Finding a reasonable balance between sound quality/volume and portability/ruggedness, the JBL Flip 5 is the quintessential jack of all trades, master of none. It's melodious enough that you're almost certainly going to enjoy listening to any type of music with it, but its listening experience is decidedly less refined than than those offered by the field-leading Bose models. It is also waterproof and fairly light, making it a perfect companion for campsites and beach days. However, it is just heavy enough that it probably won't make it into your pack for a longer hike or bike ride. So, if you're like the majority of people that want a speaker that can both sound decent and handle the elements, the Flip 5 definitely gets our recommendation. However, if you put a large premium on sound quality or portability, there are more specialized models available that will likely fit your needs a bit better.
JBL Flip 5 Review
Pros: Good sound quality, waterproof, long battery life
Cons: Not the best sounding nor most portable
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The JBL Flip 5 is one of the better sounding waterproof speakers on the market, making it great for beachgoers and lake vacations.
Overall, the JBL Flip 5 sounds quite good. Songs sound reasonably well balanced and relatively full. Bass-heavy numbers easily induced head bobbing in our office, and acoustic ballads sounding quite crisp without any of the tininess one would fear from a smaller speaker.
The Flip 5's sound really only has shortcomings when you directly compare it to more expensive and/or larger speakers. In that case, you'll notice that some of the finer nuances you can hear in the top-end speakers get somewhat muddled away with the Flip 5, and podcasts lack a bit of that, "It sounds like this person is in the same room with me," quality. Additionally, both higher-end speakers and larger speakers in the same price range are able to produce a bit more bass punch than the JBL 5.
While the Flip 5 does have some noticeable shortcomings when compared to the best speakers, we doubt you'll notice them unless you compare them side-by-side, or you have a particularly discerning ear.
The Flip 5 definitely sacrifices a bit of portability in order to be louder and sound better, but it does this less so than many other comparable speakers.
Offering IPX7 total waterproofness, the Flip 5 can easily handle heavy downpours, big splashes, and even a complete dunking if you tip over the canoe. At 19 ounces it isn't particularly light, but certainly isn't' heavy either. We had no qualms throwing it in our bag for a day at the beach or a stroll down to the lake, and it was a mainstay whenever we went car camping. However, it is noticeably bigger than some of the super slim models, so it tended not to make the cut when we were going on longer walks/hikes or when we were overstuffing our carry-ons.
This speaker packs an impressive amount of volume into a relatively average-sized body. It kept a group of a dozen people in our large testing apartment entertained easily. Really the only common use we can think of where it wouldn't be loud enough would be a large backyard barbeque with 30+ people. Even then it would be fine for a mellow barbeque, but might be a bit quiet if you want to get all those people dancing.
We also found the sound quality to deteriorate a bit at absolute full volume, but even a couple notches below max was loud while still sounding good.
The Flip 5's battery is slated to last 12 hours, but it blew that figure out of the water in our testing, pumping out music for 27 hours straight before finally yielding to the lack of electrons. We don't see anyone having any qualms about this speaker's battery life.
Considering the JBL Flip 5's waterproofness and above-average sound quality, we think it's verging-on-premium price is fair, and if anything a pretty good deal. For those that want decent sound quality in a package that can take a beating, it's a worthwhile purchase.
Possibly one of the best summertime beach speakers around, the JBL Flip 5 is great for those that are ok with good but less-than-premium sound, as long as it means the speaker can take a beating and doesn't cost too much.
— Max Mutter and Michelle Powell