The JBL Flip 6 Bluetooth speaker is the latest iteration in a long line of mid-priced portable wireless outdoor speakers that have been one of JBL’s most popular models. Although nearly identical to the Flip 5, the Flip 6 is built more rugged, has more recent Bluetooth version 5.1, and adds a high frequency driver. At 7-inches in length, both are sized to easily fit most holders designed for soda cans or water bottles so they can be easily carried on a bike, vehicle drink tray, or in a cargo pocket.
The JBL Flip series have always been at their best out by the pool, at the beach, at the campfire, or out on a bike ride. The latest iteration is built even tougher and carries an IP67 rating which means its waterproof and dust proof as well. Earlier models didn’t sport the dust-proofing. Internally, the Flip series has always carried a 20-watt rating but the internals have changed along the way. Early models had two of the same drivers while the later models including the Flip 6 sports a larger sub-woofer and a smaller driver that handles the higher frequency range. Drivers face the front of the tube (JBL Logo) with passive radiators at either end of the tube adding a bit more bass punch. The shell has changed slightly since earlier versions with the cloth shell now wrapping nearly the entire body and a small bar added beneath the power bar that keeps the speaker aligned where early versions had a tendency to roll.
Controls are split between the power bar which has the charging port (USB type-C), the power switch, and the Bluetooth pairing control. The other controls are on the top of the unit and are left to right, PartyBoost, volume down, volume up, and play/pause. .
The app is fairly simple with the two biggest features being the PartyBoost configuration which allows using more than one JBL speaker in unison for larger environments and its equalizer function.
Tip: Stereo mode is only available with two of the same device, so pairing a Charge 3 and Flip 6 will result in both playing independent of each other rather than a true stereo split.
The Equalizer can be a set and forget proposition which means the speaker can be used most of the time without need of the app which I think is a plus considering its use case. If you only have one JBL speaker and don’t intend to EQ the sound, you can ignore the app entirely until it is time for a firmware update.
Pairing is straight forward, power on the unit, press the Bluetooth button twice and away you go. I did run into one problem when pairing with Android devices and that was for whatever reason the Flip 6 would detect but not connect with AVRCP set at default level (1.5). I had to go into the developer options and set it back to 1.4 or lower or up to 1.6 and then the unit would connect without issue.
Tip: If you are having an issue getting your JBL speaker to pair, try adjusting the AVRCP setting in developer options.
The other thing I found odd was although the Flip 6 supports Bluetooth 5.1, it is still limited to SBC only connectivity. Connectivity was fairly good in open space but was sometimes defeated by walls or other obstructions.
The JBL Flip 6 uses a Lithium ion battery that offers roughly a 12 hour playback time at mid-volume and close to 9 hours with volume near max (not recommended for other reasons) and requires roughly 3 hours to charge from completely spent to 100%.
Sound wise the Flip 6 has the same JBL house sound I’ve heard on most of the other Bluetooth speakers. Lots of mid bass and vocals at the expense of some of the other frequencies. This is a party speaker designed to give a dance beat and enough of the material above that to keep the party going but not designed for audiophiles trying to wring the last detail out of a listening session.
Because of its limited size, the Flip 6 sub-bass is limited with most of its output at or above about 90Hz and a quick roll-off below that. Bass has good power and the radiators do help give the Flip 6 a larger impact in the lower tones. Mids are not the star here by any stretch as the Flip 6 has a fairly deep V signature with true mids sitting in the trough but male vocals do have enough presence to cut through and the push of the upper-mids/lower-treble help lift female vocals above the instrumentation as well. Detail is limited with the Flip 6 obviously aimed more at getting loud enough to be used in outdoor environment and less at absolute fidelity. The problem that arises though is as volume is increased so is the level of noise and distortion in the upper frequencies and at least for me, the Flip 6 becomes less listenable as it goes past about 80% volume. Thus my earlier comment about limiting the volume control to a more moderate level.
Tip: If you need more volume than about 80% of the capability of the Flip 6, you’ll be better served to step up to the JBL Charge 5 (30 Watts) or add a second Flip 6 and use PartyBoost as it will result in a more satisfying performance.
Overall, the JBL Flip 6 delivers on its intended function. It comes in several vibrant colors, is easily portable, waterproof, dustproof, and tough as a brick. For an outdoor speaker for your beach trip, camping trip, or outdoor party by the pool the Flip 6 will do quite nicely. In Larger spaces, PartyBoost allows the use of more than one device for extended coverage while retaining single device control. At $129.95, the Flip 6 is likely to remain one of JBL’s better sellers.
Where to buy: $129.95 at Amazon (8 colors)
Other Options from JBL
- JBL Flip 5 is the previous generation model that’s nearly the same as Flip 6, but less rugged and uses older Bluetooth 4.2.
- JBL Charge 5 is the step-up model with more power that plays louder and has longer battery life.