JLab audio is less popular in the mainstream but is a fairly longstanding and well established American audio company. They’ve garnered good reputation for their decent headphones at competitive prices as well as their industry leading product warranty and support.
The GO Air Pop is a highly regarded budget wireless earbud, earning a spot in many best-of lists including our own. The GO Air Sport is very similar, save for the obvious exception of its distinct tendril like earhooks. A lot of people ask: are they different in more ways than that? Is one objectively better than the other? I have reviewed them both, and those are the questions I’m going to answer in this comparison article.
JLab GO Air Pop vs GO Air Sport Side by Side at a Glance
What Are the Main Differences Between the JLab GO Air Pop and GO Air Sport?
Fit security – most decent wireless earbuds can reliably stay in place with just a good seal from the tips, and the GO Air Pop is perfectly adequate there, but the GO Air Sport has the added ear hooks which all but guarantee that there is no way they can possibly fall off. That extra fit security is good peace of mind for more intense active use, like snowboarding or kayaking for example, where a dropped headphone would likely get lost forever.
Weatherproofing – the GO Air Pop has IPX4 certification, meaning it is water resistant up to moderate splashing, which is fine for basic active use like going to the gym. The GO Air Sport, however, has a double digit IP55 certification, which protects it against both water (up to pressurized jets) and dust infiltration. The GO Air sport is truly designed for durability with harsher outdoor/active use.
Tip Style – the GO Air Pop and GO Air Sport have slightly different tips and nozzles that hold them, but I don’t think that either could be objectively better than the other.
Rapid Partial Recharging – the GO Air Sport has an advertised quick partial recharge feature while the GO Air Pop does not, specifying that 15 minutes in the case will give the Sport earbuds an extra hour of juice. But mathematically that charge speed isn’t actually better than the full charge speed of either earbuds (2 hours of charging for full 8 hour capacity works out to about 1 hour of use per 15 minutes of charging). Furthermore, charge speed of a battery is not linear, but exponentially decays, meaning the fuller a battery gets the slower the remainder of it recharges. Point being: I don’t think this advertised feature is going to be significant.
Does the JLab GO Air Pop or the GO Air Sport Have Better Fit and Comfort?
I was able to achieve a solid fit and seal with both, but I do think the GO Air Pop fit is slightly better and more comfortable than the GO Air Sport fit. The GO Air Pop has a slightly firmer and deeper feeling seal that I tend to prefer. The GO Air Sport fit is more restricted, mainly because the added ear hooks are so big and also non malleable or adjustable. There’s a chance the GO Air Sport might create hot spots or just not fit properly if you happen to have an ear shape that doesn’t work well with it. The GO Air Sport is also kind of a hassle to put on, and definitely interferes with the temples of a pair of glasses if you’re wearing them.
Are the Headphone Components of the JLab GO Air Pop and GO Air Sport Actually Different?
From the outside the earbud case of the GO Air Pop and GO Air Sport look basically identical, and they in fact have the same basic design and specs: same single 6mm dynamic driver, same firmware with the same three EQ presets, same Bluetooth version and codec, and the same purported response and loudness figures. The only difference between the GO Air Pop and GO Air Sport hardware is that the GO Air Sport has a slightly bigger battery, but the purported battery capacity of the latter is still the same as the former. I think it’s safe to say that, from a sonic perspective, the actual hardware of these two products is basically the same.
Does the JLab GO Air Pop or the GO Air Sport Sound Better?
It’s reasonable to think that two earbuds with the same specs and hardware will effectively sound the same, but that isn’t necessarily the case – even slight differences in style and fit thusly can significantly change the sound of any pair of headphones.
That said, I went back and forth between the two several times and I think they probably sound the same. I felt like the GO Air Pop maybe had very slightly better detail and tone, but I’d probably chalk that up to a placebo effect since I prefer their fit.
Which Should You Choose Between the JLab GO Air Pop or GO Air Sport?
I would say there’s no objective overall winner here – they are both great products and the better choice of the two will be situational and personal.
The GO Air Sport is designed for a very specific purpose: to remain durable in more extreme conditions and to make the chances of your earbuds accidentally falling out effectively zero. If you’re looking for something that will be reliable with more intense active use while not being expensive, then the GO Air Sport is, at the time of this writing/update, probably the best choice. And if it unluckily just doesn’t fit you right you can always return or exchange it.
The GO Air Pop is better suited for more common everyday use – it’s comfortable, more compact, easy to put on and take off, and very inexpensive. It’s got a spot on our best-of list for budget earbuds and is an excellent choice for people who want something decent for about as cheap as possible.
Get the GO Air Pop wireless earbuds on Amazon (affiliate link)
Get the GO Air Sport wireless earbuds on Amazon (affiliate link)