JBL 5 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker is a great wireless device with balance of sound quality, portability, and price. JBL is no stranger to portable Bluetooth speakers, as evidenced by the $119.95 Flip 5, the latest entry in the popular line. Sonically, the speaker delivers quite a punch for its size and price – every new entry from JBL seems to deliver more bass depth than the dimensions and drivers should be capable of. An IPX7 rating, meanwhile, covers all the bases on the waterproofing front. And for an extra $30, you can even personalize the speaker with graphics you upload. In short, there’s very little to complain about here, though there are several compelling options worth’s your attention in this price range.
About the Sound Device
Modern architect Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe’s famous ‘less is more’ phrase is not a common approach to many Bluetooth speakers these days as brands strive for Wi-Fi and multi-room. The minimalist manner of the JBL Flip 5 portable speaker is unexpected, then – especially as it even strips back some of the features of its predecessor, the JBL Flip 4.
Still, the best Bluetooth speakers aren’t always the ones with the longest spec sheets, and JBL has a proven track record for quality speakers.
Model Name JBL FLIP 5
Color: Black, Blue, Camo, Forest Green, Gray, Green, Ocean Blue, Pink, Red, Sand, Teal, White, Yellow
Sound clarity 20 KHz
Speaker Type Portable Bluetooth Speakers
Item Weight 1.2 Pounds
Wireless Bluetooth streaming
12 hours of playtime
Pair multiple speakers with party boost
Premium JBL sound quality
Connector Type: 3.5mm Stereo
Power Source Type: Battery Powered
Included Components: Quick Start Guide
The cylindrical Flip 5 measures 7.1 by 2.7 inches (HW) and weighs in at 1.2 pounds. It’s available in 14 different color schemes, as well as a camouflage-themed design. To mention, for $30 more, you can customize the grille on the speaker to display uploaded art or work with graphics JBL has on its site. I think it turns out great, but one word of caution: very small lettering can get obscured by the rough surface.
For controls, they are arrayed along with the grille in a row. There’s a button for Party boost (a feature that allows you to connect to various other JBL speakers and have them all stream the same music), volume up, volume down, and play/pause. On a thin strip of plastic on the back of the speaker, there’s a power button, a Bluetooth pairing button, a USB-C port for the included charging cable. The port is uncovered, which makes it all more impressive. This waterproof speaker can be submerged up to a meter and can handle water pressure from a faucet, so it’s perfect for poolside listening. There’s also a lanyard loop, and the speaker ships with a shoelace-style line, making it easy to hang on just about anything that can support its weight.
The ends of the speaker house passive bass radiators that push out quite a bit of low-end, while the grille covers a 20-watt, 44-by-80mm driver delivering 65Hz to 20kHz. There’s not going to be super-powerful sub-bass here, but the system does a good job of pushing out rich low and low-mid bass depth to make up for this.
As mentioned, the Party boost allows you to stream the same music to multiple JBL bluetooth speakers. In the free JBL Connect app, you can also select whether you want to make the Flip 5 part of a stereo pair, or if you want it to play both left and right channels in mono as part of a group. Other than this function, there’s not much reason to download the app – it displays battery life and allows you to disable audio feedback for button presses. There’s no adjustable EQ. There’s also no speakerphone function on the speaker itself, nor a 3.5mm aux input.
On tracks with intense sub-bass content, Flip 5 waterproof bluetooth speaker delivers impressive thump for its size. The bass doesn’t distort at top volume levels, thanks to some DSP (digital signal processing) that thins out the deep lows. At more moderate volumes, the bass depth sounds thicker, but this is not a speaker capable of producing subwoofer-like depth. It makes up for it by pushing out the lows and low-mids with the help of the passive radiators.
It should be noted that depending on where you are in relation to the speaker, and whether it’s sitting on its end or flat, can make a tremendous difference in terms of perceived treble response. Things never sound dull, but when the speaker is lined up with the ears, you’re more likely to have a bright, crisp sound signature. You’ll get roughly the same bass depth regardless of positioning.
Playing bass banging music, the kick drum loop gets plenty of high-mid presence, allowing its attack to retain its punchiness in the mix, while the loop’s thump has a bit less bass oomph than you might hope for. This is also true of the sub-bass synth hits for reasons I described earlier you will hear them, but the truly deep bass is not part of the equation here. The vocals on this track are delivered with solid high-mid clarity, though there’s some added sibilance in play.
Whichever finish takes your fancy, you get the same straight-up, no-frills portable speaker. There’s Bluetooth playback of course (simply press the dedicated button to initiate pairing); JBL’s PartyBoost function that pairs Flip 5 or Pulse 4 speakers either for stereo pairing or simultaneous playback in the companion JBL Connect app and a USB-C slot for charging and that is your lot.
JBL has decided not to equip the Flip 5 with an AUX socket for hardwiring a smartphone or alternative audio device, nor is there a built-in microphone to facilitate hands-free calls and Siri and Google Assistant activation. They’re both surprising omissions considering their presence on the Flip 4, although perhaps more unusual is its support of Bluetooth 4.2 over the newer 5.0 standard. It’s not the end of the world, but it does mean missing out on faster data speeds and a staggering wireless range of 240m (4.2 offers a range around four times shorter).
What JBL has improved with Flip 5 is the speed of charging. A full charge, which offers 12 hours of playback, takes an hour less – 2.5 rather than 3.5 hours.
A step up in sound quality seems promising thanks to a greater (20-watt) power output and newly engineered, racetrack-shaped 44mm driver with an increased cone area for greater sonic amplification.
Overall, JBL Flip 5 waterproof bluetooth speaker sounds quite good. Songs sound reasonably well balanced and relatively full. Bass-heavy numbers easily induced head bobbing in our office, and acoustic ballads sounding quite crisp without any of the tininess ones would fear from a smaller speaker.
Flip 5’s sound only has shortcomings when you directly compare it to more expensive and/or larger speakers. In that case, you’ll notice that some of the finer nuances you can hear in the top-end speakers get somewhat muddled away with the Flip 5, and podcasts lack a bit of that, ‘It sounds like this person is in the same room with you’ quality. Additionally, both higher-end speakers and larger speakers in the same price range can produce a bit more bass punch than the JBL 5.
Flip 4 strikes a good balance between size durability and sound quality. While Flip 5 does have some noticeable shortcomings when compared to the best speakers, we doubt you’ll notice them unless you compare them side-by-side, or you have a particularly discerning ear.
Using PartyBoost you can link two Flip 5 waterproof portable bluetooth speakers together for stereo sound or link multiple together for surround sound.
The Flip 5 definitely sacrifices a bit of portability to be louder and sound better, but it does this less so than many other comparable speakers.
Offering IPX7 total waterproofness, Flip 5 can easily handle heavy downpours, big splashes, and even a complete dunking if you tip over the canoe. At 19 ounces it isn’t particularly light but certainly isn’t’ heavy either. You will never have qualms throwing it in your bag for a day at the beach or a stroll down to the lake, and it is a mainstay whenever you go car camping. However, it is noticeably bigger than some of the super slim models, so it tends not to make the cut when going on longer walks/hikes or when you are overstuffing your carry-ons.
Flip 5 Waterproof portable bluetooth speaker packs an impressive amount of volume into a relatively average-sized body. It will keep a group of a dozen people in a large apartment entertained easily. The only common use you can think of where it wouldn’t be loud enough would be a large backyard with over 30 people. Even then it would be fine for a barbeque but might be a bit quiet if you want to get all those people dancing.
Sometimes the sound quality deteriorates a bit at absolute full volume, but even a couple notches below max is loud while still sounding good.
The Flip 5’s battery is slated to last 12 hours, and may as well blow that figure when out of the water, pumping out music for 27 hours straight before finally yielding to the lack of electrons. I don’t see anyone having any qualms about this speaker’s battery life. JBL estimates the Flip 5’s battery life to be roughly 12 hours, but your results will vary with your volume levels.
Considering the JBL Flip 5’s waterproofness and above-average sound quality, I think it’s the verging-on-premium price is fair, and if anything a pretty good deal. For those that want decent sound quality in a package that can take a beating, it’s a worthwhile purchase.
The JBL Flip 5 speaker delivers a strong Bluetooth audio experience in an outdoor-friendly design you can customize to your liking.
For its size and price, JBL Flip 5 waterproof bluetooth portable speaker delivers some powerful audio in a waterproof design. If you want truly thunderous bass, you’ll need a larger speaker that costs more. We’re quite comfortable recommending the Flip 5, but there are plenty of options in the sub-$200 realms worth considering. You may also be a fan of the $150 Sony SRS-XB32 and the $200 Urbanears Rails, for starters. And from JBL itself, you can get significantly more bass depth and a similarly outdoor-friendly build from the $180 JBL Charge 4. The good news is that you’ll be happy with any of these speakers, so you can’t go wrong.
Sound Quality – 40%7
Portability – 25%7
Volume – 20%9
Battery Life – 15%9
Other Bluetooth types
Alternatively, you can as well make a choice of other Bluetooth devices for any sound system enhancement especially when you want a much louder and clear sound than that of a smartphone within your environment.
|JBL Flip 5 waterproof||Powerful audio for the size.
IPX7 waterproof rating.
Long battery life
Can be personalized on JBL’s site.
Engaging, entertaining sound
Easy to use
USB-C Fast Charging
No speakerphone functionality or aux input.
No mic for hands-free calls
|JBL Flip 4||Decent, rugged design
Reasonable price tag
Plenty of bass
|Underwhelming mid-range sound
Slightly basic looks
Boring colour options
|JBL Xtreme 2||Surprisingly good, rich sound
Strong weatherization (it’s rated IPX7)
Voice activation and speakerphone functionality
JBL Connect app is rudimentary; should offer EQ
|JBL Go 2 speaker||Small and compact
|JBL Pulse 3||Balanced sound profile
|Short battery life
Reliance on Connect+
No smartphone charging
|JBL’s Boombox 2 speaker||
Very powerful audio performance, with booming bass and sculpted highs
Can charge mobile devices
Heavy and bulky
Sound signature not for those seeking accuracy
JBL Flip 4 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker
The first improvement that Flip 4 has made over its predecessor is in its waterproofing.
Impressively, JBL has also put a 3.5mm input on the speaker, hidden under a rubber flap alongside its micro-USB charging port, as a supplement to its Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity.
Bluetooth 4.2 also means that you can connect up to two devices to it at any time – although this is a drop in comparison to Flip 3, which could pair with three devices at once.
Get yourself one JBL Flip 4 cheaper here.
But JBL has managed to squeeze a little more juice out of the 3000mAh battery with more efficient amplification and circuitry, giving the Flip 4 a 12-hour battery life.
The JBL Flip 4 is a good portable speaker – intuitive to use, with pretty solid sound quality, and small enough to slip into the side pocket of any rucksack.
JBL Xtreme 2 – Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker
At first glance, the JBL Xtreme 2 portable bluetooth speaker leaves no confusion about what kind of speaker it is. This thing is large, heavy, bulky, and built like a tank. If you took a Charge 4 and stretched it out in Photoshop, you’d get the JBL Xtreme 2 portable bluetooth speaker. It has the same tough fabric covering which makes it IPX7 waterproof and the same dual passive radiators on either end. The passive radiators not only help out the low end by pushing more air, but it’s also super fun to look at (especially when wet). The JBL Xtreme 2 even has a small stand built into the bottom of the speaker so you can place it down somewhere without worrying if it will roll away. Buy one yet cheap here.
You may think that with a giant speaker like this JBL would have a crazy long battery life, but surprisingly JBL only claims about 15 hours of constant playback, and that’s without charging any devices via the USB output underneath the waterproof flap.
JBL GO2 – Waterproof Ultra-Portable Bluetooth Speaker
JBL Go 2 portable bluetooth speaker is a very small wireless speaker that fits in a pocket and sounds decent enough for its tiny size. Its design and sound have improved from the original and it’s now fully waterproof. Plus, it has speakerphone capabilities.
JBL sells a wide range of wireless Bluetooth speakers and its Go line, now on the second generation Go 2, is the smallest and least expensive of the bunch. Buy it cheaper here
Truth be told, the original JBL Go speaker looked and felt a little like a toy speaker, weighing in at a mere 130 grams. This new version, which comes in many color options and costs $40, has been bulked up a bit – it weighs 184g and has its corners rounded off. It’s also fully waterproof, with an IPX7 rating. That means it can be fully submerged in 3 feet of water (1 meter) for up to 30 minutes).
While the speaker is a little heavier, it’s very similar in size to the original and is designed for maximum portability. It takes up little room in a backpack, laptop bag, or purse, and will even fit in a lot of pockets. Overall, it feels more substantial and more like a real speaker than a child’s plaything.
Battery life, like the original, is rated at 5 hours at moderate volume levels (that’s not great) and the power rating on this speaker, for what it’s worth, is 3 watts. It also performs reasonably well as a speakerphone (there’s a built-in microphone). The bad idea is that it doesn’t have all that much bass and its battery life isn’t great at 5 hours.
While it won’t rock the house, the JBL Go 2 portable bluetooth speaker is an appealing little Bluetooth speaker.
JBL Pulse 3 White Pulse 3 Wireless Bluetooth IPX7 Waterproof Speaker
Take your listening experience to the next level with the JBL Pulse 3, the portable, waterproof Bluetooth speaker that combines 360° sound with a 360° light show. Bring your music to life with glowing LEDs wherever you are.
With a built-in rechargeable battery that delivers up to 12 hours of playtime and an IPX7 waterproof housing, Pulse 3 is perfect for worry-free listening by the beach or pool – or even in it. With JBL Connect+ technology, you can wirelessly link more than 100 JBL Connect+ enabled speakers to amplify the party. It costs only this cheap.
Pulse 3 also features a noise and echo-canceling speakerphone for crystal clear calls. Simply shake the Pulse 3 to create a synchronized light show with other Pulse 3 devices. Customize your light show experience at the tip of your fingers with the JBL Connect app.
JBL Boombox 2 – Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker
On tracks with intense sub-bass content, the Boombox 2 delivers powerful low-frequency response. At top volumes (this speaker can get quite loud), the bass doesn’t distort, though the DSP (digital signal processing) kicks in and thins out the lows slightly. Regardless, even when the DSP is thinning the bass to avoid distortion, the response is still quite intense. At moderate to high volumes, you get the most bass depth and the least DSP meddling. Get it less costly here.
Available in black or camouflage models, the 10.1-by-19.1-by-7.9-inch (HWD), 13-pound Boombox 2 isn’t the kind of portable speaker you can throw in a bag. It’s big and heavy and portable in the sense that it has a built-in handle for taking it to the backyard, rooftop, or to and from your car’s trunk. Its IPX7 rating means it can be submerged up to 3.3 feet underwater for up to 30 minutes. I don’t advise this, as Bluetooth doesn’t work well underwater, but the point is that the speaker can get drenched and work just fine.
The JBL Flip 5
The JBL Flip 5 is a simple soul – perhaps too simple for some in this world – but that minimalist approach has allowed JBL to focus on performance and create one of the best-sounding budget portable speakers around.
Finding a reasonable balance between sound quality/volume and portability/ruggedness, JBL Flip 5 waterproof portable bluetooth speaker is the quintessential jack of all trades, master of none. It’s melodious enough that you’re almost certainly going to enjoy listening to any type of music with it, but its listening experience is decidedly less refined than those offered by the field-leading Bose models. It is also waterproof and fairly light, making it a perfect companion for campsites and beach days. However, it is just heavy enough that it probably won’t make it into your pack for a longer hike or bike ride. So, if you are like the majority of people that want a speaker that can both sound decent and handle the elements, the Flip 5 definitely gets our recommendation. However, if you put a large premium on sound quality or portability, there are more specialized models available that will likely fit your needs a bit better.
Thanks to its neat design and IPX7 rating it’s suitable for use outside as well as in, making it an ideal outdoor speaker. And so, JBL’s track record with excellent Bluetooth speakers persists. On behalf of everyone who loves good-quality music on the move, long may it continue.
JBL Flip 4
The JBL Flip 4 is a robust, affordable Bluetooth speaker, and one that’s comfortably supplying sounds to all elements of your life. While the speaker might be punchy, deficiencies in the mid-range stop it being an instant must-buy.
Bringing bluntness over refinement, JBL Flip 4 portable bluetooth speaker is a good Bluetooth speaker that never quite skirts with the realms of greatness. It’s rough, tough design makes it perfect as a portable speaker to accompany all aspects of your life while its sound is solid without worrying your home audio system. It’s all weather friendly design is a win, but a lack of definition and distinction in the mid-range ultimately means its sound quality is not quite up to scratch when compared with some, more high-end portable speakers.
What it’s got going in its favour however, is price. Cheaper than the UE Boom 2, its rival might be a third bigger and more than a third more expensive, but it’s certainly not as much as a third better, and that’s why the JBL Flip 4 shouldn’t be sniffed at.
The JBL Xtreme 2
The JBL Xtreme 2 is an excellent portable Bluetooth speaker. Setup is a snap, and it sounds surprisingly good for such a small speaker, though the bass can be quite boomy. I wish the JBL Connect app included EQ (even if only simple treble and bass controls), which would help overcome that problem. The Xtreme 2 exhibits virtually no stereo separation by itself, but you can use two of them as a stereo pair. You can also wirelessly connect up to 100 compatible JBL speakers to cover a very large area.
Its IPX7 waterproof rating means you don’t need to worry about getting it wet or even submerging it entirely. And don’t forget the bottle opener on the carrying strap, which makes the waterproof rating even more important! The Xtreme 2 is a great way to bring your favorite tunes to your next party.
Party people – if you’re the kind of person that brings a speaker to the beach or to the BBQ, then the JBL Xtreme 2 is going to check most of the boxes you care about.
If portability isn’t your primary concern. Sure, the speaker has an included shoulder-strap for transport, but that doesn’t make it portable. It’s portable in the way that a beach chair is portable. If you care about being able to throw your speaker in your bag on your way out the door then this isn’t for you.
The JBL Go 2 speaker
At this price, one is used to seeing stereo speakers with bass or more features such as SD card support. However, none of those speakers are as clear as the Go 2 in the sound department. Go for it if you are looking for a compact Bluetooth player with clear sound and waterproofing technology, but don’t mind low bass.
The JBL Pulse 3
The JBL Pulse 3’s light show may be a gimmick but thankfully its sound quality doesn’t suffer for it. While not the most portable speaker, those who want a great-sounding speaker and a conversation starter will enjoy the Pulse 3.
JBL Pulse 3 waterproof portable bluetooth speaker is a pleasant surprise. While its light show may lead you to believe that it’s all about that bass, the Pulse 3 actually offers a very well balanced tonal balance: Highs have good extension but are a little rolled off. Bass offers good slam and texture, but bleeds into the mids. If you’re not an audiophile none of this matters and can rest well knowing that this speaker sounds darn good and gets incredibly loud. Compared to the Sony SRS-XB40, another speaker that offers a light show with its music, the JBL is the better buy and cheaper here. The Sony is just too bass-heavy to work for all genres of music and, more troubling, is only splashproof, not waterproof. The Sony speaker is also much larger and requires a proprietary charger. If you want a great-sounding Bluetooth speaker that’s waterproof and a conversation piece, the JBL Pulse 3 is the speaker to get.
JBL’s Boombox 2 speaker
JBL’s Boombox 2 speaker is built for backyard parties, tailgates, and anywhere else you want to bring big Bluetooth audio. When it comes to big, outdoor-friendly speakers, we’re also fans of Braven’s BRV-XXL/2, while JBL’s PartyBox 300, is an even larger system complete with a light show, but is decidedly less easy to move around. The Ultimate Ears Hyperboom is also an excellent, powerful portable Bluetooth speaker, though it has a less impressive water-resistance rating. This JBL Boombox 2 waterproof portable bluetoth speaker fits in with these speakers nicely, providing plenty of power for outdoor parties in a nostalgic design. Considering there’s no shortage of high-quality large, powerful models available right now, I suggest choosing the one that has the most features you are looking for.