JBL Clip 5 Review

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The JBL Clip 5 is a compact waterproof speaker, similar in size to the JBL Go 4. However, it carves out its own space in the market with its built-in carabiner that can be used to attach it to backpacks, bicycles, belt loops, and more. If you’re looking for a small Bluetooth speaker for regular outdoor use – look no further.

JBL Clip 5

Pros

  • Great bass for a small speaker
  • Auracast support
  • Can get loud
  • Built-in carabiner
  • IP67 Dust & waterproof
  • JBL Portable app support with 5-Band custom EQ

Cons

  • Can’t be placed down towards the listener unless hanging
  • The power and pairing buttons don’t contrast well with the black version
  • The best sound is only achieved with custom EQ

Battery Life:Up to 12 hours (+3 Hrs With PlaytimeBoost)
Water Resistance:IP67
Wireless Stereo Pairing:Yes
Power Output: 7W
Frequency Response:95 Hz – 20 kHz
Driver/Transducer:45 mm / 1.75”
Charging Type:USB-C
Mobile App:Yes (JBL Portable)
Size:3.4 x 5.3 x 1.8″
Weight:0.63 lbs

What’s In The Box?

  • 1 x JBL Clip 5
  • 1 x Type C USB cable
  • 1 x Quick Start guide
  • 1 x Warranty Card/Safety sheet

Built For The Outdoors

The Clip 5 rolled out alongside the new Go 4, with both speakers representing a new generation of wireless audio. The Clip series has long been a favorite for outdoor enthusiasts, with its built-in carabiner, durable design, and waterproofing lending itself to use just about anywhere at any time.

In this review, I’ll go over my findings from the comprehensive testing I’ve done, as well as touch briefly on how the Clip 5 compares to its previous generation and the similar Go 4.

Design & Build Quality

Durability of Finish:

0

Feel of Buttons:

0

Weatherproofing:

0

The Clip 5 retains the highly portable design standard set by Clip models before it, weighing 0.63 lbs and with a form factor small enough to fit into one hand (3.4 x 5.3 x 1.8"). It’s slightly larger than the Clip 4, because of its increased thickness.

Unsurprisingly, the Clip 5 retains the iconic carabiner that has seen some improvements with the new design. It’s slightly bigger than in the previous generation, which increases the options for what you clip it onto. 

Whether you’re a hiker looking to attach it to your backpack, or a weekend cyclist wanting a speaker for riding, the Clip 5 has you covered. The increased gap in the carabiner makes it easier than ever for the speaker to be connected to the handlebars of your bicycle.

However, there are limitations to this design. If you don’t have something to have it from, you’ll have to listen to the speaker with the driver facing upward, as it cannot be balanced to face in one particular direction. The speaker compensates for this with a broader sound dispersion.

In terms of waterproofing, it has an IP67 water resistance rating, offering comprehensive protection from water and dust damage. The speaker is protected from splashes, sprays, and limited submergence.

Controls & Connectivity

Bluetooth Profiles: A2DP 1.4, AVRCP 1.6
Bluetooth Version: 5.3
Bluetooth Range: Up to 240 meters (Theoretically)

The speaker makes use of two panels of buttons. One for power and pairing and the other for track and volume control. The power and pairing buttons have a soft, silky rubber texture that feels amazing to press, while the track control buttons are tactile and situated on the front of the speaker. The play button doubles as a track skip but doesn't support skipping backward.

I reviewed the black version of this speaker and don’t think JBL’s decision to use black font for the power and pairing buttons is the best choice. It can make the icons a little challenging to see from some angles and a lighter gray would have been a better choice. Ideally, these buttons would be opaque with a subtle backlight.

The Clip 5 also gets a new pairing button, for Auracast. Auracast is a new wireless technology that strays from JBL’s traditional proprietary approach to multi-speaker pairing and adopts a new global standard that is facilitated by Bluetooth 5.3. Auracast is in its infancy, but its potential cannot be overstated. Unlike previous PartyBoost technology, Auracast has the potential for cross-brand pairing. It already lets you pair the Clip 5 with other JBL speakers (Go 4, Xtreme 4, PartyBox 320, PartyBox 120, and PartyBox Ultimate).

Auracast doesn’t just support traditional multispeaker pairing but allows the user to establish a TWS connection where one speaker becomes the left channel and the other the right, creating true stereo sound. However, you can only establish a TWS connection with another Clip 5.

Bluetooth 5.3 also has the benefit of LE Audio (Low-Energy Audio) which increases the efficiency of data transfer, making for a low-latency connection with increased range over previous versions, all while using less battery power.

How To Pair The JBL Clip 5

  • Turn the speaker on by holding the power button for 2 seconds.
  • Press the Bluetooth pairing button on the bottom side of the speaker (make sure you hear an acoustic ring).
  • Once pairing begins, you will see the LED indicator at the top of the speaker begin flashing frequently.
  • While the Clip 5 is in pairing mode, open your phone and scan for Bluetooth devices.
  • Select the JBL Clip 5 from the Bluetooth connections menu, and you’ll be ready. There will be another audio confirmation once it is successfully connected.

Sound Quality

Bass:

0

Mid-tone:

0

Treble:

0

Volume:

0

Balanced Sound:

0

The Clip 5 gets incredibly loud for a speaker that can fit in your pocket. During our tests, we measured an 85.5 dB peak at 1 meter from the recording device. This is about 5 dB more than the Clip 4 and less than 5 dB short of the larger JBL Flip 6. It’s enough volume to cover a small to medium-sized room in vibrant sound.

JBL Clip 5 Review 1

Dynamics refers to a speaker’s ability to reproduce subtle variations in volume between frequencies and dynamics is something JBL has focused on a lot with the new speakers they’ve been releasing. The Clip 5 has great dynamics that allow you to push the volume up really high while retaining clarity. While the sweet spot seems to be around 75-85% volume, even when it's cranked up full, it still retains much of its detail.

It has a relatively wide soundstage, owing to its upward-facing driver which disperses sound around the speaker, ideal for group listening.

Bass

The bass sounds punchy but mostly balanced with the Clip 5. The bass isn’t particularly deep (95Hz low end), but the upper and mid-bass are impressive for the speaker’s compact size and carry the beat enough for genres like EDM and Hip-Hop to remain enjoyable and not sound flat. While not a bass monster, its low-end performance is better than its predecessor’s, and it can still rattle the items on your desk.

Mids

Vocals and instruments have good definition but can be further improved with the custom EQ. Because the lower mids are so dominant it can slightly reduce clarity in the vocal range. I recommend adding +3 or +4 to the 4k and 16k ranges in the custom EQ to improve these vocal frequencies. You can also play around with the midrange and bass to find the best balance.

Highs

Out of the box, the highs have detail and showcase good dynamics, but they can also be further improved with the app. Some higher frequencies are less elevated and can be ironed out with the custom EQ. It handles sibilance very well and manages to retain precision in these higher ranges.

Battery Performance

Charging Type: USB-C
Manufacturer Playtime: Up to 12 hours (+3 hours using PlaytimeBoost)
Playtime at 50% (Tested): 11 Hours 37 Minutes
Charging Time: 3 Hours and 11 Minutes

The built-in battery provides up to 12 hours of playtime with an additional 3 hours available when using the new PlaytimeBoost feature in the mobile app. While JBL advertises this feature as a way to add clarity and volume to the speaker, it just removes a lot of the lower frequencies, creating more emphasis on the upper frequencies. Still, it effectively adds some extra playtime in cases of need.

The charging time is around 3 hours, meaning for every hour you charge it, you’re going to get about 4 hours of playtime.

The battery life is an improvement over the Clip 4 and is substantially higher than that found in the similar Go 4.

Mobile App Support

JBL’s Portable app is available for both Android and Apple and provides users with a lot more control over how their Clip 5 sounds. Several EQ presets change the type of sound the speaker produces, as well as the option for a 5-band EQ where you can manually tweak different frequency ranges to create your favorite type of sound. After all, the balance between bass, mids, and highs is highly subjective.

Available on Android & Apple.

The app also features the PlaytimeBoost toggle that adds some additional playtime to the battery. The inclusion of a battery life indicator in the app also lets you see how much battery life you have left, as a percent.

While the speaker has an Auracast pairing button on the side, one also has the option of using the app to create a TWS or multi-speaker pairing.

Conclusion

Overall, the Clip 5 is an impressive speaker. It gets loud, retains clarity at high volume, and sounds better than the previous Clip release. The inclusion of Auracast pairing, increased battery life, and the addition of mobile app support take the Clip to a new level. Considering it retails at $79, it may fall outside of some budgets. If you’re limited by budget you should consider the Go 4 or even the previous Clip 4 which both retail at around $49.

JBL Clip 5
JBL Clip 5 Review 5

The JBL Clip 5 is a compact waterproof speaker, similar in size to the JBL Go 4. However, it carves out its own space in the market with its built-in carabiner that can be used to attach it to backpacks, bicycles, belt loops, and more. If you’re looking for a small Bluetooth speaker for regular outdoor use - look no further.

Product Brand: JBL

Editor's Rating:
4.1

Pros

  • Great bass for a small speaker
  • Auracast support
  • Can get loud
  • Built-in carabiner
  • IP67 Dust & waterproof
  • JBL Portable app support with 5-Band custom EQ

Cons

  • Can't be placed down towards the listener unless hanging
  • The power and pairing buttons don't contrast well with the black version
  • The best sound is only achieved with custom EQ

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Author: Bryn De Kocks

Bryn has worked in the field for several years, writing in-depth speaker reviews for various audio publications. His work has historically focused on headphones and Bluetooth speakers, while incorporating his understanding of the Bluetooth speaker market to help educate potential buyers.

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