Last year we had the opportunity to review several JBL bluetooth speakers and have been enjoying their consistent audio performance and reliability. Needless to say, we were excited to hear that the new JBL Flip 4 ($99.95) was available to review. The Flip 4 is JBL's latest generation in the award-winning Flip series and has quite a reputation to live up to. This portable Bluetooth
speaker has and still does deliver surprisingly powerful stereo sound from a compact design. The IPX7 (waterproof) rating makes it an ideal companion around the pool. Up to 2 smartphones or tablets can be connected to the Flip 4 allowing each device to take turns playing music. Using JBL's Connect+ technology, users can wirelessly links more than 100 JBL Connect+
enabled speakers together to further improve the listening experience for larger spaces.
The speaker can even be configured to activate and talk to Siri or Goggle Now with a simple press of a button. The speaker is powered by a rechargeable 3000mAh Li-ion battery, providing up to 12 hours of continuous music. Answering phone calls is easy too with the noise
and echo-canceling speakerphone.
JBL offers the Flip 4 in six
different colors with waterproof fabric materials. Users can choose from black, grey, teal, blue, white, or red. This is actually two less colors than what was offered with the predecessor Flip 3. A tether is attached to the Flip 4 so that it can be easily carried or connected to a mount. This is by far one of JBL's most popular Bluetooth player given its performance and price point. The Flip 4 includes a charging cable, but no AC adapter.
back of the Flip 4 has the auxiliary port for a wired 3.5mm plug and the micro USB jack used to charge the unit. Both connections are hidden behind a waterproof flap. The 5-level indicator shows the battery level when the power button is pressed and also indicates the charging level when the unit is plugged into a power source through the micro USB cable. The top side has the standard controls for Bluetooth linking, volume control, and playback control (play/pause).
The Flip 4 has good audio performance and the dual 8W amplifiers provide substantial output levels from a small package. JBL has done a tremendous job with balancing size, price and audio performance. The unit can be placed horizontally or vertically. However, we found that we get the best bass response when the unit is placed horizontally where both side ports exposed. The high frequency drivers are fairly directional on this unit, so the player sounds best when the drivers face out towards the listener. In some cases it might be better to face the speaker upwards for a more omni directional sound dispersion for the higher frequencies to avoid the sweet spot. We also found that the bass often couples nicely to the surface it's placed on, which can enhance the bass.
The Flip 4 continues to carry on JBL's Flip series tradition with a great sounding and user friendly compact speaker design. We found it to be our favorite simply because it has done a great job of balancing portability, features, and performance. It's no wonder that the Flip 4 is one of the most popular JBL Bluetooth speakers.
- Kevin Nakano