Take your music anywhereThe bite-sized JBL Go 2 is budget-friendly, but does it give you a bang for your buck?
When it comes to audio performance, as a rule of thumb, it is usually the larger speakers that can deliver better sound quality simply because they have more room to pack drivers to better move air around. But these devices can be rather cumbersome to lug around—whether you are out on a morning jog, a breezy summer picnic or a trek into the mountains. It is no surprise, therefore, that as technology evolves, devices are becoming more travel-friendly—including the increasingly ubiquitous portable Bluetooth speakers. The recently-launched JBL GO 2 is one such speaker and comes with a budget-friendly price tag of Rs 4,500. But how does the device fare in real life? Let’s find out in this review.
Design and Build
On the design front, the JBL Go 2 may not look all that fancy or eye-catching but still manages to pull off a sophisticated look with its rectangular body and rounded corners. Wrapped in a rubberised housing and with the speaker grille in the front, the JBL Go 2, if nothing, looks durable and sturdy. What is more, the rubberised wrapping, with an IPX7 certification, also acts as a waterproof jacket that spares the speaker from damage during downpours (or an inadvertent water accident).
The speaker is available in 12 different colours and is bite-sized at 71.2 x 86.0 x 31.6 mm. Even with this miniature size, however, the speaker looks and sounds great. The speaker is also light in terms of weight, ringing in at just 184 grams—just as heavy as a normal smartphone.
JBL Go 2, however, does not come with any strap or clip that allows the device to be hung on backpacks or belt loops. Straps like the ones available on the Bose Soundlink Micro or on the JBL Clip 2 are preferable on portable speakers, so its omission on this device is a tad disappointing—portable speakers after all are no fun to play when stuffed in your pocket or inside a backpack.
Configuration wise, all the buttons on the device are placed on top, while on the right, a retractable rubber cover shields the micro USB charging port and a 3.5 mm auxiliary jack. You can find the power button, pairing button, volume rockers, and a multifunctional button aligned on the top. The multifunctional button works as a playback controller and it can also be used to access the voice assistant on your phone and for answering phone calls, which is convenient on the device as it comes with an embedded mic. You might however feel a bit shortchanged on this feature, as the mic isn’t particularly sensitive and responds begrudgingly to voice input. The issue is more pronounced while using the Google Assistant or any other voice assistant on your phone.
The speaker also has a grille on the front through which the sound projects outward. There is also a tiny LED indicator which glows white when the speaker is on. The indicator starts glowing red when the battery is running out of juice.
On the performance front, you might approach this mini-speaker with low expectations, given its size, but you will be surprised by how good the device’s sound quality is. The speaker can easily fill a room with its crisp and balanced sound and works well with any kind of music—from nursery rhymes to rock music. The treble and mids also sound great with absolute frequency response and smooth amplification. However, when it comes to bass, the speaker falls rather short as the speaker only amplifies sounds from 180Hz frequency onwards.
Another downside to the JBL Go 2 speaker is its performance when you crank up the volume. On increasing the speaker volume, distortions in the audio output tend to increase proportionately with the upsurge in volume. And since there is just a single speaker facing forward, you won’t be getting any stereo output or a 360-degree sound. The absence of the multidirectional audio can be felt as any shift from the speaker’s path results in muddier and less intense sound—making it far from ideal in a group or a party setting.
But despite the minor glitches, the JBL Go 2 is a decent speaker for personal usage, not just for listening to your favourite tracks but also for watching movies. While watching video content, the audio sounds smooth and clear and has near perfect audio/video synchronism.
In terms of battery, the device comes with a 730mAh battery, which provides four hours of juice when listening to music at maximum volume. Battery backup can be extended by turning the volume down to lower values. The battery backup increases to slightly over six hours at 60 percent volume. This might not be ideal for some listeners, but given the size of the speaker, you’d be wishful wanting much more.
Even for its small size, the JBL Go 2 packs a lot of punch. With the amplification it provides and the audio quality, the JBL Go 2 is certainly one of the best portable Bluetooth speakers at its size and price. Yes, the device cannot produce 360-degree audio and the battery backup is not ideal but that’s a compromise you have to make while buying small and moderately-priced speakers.
If you are strictly into the audio quality, Bose Soundlink Micro will be an ideal choice for you. Its amplification is amazing and the quality of sound it delivers is also top notch. However, the speaker costs four times more than the JBL Go 2. For a multidirectional sound, Allocacoc Audio Cube Portable can be a fine choice, which offers 360-degree sound and delivers a commendable 30-watt output. However, the speaker is rather big in size and costs twice as much as the JBL Go 2. So, if you’re in the market for a moderately-priced speaker, this fun-sized Bluetooth rocker might check all the right boxes for you.