JBL Flip 6 review: Still loud for the younger crowd
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“JBL keeps it in the family with the Flip 6 in and out.”
solid build quality
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loud and clear voice
lightweight and portable
Excellent water and dust protection
EQ offers some sound tweaking
Works with JBL Portable App and Party Boost
Cannot pair stereo with non-Flip 6 JBL speakers
does not work as speakerphone
Flip 5. not much different from
Bluetooth speakers are often a predictable lot, where functionality and portability complement how well they sound. But different speakers are designed for different situations. When it comes to the crowd-pleasing kind, JBL is up to it. Its Flip line fits that description to a T, and the company keeps bringing out new models on an almost annual basis.
For this reason, don’t expect any surprises, If you know what the Flip speaker lineup is, you know you’ll get enough bass and some loudness to boot. Both are clear once the music starts, so what are the other benefits that come from a few extras thrown in by JBL?
What’s in the Box?
There isn’t much to unbox with the Flip 6. JBL may look to shrink its packaging, or at least print an image of the speaker’s actual dimensions on the side, so that it doesn’t give the impression that it is larger than it actually is. In addition to the speaker, you’ll find a USB-C charging cable and quick start guide.
You get the same cylindrical design and, for the most part, the same dimensions as its predecessors. The JBL shaved only slightly off the height (7.0 in), width (2.6 in) and depth (2.8 in) to make it a bit smaller despite being effectively the same weight. Not that it’s heavy at 1.21 pounds—it feels like it’s actually portable, so you can take it with you wherever you go.
This includes the water surrounding it thanks to an official water And Dust resistance rating. Unlike previous Flip versions, JBL received an IP67 rating for it, an improvement over the Flip 5’s IPX7 rating. It’s perfect if you want to sing in the shower, listen to podcasts in a relaxing bath, or make a splash around the pool. Let’s not forget the beach, either, as the Flip 6 holds up just fine in saltwater and sand, making it a great choice for any number of outdoor activities.
JBL got an IP67 rating for it, an improvement over the Flip 5’s IPX7 rating.
Durability extends to the rubberized bumpers surrounding the passive radiators at each end. JBL applied the same design principle here, and the bumpers play a big part in protecting the other components. Much of the rest of the Flip 6 represents an aesthetic change on the outside, such as a larger JBL logo on the front and more textured fabric on the body. A rubber sliver on the bottom keeps the speaker from rolling up, while some audio is tilted upwards for a more expansive sound profile.
JBL also addressed the lack of a lanyard in previous versions by integrating one into the Flip 6. By integrating, I mean it’s already tied for you, and if you ever lose it, you can realistically replace it with another.
Wisely, JBL didn’t change the control layout by using the same raised buttons, which are easy to feel when they’re not backlit and accurate when you want to play/pause music or control volume. Power, Bluetooth, battery level indicator and USB-C charging port also pop back up at the rear.
setup and configuration
Pairing the Flip 6 via Bluetooth out of the box was easy as it automatically enters pairing mode. It’s as easy as putting the speaker back into pairing mode by holding down the Bluetooth button until it flashes. It connects to one device at a time and JBL hasn’t equipped it with a microphone, so the Flip 6 doesn’t have speakerphone functionality. This talk is about playing audio, not making phone calls, which is an obvious omission at this stage of the game in the industry.
One thing JBL changed with the Flip 6 is letting it access the JBL Portable (formerly Connect) app for iOS or Android. You can use it to update the firmware and adjust a modest number of settings. The big standout for me was the EQ, something the previous Flip speakers didn’t have. It’s hardly complicated, with basic sliders for bass, mids, and treble, but it does mark a change towards giving the Flip 6 a measure of audio control.
Party Boost is back again, though not without some railings. I could use Party Mode to connect it wirelessly with other compatible JBL speakers to play the same audio simultaneously. You can also make a stereo pair if you have another Flip 6 (both speakers must be the same model). I tried dragging it with flip 5 and got nowhere.
It’s hardly a surprise that the bass stands out in the overall sound signature. JBL continuously dials it down with each iteration. In this case, it’s less about boosting the bass by default because you can adjust it via the portable app’s EQ. The interesting thing is that the mid and high make a big impact in the sound signature. We’re not talking something that audiophiles would love, but it’s hard not to like the results, as they are.
The Flip 6 gets loud—again, par of course for a speaker like this. It is this high volume of resonance that impressed me. Just when the distortion I expected would set in and the highs or lows would start to crack, it maintained a steady sound that I’ve come to love even more over time.
The Flip 6 gets loud—again, par of course for a speaker like this.
Part of this has a lot to do with context, which means I often used the speaker when walking around my place. Whether I was showering, cooking, or listening to tunes while I worked, it became a convenient staple in my day-to-day routine. Whether it’s different genres of music, or longer podcast episodes, I appreciated the Flip 6 for what it could offer.
If you’re a fan of bass-heavy styles, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the output here. It’s deep and thunderous, with enough detail in the mids and highs for good balance. Any playlist of top 40 and party hits will go well with a much smaller crowd when this thing pumps them out.
JBL claims the Flip 6 can last up to 12 hours per charge, but I’ve never quite reached that. It depends on how loud you go, but I was in the range of about 8 to 10 hours, which isn’t bad. This is plenty of time for a trip to the park or the beach, or a walk in the pool. Plug it in with a USB-C cable, and you can play music the same way, especially if you have a portable battery pack to help out.
At $130, the Flip 6 looks like good bang for your buck. You get a speaker that is highly portable, yet packs a big enough punch to sound loud when needed. Its added durability makes it safer and more useful in sandy and tough environments, which certainly doesn’t hurt. Plus, you get a few colors to choose from: black, blue, red, gray and teal.
Is there a better option?
JBL is not leaving, which is arguably just as good for most situations, but if you want to go that route, wait until the price drops. The Ultimate Ears charge over $150 for the same size and stiffness , except that you also get more spatial sound because of how the speaker wraps around the body. To get that spatial effect with serious rigor, you’ll pay the same $150 to get it , which provides the same level of water (but not dust) resistance.
If your budget allows and you want a complete home music ecosystem with your Bluetooth speakers, you can also consider the Sonos ROM. It does both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, as well as easy voice commands and wireless charging, and you get it all for $179.
How long will it last?
JBL’s speakers have a pretty good track record, and the Flip 6 was built to last. For example, washing sand and salt, you need to treat it properly to ensure its longevity. Keep it clean and it should last for years to come. JBL offers a one-year warranty to protect the speaker from damage, but not for all cases of water damage.
should you buy it?
Yes, if you need a speaker this size that prioritizes loud, clear sound, and you’re cool with not having a speakerphone inside. If you already have a Flip 5, you probably don’t need to take advantage of it, unless you really feel like you want some of the new features available.