One of the leading names in the wireless speaker industry, JBL has been the most obvious choice for most people looking to buy a Bluetooth-enabled speaker for some time now. Whether you re looking at something small or big, plugged in or battery-powered, simple or colorful, JBL has an option for you. One of its latest products to launch in India is the JBL Flip 4, priced at Rs 9,999, although you can buy it for a bit less online.
Launched back at CES 2017 in January, the JBL Flip 4 finally makes its way to India officially, although it has been unofficially available both online and in the grey market for some time now. With minor tweaks over its predecessor in terms of features and specifications, the JBL Flip 4 looks to take charge of the sub-Rs 10,000 space for wireless speakers. We ve reviewed the JBL Flip 4, and here s what we think.
JBL Flip 4 Design and Specifications
While the core design of the successful JBL Flip has changed considerably since the first variant, the JBL Flip 4 and Flip 3 have only subtle differences to tell them apart when it comes to design. The key aspects remain the rubber edges which offer some shock protection and resistance to scuffs, and the fabric-covered main body of the speaker. Nearly the entirety of the body is wrapped in a woven fabric, which not only looks good but offers protection against water as well.
The speaker is cylindrical in shape, and has its two bass radiators on either side. These are flexible and shift according to the sound being played. It serves both as a visual effect and to improve the tightness of the bass and quality, and works well in practice. At the center and surrounded on all sides by the fabric cover is the metal JBL badge. While our review unit was bright red and may not appeal to everyone, there are a total of six color options to choose from. ALSO READ: Digitek DBS 004 Bluetooth Speaker Review
The JBL Flip 4 has a total of six buttons: power, JBL Connect, play/pause/call answer, volume up, volume down and Bluetooth pairing. There s also a microphone to let you use the speaker as a wireless hands-free device for calls, and a waterproof flap protects the micro-USB and auxiliary ports. Charging is through the aforementioned micro-USB port, and audio connectivity is either through auxiliary stereo or Bluetooth. The speaker comes with a micro-USB cable for charging and a fabric cord that functions as a holder.
We weren t able to try out the JBL Connect feature, but this essentially allows you to wirelessly daisy-chain multiple compatible JBL speakers together for improved sound. The dedicated button can be used in those cases, but if you intend to use just the Flip 4 alone, it won t really be of any use to you. The speaker comes with two 8W-40mm drivers and a frequency response range of 70-20,000Hz. It has a 3,000mAh battery that is rated for 12 hours of run time on a single charge, and uses Bluetooth version 4.2 for connectivity.
There s no NFC, and I don t consider that a significant drawback, since Bluetooth. What is certainly more useful is the JBL Flip 4 s IPX7 water-resistance rating. This means you can submerge the speaker in water for up to 30 minutes safely, and even use the speaker while it s in water or completely wet. I tested this, and it does in fact work perfectly despite prolonged exposure to water.
JBL Flip 4 Performance
One of the reasons that JBL wireless speakers are so popular is the sound signature, which can be best classified as populist . The typical V-shaped sonic signature best suits the listening tastes of the current popular music genres, including electronic, Bollywood and rock music. This means that there will be an emphasis on the low-end and high-end, with a slight drop in the mid-range. As a result, music sounds punchier and more exciting.
I first listened to I Don t Trust Myself by John Mayer, which despite being a slow, easy track, has strong bass elements through Mayer s extensive use of the guitar in the track. Everything from the beat to the guitar riffs sound exciting, driven and detailed. The JBL Flip 4 is also capable of going loud without any significant distortion, thanks to its two 8W drivers and bass radiators doing the heavy lifting with the sub-bass. And despite the stronger low and high-ends, the vocals and mid-range remain defined and crisp. ALSO READ: Saregama Carvaan Review
Moving on to a more aggressive track, I played Get You Off by Croatia Squad. The JBL Flip 4 is truly in its element with tracks such as this, and brings out its fast, attacking nature. The speaker maintains its drive and pace, with well-defined beats that show just how capable and tight the low-end of the speaker is. In this track, I got the impression that the signature is more U-shaped, since the mid-range drop isn t too pronounced.
With Kris Menace s Walking On The Moon, I paid closer attention to the soundstage and imaging. The stereo arrangement of the speaker creats a good soundstage, although the close proximity of the drivers doesn t allow it to feel too wide. This is however the case only when you have the speaker sitting horizontally, letting both bass radiators do their work freely. The speaker can be placed vertically, which while steadying and reducing the footprint, does slightly hamper the sound since one of the radiators would have to be covered. The general tone and definition is also fairly good for a wireless speaker.
The JBL Flip 4 at Rs 9,999 remains one of the most attractive options for buyers shopping for wireless speakers at under Rs 10,000. It has a popular sonic signature, great styling and is very resistant to water, all of which make it a strong option. The JBL brand name is an established one with easy brand recognition and goodwill, making the Flip 4 a great option on all fronts.
While the sound doesn t quite match up to what you could expect from slightly more expensive options such as the Ultimate Ears Boom 2 or Bose Soundlink Mini, it s got enough in it to convince buyers. And if you re looking for something a bit more feature-filled, you can also consider the Amazon Echo range, which comes with audio streaming services and the Alexa voice-based assistant.