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29.11.2015
We recently took a look at the Flip 3 by JBL, but that wasn’t the only speaker that the company announced at IFA.
Opening the signature JBL orange and white box you’ll get the Xtreme speaker, the wall adapter, the warranty information, and something we haven’t seen before: a shoulder strap to carry it around with you.
The best way to describe the JBL Xtreme would be to say that it’s a giant Flip 3 with a few extra perks.
Similar to the Flip 3 both ends of the speaker have external dual passive radiators that, due to the larger size of the Xtreme, do work on the low end. Besides the overall size, the biggest differences you’ll find in design between the Xtreme and the Flip 3 can be found on the bottom of the speaker where it has a hard plastic stand built into it. JBL packed an insanely large 10,000 mAH battery into the Xtreme and claim a battery life of 15 hours. One thing that was very annoying about the Xtreme was a slight stutter that occurs at the very beginning of a song. The lows sometimes bled into the mids but for the most part the passive external radiators on either end do an amazing job with keeping the low end tight. Vocals in the mids were very clear and seemed to coexist peacefully with most guitars and synths. Unfortunately not everything is perfect, and the highs do tend to have a good amount of harshness. JBL’s speaker is educated in handling the elements, and it can pipe your tunes for up to 15 hours before needing a charge. Its sides are capped in soft rubber to give the Xtreme some resistance from dings, something that I wish the Infinity One had. The buttons, which are located on its top, cover the usual list of functions found in a modern Bluetooth speaker, with one small surprise in the mix. There’s a Bluetooth button that can be held down for a few seconds to pair a new phone, tablet or computer. With a name like Xtreme, you’d hope that its performance delivers and, thankfully, it does. Solid audio performance runs in the Harman genes, and like the Infinity One, the JBL Xtreme sounds excellent. If you asked me last year if the Xtreme represented the pinnacle of sound performance for the size and cost of the unit, I would have said yes.
Connecting to JBL’s mega speaker is simple and the Bluetooth tether is strong, stretching from one end of my apartment to the other without a blip of signal cutout. JBL’s Xtreme offers stellar sound performance and a long-lasting battery to keep the beat going for up to 17 hours, depending on how loud you listen to your music. Extending outside its immediate family, there are a bunch of speakers available that do everything that the JBL Xtreme can do for less money. The JBL Flip 3 has new build materials that make it splash proof and has a longer battery life. The JBL Flip series has consistently received great reviews and the Flip 2 even made our list for the Best Bluetooth speakers under $100, but now it’s time for a refreshment. JBL has a fairly standard boxing process and that hasn’t changed between the Flip 3 and the previous version, or any other JBL product for that matter.
Instead of being wrapped in plastic JBL decided to wrap the Flip 3 in a splashproof fabric material that not only looks better but also gives it a better grip.
Using Bluetooth version 4.1, the JBL has a range of about 30 feet and in all honesty we found this to be on the lower end of the spectrum. JBL must’ve heard some of out complaints with the Flip 2 because they decided to pack a 3000 mAh battery that gives you about 10 hours of constant playback and charges fully in 3.5 hours. The JBL Flip 2 was one of our favorite speakers for a long time not just because of the low price, but also because of the sound quality.
The lows are nice and full sounding for a speaker of this size (and even some that are a little bigger). The mids were a little bit forward but just enough to make vocals and guitars a little bit easier to hear and doesn’t ruin the experience at all. Highs get a little harsh when maxed out, but if you keep it slightly under max volume it’s perfect.
JBL always had a good thing on its hands with the Flip series, but it seems like they rethought a couple of things that made the Flip 3 their best one yet.
When it comes to Bluetooth speakers, a lot of the struggle for manufacturers is ensuring that while the price is right, the Bluetooth speaker is one which is portable and also powerful. Moving to the back and this is where the first of its unique features starts to come to light. Moving to the top and bottom and the bottom remains largely basic with only a microUSB charge port on offer.
Of course, there are issues and there is always likely to be issues with a speaker this small. Criticisms aside, you are likely to be surprised as to how good the bass response is with the Clip+.
As this is a tiny speaker and a good quality one which can output a fairly decent volume level, it should be expected that the battery on offer is not going to be the best.
On a positive though, there did not seem to be a difference between the Bluetooth use or the attached 3.5 mm cable use.
If you are in the market for an ultra-portable speaker and one which is very well-priced, then you should definitely consider the JBL Clip+. The Flip 2 is an affordable, portable Bluetooth speaker that gets plenty loud, but the fidelity won't wow you. On one end, you'll find the power, volume, phone and Bluetooth buttons; the other side is used only to connect the speaker with NFC-compatible devices. Though the Flip 2 isn't weatherproof, it ships with a case to help protect it from bumps and dings when you're not listening. If you have an NFC-equipped Android device, touch the speaker and the mobile device together for the fastest pairing — you'll see a pop-up on your device that asks if you want to pair it with the speaker.
The Flip 2 maintained a strong connection from as far as 25 feet away with a clear line of sight, which is on a par with most portable Bluetooth speakers. When it comes to sound performance, the Flip 2's greatest strength is that it can get really loud. Within JBL's lineup, the $150 Charge offers much better bass response than the Flip 2, and the $50 Clip has slightly less fullness than the Flip 2 — but for half the price, the Clip compares very favorably. The Flip 2's speakerphone produced clear sound on both ends of test calls and compared favorably with the iPhone's built-in speakerphone function.
JBL rates the Flip 2's battery life at 5 hours, and we saw approximately 4.5 hours of playing time before it ran out of power. With its included speakerphone, the $100 JBL Flip 2 is a good value for those who don't want to dish out $200 for a premium Bluetooth speaker.
The JBL Clip is small enough to clip anywhere, and for its small size, how good it can sound is pretty impressive. A few months ago, we reviewed the JBL Flip 2 and, like pretty much everyone else who took a look at it, we liked it.
Now having a standout product can be a problem sometimes: put out one great thing, and everybody expects more from whatever you release next.
While we’re looking at the classy black model, the JBL Clip is available in a few different colors: blue, gray, purple and red are all options.
The second and more interesting difference is the feature that gives the JBL Clip its name: a built-in carabiner that allows the speaker to be clipped anywhere. Bluetooth is so common in portable speakers these days that you just assume it’s there and, indeed, it is here.
One of the only downsides of the JBL Flip 2 was its 5 hour battery life, so we weren’t expecting any huge numbers in the battery department. Like the Flip 2, the mids in the JBL Clip escape the boxy sound that plagues so many smaller Bluetooth speakers.
With one speaker, there is obviously no stereo to be had, and the volume doesn’t go all that loud, but for what it is, the JBL Clip pushes out respectable sound overall. To answer the question that kicked off this review, the JBL Clip does indeed stand up to the reputation that JBL has built up from great sound in a small size at a small price. For $49.95, the JBL Clip beats out the similarly sized and priced Logitech x100 in every aspect. JBL’s latest Bluetooth speaker claims to be the most powerful in its class, and features JBL Connect technology and a 15 hour battery life. It comes with a rugged, splashproof body, allowing it to be used safely outdoors, and a 10,000mAh rechargeable battery, which can last up to 15 hours. The other being the much larger and way more expensive JBL Xtreme, aka the Flip 3 on steroids. The speaker is also wrapped in a splashproof fabric that gives it a really nice feel in the hand, but we doubt you’ll be holding it most of the time because it’s simply too big.
Even though I’m sure it can still be oriented vertically, this makes it pretty clear that JBL intends you to place the speaker horizontally while using it. Though it does have a solid connection and we didn’t experience too much skipping when testing out the range, there was a fair amount of stuttering when there was a wall or two in the way.
In our testing we got closer to 14 hours, but that’s still very good considering how loud this thing can get when you max out the volume.
It only lasts about a second but it’s enough to ruin more intros than you thought you cared for. It could just be the larger size but the bass was easy to distinguish even in songs that don’t have a lot of it. A good example of this is in ‘The Suffering’ by Coheed & Cambria which has fairly heavy and melodic guitar parts throughout that never get in the way of the lead vocals. Luckily the Xtreme gets pretty loud so lowering the volume a bit to get rid of the harshness doesn’t cost you too much in terms of volume.


If you can overlook the stutter at the beginning and have a thing for loud tunes, this might be the one for you. Football season is finally upon us and the fact that the Xtreme is splashproof and can be carried around with the strap makes it perfect for the occasion, but if you just want a speaker for your room or apartment you might be better off getting three Flip 3’s and connecting them via the JBL connect button.
This all comes at the cost of $299 (?249, about AU$423, though the product isn’t available in AU at the time of writing), which, surprise, is the same cost of the Infinity One.
Its dual bass radiators take center stage here, detailed with a slick, spiraled etching and rather subtle brand placement.
This tube-shaped speaker features JBL Connect, a button that allows you to pair up with a second JBL Xtreme wirelessly.
When unzipped, you can get a peek at the 3.5mm port that allows you to plug in music from an external source, as well as two USB ports for charging your portable devices.
I found that during my tests, it handled jazz, hip-hop and rock songs well and highlighted the particular facets that make each genre unique.
It’s 10,000mAH internal battery has no problem pushing its advertised 15 hours of music playback at normal to loud volume levels. The One is much more fragile and thus is more suited as a coffee table centerpiece than the Xtreme. Candidates like the UE Boom and the TDK Trek Flex offer a similar style and splashproof capabilities, and can act as a speakerphone, too. The company recently announced the JBL Flip 3 with a similar shape but unfamiliar build materials and design. In the orange and white box you’ll get the Flip 3, a bright orange micro USB cable, and the warranty and information booklets. The Flip 2 was basically a big hunk of plastic that sounded good and even though the new Flip 3 keeps the same cylindrical design the similarities stop there.
Needless to say it’s way easier to hold which is a good thing if you’re going to be taking this anywhere near water now that it can survive a splash or two.
Where the Flip 2 had all of its buttons on top (or the side depending on how you orient it), the Flip 3 has them embedded into the fabric of the speaker and also on the hard plastic portion on the back.
I was able to get to about 50 feet before any serious sputtering began to interrupt playback. In our testing we got closer to 9.5 hours which is still a big improvement over the Flip 2, but not anything to go crazy over. We were curious how the Flip 3 would hold up to its predecessor and weren’t surprised at all that it also sounds very good.
It can definitely be felt if you place it down on a table and let the external bass radiators to go to work.
In ‘Cinder and Smoke ’ by Iron & Wine the screechy slides of the guitar will make your ears perk up a bit but if you lower the volume a little it’s barely noticeable. It was always small and portable, but the splashproofing and carrying string takes that to another level. This is the same battle endured by JBL with their Xtreme model offering a great deal of power but not being the most portable speaker available, unlike the Pulse range which are far more portable than they are powerful. This is a Bluetooth-enabled speaker and one which comes equipped with a battery that is rated to offer up to 5 hours of playback between charges. The outer grill domes outwards and actually very much gives off what could be thought of as a traditional speaker look. This is largely the same design with the exception of some very small differences like a slight change of the branding plaque. First and foremost, this is a very tiny speaker, not to mention this is also a very affordable speaker.
So you can expect that the louder you get, the less the Clip+ is able to effectively deliver and especially with the bottom end. While small, it is a speaker which is able to offer a decent bass playback at lower volumes. It’s not and especially compared to the general market where Bluetooth speakers are able to offer very good levels of battery life nowadays. When both were tested, they both seemed to offer relatively the same length of playback before the battery went flat. Generally speaking, there were no major issues with connectivity and the Clip+ remained strongly connected overall. This does take compact to the next level with a speaker which is small enough to fit in your hand and light enough to really not be a burden to carry. While this is a speaker that is designed to be used when out and about, there are a number of prime places you will find for the Clip+ in the home.
Available in black, red, blue, yellow and white (we tested the blue model), the Flip is mostly covered in a colored grille that protects the two 40 mm drivers. To put the speaker into discovery mode, press the Bluetooth button on the side of the speaker. With both drivers rated at 6 watts, it is one of the loudest portable Bluetooth speakers we've tested, and plays loudly without distortion (until you really crank it up, above 75 percent of the max volume).
While it's twice as expensive, the Fugoo Style has solid midrange, crisp treble and rich bass that gives music depth. In comparison, the Braven 570's 1200 mAh battery is rated to last about 10 hours, and JBL's Charge gets 12 hours on a full charge, which is about average for this size of portable Bluetooth speaker.
Limited battery life makes the Flip 2 less portable, though, and if audio quality matters to you, there are plenty of other options. Those self contained modules can be used to pretty much mod any amplified speaker system into a bluetooth enabled one. While speakers in a similar form factor existed, the Flip 2 stood out from the rest of the crowd with its impressive performance and solid sound. Fair or not, that is exactly the situation the JBL Clip was in when we brought it in for review. Without even opening the box up you can see the speaker, while inside you’ll find the USB cable and the manual.
This is handy, especially with such a small and eminently portable speaker, though some have gone so far as to declare the speaker ‘wearable’ because of the carabiner clip. Pairing is fairly simple: power the speaker on for the first time and it immediately enters pairing mode.
On the right side, you’ll find the volume buttons, white the left size holds the power, Bluetooth and call buttons. JBL actually claims exactly the same battery life for the Clip: up to 5 hours, depending on volume and audio content. If we didn’t, it would be very likely that nothing this size would get over a 5 when it comes to sound quality, so keep that in mind.
That said, even as you crank the volume, the bass doesn’t seem to push the tiny speaker into distortion.
This speaker is actually surprisingly full sounding, though again, we’re taking the size into consideration. The faint hint of FM radio-like static that accompanies the highest notes in some smaller speakers isn’t present here, thankfully. Just make sure to keep your expectations reasonable — a speaker this size is never going to measure favorably against a good larger speaker, but we really shouldn’t expect them to.
It sounds better, it’s ever-so-slightly smaller, and the built in clip and 3.5 mm cable just make it an all-around more useful device. It’s also where you’ll find the small indicator lights that let you know roughly how much battery life is left. It was nothing too serious but it happened often enough that we felt it was worth mentioning. If you get one for yourself chances are it’s main uses are going to be blasting music while having a party or cleaning your room. Still, if you already have your heart set on a loud and large Bluetooth speaker this is the way to go. But being splashproof, its only unique quality, just isn’t enough to set the Xtreme apart from its better-sounding relative. This cylindrical boombox is wrapped in a slick, uniform sheet of mesh fabric that echoes the more playful look of the UE Boom. Up toward the top of the speaker, JBL installed tough, brushed metal hooks that allow you to hook on the included strap. It’s unique, but fairly useless unless you have it in your plans to buy more than one of these pricey speakers. But even so, playing music at high volumes does you no good if the sound isn’t up to par.
And as good as JBL’s twist on the cylindrical speaker is, the Infinity One is still my go-to choice for excellent audio fidelity.
The recipient also reported that, thanks to the noise and echo-cancelling microphone built into the speaker, my voice sounded as if I speaking into a phone. At a lower volume, I was actually able to squeeze an extra two hours out of the battery life, pushing the number up to about 17 hours. But, its sound profile is more balanced and rich, pumping through more accurate bass performance. However, JBL’s speaker smashes them all with superior sound quality and battery life, coming together to make for a smart purchase, if you have the money. The new Flip 3 is also $100 so is there a new king in town or should JBL never have tried to fix what wasn’t broken?
It definitely adds to the clarity in the low end and, if nothing else, they’re really fun to look at it.
The on-board controls work flawlessly and people couldn’t even tell that I was talking to them via the microphone built into the speaker instead of a phone.
However even though charging time is about 3.5 hours I found that leaving it on the charger for only about 10 minutes gave me enough juice for another hour and a half of playback which is useful when you don’t have all day to leave it charging.


The bass in ‘Baby Blue’ by Action Bronson can be easily distinguished but isn’t overpowering at all. Granted they were a little muddy, but not enough to be an issue and that’s only if I’m being nit-picky. Well, one JBL speaker which offers a surprisingly big punch from a very compact size is the JBL Clip+.
As well as being small for a speaker, the design of the Clip+ is one which looks to be even more compact than its already small size. In typical fashion the meshed grill comes sporting the JBL logo and branding, while only a small power LED can be seen underneath the grill.
Much like the previous model, the JBL Clip, the + version comes with its own hook which makes use of a carabiner clip that can be pushed inwards to open and allows for easy connecting to a bag, jacket or otherwise.
That said, one of the less visually differences is that the Clip+ is a speaker which comes with splash-proof casing. But in fairness to the Clip+ these are likely to be issues that you are expecting before purchasing a speaker of this size.
In terms of specifics, JBL claim that this is a speaker which can offer up to five hours of usage. So regardless of whether you are playing from a connected device or streaming directly over Bluetooth, the battery does not seem to be any further affected.
At just $100, JBL's Flip 2 — a recent update to the original Flip — brings the conveniences of wireless sound to a more budget-minded crowd.
Two rubber end caps — the same color as the grille — seal the sides, while a rubber strip on the back prevents the cylindrical speaker from rolling off your table when you lay the device horizontally. On an Android device, go to Settings, and look for the speaker listed in Available Devices. That meant Lorde's husky voice on "Team" sounded full, but the bass behind her lacked oomph. It's a big bonus for the price level, especially when more expensive models, like the JBL Pulse and Bose SoundLink Mini, don't include a microphone.
For example, the $150 JBL Charge offers better bass and resonance, while the company's $50 Clip — which also includes a speakerphone — represents an even better deal. Naturally, when we heard about the JBL Clip — a smaller, even more portable speaker — we had to check it out. The Logitech x100 boasted a similar design, though there are a few differences that set the JBL Clip apart. Speakerphone quality was fairly decent, with both incoming and outgoing voices loud and clear. Luckily, the 600 mAh battery charges fairly quickly, even when charging via a computer with the included USB cable, so you shouldn’t expect to go too long between listening sessions.
We briefly tested via the 3.5 mm cable, but the vast majority of our testing was done while connected via Bluetooth, as this is the way most people will be listening most of the time.
Even more interesting is that the bass doesn’t seem too reliant on speaker placement — it sounds nearly the same dangling in the air as it does on a wooden table.
Also on the bottom is a bright orange zipper that when peeled back reveals a service button, AUX in, the power input for charging, as well as two USB outputs to charge your devices.
Another cool feature we got to test out is the JBL Connect button which lets you connect and sync multiple JBL speakers together.
I’m sure this won’t be an issue if you’re using the speaker outside but if you happen to be in a closed room or standing close to it, it’s not too enjoyable.
That said, it outperforms many of its excellent, cheaper competitors with booming sound and a long-lasting battery. This adds versatility, making it easy to loop the speaker over your shoulder during a walk or hang it from a tree branch for an outdoor gathering. And although the zipper is neat-looking and a novel way to keep things dry inside, I found that it came at the cost of cumbersome port accessibility. However, there is one sacrifice: its 5,000mAH battery, which powers music playback for only up to 10 hours. To drill home the point that the Flip 3 is more portable than ever before, it also has a string attached so you can hang it in your bathroom or from your backpack on a hike. Along the spine is the power button and the new JBL connect button which allows you to connect multiple JBL speakers together.
One thing that’s still missing are the complete playback controls like pause and play functionality along with skip and repeating tracks, but I guess beggars can’t be choosers. It always sounded good, but now it has external bass radiators that really add depth to the low end without sacrificing anything else.
As a result the frame concaves on both the front and back of the speaker, resulting in a very curved and easy to hold design. So while you can get it wet and not have to worry, you are not advised to get it submerged.
However, when it comes to the Clip+ this speaker is able to deliver a very good sound and even at higher volumes. Its bass response is just not going to be as good as you will find on other larger JBL speakers. While tops and bass are compressed a little, the mids come through extremely well on this little speaker and overall, the sound quality is certainly one to rival any speaker at the $49.95 price marker. While this initially was thought to be a Bluetooth issue, it did happen as well when connected directly via the 3.5 mm cable. However, as well as being light and ultra-portable, this is also a speaker which offers (for its size) a very good sound quality. However, if you are the more adventurous type, then again, you are unlikely to find a better sounding and more portable speaker than the JBL Clip+.
Wrapped in an attractive package, the Flip 2 looks great and packs in features like a speakerphone. The saxophones playing the melody on Charles Mingus' jazz classic "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" came across richly, but the drums felt thin.
But if you want plenty of volume for an affordable price, the Flip 2 is an attractive option.
Well, technically, there is a 3.5 mm audio cable as well, but we’ll get to that later in the article.
Bluetooth range is standard at around 30 feet and not once did I run into any stuttering or breakups during testing, as long as I stayed within range. So the big question is (pun intended) is the JBL Xtreme worth three times the asking price of the Flip 3? If you’re thinking of splurging and dropping $300 on one for yourself it would be good to first consider the real world applications. Under that are 5 small LED lights that let you know how much juice you have left and further down you’ll find the AUX input and micro usb charging port hidden under a sealed flap. Basically, it’s a better Flip in every way and seeing as the Flip 2 was one of the best speakers you can get for the price it makes sense that the Flip 3 is the new holder of that title. However the cable comes embedded in the back of the speaker within its own recessed cutout. In fact, it is rather surprising as to how loud the sound output can reach from such a small speaker. In fact, distortion does happen rather frequently with bigger bass-oriented tracks and especially at higher volumes. Throw in the JBL name and the general compact nature of the Clip+ and it is unlikely anyone would be too critical of the level or quality of the sound on offer. There are issues as it does suffer on the lower end and a little with the tops, and does not seem to like staying connected for extremely long periods of time.
For those interested, although the JBL Clip+ comes with a $49.99 price tag, it does seem to be currently available in a selection of colors for only $39 through the link below.
If you listen to a lot of pop and vocal-driven music, the Flip 2 will likely meet your needs, but don't expect to be wowed.
Another interesting touch is that JBL has included a 3.5 mm out jack on the side, meant for daisy-chaining the Clip with another speaker.
They were perfectly in sync and you can easily achieve surround sound without needing to go through any app.
With such a compact design, this does mean that there is not a lot going on with the Clip+ and the rounded frame being where you find most of the functionality.
The cable winds around the back frame (again in its own cutout groove) and the whole setup means the cable goes largely unnoticed until you actually need it. The clip never drained in less than three and a half hours and also never really passed the four-hour marker in any noticeable manner. To reiterate, this was not an overly common issue, but is one which did happen enough to be noticed. But that all aside, when you factor in everything you are getting and all for under $50, it is hard to argue with the value on offer with the Clip+. Due to its lightweight nature, this is a speaker which when laying flat does fall victim to its own vibrations. If you are playing in small bursts then you will unlikely notice any issues with the connectivity, however during longer sessions, you may have to hit the power button once or twice to restart playback.
While the other side houses the volume up and down controls, along with a 3.5 mm headphone port. Although, this is an issue which is easily remedied by elevating in any way or hanging from somewhere. It is worth pointing out that these are not buttons which extrude and instead are under the surface buttons, so you do have to push reasonably hard to activate them.



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