JBL Flip 5 Bluetooth Speaker (is it worth buying today?)


JBL Flip 5 Bluetooth Speaker Waterproof

JBL is arguably one of the most recognized audio equipment brands worldwide, with waterproof Bluetooth speakers taking the market by the storm. Read on to find out if this Bluetooth Speaker is worth buying.

JBL Flip 5

The latest entrant in this category is the JBL Flip 5, an upgrade (or downgrade?) on the Flip 4. I love this speaker because it punches above its weight class, delivering a bass depth far more than it should ordinarily be capable of. Just like the Flip 4, the Flip 5 is IPX7 waterproof, and you can submerge it in up to three feet of water, making the Bluetooth speaker an excellent choice for beach and poolside parties.

 I like to sing in the shower, and the Flip 5 is the ideal speaker to take with me to the bathroom. The JBL Flip 5 is one speaker you’d like to take along with you to the great outdoors; whether hiking, walks, or camping, this speaker is one for all terrains.

Specifications

The JBL Flip 5 has the following specs:

  • Release date: August 2019
  • Price: $129.95
  • ASIN: B07QK2SPP7
  • Dimensions: 18.1 x 6.9 x 7.4 cm
  • Weight: 540g
  • Waterproof: IPX7

Design

JBL products have a durable build, and the Flip 5 is as tough as they come. The first Flip series I got was splash-proof, but the current series is entirely waterproof, and that’s the same with the Flip 5 with an IPX7 rating and can be submerged in three feet of water for 30minutes max. The speaker is covered by a rugged rubber on both ends to protect the bass radiators.

Look around the speaker back, and you’ll find the USB-C input along with the Bluetooth and power button. Both buttons light up when the speaker is on and connected to an audio device. It’s a functional feature that’d have been nice to have on the playback buttons.

Although you can figure out the functions of each control, it feels like they would be more of a joy to use in low light conditions if they lit up or painted neon. It would also help if the buttons had some contrasting colors to help with visibility.

I am struggling to find a significant design flaw because the Flip 5 is one of the best speakers at its price point. The speaker even comes with a small cord designed into a loop to hang from things like showerheads or branches. If you decide to go for the Flip, make sure you ditch the string and go for something more durable.

The speaker design doesn’t look any different from the JBL Flip 4. The Flip 5 inherits the cylindrical shape weighing 540 grams. When I’m hiking, I like to fit the speaker in the water bottle pocket of my backpack. It does fit so snugly like the Bluetooth Speaker was made with that in mind. The JBL Flip 5 comes in all rainbow shades, whether pink, teal, or all black; there’s a color for everyone.

Connectivity

The JBL Flip 5 connects like any previous Flip series, and the connectivity is seamless. Follow these steps to pair:

  • Push the Bluetooth button next to the power button.
  • Wait until it’s blinking. The beeping sound means the device is ready to pair.
  • Go to the settings menu on your device and click on the Bluetooth icon. You should see “JBL 5” among the list of available devices on selection.
  • Tap the “JBL 5” icon to pair.

I’ve got to say the connection strength is pretty solid without any problems playing music from any location in my apartment. However, when there was an issue – skipping audio- I couldn’t resolve it without powering the speaker on and off. Thankfully, the playback resumed usually, and the problem was not permanent. The recommended fix for most niggling issues with this speaker is to power off the device.

Flip 5 Codec Support

The JBL Flip 5 doesn’t offer quality Bluetooth codecs, and I encountered a considerable lag watching Twitch videos. For reasons I can’t fathom, the audio didn’t sync with what was going on in the video. What makes it worse is JBL no longer supports the 3.5mm input making it impossible to work around this issue. It’s a bit of a letdown because you can’t use the speaker with any non-Bluetooth device.

Look on the bright side; the JBL Flip 5 has a PartyBoost that isn’t a game-changing feature for the most part. The feature allows you to pair multiple JBL speakers to bring more energy to your party. Speaking for myself, I’ve never owned more than one speaker at the same time.

Nonetheless, I know JBL fans with multiple PartyBoost speakers will find this feature helpful. Unfortunately, the JBL Connect app is not the same as the Connect+ button on the older JBL Bluetooth speakers and won’t let you connect with these devices.

This begs the question; why connect multiple JBL PartyBoost speakers when you can get a higher quality speaker for better value? 

In addition, you get the playback buttons that come standard with devices like this, including the plus (+) and minus (-) buttons. The controls help you increase or decrease the volume, and the play/pause button lets you pause or skip a song with a double-tap.

Battery Life

JBL claims the Flip 5 offers 12 hours of continuous playback, but this falls short in my testing with a playback time of slightly more than nine hours. But that’s still impressive and more than enough playback time for a good day’s hike. If you want a speaker with a longer playback time, consider getting a Bose Speaker with 6-12 hours of constant playback.

Sound Quality

Before you get too excited, you’ll do well to remember this is a budget speaker. You won’t ever be able to ignore the roll-off at 60Hz, which is valid for most speakers under a few hundred dollars. Since you’ll most likely be using this speaker in less than ideal environments: this is simply an estimate to give you a basic idea of the JBL Flip 5 performance. 

This ballpark figure will never represent what you’re going to hear because you won’t be playing music in an anechoic environment but at a noisy place like the beach or a party.

The driver inside the speaker has an upgrade with a slightly detectable deeper low end. JBL speakers tend to adhere to a signature sound roughly close to the Harman target curve. In sum, the bass notes from mid-C and below receive a bump from 2-8dB, the mids even out well, and the highs are gently toned down. 

The Flip 5 is an exception to this rule, and you’d be more than satisfied with the sound without fiddling with any in-app equalizers and whatnot. Simply take it out of the box and start jamming up.

The Highs, Mids, and Lows

The bass certainly has an oomph compared to the Flip 4, but it won’t be the most orgasmic sound you’ve ever heard. There’s a slightly subtle difference, and if you’re not listening carefully, you most likely won’t hear it. 

Still, it was a refreshing addition in Industry Baby by Lil Nas X, where the bass provides that extra kick. It sounded good enough to get me nodding my head, but the bass couldn’t get super low like I’ve experienced with a subwoofer with a sharp drop off at around under 100Hz. While listening to In Loving Memory by Alter Bridge, the instruments lacked distinct clarity, with the different guitar sounds fighting for supremacy throughout the chorus. 

JBL Flip 5 Microphone

Unfortunately, the Flip 5 doesn’t have a microphone, and if you need a speaker to answer phone calls, you’d have to look elsewhere.

JBL Flip 5 Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Waterproof IPX7 rating
  • Portable, lightweight device
  • Long-lasting battery
  • USB-C charging
  • Decent Bass 
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Sound quality could be better
  • No Bluetooth 5 or premium codecs
  • Clunky app
  • PartyBoost is not compatible with older JBL with Connect+

Alternatives

The JBL Flip 6 is an upgrade on the Flip 5, sporting IP67 dust and water-resistant ratings. The Flip 6 also has 12 hours of battery life (no gimmicks) and Bluetooth 5.1 firmware. The JBL Flip 6 will be available in December 2021. 

If you want a Bluetooth Speaker that’s already available, go for the JBL Charge 5. If you want a loud go anywhere, do anything speaker, the Charge 5 is probably your best buy. The speaker offers excellent value for its price with a loud, high-quality sound. 

Conclusion

The JBL Flip 5 is a budget Bluetooth speaker that packs a lot of power for its price range and size. The Bluetooth Speaker comes standard waterproof with an IPX7 rating making it your go-to choice for water activities.

But suppose you require a speaker that genuinely delivers that thunderous bass. In that case, we’d be happy to recommend some of the best Bluetooth Tower Speakers on the market.

If you’re a JBL fan and want a speaker from the JBL product line, we’d be happy to recommend the JBL Charge 4. Fortunately, both speakers work excellently well, and you can’t make a wrong decision with both choices.


Ken Cameron

There hasn't been an infomercial or cool gadget that I haven't at least thought about buying and trying. Let's just say my old nickname of "Go-Go Gadgets" was well earned.

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