If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Rolling Stone may receive an affiliate commission.
So you don’t want the Cadillac of wireless earbuds just so you can sweat all over them a few times a week — we totally get it. But just because you’re looking for a pair of affordable earbuds that you can toss in your gym bag without thinking about them, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on great sound.
If you’re looking for a good pair of earbuds for working out, but aren’t trying to drain your wallet, there are more brands than you think making solid options for $100 or less — and the JLab Go Air Sport are killing it in this arena.
It can be hard to choose from the sea of workout headphones on the market right now, but the best earbuds for working out should stay secure no matter how hard you go during your training session, and ideally make it easier to listen to music and podcasts when you’re on the move. Some companies struggle to pair down their fitness buds to the basics, over-designing until they’re no longer comfortable to workout in, or overloading them with pricey audiophile features.
JLabs Go Air Sport keeps it simple, and that’s how they manage to keep ahead of the pack for two key reasons: durability and affordability. Their water-resistant, ergonomic design will certainly entice fitness buffs — but for those who do pay attention to their EQ setting too, despite their shortcomings, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much punchy, bass-forward sound you’ll get at an unbeatable price.
Long-Lasting Performance On a Budget
Let’s talk fit first — especially if you’re a runner, or a fan of HIIT, rest assured that the Go Air Sport has you covered here. While JLab isn’t reinventing the wheel when it comes to the classic earhook design, like the popular Beats Powerbeats Pro, the Go Air Sport’s design is still an effective way to keep the buds in place. JLab paired down their size too, but they still provide a secure fit that stays pretty comfortable even through longer runs.
Exercise enthusiasts will also appreciate the Go Air Sport’s rugged build, whose IP55 sweat and water-resistance surprisingly beats out the more expensive AirPods Pro (IPX4). The durable plastic ensures that these buds can take a couple hits without scratching too, whether you throw them in your gym shorts, or drop them on the ground.
For their price point, JLab also made a commendable effort to provide full touch controls on the body of the Go Air Sport buds themselves. You’ll get playback, volume control, voice assistance, call receiving/ending, and EQ adjustments. The right and left buds hold different functions, although the touch controls in practice overall are hit or miss here. I’m not a fan of non-tactile controls anyways (buttons forever!) but it’s a little difficult to recognize your number of taps, especially when you’re in the middle of a workout.
Mic quality during calls is fairly decent when you’re in a low-noise environment, but you might have some difficulty on a busy city street. That being said, voice commands through Siri or Google assistant still worked well no matter how loud of a location I was walking through.
Where the Go Air Sport excels where other budget-friendly competitors have failed is in having superior battery life. You’ll get up to eight hours on a single charge with the Go Air Sport, which is bumped up to 32 hours with the charging case. That’s more playback time than more higher-end earbud cases will give you (Jabra’s Elite 7 Active only gets 30 hours), and almost a full week’s worth of workouts. In my testing experience I’ve found that it took me a couple days of moderate use before I had to pull out the charger.
The charging case itself, while initially a unique idea to feature an integrated USB cable on the case, would benefit from jumping over to the USB-C charging that dominates the industry. The charging case requires a USB port to charge, which is increasingly rare on popular laptops like MacBooks. It’s not a dealbreaker, just something to consider.
Lows Are a High Point, Highs Are a Low Point
Like most workout buds today, JLab has engineered a beefed-up bass sound for their headphones, and the Go Air Sport don’t miss the mark here. To make sure your music isn’t getting totally lost in the lower registers, the Go Air Sport have been adjusted so the mids still pop, but it’s the bass here that really shines (sometimes to the detriment of the highs).
If you really aren’t here for the bass, the good news is there’s also three EQ settings you can switch between, Signature, Balanced, and Bass Boost. It’s not the most robust array of options, but for under $50, it’s impressive that there’s any sound customization offered, period.
Bass Boost created a heavy, booming feel on tracks like The Weeknd’s “Sacrifice” that have a real driving beat, and it really helps if you’re trying to push through those last few miles of your run. Balanced flattens out the highs and lows, but you should be particularly selective with this setting — it works bet on songs where you want to hone in on every piece of instrumentation and vocal note evenly, like Daft Punk’s sweeping epic “Touch”.
But the Signature sounds is clearly the standout here, and we suggest you keep your music streaming on this setting if you want to get the most out of a diverse library with these buds. There’s better vocal performance without too much distortion on ballad-adjacent songs such as Mariya Takeuchi’s “OH NO,OH YES!”, and the lows won’t drive your ear drums crazy if you’re into clave-heavy genres like Salsa.
Are JLab Go Air Sport Worth It?
For their price point, the Go Air Sport from JLab give you your money’s worth, especially to carry you through your longest and toughest workouts. They can last up to 32 hours when fully powered up with the charging case, and can withstand anything the elements (or your sweat) can throw at them.
Their compact, smaller size makes them significantly less bulky than other workout earbuds with wingtips, but you’ll still want to adjust the fit with the included ear tips — either way, they’re sure to stay secure whether you’re pounding the pavement or hopping on the subway.
You’ll also get more out of your sound than you would from other budget-minded buds, from their standout Signature EQ to the Bass Boost EQ that was practically made for workouts. With longer playback times, and above-average sound quality, the Go Air Sport are worth the buy.