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ION Pathfinder Go Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Sep 01, 2023 at 11:12 am
Latest change: Writing modified Sep 01, 2023 at 11:12 am
ION Pathfinder Go Picture
6.4
Music
5.6
Videos/Movies
6.9
Podcasts
2.8
Voice Assistant
6.9
Outdoors

The ION Pathfinder Go is a party speaker that's designed for on-the-go use. It has a smaller and more portable design compared to other party speakers from the manufacturer, with a built-in handle for easy transport. Its RGB lights let you choose between lots of different colors and patterns to set the mood at your next party, and there are plenty of sound customization features to make the most of your listening experience. It doesn't come with as many features as some larger and more premium party speakers on the market, though, so you can't connect instruments like microphones or guitars to sing along.

Our Verdict

6.4 Music

The ION Audio Pathfinder Go is a party-centric speaker that's acceptable for music. Its default sound is pretty uneven, with a peak in the bass that adds a boomy and muddy quality to the sound, as well as a peak in the high-mids that makes instruments honky and harsh. Fortunately, you can access many customization tools, including a 3-band graphic EQ and some presets to switch up its sound. Still, given its smaller size, it can't reproduce the extended thump and rumble in the low-bass you get with larger party speakers.

Pros
  • 3-band graphic EQ and presets.
  • Customizable RGB lights sync to music.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • Not loud enough for larger and more open spaces.
5.6 Videos/Movies

The ION Audio Pathfinder Go isn't designed for watching movies. However, if you want to watch a video on a paired smartphone, it can get the job done. It's loud, which is a nice touch, even if dialogue is a little muddied out-of-the-box. You can customize its sound a little, which is nice. However, there's some latency with iOS and Android devices over Bluetooth, so you notice a slight delay between the audio you hear and the visual on screen.

Pros
  • 3-band graphic EQ and presets.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • Not loud enough for larger and more open spaces.
6.9 Podcasts

The ION Audio Pathfinder Go is alright for podcasts. While voices sound a little muddy due to the emphasis in the high-bass that carries over into the mid-range, you can still understand the conversation between your favorite hosts. The speaker gets loud enough for typical living rooms, too, though it's not ideal for larger spaces. It's also portable enough to move from room to room during longer episodes, even if it's a touch on the heavier side.

Pros
  • 3-band graphic EQ and presets.
  • Portable design.
Cons
  • Not loud enough for larger and more open spaces.
2.8 Voice Assistant

This speaker doesn't support voice assistants.

6.9 Outdoors

The ION Audio Pathfinder Go is okay for outdoor use. This speaker is battery-powered with a built-in handle, so it's easy to bring to your backyard for your next barbecue. It gets pretty loud for its size, and its build is quite sturdy and durable. It's also rated IPX5 for water resistance, so it can handle some exposure to the elements. That said, it struggles to fill up larger and more open spaces with sound due to its smaller design.

Pros
  • Portable design.
  • IPX5 rating for water resistance.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • Not loud enough for larger and more open spaces.
  • 6.4 Music
  • 5.6 Videos/Movies
  • 6.9 Podcasts
  • 2.8 Voice Assistant
  • 6.9 Outdoors
  1. Updated Sep 01, 2023: Review published.
  2. Updated Aug 25, 2023: Early access published.
  3. Updated Aug 21, 2023: Our testers have started testing this product.
  4. Updated Jul 10, 2023: The product has arrived in our lab, and our testers will start evaluating it soon.
  5. Updated Jun 19, 2023: We've purchased the product and are waiting for it to arrive in our lab.

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Black Pathfinder Go
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Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The ION Pathfinder Go is only available in Black. You can see the label for the model we tested here.

If you come across another version of this speaker, let us know in the forums so we can update this review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The ION Pathfinder Go is a smaller and more portable party speaker from this manufacturer. It has a similar design to other ION party speakers, with customizable RGB lights to set the ambiance at your next event. However, given its budget-friendly price, it's no surprise that it lacks some more premium features. For example, you won't find inputs for instruments like microphones or guitars, and its low-frequency extension isn't enough to bring out the deep thump and rumble in the low-bass.

See also our recommendations for the best party speakers, the best portable Bluetooth speakers, and the best-sounding Bluetooth speakers.

ION Pathfinder 320

The ION Pathfinder 320 is a larger and more premium alternative to the ION Pathfinder Go. They're both party speakers with similar designs, though the Go is smaller and more portable. As a result, it doesn't get as loud as the 320. It doesn't have as many physical controls, and they aren't backlit, which isn't ideal for dark parties. Plus, the 320's battery life lasts much longer.

ION Pathfinder 280

The ION Pathfinder 280 is better than the ION Pathfinder Go. The 280 is a larger and more premium speaker that's louder and lasts longer off a single charge. It comes with more physical controls, too, so you don't have to rely on the app as much, and they're backlit to make them easier to use at a party. Plus, the 280's default sound is more balanced and neutral, which some users may prefer.

Monster Rockin' Roller 270X

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Monster Rockin' Roller 270X or the ION Pathfinder Go. They're both party speakers with more portable designs, though the ION is smaller and more lightweight. The ION also features a 3-band graphic EQ for sound customization, while the Monster is limited to bass and treble adjustments. However, the Monster gets louder, and it has microphone and guitar inputs for musicians.

JBL PartyBox On-The-Go

The JBL PartyBox On-The-Go and the ION Pathfinder Go are both party speakers designed with portability in mind. The ION is the smaller of the two, and it comes with some additional sound customization features through its app, including a 3-band graphic EQ and presets. Others may prefer the JBL, which comes with microphone and guitar inputs so you can play along with your favorite songs. The JBL also brings a touch better low-frequency extension, and it can play stereo content, unlike the ION.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights Yes

The ION Pathfinder Go is a smaller and more portable alternative to the manufacturer's larger party speakers like the ION Pathfinder 320. It's meant to sit vertically, with a large handle on top to help you carry it wherever you go. There are multicolored light strips around each side of the main center driver to help set the mood at your next party, too.

8.3
Design
Portability
Volume
1,153 inยณ (18,897 cmยณ)
Weight
7.7 lbs (3.5 kg)
Power Source
Battery & USB
One-Hand Carry
Yes

This speaker is more portable than other party speakers from ION. You can even carry it in one hand, thanks to the built-in handle. It's battery-powered, too, so you don't need to plug it into a power outlet to use it, which is great for listening in your backyard.

7.0
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Good
Water Resistance
Waterproof (IPx5)
Dust Resistance
Unspecified
Impact Resistance
Unspecified
Floats In Water
Unspecified

The build quality is decent. This speaker is mostly made of plastic, which feels very solid, albeit not as premium as other models. There are metal grilles to help protect the drivers inside, which is a nice touch. The input ports are protected by a solid rubber flap, too. It's also rated IPX5 for water resistance, handy if you want to take it outside.

6.9
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Good
Feedback
Great
Music Play/Pause
Yes (Physical)
Call Answer/End
No
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Physical)
Track Next/Previous
Yes (Physical)
Microphone On/Off
No
Additional Controls
Yes

You can control the speaker using the physical controls or the companion app. The controls are large and easy to use, with clear labels to distinguish their use. You can access traditional settings like powering the speaker on/off, adjusting the volume, playing and pausing your music, and skipping or returning to different tracks. It doesn't have an EQ or radio preset buttons like its larger cousins, though, nor is the control interface backlit for nighttime use. Still, it's handy that there are voice prompts to let you know which controls you adjust, as well as a display screen to show these settings, too.

  • Bluetooth: Press once to disconnect a paired device and return to AUX mode. Press twice to disconnect a paired device and enter re-pairing mode. Hold to turn off the voice prompts.
  • Light Mode: Choose between a solid color, Beat Sync, or Fade modes, or turn the lights off.
  • Boom: Press to enter Bass mode. It enhances the Bass EQ and volume and starts a light show designed to pulse to the beat of the music.
  • Source: Press to cycle between AUX, USB, or FM radio.
  • Stereo Link: Press and hold to stereo-link to a compatible speaker.

Design
In The Box

  • Manuals
  • USB-A to USB-C Cable (3.3 feet / 1m)
  • ION Pathfinder Go Speaker

Sound
6.4
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
-0.07
Std. Err.
5.23 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
55.8 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
17.5 kHz

The ION Pathfinder Go's frequency response is scattered and uneven across the range. However, it's important to note that the results in the graph are a bit exaggerated based on how frequency response is calculated by our software, particularly in the bass, the high-mid, and the treble. There's a large peak in the high-bass that adds a muddy quality to the mix, as well as a peak in the high-mid that makes instruments honky and harsh. Based on our measurements, this speaker's low-frequency extension also appears comparable to larger models like the ION Pathfinder 320.

Subjectively, though, we notice a bit of a difference in the speaker's sound compared to the results on the graph. It doesn't bring as much low-bass as our low-frequency extension measurements suggest. There's a lack of thump and body in the bass that's more consistent with speakers of its size. Also, we hear a dip in the low-mid to mid-mid ranges that nudges voices and other instruments toward the back of the mix. We're looking into this issue and will update these results when possible.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
5.7
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
4.33 dB
Stereo
No (mono)

The soundstage is middling. This speaker has to downmix stereo content into mono to play it. If you want stereo sound, you'll need to buy a second compatible unit and stereo pair it with the speaker. It's also more of a front-facing speaker, so you don't get consistent sound if you move behind the speaker.

7.0
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
92.2 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
2.76 dB

This speaker gets loud enough to fill a typical living room. It doesn't get as loud as larger cousins like the ION Pathfinder 280. Also, there's some compression that impacts the clarity of audio reproduction at louder volumes, which is mostly concentrated in the bass range.

Active Features
8.3
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
10.4 hrs
Charge Time
2.8 hrs
Power Saving
Yes
Charging Port
USB-C
Battery Powered
Yes

The ION Pathfinder Go lasts a little over ten hours off a single charge, which is good for a party or two. If you aren't playing audio through the speaker, it automatically goes into standby mode after fifteen minutes, which helps conserve the power. It doesn't take very long to recharge, either.

0
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
No
Google Assistant
No
Speakerphone
No
Siri
No
Voice Assistant
No
Voice Activation
No
Microphone Mute
No Microphone
Far-Field Performance
No Assistant
Ambient Noise Performance
No Assistant
6.3
Active Features
App
App Name
ION SOUND CONTROL
iOS
Yes
Android
Yes
EQ
Graphic + Presets
Stereo Pair Mode
Yes
Party Mode
No
Multi-Room
No

The ION SOUND CONTROL app lets you control this speaker from your phone. You get access to many cool features like a 3-band graphic EQ and presets to customize its sound, as well as a light show setup to adjust the colors and patterns of the lights. You can even check the battery level. Plus, you can access many of the same features as with the speaker's physical controls, so you can stereo-link or turn on the Boom mode. There's a video of the app here.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Wired
Aux Input
Yes
USB Audio
Yes
Other Ports
Yes

You can wire a device to the speaker for audio playback over the AUX or USB connections. The USB port doubles as a power bank, too, so you can also charge a compatible device from the speaker.

7.1
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth
Yes
Bluetooth Version
5.0
Bluetooth iOS Latency
183 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
175 ms
Bluetooth Range
315.0 ft (96.0 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
No

This Bluetooth-compatible speaker stays connected to a paired device, even from further away. You can only pair it with one device at a time, which isn't ideal if you want to switch to a friend's phone at a party. Latency is a little high, too, so it's not ideal for watching videos.

0
Connectivity
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Version
No Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Frequency Band
No Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi
No
Apple AirPlay
No
AirPlay Latency
N/A
Google Chromecast
No
Chromecast Latency
N/A