Ahhh music, it really does soothe the savage beast… So when you’re out and about with family or friends, keeping the music to yourself isn’t great; it’s usually considered anti-social to have headphones on and only you’re hearing the tunes. It was this that drove the popularity of portable Bluetooth speakers, and today, we’re taking a quick look at the JBL Flip 6.
Perhaps one of the distinctions here is the Flip 6 isn’t trying to be anything more than a speaker. The important thing here is that when it comes to the speaker, Flip 6 delivers really well.
The specs that matter when it comes to a portable speaker like this are the battery life, the IP rating and the audio response. Ticking the boxes, you’re looking at “up to 12 hours” of playback (2.5 hours to restore full charge) time, IP67 waterproof and dustproof with some reliable sound delivery.
That audio is reasonably well-rounded with plenty — 30W — of power. Unsurprisingly the audio range, 63Hz to 20kHz, doesn’t go quite as deep as mains powered speakers or physically larger speakers as it’s simply not as big and bulky with dimensions measuring in at 17.8 x 6.8 x 7.2 cm and it weighs 550 grams.
It can easily drop in your bag for weekend adventures and not dramatically impact what you’re carrying. My kids love having music on, so it’s really useful if we’re out with family or at a park to grab and stream some music to it.
One area I particularly like about the JBL speakers traditionally, which has continued with the Flip 6 is the look. The designers have managed to maintain a modern style without becoming outlandish with the speaker’s appearance.
The sound – It really pumps!
When you’re used to good-quality studio monitor speakers, headphones worth a lot of money and generally high-end audio gear, it’s easy to be picky about sound. JBL has delivered a really good sound balance with the JBL Flip 6. When you consider the physical size of the speaker, its weight and other contributing factors; the sound is excellent.
You’ll get highs that are really clean, mids that are crisp and good, but not overpowering bass that balances well throughout a decent area. All tolled a good speaker at a really good price.
There were a couple of criticisms when we reviewed the Flip 5 previously which have largely been addressed. There’s a bit more power output, which will give you better coverage; if you pair it with a second speaker, you really do have a mobile party.
The other issue with the Flip 5 was that the sound was surprisingly variable depending on your location and distance from the speaker. With the extra power and some tuning of the hardware, this variability is no longer noticeable.
Like its predecessor, the Flip 6 is designed to work laying down with the logo pointing in the direction of the listener. If you move the speaker around, you’ll quickly find that the sound is quite directional and, it will sound very flat if you stand it on end.
The controls are simple
There’s really not much to the controls on the Flip 6 with two simple button setups, one for general speaker controls and one for playback control. On the rear of the speaker, you’ll find two indented buttons, which are for power and connecting to a new source device. Slightly to the side of the source control, you’ll find the USB-C charging port.
When the speaker is positioned for playback on top of the device, there are four tactile and shaped buttons:
- A triangle to start and stop playback
- A + symbol to increase volume
- A – symbol to reduce volume
- A loop to trigger the PartyBoost Mode – Linking multiple speakers to one another
The shapes are so clear and easy to understand that my son, who has total vision loss, is able to interpret and control the speaker easily.
Has anything missed the mark?
This is me being really picky, and I’m not unhappy, but I’d be happier if the charging was faster. 2.5 hours of charging time to get 12 hours of playback just feels too slow, even if a burst charge of 30 mins could give say 5 hours of playback (it doesn’t…) it would be that bit better.
Some will argue that having a mic for calls would be beneficial, but personally — I know I’ve changed my tone over time — I don’t want one because I’d rather take my calls privately.
Would I buy the JBL Flip 6?
The short answer is, for the current sale price ranging from $135.00 to $149.95, yes I would. It’s not the most feature-packed speaker we’ve reviewed, but it packs a lot of value in a small package.
The fact is it’s really nice looking, lightweight, relatively small and capable means it’s well suited to being part of a daily carry kit. It’s also IP67 rated and a solid construction, meaning the knocks and bangs aren’t going to render it inoperable and it will stand up to sand at the beach or splashes from drinks or at the pool.
If you’re keen to pick one up they’re available from the JBL Website, Bing Lee, Amazon, JB Hi-Fi and a pile of other retailers. The RRP is listed at AU$169.95 with prices — as mentioned earlier — currently ranging from $135.00 to $149.95
Phil, a couple of questions about the Flip 6 :
Is the Flip 6 a stereo speaker, or mono? Each of my BlueAnt X2 speakers is a stereo speaker in its own right.
How can a cylindrical speaker have height, width, and depth measurements? Shouldn’t it only have two, width and diameter?
The speaker is “2 way” but they very clearly avoid saying stereo, with the PartyBoost setup being the stereo component (and selling a second speaker).
If you want to be super picky about the physical dimensions, sure, you’re right. But the reality is that if you’ve got it on a desk it will take up a rectangular (near enough) footprint and still have a height clearance need.
PartyBoost on the JBL speakers sounds like it’s the same deal as Duo Mode on the BlueAnt speakers. Use a pair of the speakers as Bluetooth wireless stereo speakers.
Having seen a teardown of the Flip 6, a couple of hours ago on YouTube, the 2 way speaker driver setup they have in the Flip 6 is pretty good, and the seals in the Flip 6 look like they are all replaceable.