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JLab GO Air POP
September 30, 2021
Original: $19 USD
13.97 x 6.35 x 2.54cm
Sometimes good things do come in small packages, and the JLab GO Air POP is the company’s smallest true wireless earbuds to date. This is an easy sell to people who want to take their music anywhere. For only $20 USD, JLab packs in touch controls, dual connect, three EQ options, good battery life, a mic, and fun color options. The biggest question is, does it succeed? We spent two weeks with the GO Air POP to find out.
Editor’s note: this JLab GO Air POP review was updated on July 18, 2022, to address an FAQ about the Skullcandy Dime 2 and to update the score with results from our reader poll.
What is the JLab GO Air POP like to use?
The JLab GO Air POP is a pair of plastic wireless earbuds that comes in black, lilac, teal, rose, and slate colorways. Each earbud is small and lightweight, making it really comfortable to wear. Three sizes of ear tips—small, medium, and large—ensure that you get the best fit possible for optimal isolation and sound quality. The small ear tips fit my ears perfectly, and I usually have problems finding ear tips that fit me comfortably. The small size may be a big plus for people with small ear canals.
The JLab GO Air POP earbuds merit an IPX4 water resistance rating, so you can take them outside in light rain or work out in them without worrying. Before you place the buds in the case, be careful to wipe them clean and dry them. The case isn’t water-resistant, so make sure to pocket it if you get caught in the rain.
No, the JLab GO Air POP has no app to download. All controls for the earbuds are through the touch panels on the earbuds.
How do you control the JLab GO Air POP?
The JLab GO Air POP has touch panels on each earbud that let you control playback and access your preferred voice assistant. Like other true wireless earbuds, the GO Air POP doesn’t always register my commands properly. Sometimes when I tap three times on the right earbud to change the EQ, it pauses my music instead, having registered only two taps. It works most of the time, but those misses are noticeable.
Press and hold
Reject incoming call
How does the JLab GO Air POP connect?
The JLab GO Air POP connects to your devices using Bluetooth 5.1 and supports the AAC and SBC codecs. AAC works well on iOS but its performance varies across Android hardware, so iPhone owners reap the most benefit. Android phone owners, don’t let this scare you off: AAC performance has become more stable over the years, it’s just imperfect. Worst case scenario, you can always force SBC streaming through the Android developer settings for a steadier listening experience.
Most of the time, the earbuds’ connection is reliable but on rare occasions, the right earbud drops off for a second and returns. It’s not a frequent or super distracting issue, but it is something to take note of and pervasive with true wireless buds.
How is the battery life of the GO Air POP?
JLab claims that the GO Air POP has a battery life of over eight hours, which we found to be an understatement. The JLab GO Air POP lasted for 11 hours, 4 minutes in our testing with constant music playback, peaking at 75dB(SPL). JLab claims the case adds 24 hours of charge, which aligns with my experience.
It takes just over two hours to fully charge the earbuds and two hours to fully charge the 350mAh battery in the case.
How well does the JLab GO Air POP block out noise?
The JLab GO Air POP isolates noise really well, as long as you have a good fit. Disregard what looks like an increase in the amount of isolation at very low frequencies in the chart above—that’s because our test room doesn’t allow repeatable testing that low down.
The silicone tips fit well in my ears and block out some noises really well: my very loud dryer is dampened a lot by the earbuds. I can still easily hear household sounds like typing on my keyboard, clanking dishes, and speech, though it is all a bit quieter than it would be without earbuds in. This pair of earbuds isn’t for you if you want these sounds to be very dampened or cancelled out, as it relies on passive isolation alone for noise attenuation.
It depends on what your budget is since no wireless earbuds that cost $20 USD will have effective active noise cancelling (ANC). That said, if you’re willing to stretch your budget a bit, you can get the OnePlus Buds Z2 which often goes on promotion for $79 USD, $20 USD off its original price. The same goes for the Nothing Ear 1 wireless earbuds, though the ANC here isn’t as good as the Buds Z2.
How does the JLab GO Air POP sound?
The frequency response chart for the JLab GO Air POP shows that the audio output of the earbuds is very close to our consumer curve, except in the low range. Sub-bass and bass frequencies are under-emphasized, though you can change this by turning on the bass boost setting on the earbuds. While the mids and highs follow our curve closely, vocals and higher pitched sounds like hi-hats and snares will sound slightly prominent with the default EQ setting. The earbuds have three EQ presets, JLab Signature, Balanced, and Bass Boost.
Lows, mids, highs
When listening to Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes, the bass line and bass drum still sound really prominent despite the under-emphasis in the bass range, however, Jack White’s voice comes out a bit louder than I’d expect. The Bass Boost EQ preset makes the bassline extremely loud, drowning out Jack White’s voice a ton. The Balanced EQ preset makes the bass frequencies very quiet, and makes the audio sound slightly distorted, and very unenjoyable.
The Bass Boost EQ preset makes the bassline extremely loud, drowning out Jack White’s voice a ton.
The song Night Shift by Lucy Dacus has a pretty prominent bass line along with loud bass notes from the guitar, but on the GO Air POP, it sounds a bit less clear and Lucy’s voice dominates the track. The explosive chorus in the second motion around 4:10 has the most prominent bass part, and that comes through a lot louder due to the engineering of the track. With the Bass Boost EQ preset on, it sounds more like I’m used to it, though Lucy’s voice is a bit quieter.
Can you use the JLab GO Air POP for phone calls?
In ideal conditions, voices come through well enough, though they sound fairly “dull,” and certainly not well enough to record a podcast with. Phone calls will sound alright, but background noise comes through easily, and sustained, loud noises like wind can make your voice hard to hear. Again, it’s not surprising that a $20 USD pair of earbuds doesn’t have good noise suppression, so you’re getting what you paid for here.
JLab GO Air POP microphone demo (Ideal):
JLab GO Air POP microphone demo (Wind):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Should you buy the JLab GO Air POP?
The JLab GO Air POP is a great option for anyone looking for a very cheap pair of wireless earbuds. For $20 USD, you get a comfortable fit, touch controls, good sound quality, an IPX4 rating, and three EQ options. There’s nothing too disagreeable about it, so it’s a good option for people on a tight budget. The microphone isn’t great for taking calls near busy roads or in wind, so if you need to take a lot of calls, you might be better off with something else. And while the isolation is good, you aren’t getting anything near noise cancelling here.
Within the JLab family, the JLab JBuds Air Icon is more resilient with an IP55 rating, so it can handle a lot more water and dust than the GO Air POP. If you want peace of mind that your earbuds won’t die during your workout or hike, the JBuds Air Icon is a good option for you. You may also be thinking about the JLab JBuds Air Pro, which is slightly different with Bluetooth 5.1, instead of 5.0 found on the Air Icon. You also get better battery life with the Pro version, lasting 6 hours, 49 minutes, though this still falls short of the GO Air POP. We recommend the GO Air POP over either of the JBuds Air headsets because the POP is a better value with a better battery and more pleasing frequency response.
The JLab JBuds Air Sport is also a great workout option, with IP66 water and dust resistance, and ear hooks to keep it secure when you’re moving around. We’ve reviewed the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC, which is similar to the JBuds Air Sport but features many improvements like noise cancelling, better batter life, and more.
What are some alternatives to the JLab GO Air POP?
Unfortunately, there are few alternatives out there that offer as many features as the GO Air POP for the price. If you are determined to stay below $30 USD, we recommend the 1MORE PistonBuds. This pair of wireless earbuds uses Bluetooth 5.0 and supports the SBC and AAC codecs. You get a pretty bass-heavy sound which may not be for everyone, but the earbuds also do a pretty good job of blocking out noise. The microphone is pretty good for its price and you can hear it in our full 1MORE PistonBuds review.
Perhaps you want something with more features but still within an affordable range, well, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus has Spotify integration, EQ presets, and find my earbuds, all easily accessible within the Galaxy Wearables app. It supports the AAC codec and SBC, so if you want higher-quality listening on Apple devices, you have that option there.
The Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) has you covered if you want noise canceling at an affordable price. Amazon decks the second-gen Echo Buds out with an ear tip fit test, IPX4 rating, and voice assistant integration.
Frequently asked questions about the JLab GO Air POP
If your earbuds aren’t showing up, put the earbuds in the case and hold down on each earbud until you see the LED on the side of the bud flashes white. Once you’ve done this to both, it should show up once you remove the buds from the case.
While the Skullcandy Dime 2 True Wireless costs about as much as the GO Air Pop, we recommend JLab’s earbuds instead. The Dime 2 battery life is very short compared to the GO Air Pop and lasts just over three hours. We ran into some microphone issues when receiving phone calls on an iPhone, but not when initiating phone calls. You get a louder bass response from Skullcandy’s earbuds but you can get something similar on the GO Air POP if you cycle through the EQ presets.
The TOZO T6 is another affordable pair of earbuds at only $29.99 USD, but there are some things that make it a lot less worth it than the JLab GO Air POP. Namely, whenever we connect the TOZO T6 to a device, it defaults to max volume. The frequency response is also very bass-heavy, with no presets to choose from to change that. The JLab GO Air POP is much more worth it for the price, sound quality and EQ presets, as well as not having a huge volume issue.