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JBL Flip 6
December 6, 2021
Original $129 USD
17.8 x 6.8 x 7.2 cm
The JBL brand is known for hardy Bluetooth speakers that easily go along for the ride on hikes or to pool parties, and the JBL Flip 6 seems poised to continue that legacy. It still feels a lot like the JBL Flip 5 at the end of the day, with a similarly tough build and sound profile, with some cosmetic changes, and an apparently improved audio configuration.
Is the Flip 6 a worthy upgrade to a tried-and-true workhorse? We spent a week with this portable speaker to find out.
Editor’s note: this JBL Flip 6 review was updated on August 23, 2022, to update formatting and include more alternative options.
Hikers, bikers, and outdoor enthusiasts are sure to appreciate the upgrade to an IP67 rating when they take the Flip 6 out and about. Similarly, shower singers will also enjoy the loud output from the Flip 6 that overcomes ambient sounds. You don’t need to be an outdoor adventurer or shower Sinatra to enjoy the Flip 6: anyone who wants an easy-to-use Bluetooth speaker will get JBL’s speaker to work in no time.
What’s it like to use the JBL Flip 6?
JBL’s many other Bluetooth speakers have looked like this before the JBL Flip 6, and for good reason: it works—two of them are on our best Bluetooth speakers list, after all. A cylinder with a passive bass radiator at each end flanks the driver and tweeter in the middle and make for a sturdy, solid tube. It survives falls onto the pavement and the confines of a travel bag. For this iteration, the Flip 6 gets a larger and yet more minimalist “JBL” logo, which also scratches more easily than the smaller badge on the Flip 5. Nitpicks aside, overall you get the same durable build and form factor as before.
The Flip 6 upgrades the IPX7 rating from the Flip 5 to a full IP67, which means it’s now water- and dust-resistant. The speaker survives plunges into salt water, and sand doesn’t get behind the grille or bass drivers like it does with the Bose SoundLink Flex. Plastic bumpers allow the speaker to bounce a bit instead of falling flat. That’s good for preventing dents, but it also means these areas quickly collect scuffs and marks. There’s a carrying loop tied near the backlit Bluetooth and power buttons. The loop does not have a built-in clip. However, if it ends up fraying or breaks, you can untie it and replace it yourself. The USB-C charging port is here, too.
Carrying the 544g Flip 6 doesn’t feel too heavy during my treks around town. It doesn’t drag me down when attached to my bag or my jacket. However, if you go for intense climbs up tough mountains, it might add a bit more weight than you want. The shape could be awkward if you’re squeezing through tight areas, too. Plus, the speaker twists and bounces around on its carrying strap.
How do you control the JBL Flip 6?
The control buttons are just above the logo. While they aren’t backlit, they are clearly shaped differently from each other so you can press them without looking down. The buttons allow you to play and pause content, adjust the volume, skip tracks, and activate PartyBoost. All of these could come in handy both at parties or during hikes.
Should you download the JBL Portable app?
The Flip 6 uses the JBL Portable app (iOS/Android), formerly “JBL Connect,” to provide access to firmware updates and a user guide. Plus, you can toggle the feedback tones the speaker produces on or off here. Inside the app, you can also enable PartyBoost and stereo playback instead of using the dedicated button. Note that stereo only works with two JBL speakers of the same generation. My JBL Flip 5 pairs with the Flip 6 for PartyBoost, but the two cannot do stereo playback. Perhaps the most notable feature the app boasts is a basic equalizer, which lets you adjust highs, mids, and lows.
Other than that, there’s not much going on in the app, but that could be a good thing. You likely won’t need to poke around in obscure settings to get everything working the way you want.
What Bluetooth codecs does the JBL Flip 6 support?
The JBL Flip 6 uses Bluetooth 5.1 and only supports the SBC Bluetooth codec. Bluetooth 5.1 also theoretically gives the speaker an indoor range of 40 meters, but that’s under ideal conditions. Like the JBL Flip 5, this speaker does not have an aux port to overcome the shortcomings of Bluetooth codecs.
Pairing the JBL Flip 6 is pretty simple. Pressing the Bluetooth button on the speaker puts the speaker into pairing mode. Then, you can select it on your intended playback device. The Flip 6 supports connecting to up to two devices at once using Bluetooth multipoint. It doesn’t remember a list of devices, though. Instead, you must sync to one device first, and then add another by pressing the Bluetooth button and then selecting the Flip 6 on the other device. Afterward, you can manually play and pause content on each device. The speaker will forget these two devices if you connect to a third device, too.
How long does the battery last on the JBL Flip 6?
JBL claims that the Flip 6 can last up to 12 hours on a fully charged battery. You get a USB-C to USB-A charging cable in the box, but no power adapter. Our standard battery test uses music played back continuously with a 75dB (SPL) maximum output level measured 1 meter from the front of the speaker. The JBL Flip 6 lasted 9 hours and 25 minutes, which falls short of JBL’s claim. It’s enough to get you through a party at the beach or a day-long hike, but you’ll have to take it home to recharge or bring along a battery pack for anything more.
How does the JBL Flip 6 sound?
At SoundGuys, we’ve noticed that JBL’s Bluetooth speakers have a specific frequency response, or “signature sound,” and that remains true for the Flip 6. The Flip 5 boosts bass more than the Flip 4, and it seems the Flip 6 kept that in place. Much like any other Bluetooth speaker, it isn’t targeted at audiophiles straining to hear every nuance in their music. If you bear in mind that the Flip 6 is for outdoor and party use, you’ll likely get plenty of enjoyment out of it.
Lows, mids, and highs
Party jams like Rent by Big Freedia play great through the JBL Flip 6. This New Orleans hit derives its energy from booming low notes, and the Flip 6 pumps them out while keeping Big Freedia’s vocals clear, too. Similarly, drum-heavy bhangra songs like Jugni give you thumping dance beats while Arif Lohar and Nooran Lal are clearly audible over them.
Much like the Flip 5, the JBL Flip 6 doesn’t reproduce high-pitched sounds with a great deal of clarity. There are a few things at play here, namely distortion and masking. In Jugni, the bells and cymbals don’t seem as loud as the drums and vocals. It’s even more apparent in layered content such as Kaahe Chhed Mohe where the drums, vocals, and the dancers’ ankle bells all become hard to hear when played in concert.
JBL claims it added a “new audio configuration” to the Flip 6 and promises detailed bass, mids, and highs. However, the Flip 6 definitely sounds similar to the Flip 5. Our speaker testing setup is currently undergoing a revamp, so we’ll update this section once we have complete testing data.
The Flip 6 easily gets loud enough for hiking, biking, and beach listening. You can crank it up to suit a patio or indoor party, too. But if you want to really get a packed room full of people up and dancing, you’ll need to take advantage of the PartyBoost feature and add more speakers.
Hold up! Something’s missing:
This section is typically where we display a frequency response chart to show you exactly where the audio output shines and where its deficiencies lie. We’re still ironing out our standardized speaker tests with the appropriate support equipment to update our testing and data collection. It will take a bit to get everything fleshed out, but we will update this review (and many others!) once we’re able with improved sound quality measurements and performance plots. These will be made obvious by a new chart aesthetic.
Thank you for bearing with us, and we hope to see you again once we’ve sorted everything out.
Can you use the JBL Flip 6 for phone calls?
The JBL Flip 6 does not have a built-in microphone. In fact, no JBL Flip speaker has had this feature since the Flip 4.
Should you buy the JBL Flip 6?
If you want a solid and reliable party or adventure speaker, the JBL Flip 6 is a great option. The improved water and dust resistance courtesy of its IP67 rating is certainly welcome, and this Bluetooth speaker does not discard anything that made the Flip 5 a success. The Flip 6 isn’t perfect though: we wish that JBL revived the aux input of the Flip 4, but it seems fewer and fewer Bluetooth speakers carry this feature.
The JBL Flip 5 still makes a strong showing compared to its younger sibling. It has an IPX7 rating, meaning it’s just as waterproof as the Flip 6, but not rated for dust at all. However, its sound profile is similar and you can find it on sale thanks to the Flip 6. If you already have a Flip 5, the Flip 6 makes a good PartyBoost companion, though it’s a bummer you can’t use the two together for stereo mode.
What should you get instead of the JBL Flip 6?
Listeners who want even louder sound from a portable speaker should look into the JBL Charge 5. With this, you get more features as it can charge your portable devices, and its battery is extensive at 20 hours. You don’t get an aux port here, but you do get the same IP67 rating. Another option is the JBL Clip 4 if you want to go smaller. This has a built-in carabiner and surprisingly loud sound given its small size.
There are options beyond the JBL family, of course, like the UE BOOM 3. This portable speaker has a similar shape and size to the Flip 5, with a useful party feature and loud sound. You get easier control access with the signature “+” and “-” buttons. Unfortunately, the UE BOOM 3 also lacks a headphone jack, though. Bose has some decent options as well, like the Bose SoundLink Revolve+ II. This speaker has an IP55 rating, includes a microphone for making phone calls and accessing smart assistants, and offers many ways to connect to the speaker including Bluetooth multipoint and aux input.
Frequently asked questions about the JBL Flip 6
These are two very different speakers, with the Clip 4 being among the most portable speakers around. Unlike the Flip 6, the Clip 4 has an integrated carabiner that you can use to attach to any backpack. Neither the Clip 4 nor the Flip 6 have an aux input, so you’re left to rely solely on Bluetooth with either speaker.
We recommend the Clip 4 to listeners who want a super-portable speaker that doesn’t take up much room and the Flip 6 for those who are willing to carry something bigger for better sound quality.
The Sonos Roam isn’t necessarily a better speaker than the JBL Flip 6, but it does have some features the Flip 6 lacks, mainly Wi-Fi connectivity. The Sonos Roam is a Wi-Fi-enabled Bluetooth speaker with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support to boot.
It’s easier to transport the Flip 6 thanks to the built-in space where you can attach a clip or utility cord. There’s no such thing on the Sonos Roam. Still, the Roam is plenty portable with its compact triangular build and light weight (430g).