Apple’s removal of the headphone jack in its iPhones three years ago sparked a wave of new Bluetooth headsets. There are now plenty of great wireless earbuds to choose from, but you need to spend a good deal of money for them. It’s still tough to find a decent pair for less than $50. That’s why I’m excited about the new JLab Go Air.
These $30 earbuds could go for twice as much. They’ve got a sleek and lightweight design, battery life that matches Apple’s AirPods, and an actual sweat-resistance rating (which AirPods lack). They’re the new affordable earbuds to beat.
Unlike many cheap finds on Amazon from unrecognizable companies, the Go Air impresses with both fit and finish. That’s not a total shock; JLab has built its brand on offering some of the best products for the money, operating as a value alternative to other, more expensive headphones.
For example, the JLab Air Sport are in our Best Workout Earbuds guide—competing with the pricier Beats Solo Pro (8/10, WIRED Recommends). JLab even makes golf-tee-style buds that outperform the AirPods for less. But unlike its other wirefree models, the new Go Air feature a more original design. The little rectangular buds are the smallest the company has ever made, and they are among the lightest and most comfortable I’ve tested.
They come magnetically secured inside an open-topped charging case—the first “convertible” case I’ve seen. It looks cool, and the magnets that hold the earbuds in place are strong, but I did feel wary having them in my pocket or bag, where the case tends to collect lint and other junk.
I do like that the lid-less charging unit comes with a built-in USB-A cable that folds up flush with the bottom, so you’ll never have to go searching for one when the buds need recharging. The case also has enough juice to keep the earbuds running for an additional 15 hours.
You won’t get the same level of noise-canceling, high call quality, or slightly longer battery life offered by much more expensive wirefree earbuds, but the Go Air do everything else we want modern headphones to do.
They’ve got raised touch controls built into the logo on the outside of each bud, which means you’re less likely to accidentally pause your music when adjusting an earbud. It’s also great that they come with a real IP rating, which means you don’t have to think twice before wiping them down after a long workout.
On the audio end, they get the job done. The Go Air sound warm and energetic, but lack some of the top-end clarity from more expensive models like the 1More Stylish (another sub-$100 pair that we love), but they do absolutely crush it in the bass department.
Big, boomy bass makes them a joy to work out with, and the included silicone eartips seal the outside world out well. That bass does take a toll on some of the smallest details in your music; I wouldn’t choose these buds if I was looking to savor every nuance of the New York Philharmonic, but for blasting MF Doom while doing quarantined burpees? Absolutely.
If you’re looking for audiophile-quality sound for less than $30, you’re barking up the wrong tree. These are meant to be a basic tool that allows you to listen to your music comfortably on the go without leaving a hole in your wallet, and the Go Air absolutely accomplish that.
Low Cost, Low Stress
The thing I love most about the Go Air is how little stress I feel taking them with me everywhere. I’m often fumbling around with expensive buds from big-name brands, and I do still get a bit anxious taking them with me around town. They’re so small, I worry I’ll leave the case somewhere or drop one on the sidewalk.
The Go Air offer peace of mind because they cost about as much as a large pizza pie ordered through Postmates. I can swing buying an occasional pie. Especially now. Remember, if you lose an AirPod, that’s a $69 replacement.
Are they dramatically worse than the hundreds of more expensive buds on the market? In terms of daily use, not really. Anyone that doesn’t hinge their entire purchase on the highest possible audio quality should absolutely consider the Go Air. In fact, if you’re the kind of person who already owns AirPods and wants a beater pair of cheap workout headphones, these might be a worthy addition, too. After all, Apple’s much more expensive buds don’t come with silicone eartips or an IP rating.
With the Go Air, I finally don’t have to tell everyone that asks me for basic earbuds to spend more than $50.
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