The JBL GO 2 lacks the typical cloth exterior found on other waterproof speakers. Instead, it has a rubberized housing that feels tough. If you’re worried about looking like everyone else at the beach with a generic black box, the GO 2 comes in a whopping 12 different colors, allowing you to choose the one that best represents your tastes. A large JBL logo and a grille allow the sound to project outward from the speaker. There is no back grille for passive bass radiators, as found on speakers such as the Sony SRS-XB41, but that is to be expected for a speaker of this size. The controls are all located on the top of the speaker. Power, pairing, volume, and a multi-function button are all present. The latter serve as playback controls, and a long press brings up your phone’s voice assistant. This also implies the presence of a speakerphone, through which you can control your voice assistant or take calls. The speakerphone, on the other hand, isn’t particularly sensitive, so you’ll have to speak up. A rubber door on the right side of the speaker conceals the microUSB charging port and 3.5mm aux jack for legacy devices. Don’t be fooled by its small size; the JBL GO 2 can really crank out the tunes. We discovered that listening to music at 50% volume is comfortable, and increasing it to 75% provides a surprisingly full sound for such a small speaker. However, you should exercise caution when going overboard because the sound becomes noticeably harsh near the maximum volume: Music is very harsh and fatiguing at maximum volume. While the bass is virtually non-existent, the mids and highs are tight and smooth. The sound is quite narrow, which is to be expected from a mono speaker, but other Bluetooth speakers project music more effectively. Furthermore, the JBL GO 2 only fires sound forward, so if you want sound to radiate evenly around the pool deck, you’ll need a 360-degree speaker like the UE Boom 2. In terms of battery life, at 50%, you’ll get about 5 hours of listening time. If you crank it up, expect it to be closer to 4, which is quite short in comparison to other portable speakers, but that’s the trade-off JBL made by designing the GO 2 in such a small form factor.

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