The JBL GO 3 is an great personal speaker – about the smallest it can be without sacrificing the JBL sound signature. It is also a speaker that I don’t see the need for unless you want to have music wherever you go. Because at this size, the compromises are more than a little obvious. No AUX-in, no bass (at all), battery life is limited – nothing. It is as low-cost as JBL can make and still be proud to put its name on it. There is nothing wrong with this speaker that the JBL Clip 4 can’t fix (9.1/10), so as long as you know that any ultra-portable from any brand will have similar issues, we have done our job.
JBL (Est. the mid-40s) is short for James B Lansing (Yes, he was the Lansing in Altec Lansing as well.) Now it’s part of the Harman group of companies owned by Samsung. You can read more GadgetGuy JBL news and reviews here.
First impression – colourful
There are nine colour combinations, including black and white. It is about the size of a stubby cigarette pack at 88 x 75 x 41mm x 210g with a convenient Lanyard at one end.
It is designed for landscape use as with rubber ‘feet’ under or flat on its back. We suspect that it has a passive radiator at the back, but it is of limited use as it is rubber-covered. The speaker is forward-firing.
Sorry JBL, I have never been a fan of micro mono speakers because almost all cross the line between being pleasant to listen to and outright harshness. Call it a law of physics. I was generous to rate the JBL JR POP at 8/10, and that is what this gets. But the one consolation is that I have yet to hear a better sound from any competitors’ brands. So, while it’s not for me, it may be fine for you.
47 x 43mm 4.2W RMS transducer (not a typical magnetic speaker)
110Hz to 20kHz frequency
Maximum volume of 85dB
2.775Wh battery with 2.5hr USB-C and up to 5hrs play
BT 5.1 and SBC and AAC
IP67 1m for 30 minutes
As a mono transducer instead of a ‘push-pull’ magnetic speaker, the sound tends to pulse. It reaches 80dB with a tad too much harshness but back off ever so slightly, and it is has a relatively clean sound. Mono means no sound stage – its for personal and up-close listening. While (as a budding audiophile) I am perhaps a little critical of small speakers, this is strangely satisfying. Forget low and mid-bass. It just appears at 100Hz and is relatively flay (good) until 5kHz, then dips and is flat again to 15kHz and then rapidly declines. It’s a mid-centric signature suitable for vocals with just a hint of bass.
Claim up to 5 hrs at 50%. We got 2.75 at 75%. Charge time is accurate and can use any USB-A or USB-C PD charger (USB-A to USB-C cable provided)
JBL GO 3 is a portable, personal BT mono speaker. No, I can’t be as effusive as I may be except to repeat that its better than any other mini-speaker I have reviewed – and that is saying something. It gets an 8/10 that is a pass mark. If you add JBL quality, it is even better. I would also repeat that the JBL Clip 4 9.1/10 at $30 more is a better mono speaker.
JBL GO 3
About as low cost as you can go and still get JBL quality
Value for money
Ease of use
'Mid' sound signature – better than most small speaker
Battery life closer to 2.75-3 hours than 5