The Flip 5 marks the newest offering from JBL, and follows in the tradition of the impressive Flip 4. A portable bluetooth speaker with 12 hours of battery life and a near-indestructible exterior, the JBL Flip 5 retails for a very palatable $99. But how does it sound? And is that sound worth the cheddar?
JBL Flip 5 Portable Waterproof Speaker Review
The Flip 5 features the same waterproof, dustproof, dropproof, bombproof exterior that we saw on the older Flip 4. With the same mesh face covering the length of the speaker, the Flip 5 sports a similar appearance. Heavy-duty, rubberized bookends deliver substantial bass while also offering an extra degree of durablity. Controls for power the speaker on or off, as well as connecting via Bluetooth are fixed into the heavy-duty, rubberized spine. Controls for playback and linking multiple speakers are located on the top of the speaker.
Some features have received an update though, leaving the Flip 5 with a new character that we’ve never seen in a JBL speaker before.
Missing from the JBL Flip 5 is an aux port, but the charging connection has been updated to USB-C - a feature that felt missing from its predecessor, the JBL Flip 4. This means the JBL Flip 5 will charge faster, topping off its 12-hour battery life in just two-and-a-half hours.
The low end is home to a tight bass. Sound quality takes the form of emotive and rugged lows that surge out like a flood of primal energy, whetting your appetite and leaving you esurient for more volume. And the bass does sound better as volume increases - deep and intoxicating, but still somewhat lifelike and never too overblown or sloppy. The result appears in the form of a very competent and bass-heavy sound that brings your music to life.
Here the Flip 5 delivers good mids with a strong sense of detail and fidelity, while remaining relatively clean for a bluetooth speaker. Though there is some minimal compression, it’s barely noticeable and there’s no real distortion. Vocals and instrumentation sound equally present, with neither overpowering the other. Overall the mids never really contest the highs and the lows and the whole sound comes together well.
The JBL Flip 5 sports solid highs - even if they do sound a little bit rolled-off. This does prevent high highs from ever getting too out of control, leading to a peaky, uncomfortable sound. Instead, the JBL Flip 5 delivers a velvety smooth, buttery and delicious sound that works well with everything you throw at it. While not as detailed as it could be for some tracks, it’s a compromise I am willing to live with as it does allow me to jack up that volume without making the high end a peaky mess.
There’s a very minimal sense of soundstage at play here. While the JBL Flip 5 does a great job of giving you great bass and great volume, it doesn’t convey a sense of space or depth all that well. However, most Bluetooth speakers at this price will struggle with this feat anyway.
With that in mind, there is a way to improve on the sense of soundstage with the JBL Flip 5. Using the PartyBoost feature, you can link two JBL Flip 5 speakers together, splitting the sound into left and right channels. The resultant stereo sound vastly improves the impression of space and depth, as well as soundstage.
Older or lower-quality recordings like hip-hop bootlegs or ancient blues tracks still sound pretty find, thanks to the smooth highs. If you’re looking for a portable speaker that sounds great with anything, the JBL Flip 5 fits the role.
At $99, the JBL Flip 5 proves the headphone and speaker giant is still reigning champ of the wireless speaker. With its bassy sound, excellent build, and competitive price, the Flip 5 brooks no competition and remains a bulletproof value for anyone looking for solid sound on the go.