JLab Go Air Sport review: Low-cost sports buds with big bass
Specifications JLab Go Air Sport
Colors: graphite; green; light blue; sand; teal; yellow
Battery life (nominal): 8 hours (ANC); 32 hours (charging case)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1
Water resistance: Yes (IP55 rated)
Cut: 1.38 x 1.0 x 2.0 (earbud estimated)
Weight: 0.2 ounce (per bud); 1.5 ounces (charging case)
The all-new JLab Go Air Sport is a notable sporty addition to the budget wireless earphone market, delivering bass-heavy sound with an ergonomic, water-resistant design aimed at runners.
JLab’s low-cost business model might raise skepticism among budget-conscious shoppers. However, their reputation as a credible headphone maker has not only made the brand an Amazon darling, but also a bargain favorite. Well-reviewed models like the $99 Epic Air Sport ANC and the $20 Go Air Pop can attest to that.
While these buds fetch more than their MSRP suggests, owners have to accept several shortcomings. Read our full JLab Go Air Sport review to see why it’s still one of the best cheap running headphones.
JLab Go Air Sport review: Price and availability
You can purchase the JLab Go Air Sport exclusively through JLab. It comes in six colors, including graphite, green, light blue, sand, teal, and yellow. Inside the box are a charging case with built-in charging cable, three sets of different sized ear tips, and a two-year warranty.
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JLab Go Air Sport review: Design and comfort
- Designed for intense workouts
- Optimum fit
- The charging case is long, but light and thin
Headphones designed for ear hooks are not something new. Beats popularized them with the iconic Powerbeats line, which perfectly translated into the true wireless Powerbeats Pro. JLab then released several models in the Air Sport and Sport series that copy the same look. The Go Air Sport offers a secure fit and modest comfort for hour-long workouts.
The build quality is one of its main selling points. Sturdy plastic combined with IP55 sweat and water resistance make it a well-protected package. Even the most expensive AirPods Pro (IPX4) can’t match the moisture protection of the Go Air Sport. The buds will not crack or scratch when dropped to the ground either.
The charging case is a bit long, but slim enough to fit perfectly in your front shirt pocket. It won’t take up space in your gym bag and is lightweight at 1.5 ounces. The magnets are also strong to keep the buds locked while charging. We are still waiting for JLab to confirm if the case is also water resistant.
JLab Go Air Sport review: Controls and digital assistant
- Tactile precision is not there
- Supports the big three digital assistants
JLab does something I’ve only seen done with more expensive wireless headphones, namely programming a full suite of media controls into the Go Air Sport. These controls include playback, call handling, volume, digital assistance, and activating the equalizer. Controls are also split between buds and assigned to different input methods (single/multiple tap and long hold). JLab gets an A for effort, but a C- for execution due to poor tactile bud detection. Performing the same input method multiple times before the touch sensors recognize the desired command becomes frustrating.
The lack of motion detection for auto-pause/play when removing or placing the headphones on your ears also hampers the user experience.
If you’re someone who likes to use Siri, Google Assistant or Bixby for voice commands, then the Go Air Sport can serve you well. The mics aren’t quite as intelligible as what you’ll find on AirPods or cheap rivals like the Skullcandy Grind Fuel, but they’ll understand inquiries well enough for AI bots to work their magic.
JLab Go Air Sport review: Sound quality
- Deep bass
- Programmed equalizers are random
JLab is known for its accented bass sound, and the Go Air Sport sticks to the sound formula. The audio has been slightly tuned to give more brilliance to the mids. JLab’s sound profile attempts to do the same for the treble, but it fails miserably.
Three EQs (Signature, Balanced, and Bass Boost) are programmed into these buds. They’re not the best, but at least you get some kind of sound customization, which is more than what most sub-$30 models offer.
Signature is the default and the best of the trio. You’ll get a decent mix of crisp mids and punchy lows, something I’ve experienced when working with hip-hop bangers like Method Man & Redman’s “Da Rockwilder”. The track’s propelling bass boosted my energy level on 5K tracks, although the 808 effects did create some distortion. Better performances were achieved on rock tracks like Green Day’s “Warning,” where the circular guitar riff and infectious bassline were muted, but still punchy.
There’s no companion app, or additional features aside from equalizers. You can download JLab’s audio burning tool from the App store Where google play. Since the jury is still out on whether playing hours of audio through headphones can effectively adjust the sonic signature, I’d advise sticking with the Signature EQ.
Headphones struggle to isolate external sound. Expect most of what’s happening around you to enter the soundscape, possibly disrupting workouts.
JLab Go Air Sport review: Battery life and charging case
- More play time than most luxury models
- The charging system is problematic
Branded staples like Epic Air Sport ANC (11 hours with ANC on) and Go Air Pop (8 hours) stand out as playtime leaders at their respective price points. The Go Air Sport delivers with them, generating up to 8 hours on a single charge. You can do a week of practice and still have an hour or two for casual listening. I was satisfied with the four days of moderate use (2 hours per day) provided before recharging.
Fully powered, the charging case can hold up to 32 hours. Do the math and that’s four extras at your disposal. That’s more portable power than any Jabra or Beats charging case.
Unfortunately, JLab makes charging this thing impractical. The built-in USB cable, a cool and unique feature that has been a big draw on JLab headphones in the past, is outdated and requires a USB port to charge. At a time when every other wireless headphone maker is moving to USB-C charging, it’s time for JLab to upgrade its charging system.
Fast charging isn’t available, nor is wireless charging, but neither should be considered a deal-breaker.
JLab Go Air Sport review: Call quality and connectivity
- Will suffice when you’re in a pinch
- Strong connectivity
Many $30 wireless headphones make terrible call headsets. The Go Air Sport stands out from the crowd by delivering above average results, as long as conversations take place in quiet environments. All calls I have taken inside the house have been met with positive feedback. The quality went down when talking outside. The microphones picked up a lot of ambient noise and wind, but even with these disturbances, the woman could understand my words.
The Go Air Sport produces solid connectivity. Bluetooth 5.1 is at the helm and establishes a higher range (40 feet) than what JLab advertises on the product page (30 feet). It’s good enough to jump from one side of the house to the other without any stalls. Pairing is simple, with the headphones automatically connecting to recognized devices. There’s even a Dual Connect mode to use the headphones independently.
JLab Go Air Sport review: Verdict
For $30, the JLab Go Air Sport is worth the purchase. The front-to-bass profile will boost energy levels, plus the stable fit and battery life make these earphones ideal for exercise enthusiasts who want decent performance on a budget.
The low MSRP means you’ll have to deal with a lot of compromises. These include lackluster highs, unreliable controls, and an inconvenient charging system. Spending a few more bucks on the $99 Epic Air Sport ANC gets you more bang for your buck, but the Go Air Sport accomplishes what it needs for the price: long playtimes and reasonably good sound.