluetooth, volume up, volume down, and speakerphone. The markings are of the same colour as the body and as are result they are not visible in the dark. Thankfully, they are slightly raised making it easy to feel for them instead.
The 3.5mm 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. It would have been nice if Harman had included a lanyard cable in the box. There are JBL logo in bold orange lettering on the front and rear.
The JBL Go has a single 40mm 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. Pairing the speaker to any device using 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.
As predicted, Jai Paul's Jasmine sounded hollow and empty thanks to the lack of sub-bass sounds. If you are going to listen to new wave EDM artists like Jai Paul and Nicolas Jaar then you can safely avoid the JBL Go because they rely extensively on low thumps.
Having said that, this was only real problem we faced with the performance of the JBL Go. Firstly, it can get really loud for a speaker of its size. In our testing it managed to easily fill up a 200 sq.ft. room with power to spare. Additionally, the mids, highs and the bass sounds above 180Hz are well detailed. We played Avicii's The Night and the thump in bass was clearly audible.
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. However, the JBL Go did a fairly decent job of separating sounds and all the instruments were clearly audible. Bernhoft's C'mon Talk to Me is a great song to check for mid-range and treble performance with thanks to the use of vocals, percussion and hi-hats, which are all layered on top of each other as the song progresses. The JBL Go really surprised us with its tight mid-range sound when we played this song.
If you want a Bluetooth speaker to enhance your laptop's sound, the JBL Go could be the best bet. The good mid-range response ensures that dialogue in movies is clearly audible. Even so, like most Bluetooth speakers, it fires only from one side and one cannot expect to hear a multidimensional sound. The JBL Go can last at least 5 hours on a single charge, which is not great but it should suffice for most practical purposes.
The JBL Go was released at an official price of Rs. 2,990 but it is now available for around Rs. 1,700 on a few e-commerce websites. This puts it directly in competition with the JBL Clip and the Logitech X100 - two other great alternatives in the same price range. The overall sound quality of the JBL Go is definitely better than the Clip but we still think the Logitech X100 is the best-sounding portable Bluetooth speaker of the lot.
Price: Rs. 2,990
Ratings (Out of 5)