JBL Go 4 Review

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JBL’s Go 4 is a pocket-sized waterproof Bluetooth speaker for everyday use and outdoor adventures. A built-in carry loop enhances portability while its refined sound and cutting-edge wireless support marks a notable upgrade from the Go 3.

JBL Go 4

Pros

  • Thumpy bass
  • Auracast support
  • Compact design
  • IP67 Dust & waterproof
  • JBL Portable app support with 5-Band custom EQ

Cons

  • Volume & play buttons have a small clickable target area
  • Not much volume increase from the Go 3

Battery Life:Up to 7 hours (+2 Hrs With PlaytimeBoost)
Water Resistance:IP67
Wireless Stereo Pairing:Yes
Power Output: 4.2W
Frequency Response:90 Hz – 20 kHz
Driver/Transducer:45 mm / 1.75”
Charging Type:USB-C
Mobile App:Yes (JBL Portable)
Size:3.7 x 3.0 x 1.7″
Weight:0.42 lbs

What’s In The Box?

  • JBL Go 4 Speaker
  • Type C USB Cable
  • User Manual

A New Generation Of Portable Audio

The Go 4 represents the first generation of JBL speakers to feature Auracast connectivity, a game-changing wireless format that broadens multi-speaker wireless support. Outside of basic TWS support, this is the first time JBL has adopted a non-proprietary approach to their multi-speaker pairing.

What Does This Mean?

Unlike in previous generations of JBL Bluetooth speakers, the Go 4 can be paired with any other speakers with Auracast support. While Auracast as a technology can be complex, all you need to know is that it lets you connect the Go 4 with any other Auracast speaker, regardless of model or manufacturer.

Design & Build Quality

Durability of Finish: 8.2/10
Feel of Buttons: 7.7/10
Weatherproofing: 7.9/10

The Go 4 is smaller than a wallet and can be taken just about anywhere, including into the harshness of the outdoors. It features IP67 water resistance, which protects it from dust intrusion and water damage. It can survive submergence in water of less than 1 meter for up to 30 minutes, but should never be intentionally submerged.

A key feature of the JBL Go 4 is its built-in carry loop, which is now wider and easier to carry around one’s finger. This loop is great for hanging the speaker from nearby trees when outdoors or from your bicycle frame. Unlike the Clip series, the loop can’t be opened and closed and needs to be slid onto whatever it is being hung from.

A fabric mesh extends around the front and back of the speaker, while a silky, soft rubber is used for the controls, charging port, and base (this material feels great). On the back are two semi-opaque rows of rubber which help the speaker retain stability when placed with the driver facing upwards.

Controls & Connectivity

Bluetooth Profiles: A2DP 1.4, AVRCP 1.6
Bluetooth Version: 5.3
Bluetooth Range: Up to 240 meters (Theoretically)

There are two primary control areas, on the top of the speaker are the volume controls and play/pause button, while on the side of the speaker, you’ll find the power button, Bluetooth pairing, and the Auracast pairing buttons. The volume control and play buttons are raised, allowing the user to navigate them with touch in dark situations. In contrast, the power and pairing buttons are flush, which while feeling great, makes it hard to use without lighting. Some subtle backlighting would have been a welcome addition.

While the volume and play buttons are relatively large, the clickable area is relatively small, and pushing on the outer edges of the button may not trigger the command. The Go 3’s buttons were a little more forgiving in this sense.

The JBL Go 4 is relatively modest in its features, and the only port you’ll find on the speaker is a single USB-C charging port.

Wireless Connectivity

This is one of JBL’s first speakers with Bluetooth 5.3, a revolutionary upgrade that introduces Auracast pairing, better efficiency, and improved range. Auracast is a feature made possible by Bluetooth 5.3 chips and newer.

Auracast allows the user to connect it with any other Auracast speaker on the market, facilitating comprehensive multi-speaker arrays using speakers from different manufacturers or model ranges. The JBL Go 4 can, for instance, be paired together with the Clip 5. When using TWS, you can only pair the Go 4 with another Go 4. In addition to its robust connectivity, Auracast is also a highly efficient technology that reduces battery consumption at the same time.

This is the first time that the Go series of speakers have supported a true wireless stereo connection, allowing two speakers to be connected in a stereo pair where each speaker becomes the left and right channel, improving soundstage and broadening coverage.

Sound Quality

Bass Performance: 7.1/10
Mid-tone Performance: 7.3/10
Treble Performance: 6.9/10
Volume: 7.2/10
Balanced Sound: 7.7/10

The above frequency response chart illustrates the sound signature of the Go 4, using the default JBL Signature preset. It has a frequency response range of 90Hz to 20kHz, which is slightly deeper than its predecessor. It shows the elevation of bass and midrange frequencies and a drop-off towards the high midrange. This is a relatively common signature that helps to separate the mids from the highs to provide more clarity. The midrange is otherwise mostly balanced, particularly towards the lower end. Let’s dig a bit deeper into these frequencies and how they sound to the ear.

Bass

For a speaker of its size, the JBL Go 4 has a thumpy bass that while elevated, remains tight and distinct, especially in comparison to similar older JBL models where the bass was underwhelming. The punchier mid and upper bass brings genres like EDM and hip-hop to life, though is limited in its depth (don’t expect those deep rumbles found on larger speakers.)

A common concern around increased bass is how it will affect the clarity of the midrange and highs. The Go 4 handles this concern well, with the low frequencies not obscuring the details in the mids or highs.

Boosting the bass using the JBL Portable app can add even more boom to your tracks.

Midrange

The midrange is particularly impressive, with a fuller lower midrange that creates a strong sense of depth, features that are inherently more common in larger speakers but have historically lacked in the “mini” size range, particularly within JBL’s speaker range.

When comparing the Go 4 to the Go 3, the increase in lower midrange presence is immediately noticeable, with the Go 3 sounding much thinner in the lower midrange. 

While the warmer sound is great for most genres of music, podcasts sounded slightly more refined on the JBL Go 3. Again, this can easily be corrected using the 5-band EQ.

Highs

With the default EQ, the highs are relatively good, but can sometimes sound slightly dulled out by those strong lower midrange frequencies. This can be easily corrected using the JBL app. Increasing the highs can help to balance things out, resulting in a more refined and detailed sound.

It’s not uncommon for speakers to require some minor tweaking in the EQ to achieve the ideal sound, and some subtle changes can go a long way in tailoring one’s sound. This is something that wasn’t available on the Go 3. Keep reading for more information on the mobile app and how to customize your sound.

Soundstage & Dynamics

JBL has made a point of noting the improvements to dynamics in their latest releases and these claims have merit, with the Go 4 expressing subtle nuance in variations in volume and tone. A better dynamic range makes songs sound more detailed, and the fluctuations in volume are able to be better portrayed. This isn’t immediately noticeable for all genres, but for complex arrangements like classical music, it can make a remarkable difference to the listener, making songs sound more lifelike.

Considering its compact design, the Go 4 achieves an impressive soundstage that is wider than the Go 3 and if you close your eyes it’s hard to believe that you’re listening to a pocket-sized Bluetooth speaker. It’s important to note that this is still a mono speaker with a single driver, which limits the soundstage potential when compared to larger stereo alternatives.

So, how loud is it?

During testing our measurements were 83.3 dB SPL peak at 1 meter from the measuring device (using the JBL Signature EQ setting). This is around 1 dB higher than we measured on the Go 3 and enough volume to fill a small room. It’s not bad for a speaker intended to be used for solo listening or small group sessions with a couple of friends.

Battery Performance

Charging Type: USB-C
Manufacturer Playtime: Up to 7 hours
Playtime at 50% (Tested): 7 Hours 4 Minutes
Charging Time: 3 Hours and 12 Minutes

The JBL Go 4 has a Li-ion polymer 3.23 Wh (equivalent to. 3.8 V / 850 mAh) that JBL claims can provide up to 7 hours of playtime, or 9 hours when using the “Playtime Boost” feature. Playtime Boost can be toggled using the JBL Portable app. This is an improvement from the 5 hours offered by the previous generation and more in line with competitors, though it falls short of the likes of Sony’s XB100. It features a USB-C charging port and has a charging time of around 3 hours.

During our testing, we managed to get 7 hours and 4 minutes of playtime at a volume level of between 50 and 60%. The closest to the manufacturer’s advertised playtime that we’ve tested. The volume and features used will impact the overall battery life you can achieve.

Overall, the battery provides enough playtime for a single long listening session or several shorter sessions.

Mobile App Support

There is no way to overstate the magnitude of the mobile app when it comes to using the Go 4. Its most noteworthy feature is the selection of 4 preset EQs and a 5-band custom EQ that can completely change how the JBL Go 4 sounds. Adding some gain to the 4kHz and 16kHz bands brings vocals to the forefront, making it sound brighter. Additionally, you can boost the bass for more low-end. Here’s what my favorite EQ setting looks like:

Available on Android & Apple.

In addition to sound customization, the app shows you the current battery life and has a toggle for the PlaytimeBoost feature. It also caters to multi-speaker pairing, in case you don’t want to use the Auracast button when pairing two or more speakers.

Conclusion

Speakers like the JBL Go and JBL Clip have always offered an improved alternative to built-in phone speakers, but the JBL Go 4 ushers in a new era where multi-speaker pairing and EQ capabilities elevate it to the next level. At around $40, it’s a no-brainer recommendation for anyone seeking a small, portable Bluetooth speaker for frequent use. The Go 4 is now available on Amazon.

JBL GO 4
JBL Go 4 Review 14

The JBL Go 4 is a compact speaker that can fit in the palm of your hand while the built-in carry loop makes carrying it a breeze. It features a durable build consisting of rubber and woven fabric. Available in numerous colors, you can match your speaker to your personality.

Product Brand: JBL

Editor's Rating:
4

Pros

  • Thumpy bass
  • Auracast support
  • Compact design
  • IP67 Dust & waterproof
  • JBL Portable app support with 5-Band custom EQ

Cons

  • Volume & play buttons have a small clickable target area
  • Control positions are a bit awkward at first

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Author: Bryn De Kocks

Bryn has worked in the field for several years, writing in-depth speaker reviews for various audio publications. His work has historically focused on headphones and Bluetooth speakers, while incorporating his understanding of the Bluetooth speaker market to help educate potential buyers.

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