JLab GO Air Review – Still the Best Ultra Budget Wireless Earbuds?

Written by Pete Anthony

JLab GO Air case and earbuds

The GO Air earbuds are a very interesting product now – they are ancient by TWS standards, and should be long gone and obscure like most of the earbuds that came out more than four years ago are, yet the GO Air still remains quite popular. JLab continues to sell them at a discount, and they are currently about as cheap as TWS earbuds possibly get.

It’s also interesting for me to review these now – the TWS market is still young and evolving fast, and things have significantly improved in the five years since the GO Air came out. Yet there it still remains on the best sellers lists on Amazon and the like. I was definitely curious to see how the GO Air actually holds up to the current competition.

JLab GO Air Specs and Features

Released: Sep, 2018
Price-point budget: around $30 or less
value: around $30-$60
performance: around $60-$100
premium: around $100-$200
elite more than $200
: budget
Purported battery life: 5h earbuds; 20h total with case recharges
Bluetooth version: 5.0
Weatherproofing: IP44
EQ app compatibility: No
Active noise cancellation: No
Transparency mode: No
Auto play/pause sensors: No
Onboard controls: Touch based
Multipoint 2+ device support: No
Wireless charging: No
Warranty: 2 years

JLab GO Air box

box on arrival
JLab GO Air included accessories

out of the box
JLab GO Air earbud front and back

earbud front and back
JLab GO Air earbud tip and nozzle

tip and nozzle

JLab GO Air Charging Case

JLab GO Air charging case front

JLab GO Air charging case bottom

JLab GO Air charging case top inside

The obvious omission here is that there’s no lid. It’s not a common design – and maybe the GO Air was the first to do it – but there are other lidless TWS products. The marketing angle is that it makes popping the buds in and out of the case as seamless and easy as possible, and also that it makes the case thinner and lighter.

The GO Air case might have been slim and light by 2018 standards when it first came out, but now the case is somewhat bulky and heavy. It is very sturdy feeling though, and even the upper edges take a lot of force to give into a squeeze.

I don’t really see the “no lid” appeal at all – it doesn’t really actually save time and effort (how hard is popping a lid open and closed honestly), and having the buds exposed like that while in a a bag or a pocket just makes me feel uneasy. Yea the magnets are pretty strong, and yea these are less than $20, but I still don’t want to worry about my earbuds getting dinged.

A cool feature that this and all the other JLab cases have from what I can tell is the built-in USB charging cable. So, no need to worry about a separate extra cable. But it is really short, and you’re pretty much hosed if the case wire somehow breaks.

JLab GO Air Fit and Comfort

JLab GO Air earbud in ear fit

how to wear the JLab GO Air earbuds

The GO Air fit is comfortable and 100% secure – the seal didn’t break at all no matter how I moved any part of my head around. I did however notice that the tips make a peculiarly fair bit of noise if they contort at all. The tips are somewhat thin, stiff, and nonmalleable, and I noticed if the sides were depressed enough the tip would audibly “pop” out of shape. I opted for the large sized tips and the fit that felt right, for me, was on the shallow side.

JLab GO Air Isolation

It’s not surprising that a cheap-as-possible true wireless earbud from 2018 wouldn’t have active noise cancellation, as that was pretty much limited to only premium tier products not all that long ago. But, the natural isolation of the GO Air is actually quite decent, and better than average I feel. Plenty good enough for basic commuter use.

Relevant reading: what is the difference between isolation and active noise cancellation?

JLab GO Air Controls

The GO Air has a touch control schematic that has all of the basic expected functions: volume, play/pause, tracking, etc. The controls were responsive and reliable for me, and I didn’t have any “misses” as long as I was reasonably emphatic enough with my touches. There’s no beep or any other indicator that a touch was registered.

All in all the control schematic is perfectly decent for a cheap five year old TWS pair of earbuds, and honestly still better than a lot of current 2023 TWS products.

JLab GO Air Test: Does It Sound Good?

Preliminary note: this page explains how I evaluate the sound quality of headphones and earbuds.

The GO Air sounds OK – not particularly great, but very much passable for basic use. The GO Air has three EQ pre-sets to choose from but the JLab Signature mode sounds the best by far for music and everything else frankly. It’s the same pre-set that’s used in many of JLab’s other newer products, but it sounds noticeably worse, and has obviously been improved upon in JLab’s subsequent products. The balance is skewed way towards the bass, to the degree that there’s enough upward bleeding that the rest of the sound feels kind of murky and underwater. The accuracy is more or less fine, but there’s a fair bit of hissyness and sibilance that’s somewhat harsh. There’s also some audible hiss from the Bluetooth feedback, which is reminiscent of all the budget Bluetooth headphones and earbuds that came out circa 2019-2020.

My subjective gut feeling sound quality tier grade is: C

Final Verdict: Is the JLab GO Air Worth Buying Still?

The GO Air manages to hold up impressively well despite being five years old now, and it’s a perfectly fine cheap-as-possible option for those who want that. But, it’s hard to recommend when there are newer products that are not much more money that sound noticeably better and have significantly more battery life, including none other than JLab’s newer GO Air Pop, which is a fantastic budget pair of TWS earbuds, arguably even the best one at the time of this writing. And the case has an added lid too. I would recommend just paying a few extra bucks and getting those instead.

See the GO Air wireless earbuds on Amazon (affiliate link)

Popular Comparisons

For those who are curious how the GO Air fares against popular competitors:

JLab GO Air vs JLab GO Air Pop

Relevant Articles

Is JLab a good audio brand?
The overall best budget true wireless earbuds (under $30)

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the JLab GO Air waterproof?

No, it has an official ingress protection code of IP44, which means it’s water resistant up to splashing but can’t be fully submerged.

Does the JLab GO Air have a mic for calls?

Yes, you can take phone calls on the JLab GO Air and it has touch controls for accepting, ending, and ignoring calls.

Do the GO Air earbuds fall out of the case?

No, the buds stick to the charge ports with a fairly strong magnetic connection. It takes a reasonable amount of deliberate force to remove the buds from the case.

Pete Anthony has had a lifelong affinity for music, and more recently has become an anti audiophile snob who wants great sound to be accessible and enjoyable by anyone. Without needing to break the bank. Read his full author page here.