Choosing a wireless speaker can be a daunting task, particularly if you don’t have a big budget. The sheer volume of options available can make this a much harder task than it needs to be, but there tends to be one option that stands out for a lot of buyers. JBL is a brand known for its leadership in the portable speakers space, and the JBL Go held firm as one of the most popular affordable options thus far.
That compact wireless speaker now has a successor in the JBL Go 2. Priced at Rs 2,999, it’s among the most affordable JBL speakers you can buy today, and also one of the smallest. Meant to be small enough to put into your backpack (or even some pockets), the JBL Go 2’s biggest feature is its compact form factor. But does small necessarily mean not-so-loud, or does the Go 2 manage to exceed expectations? We find out in our review.
JBL Go 2 Design and Specifications
Just like its predecessor, the JBL Go 2 remains small and easy to handle. It’ll fit easily enough in your palm, which also means that it’ll find space in your backpack without any trouble. The speaker is front-firing, with a single 3W driver below the front grille. JBL’s classic branding is painted onto the grille as well as embossed onto the back, and there are four points at the bottom that serve to give the speaker a bit of grip when placed upright.
There are some improvements in design over its predecessor, with the JBL Go 2 sporting curved corners as compared to the sharp edges on the original JBL Go. This is better design in my opinion, considering that it makes the speaker easier to handle. The ports can be found under a sealing flap on the right of the device, while the controls are at the top. The speaker is built well, and light enough to live up to its compact form.
The small size of the device means there isn’t much room to fit in features, and as such the only ports are a 3.5mm jack for auxiliary connectivity and a micro-USB port for charging. The controls at the top include power, volume, Bluetooth pairing and play/pause. With the exception of the ports, there are no other openings on the device, which gives it an IPX7 water and dust resistance rating.
Even the ports are hidden behind a rubber flap that has a strong seal when not in use. As a result of that rating, it’s okay to submerge the speaker completely in up to 3m of water for 30 minutes. Not that you’ll be doing that, but it’s nice to know that the speaker will be fine in the rain or survive accidental drops in a swimming pool. Apart from this, the speaker has a 730mAh battery that lasts for about four hours on a charge, and takes about two hours and 30 minutes to fully charge using the bundled cable and a laptop USB port. The speaker comes with Bluetooth version 4.1 with support for A2DP, but not AptX.
JBL Go 2 Performance
When it comes to sound, the JBL Go 2 springs a few surprises. While the original JBL Go was a surprise package in its own right because of its loud sound, the Go 2 manages to get louder still. I was amazed at how such a small device could produce sound that was as loud as it was, and it’ll work well if all of the listeners are sitting close around the speaker, say within 5-6 feet of it. This means it’ll work well in a small room or an intimate gathering.
However, it’s still a small speaker with a 3W driver, so let’s not expect too much of it. You won’t be able to fill even a small room with the sound, but it works fine as a personal speaker that you can keep somewhere near you. The sonic signature can be described as typically JBL; it’s bass-focused and also allows a spike in the high-end, giving it a V-shaped signature.
Don’t expect serious tonal quality or clarity here, but you won’t be disappointed with the sound either. This is a Rs 3,000 product after all, and just a single 3W driver can only do that much. But it’s decent enough in terms of sound quality, with just enough punch to keep music exciting. The key feature in the sound is its loudnes, and the fact that it doesn’t distort too much even at its peak volume.
You can also use it as a hands-free device with a paired smartphone, since the speaker has a built-in microphone, and sound is decent enough on that as well. However, unlike wireless headphones, it won’t stay on and will automatically power down after about ten minutes of idle time, so you can realistically only use it when you know you’ll be placing or receiving a call.
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While the Bluetooth speaker market is particularly crowded, certain options tend to stand out. The JBL Go 2 is one of those, simply because it’s a no-nonsense option that does what it says on the box. It’s also inexpensive at Rs 2,999, and buyers looking for an established brand when shopping for a wireless speaker will definitely be well served by it.
You do get larger and louder options from smaller brands at around this price, but there’s a level of assurance when owning a JBL speaker. It lives up to that expectation with loud sound, great design, strong water resistance and decent enough battery life, all in a compact package. The JBL Go 2 is definitely worth a look if you’re shopping for a new Bluetooth speaker at under Rs 5,000.