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If you’re looking for the best earbuds that offer plenty of features and performance at an affordable price, you may want to look at JLab’s earbuds. This brand’s earbuds have long fulfilled the need for providing a wide array of earbuds and headphones for price-wary consumers.
Most earbuds come in black, white or various colors, but I was intrigued by JLab’s Go Air Tones earbuds because they come in neutral colors and, according to the brand, are designed to match your skin tone. JLab sent us a pair to review. If you’re curious how these earbuds stack up against many of our favorite earbuds, read on for our full JLab Go Air Tone earbuds review below.
While some earbuds can be tricky to pair, the Tones fired up and linked to my iPhone pretty quickly. After opening the case for the first time, the earbuds went into pairing mode immediately and as soon as I opened the Bluetooth settings on my iPhone, the Tones were already listed in the “Other Devices” option. The Tones are also compatible across all devices that have a Bluetooth connection, including Android devices, although I didn’t test that process since I don’t have an Android phone.
Available in 7 Shades
The best part, and the defining feature of the Tones is, well, the color of the earbuds and the case. JLab partnered with ORLY Color Labs to design the Tone finishes similar to “nude” fingernail polish in order to better blend in with the user’s ear color. From an initial selection of 60 skin tone colors, JLab ended up choosing seven to make the final cut. Although this doesn’t cover the full spectrum of skin tones, it does cover a range of lighter to darker shades.
For people who like small and light earbuds because they are unnoticeable, these take it a step further by being more discreet in your ear compared to white or black earbuds. When wearing the Tones, I felt like a cursory glance at my ears made them hard to immediately notice, which is part of the intended use. I’m used to sticks hanging out of my ears while I work out or walk around, so having something more subtle is appreciated.
The touchpads on either ear work to toggle the play and pause functionality, while a tap on the right controls the volume up, and a tap on the left turns it down. That tap motion is sensitive but gets easier to use once you’re familiar with it. Other touch controls include the ability to activate a voice assistant and even toggle EQ settings.
Additionally, the IPX4 water resistance should help with sweaty workouts, as the rating helps to protect from splashing water, no matter the direction. Additionally, I tested the earbuds during a 30-minute Peloton ride and a 30-minute outdoor run and they did fine, but I’m also not a heavy sweater, so it’s best to keep them out of the pouring rain because they’ll likely get ruined. Also, one of my favorite features is the signature JLab built-in USB charging cord, so there’s no hunting down a USB cord which makes it very convenient and hassle-free to charge.
Good Performance for Price
The Tones aren’t going to win awards for sound quality but are pretty good considering they cost around $20. Podcasts sounded a little hollow, but music fared better; you’re not going to get the full richness of a song like you might come with higher-end earbuds. If you like bass, you’ll like the Tones which I found to be bass-forward when listening to music. Battery life lasted about four hours, which could be better, but you’ll get about an hour’s worth of playback time off a 15-minute charge.
While the Tones have microphones in them for calls, I wouldn’t recommend using them, as the call itself sounded echoey and shallow, and the same goes for the microphone. It’ll work in a pinch but if you’re someone who uses them for listening and for extensive work calls, consider looking elsewhere, as the microphone is simply not up to the clarity standards I’d like or anticipate.
Impressive Noise Cancellation
Considering the $20 price tag, I was shockingly impressed with how well they canceled noise even though they don’t have noise cancellation technology. During testing, the washing machine was running right next to where I work, and with earbuds in and music playing, I couldn’t hear the machine going at all. The natural seal on my ears blocked out considerable extra noise. The Tones come with extra ear tips, so it’s worth finding one that fits your ears well to create a seal in order to get the best level of noise cancellation.
While you aren’t going to get the sound quality of higher-end earbuds, the Tones are a great value at $20. I was especially impressed with how well this budget-friendly pair of earbuds canceled out noise, as well as their discreet appearance. Between their unique skin tone colors, impressive passive noise cancelation and compelling price, it’s hard not to recommend them.
Should You Buy the JLab Go Air Tones Earbuds?
Without question, I recommend these, even with a few drawbacks. At $20, the Tones are already worth purchasing as a dedicated set of exercise earbuds or as a dedicated pair to keep at the office. Not to mention the unique skin tone shades, which makes them great for someone who wants their earbuds to blend in.
- Skin tone matching is more discreet
- Great passive noise cancelation
- Good value
- Podcasts sound hollow
- Microphone quality