JBL Flip 5 Review – is it better than its predecessor?
The popular JBL speaker, Flip, has its fifth incarnation. The novelty generates more power, has an updated interface and refreshed design. How has the sound of Flip changed and is the speaker worth the money?
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First Impressions & Connectivity
Flip 5 was first shown at the January CES trade show, but for its appearance in stores, we had to wait more than half a year. While it may look amazing in terms of concept and dimensions, the new model manages to deliver even better sound, while retaining a distinctive and very practical design, robust construction, and reasonable price.
On the exterior of the new model, it is almost impossible to find differences from its predecessor: the cylindrical housing is wrapped in a solid metal mesh and trimmed with durable rubber, while the increase in overall dimensions is imperceptible and measured in millimeters. On the front is a metal nameplate with the company logo, and above it are placed four buttons in the form of function symbols, which are used to control volume, control playback, and activate the new PartyBoost modality. The differences are more noticeable at the rear, primarily because the rubberized belt that connects the edges of the cylindrical body is somewhat narrower. Here we find the buttons for turning on the device and activating the Bluetooth connection, with a USB-C port for charging the internal battery and a light bar for indicating the charge. As the USB-C port is waterproof, the protective cover was put out of service, but the victim of this simplification was the extra 3.5mm input. So Bluetooth is now the only option to connect.
Inside the waterproof case, the setting is completely different from its predecessor. A pair of 40mm wideband units has been replaced by a single 44x80mm driver, which means that the JBL Flip 5 reproduces mono sound. However, the total power has been increased to 20 watts, and the manufacturer promises a wider frequency band, ie a lower limit (65 Hz – 20 kHz). The battery has also been increased from 3,000 to a very solid 4,800 mAh, but the stated duration has been kept at 12 hours – we assume it’s the price of inserting more powerful amplification and a larger speaker unit.
JBL Flip 5 Sound Test
Despite switching to a single-channel setting, the change in topology has led to an improvement in the sound, with Flip 5 following the path outlined by its bigger brother Charge 4. This implies an even higher volume without audible distortion, with the possibility of longer working at maximum due to increased battery power. The greatest progress is seen in the low-tone area, which is firmer and more massive, with excellent speed and attack. The sound is even more striking in the overall impression, which is also due to the passive 40mm membranes on the sides of the case.
As expected, the presence of only one driver ensures a completely homogeneous presentation, without overriding between bands. The mid-tones were kept at a very good level, with a fair amount of detail and, to say the least, a more accurate presentation, but with a dose of warmth that allows comfortable listening at long intervals.
The trebles are also more powerful than their predecessors and carry more energy while being superbly controlled. The fine details are masterfully integrated into the larger musical whole, and the overall tone balance is somewhat more neutral than with the last generation. Even as Flip 4 didn’t provide a particularly wide and defined stage – this is not expected from such a small speaker – switching to a single-channel setup didn’t make things worse. Flip 5, on the other hand, brings a distinct temperament, very good dynamics, and indescribability to the genres of music, and in that sense, it is a real little pearl that is difficult to beat in a given price range.
The speaker can be configured using the JBL Connect application. The software impresses with the interface but does not impress with functionality, which is actually limited only to connecting speakers together. In addition, you can turn off the beeps and update the software. It is a pity that no graphic equalizer or additional sound modes have been implemented.
Pro and Cons
In contrast to better sound, a larger battery, and a more convenient USB-C port, there are options that have been denied the next generation of Flip, which are certainly significant to a certain number of users. First of all, it is the absence of line input, which reduces connectivity to Bluetooth only, as well as the ejection of the speakerphone, which consequently eliminates support for Google Now and Apple Siri voice assistants. In addition, the new PartyBoost multi-device connectivity standard is not compatible with earlier Connect + technology, which has caused discontent among older models. PartyBoost connectivity and stereo pairing is done via buttons on the device or through the JBL Connect application, which can also update the speaker firmware. In the end, it is obvious that the JBL with the new Flip 5 is fully focused on getting the best sound possible, and if you are looking for good sound and more functionality, you will have to turn to the larger and more expensive Charge 4 speaker.
So what’s the verdict? If the bass and the new USB port count, then you should choose Flip 5 – the speaker costs about 430 PLN. If the bass is of secondary importance, and we care about the microphone, it is better to save and choose Flip 4 for about 330 PLN. Personally, I prefer the previous model, but I also enjoyed the new products well.
The user manual can be found here: JBL Flip 5 User Manual
- Powerful audio for the size
- IPX7 waterproof rating
- Can be personalized on JBL’s site
- No speakerphone functionality or aux input
JBL Flip 5 Features
- Sounds Better Than Ever – Feel the music. The new speaker driver in Flip 5 provides even more power. Enjoy the powerful bases of a small compact device.
- Make a Party Anywhere – Forget about annoying worries like charging a battery. Flip 5 gives you more than 12 hours of playback time. Indulge in music and JBL sound without restriction.
- Refreshing IPX7 Waterproof Design – Bring Flip 5 wherever you want. Fun at the pool? Perfectly. Sudden Cloud Break? Fixed. A beach party? Flip 5 is waterproof and can be submerged in water up to a depth of 1m – making it the perfect speaker for outdoor parties.
- Start a Party With PartyBoost – The PartyBoost option lets you connect two JBL PartyBoost compatible stereo speakers or create a multi-party party.
- Color Palette – With a choice of 11 eye-catching colors, Flip 5 is the cure for boredom. Enjoy the color spectrum and JBL sound.
- Powerful Device and Powerful Sound – Put a light speaker on your wrist and set off on an adventure. The durable fabric and sturdy rubber case protect the device while you enjoy the outdoors.
JBL Flip 5 Specifications
- Bluetooth version: 4.2
- Supports: A2DP V1.3 HFP V1.6
- Driver: 44mm x 80mm
- Output Power: 20W RMS
- Frequency Response: 65Hz – 20kHz
- Signal to Noise Ratio: ≥80dB
- Battery type: lithium-ion polymer (17.28Wh, 3.6V 4800mAh)
- Battery Charge Time: 2.5 hours @ 5V / 3A
- Play time: up to 12 hours (depending on volume and contents)
- Bluetooth Power: 0-11 dBm
- Bluetooth Carrier Frequency Range: 2.402 – 2.480GHz
- Gearbox Bluetooth Modulation: GFSK, π / 4-DQPSK, 8DPSK
- Dimensions (H x S x D): 181 x 69 x 74 (mm)
- Weight: 540g
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