Hands-on review: JLab Go Work Bluetooth headset and mic
Image credit: JLab
As home working evolves into hybrid working, we're still going to be making and taking a lot of video calls. Here's a headset to wear for the transition - and beyond.
Two years into the Covid pandemic and video calls have gone from being an entertaining novelty, to the bane of our collective professional existence, to now a routine state of near normality - just another part of our working day.
However you feel about them, video calls, Zoom meetings, Teams hangouts etc are here to stay, and we've all had enough practice at them by now to hopefully not still be plagued by technical difficulties.
It certainly helps smooth the way for a good, relaxing and productive call if you have a decent headset. Something that puts your voice across clearly and lets you hear others with equal clarity.
JLab's Go Work headset is a neat answer to all of the above. A straightforward, good-quality pair of on-ear headphones with a built-in boom mic.
The headset works either wirelessly via Bluetooth - with an estimated 45 hours of uptime from a single charge - or wired via the included USB-C to 3.5mm cable for unlimited runtime.
The headset can connect to PC, Mac, phone or tablet and supports Bluetooth multipoint, meaning you can be connected to any two devices simultaneously and move seamlessly between them.
Construction is fairly basic - a lot of black plastic - but the extendable arms are reinforced with aluminium for longevity. The earpieces and headband feature 'Cloud Foam' for comfort and while neither section looks luxuriously padded, we didn't have much to complain about even after wearing the headset for most of a working day.
The ear pads are both covered with that stretchy, smooth material that you often see on mid-range headphones, which does have a tendency to deteriorate over time, especially with the warmth and sweat when worn on one's ears for hours at a time every day. Whether this headset is actually intended to last for many years is debatable, although JLab does give a two-year guarantee.
One caveat with the headset might be that if you have a particularly large head (e.g. hat sizes 7.5 and up), you will be at the outer limits of how accommodating you can make it. The arms extend to a fixed length, which does come up a little shorter than many professional headphones. As it happens, this writer has a reasonably large head and the Go Work headset fitted just fine, albeit at the maximum arm extension.
The sound of the headset for music listening is good. Maybe not "awesome, jaw-dropping, honey - sell the Sennheiser HD650s" good, but absolutely better than you might expect and at least as good as many dedicated music headphones available for the price of this headset.
We listened to the entirety of 'The Beatles: In Stereo' 2009 box set whilst wearing the Go Work headset and thoroughly enjoyed picking out new details in music with which we're already very familiar. John Lennon's occasional mid-song mumbles. George Harrison's Liverpool accent detectable amidst three-part harmony singing. Bass, guitar and drums. It all sounded good: lively and engaging. As a pair of 'work' headphones for listening to music in the background, or to block out your noisy neighbours (whether at home or in the office), the Go Work headset is a solid choice.
The fact that it can also switch into operating as a professional voice headset in a second doubles the appeal. The Go Work uses two microphones: one to pick up your voice and the other to eliminate environmental sounds around you, so that your voice always comes across clear and strong.
The boom microphone can be rotated up and out of the way when not in use, parallel with the right arm, then simply nudged forward clockwise when you need to make or take a call or join a video conference. A clickable button on the right earpad toggles the mute function, which also illuminates a red LED at the end of the microphone stalk. It's not a blinding light, thankfully, but you can clearly see its glow out of the corner of your eye - as well as by looking at yourself in your own window on a video call - so it's easy to tell what state you're in.
We noticed that using this mute function on e.g. a Teams video call didn't change the status of the microphone icon within Teams itself, so you do have to stay aware of whether the microphone is active or not. In fact, when we were on mute for an extended period during one call, Teams sent us an automatic message worrying that our microphone might have stopped working because it couldn't hear any audio at all coming from our end. The Go Work's mute function clearly works very well!
We much prefer using the headset now to mute ourselves during meetings, rather than mousing and clicking on icons within the Teams interface. It's one less thing to fuss about. You can simply talk - or listen - with a single press on the earpad.
The only other controls on the Go Work headset - all of which are on the right earpad, along with the USB-C charging slot - are a power on/off button, which also doubles as pairing depending on how long you hold it for, and two buttons for volume up and down, which also do double duty, in their case skip track forward or back or call answer and reject, depending on how you're using the headset at any given moment.
Also worth mentioning is the reliability of the Bluetooth 5 connection, which allowed us to wander around the house, including into different rooms out of line of sight with the host device, without dropping the connection.
Go Work is a straightforward, no-nonsense, good-quality headset with microphone, equipped with all the key functionality necessary for reliable video calling. As a bonus, music sounds good on them, too.
As long as you don't mind the sole black colourway, and the fact that they don't fold at all, the Go Work will let you do just that - in style and in stereo.
JLab Go Work headset
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