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JBL GO 3 Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Jan 11, 2021 at 07:12 am
JBL GO 3 Picture
5.5
Music
5.3
Videos/Movies
7.1
Podcasts
2.8
Voice Assistant
6.3
Outdoors
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
No
Speakerphone
No
Voice Assistant
No
Battery Powered
Yes

The JBL GO 3 is a portable, budget-friendly speaker. It's well-built, and it has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, though we don't test for this. You can even use the attached strap to hang it off your backpack when you're on-the-go. While its sound profile is quite balanced, it lacks a lot of low-bass, which can be disappointing for fans of bass-heavy music. Also, it doesn't support voice assistant technology.

Our Verdict

5.5 Music

The JBL GO 3 is middling for music. Its balanced mid and treble ranges allow for clear and accurate reproduction of vocals and lead instruments. However, it lacks low-bass, which is disappointing for fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM. Unfortunately, you can't customize its sound profile, and it doesn't get very loud.

Pros
  • Bluetooth-compatible.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • Doesn't get very loud.
5.3 Videos/Movies

The JBL GO 3 is disappointing for videos and movies. Its balanced mid-range helps it reproduce voices and dialogue clearly, but it lacks low-bass, so you don't feel the deep thump and rumble in action-packed scenes. It also doesn't get very loud, and its soundstage isn't very wide. However, its latency with iOS and Android devices is low, which is good.

Pros
  • Low Android and iOS latency.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • Doesn't get very loud.
7.1 Podcasts

The JBL GO 3 is decent for podcasts. Its balanced mid-range can reproduce voices clearly. However, it doesn't get very loud, and you can't pair it with other speakers to make your audio cover a large area. On the upside, its portable design makes it easy to bring the speaker on-the-go.

Pros
  • Portable design.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
2.8 Voice Assistant

The JBL GO 3 doesn't support voice assistant technology.

6.3 Outdoors

The JBL GO 3 is acceptable for outdoor use. Since it can be powered by a battery, you don't need to plug it into an outlet to use it. Also, it's rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, though we don't test for this. Unfortunately, it doesn't get very loud, and its sound profile lacks a lot of low-bass.

Pros
  • Portable design.
  • IP67 rating.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • 5.5 Music
  • 5.3 Videos/Movies
  • 7.1 Podcasts
  • 2.8 Voice Assistant
  • 6.3 Outdoors
  1. Updated Jan 18, 2021: After re-evaluating our subjective scoring, we updated the Ease of Use score for this speaker's controls to 'Great'.
  2. Updated Jan 11, 2021: Review published.
  3. Updated Jan 05, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

The JBL GO 3 is a small speaker that fits easily in your hand. There's a built-in hook on the side, so you can hang it from your bag or backpack. There's a large JBL logo on the front, and you can choose from lots of different color variants based on your preferences.

9.5
Design
Portability
Volume
16 inยณ (266 cmยณ)
Weight
0.4 lbs (0.2 kg)
Power Source
Battery & USB
One-Hand Carry
Yes

The JBL GO 3 is outstandingly portable. It's smaller and more lightweight than the Sony SRS-XB12. You can also carry it with one hand and it doesn't need to be plugged into an outlet to work, which makes it easy to bring with you outdoors.

8.3
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Great
Water Resistance
Submersible (IPx7)
Dust Resistance
Dust-Proof (IP6x)
Impact Resistance
Unspecified
Floats In Water
Unspecified

The build quality is impressive. Just like the JBL Clip 4, its materials feel solid, and there's a tight netting that wraps around most of the speaker and its carrying strap. The sides and the rear have a rubber finish. It also has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, though we don't test for this.

5.9
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Great
Feedback
Good
Music Play/Pause
Yes (Physical)
Call Answer/End
No
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Physical)
Track Next/Previous
No
Microphone On/Off
No
Additional Controls
Yes

Update 01/18/2020: After reviewing our subjective testing scores, we determined that the Ease of Use for this speaker's controls should be changed to Great. We often re-evaluate our subjective scoring to provide greater consistency and accuracy across our reviews.

The controls are sub-par. You can turn the speaker on/off, pair it with a Bluetooth device, play/pause your music, and adjust the volume. If you press the Play button twice, it skips ahead to the next track, but you can't skip back to the previous track. The buttons are easy to press, and there's audible feedback when you reach max volume and when you enter pairing mode. Also, a small light flashes when the battery is low.

Design
In The Box

  • JBL GO3 speaker
  • USB-C charging cable
  • Quick Start Guide

Sound
5.4
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
-0.31
Std. Err.
2.42 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
138.5 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
16.5 kHz

The JBL GO 3 has middling frequency response accuracy. When sitting horizontally on its rubber base, the speaker struggles to reproduce low-bass, which can be disappointing for fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM. However, its balanced mid and treble ranges help reproduce voices in podcasts and audiobooks clearly and accurately. If you're looking for a small portable speaker you can take with you on-the-go, and that can produce a deeper bass, check out the Sony SRS-XB13.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
6.0
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
3.78 dB
Stereo
No (mono)

The soundstage is mediocre. Its directivity is decent, but the soundstage isn't perceived to be as large as some of the other speakers we've tested, like the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2 or the JBL JR POP. Also, it has to downmix stereo content into mono, which doesn't sound as immersive.

6.3
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
79.6 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
1.36 dB

This speaker has passable dynamics. It doesn't get very loud, so it may not be ideal to use at parties. There isn't a lot of compression at max volume, resulting in a clean and clear sound.

Active Features
6.3
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
5.0 hrs
Charge Time
2.0 hrs
Power Saving
Yes
Charging Port
USB-C

The JBL GO 3 has an acceptable battery performance. It only lasts five hours off a single charge, which may not last through long days outside. However, battery life can vary according to usage, so your experience may vary. Also, the speaker shuts off automatically after about 20 minutes without audio, which helps conserve battery life. If you want a portable speaker with a longer battery life, check out the Sony SRS-XB01 instead.

0
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
No
Google Assistant
No
Siri
No
Voice Activation
No
Microphone Mute
No Microphone
Far-Field Performance
No Microphone
Ambient Noise Performance
No Microphone

This speaker doesn't have voice assistant support. If you want a speaker that supports voice assistants from your smartphone, check out the Anker Soundcore 2, the Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 Gen 2, or the OontZ Angle 3 ULTRA.

0
Active Features
App
App Name
No App
iOS
No
Android
No
EQ
No
Stereo Pair Mode
No
Party Mode
No
Multi-Room
No

This speaker doesn't have a companion app. If you want a speaker with an app that offers a graphic EQ so you can customize its sound profile, check out the Anker Soundcore Flare 2.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Wired
Aux Input
No
USB Audio
No
Other Ports
No

The JBL GO 3 can't be used wired. It just has a USB-C port for charging.

8.0
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.1
Bluetooth iOS Latency
109 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
65 ms
Bluetooth Range
226.4 ft (69.0 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
No

This speaker has very good Bluetooth connectivity. It has an incredible range, so you don't need to keep your phone or tablet very close to the speaker to play your audio. Also, it has low audio latency on iOS and Android, so it's suitable for watching videos, though some apps compensate for latency so your experience may vary. Unlike the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2, you can't pair it with more than one device at a time, which can be disappointing for some listeners.

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

This speaker isn't Wi-Fi compatible.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The JBL GO 3 comes in lots of different color variants, including 'Red', 'Black', 'Blue', "Teal', 'White', 'Yellow', 'Squad' (Camo), 'Green', 'Orange', 'Pink', 'Grey', and 'Blue/Pink'. We tested the 'Red' variant, and you can see the label for the model we tested here. We expect the other color variants to perform similarly.

If you come across another version, let us know in the discussions so we can update our review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The JBL GO 3 is a budget-friendly speaker with a portable design. It's rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, though we don't test for this. Like many small speakers, it struggles to reproduce low-bass. Also, it doesn't support voice assistants. However, its latency with iOS and Android devices is low enough to be suitable for watching videos and movies.

JBL Clip 4

The JBL Clip 4 is a slightly better speaker than the JBL GO 3. While both speakers have a great build quality and are very portable, the Clip 4 can reproduce slightly more bass and has a wider soundstage. It also has lower audio latency on iOS and Android, although some apps compensate for this differently. However, the GO 3 can reach max volume with fewer compression artifacts.

Bose SoundLink Micro

The Bose SoundLink Micro is a better speaker than the JBL GO 3. The Bose has a better soundstage and longer battery life. It also supports voice assistants, though its performance is sub-par. However, while we don't currently test for it, the JBL has an IP6X rating for dust resistance.

Sony SRS-XB13

The Sony SRS-XB13 is a better speaker than the JBL GO 3 overall. The Sony can produce deeper bass than the JBL and has better directivity, resulting in a wider-sounding soundstage. It also has a longer battery life, though this depends on your usage, and your experience may vary. Additionally, it has less compression present at max volume, resulting in a cleaner sound. That said, the JBL is slightly smaller than the Sony, making it a bit more portable. It can also get slightly louder than the Sony.

Anker Soundcore 2

The JBL GO 3 and the Anker Soundcore 2 are very similarly-performing speakers, so depending on your listening habits, you may prefer one over the other. The JBL is better-built, and while it doesn't get as loud as the Anker, it has less compression at max volume. The Anker, meanwhile, supports voice assistants from your phone, and it has longer battery life.

Sony SRS-XB12

The Sony SRS-XB12 is a better speaker than the JBL GO 3. The Sony has a slightly better-balanced sound profile and a wider soundstage. It also has longer-lasting continuous battery life, and can it can utilize your smartphone's voice assistant. However, the JBL is better-built, and some users may prefer its smaller design.

JBL Flip 4

The JBL Flip 4 is a better speaker than the JBL GO 3 overall. The Flip 4 has a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box that can produce a more extended low-bass than that of the GO 3. It can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono and supports voice assistants via your smartphone. That said, the GO 3 is smaller, making it more portable. It's also better-built with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, so it's fully dust-tight and submersible in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes.

Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2

The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2 is a better speaker than the JBL GO 3. The Ultimate Ears can get louder, has a better soundstage, and has longer battery life. While both speakers struggle to reproduce low-bass, the Ultimate Ears has a more extended low-bass. That said, the JBL has lower latency with Android and iOS devices.

Anker Soundcore 3

The Anker Soundcore 3 is a better speaker than the JBL GO 3 overall. The Anker can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono and comes with a graphic EQ and presets you can use to customize its sound to your liking. It also has a longer battery life, though this can depend on your usage habits, so your experience may vary. That said, the JBL is smaller and more portable. It’s also better-built with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, though we don’t test this.

JBL Charge 5

The JBL Charge 5 is a better speaker than the JBL GO 3, though you may prefer one over the other depending on your listening habits. The Charge 5 can produce a deeper bass than the GO 3. It can get louder, and has a longer-lasting battery life, though this can depend on your usage. You can also pair it to other PartyBoost-compatible speakers when you want your audio to fill a large space without increasing the volume. That said, the GO 3 is a more compact speaker with a built-in carrying strap, so you can easily take it on the go with you. It also offers a slightly wider-sounding soundstage.

Sony SRS-XB01

The JBL GO 3 and the Sony SRS-XB01 are very similar speakers, so you may prefer one over the other depending on your listening habits. The JBL is better-built, and it has a better soundstage. However, the Sony supports voice assistants, and it has longer battery life.

Anker Soundcore Motion+

The Anker Soundcore Motion+ is a better speaker than the JBL GO 3 overall. The Anker has a better-balanced sound profile and can produce a more extended low-bass than the JBL. You can customize its sound to your liking thanks to the graphic EQ and presets featured in its companion app. It can also play stereo content without downmixing it to mono, which is more immersive. That said, the JBL is smaller, and comes with a small, built-in carrying strap, making it more portable. It's also better-built with an IP67 for dust and water resistance, though we don't currently test for this.

Anker Soundcore Flare 2

The Anker Soundcore Flare 2 is a better speaker than the JBL GO 3. The Anker has a more balanced sound profile, and its graphic EQ and presets offer more sound customization options. Its soundstage is better, its battery life is longer, and it supports voice assistants. However, the JBL is better-built.

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 Gen 2

The Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 Gen 2 is a better speaker than the JBL GO 3. Only the Bang & Olufsen has voice assistant support, and it gets slightly louder. Although both lack low-bass, the Bang & Olufsen has a more extended bass, so you feel more of the deep, rumbling bass in genres like EDM and hip-hop. Also, the Bang & Olufsen has better directivity, resulting in a more open soundstage. However, the JBL has less Bluetooth latency with Android devices, so it's more suitable for watching videos over this connection.

OontZ Angle 3

The JBL GO 3 is a better speaker than the OontZ Angle 3. The JBL is better-built, and it has lower latency with iOS and Android devices. While both speakers struggle to reproduce low-bass, the JBL has a better-balanced sound profile. However, the OontZ gets louder, and it has longer battery life.

Bose SoundLink Revolve

The Bose SoundLink Revolve is a better speaker than the JBL GO 3. The Bose is better-built with longer battery life, and it supports voice assistants. Also, it has a more balanced sound profile and a better soundstage. However, the JBL has a lower latency with Android and iOS devices.

JBL JR POP

The JBL JR POP and the JBL GO 3 are similar speakers, and depending on your listening habits, you may prefer one over the other. The GO 3 is better-built, and it has a more neutral sound profile. However, the JR POP is smaller and designed for kids, and it has a better soundstage performance.

OontZ Angle 3 ULTRA

The OontZ Angle 3 ULTRA and the JBL GO 3 have different strengths and depending on your usage, you may prefer one over the other. The OontZ can play stereo content, and it can get louder. It also has a longer-lasting battery life and it supports voice assistants. Its companion app allows you to customize its sound to your liking via the bass and treble sliders too. However, the JBL has a more neutral sound profile, feels better-built, and it has lower latency on iOS and Android, although some apps and devices compensate for this differently.

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