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Hands-on review: JBL Go 3 - the ultra-compact portable with punch

By Owen McCarthy
Wed 19 May 2021
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Boomers who remember the 1970s will find the JBL Go 3 far removed from the image of the shoulder-mounted Ghetto-Blaster. Like so much technology, size has decreased while quality has skyrocketed. This review caused me to wonder if many people from the 1970s suffered from ongoing rotator cuff and lumbar issues. If the JBL Go 3 had been around, we would have still looked cool without the risk of OOS.

Those of us who equate big sound with big speakers will be pleasantly surprised by the Go 3. The built-in loop means you can easily carry it with you, and the smart design means you’ll be looking fashion savvy wherever you go. JBL have produced it in a variety of new shades, inspired by current street fashion. They say that the JBL Go 3 “looks as vivid as it sounds.” 

This 8.8cm x 7.5cm x 4.1cm behemoth weighs in at a hefty 0.21kg. It has had me grooving along to tunes like Taylor’ Swifts Mr Perfectly Fine and Where is the Love from the Black Eyed Peas. The sound is crystal clear, and it manages to punch out right across the register from treble to bass.

I double-checked by listening to the Beatles' Come Together and one of my favourite duets; The Prayer with Chris Mann and Christina Aguilera. I double-checked by checking out some Dizzie Rascal and then a collection called Bass Crackers on Spotify. Some of the lyrics made me blush but those beats came through strongly. Just don’t expect them to vibrate your innards the way those car-mounted sub-woofers do. 

I kept looking for a trade-off in sound quality, but the JBL Go 3 handled the higher and lower registers admirably. For a personal speaker, it will keep you happy at the beach or a small gathering, but don’t expect the sound to carry in a packed concert hall. 

JBL’s website refers to the sound as “surprisingly punchy” for the ultra-compact size. I hear what they mean. Available in a range of colours (my review item is black and orange and it rocks) the design is clever, colourful and stylish. You will find a colour scheme to fit and make your own fashion statement. 

I should mention too that the Go3 is IP67 compliant, which means it’s both water-resistant (up to half a metre for half an hour in freshwater) and dust resistant. Take it to the beach, but don’t take it for a swim; that’s how I read the IP code for this product.

Technical Stuff:

  • Bluetooth V5.1
  • Charging time- 2.5 hours
  • Playing time- up to 5 hours
  • Auto power off – just as well for me with my notorious memory.
  • Connection for charging is via a Type-C cable, which comes with the Go 3.

I’ve been a fan of JBL’s controls that are tactile, simple, and fashionable all at the same time. Those of us familiar with JBL’s products will instantly recognise them, but the beauty is that so will a first-time user. 

JBL describe the Go 3 as an ultra-portable speaker that looks as great as it sounds, and I concur. With its street-savvy colour choices, you will make a fashion statement wherever you go. It is retailing at just under NZ$70, making it one of the more affordable choices for those of us fussy about our sound quality.  Best of all, no more sore shoulders.

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