The JBL Clip Series

Bryn De Kocks | July 1, 2024 2:13 am

The JBL Clip has been around for a decade, being first introduced in 2014. The speaker has undergone multiple changes during this time, refining the Clip into the lauded portable Bluetooth speaker it is today. We’ll be taking a look at the JBL Clip series as a whole, discussing the evolution between models and speculating on where the Clip series goes from here.

An Overview of The JBL Clip Series

Who Is The Clip Series For?

The Clip series is designed for outdoor enthusiasts, and its carabiner-style design is best suited for hikers, cyclists, and campers. Because the Clip can only be hung from its carabiner or placed on its back with its driver facing upwards, it isn’t as well-suited for indoor use as the Go series, which can direct sound toward the listener with more precision.

In the outdoors, the Clip shines, however. The carabiner can be attached to tents, nearby branches, backpacks, bicycle handles, and more. It’s also great around a campfire or picnic table. When it is placed with the speaker facing upward, it creates a broad dispersion of sound that can be heard by everyone around it.

The Clip series is extremely durable, with the Clip 4 and Clip 5 both sporting an IP67 rating, protecting them from dust and water.

These versatile small Bluetooth speakers are also effective for traveling and are easily able to be stored in small bags or even handbags. Whether you’re on a raft cruising over some rapids, or sitting on the lawn of your college between classes – the Clip series has you covered.

Clip Series Release Timeline

Since the JBL Clip’s initial release in 2014, the company has had a reliable release schedule, with a new Clip being released every two years, except the Clip 5, which took four years to release. The following infographic illustrates these releases, touching on advancements made in each generation.

JBL Clip Series Timeline

Size Comparison

The first JBL Clip was more lightweight and noticeably smaller than the following iterations. Through each generation, JBL has made minor adjustments to the size of the Clip, with the Clip 2 and Clip 5 being the largest. They can all easily be carried in one hand, and are all still highly portable, lightweight speakers.

The JBL Clip Series 6

Comparing The JBL Clip Series

Each generation of JBL Clip has introduced new features or enhancements, we comprehensively cover each of the JBL Clip speakers, discussing what makes them unique, how they’ve evolved, and how they compare to the previous version.

The JBL Clip Series 7

JBL Clip 5

The JBL Clip Series 8

Release Date: April 2024

Pros

  • Great dynamics
  • Gets impressively loud
  • Durable design
  • App support
  • Multispeaker pairing

Cons

  • Can’t be placed down towards the listener unless hanging

The Clip 5 is the most impressive of the series, introducing new connectivity options and mobile app support. It is louder than the JBL Clip 4, and all other Clip models, and has a better carabiner than the previous model, including more clearance room, allowing you to attach it to more things. The rubber grips were also improved to provide better durability.

While previous Clip speakers didn’t support multispeaker pairing, the Clip 5 offers Auracast support, meaning you can connect it in true wireless stereo to another JBL Clip 5 or create a multispeaker group pairing with any other Auracast speaker, including most of JBL’s 2024 releases (Xtreme 4, Go 4, PartyBox 120 & 320 and the PartyBox Ultimate).

The Clip 5’s battery can provide more playtime than any previous Clip, and it also introduced PlaytimeBoost, a way to increase the overall playtime by reducing low-end frequencies. This feature is available alongside preset and custom EQs when using the JBL Portable app.

The Clip 5 has excellent audio quality, with better clarity than the previous Clip 4. It’s also able to more easily fill a room with sound, reaching several decibels more than the Clip 4.

JBL Clip 4

The JBL Clip Series 9

Pros

  • Waterproof and dustproof
  • Wider carabiner opening
  • Vocals sound clear and defined

Cons

  • Rubber stabilizer sections can be prone to damage over time
  • Dropped the Clip 3’s support for aux-in

The Clip 4 saw substantial design changes compared to the Clip 3, with a much wider carabiner and less circular design that makes it more compact. It also introduced dust protection to the existing IPX7 waterproofing on the Clip 3, meeting an IP67 standard.

The Clip 4 dropped support for an auxiliary input, a move that was followed by several other JBL Bluetooth speakers.

While the Clip 4 was made smaller and saw improved weatherproofing, the Clip 3 had more battery life and the sound quality differences were marginal. This speaker represented one of the more negligible upgrades in the Clip series.

JBL Clip 3

The JBL Clip Series 10
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Pros

  • Carry latch more easily attaches to metal bars than the Clip 2
  • IPX7 waterproofing
  • Great durability

Cons

  • No dust protection
  • Limited battery life

JBL’s Clip 3 remains a viable Bluetooth speaker even in 2024. While it lacks the dust protection found on models that followed, it has good battery life and sound quality. The Clip 3 retains much of the Clip 2’s design but saw some changes to the carabiner that help it not to slide around when placed onto things like bicycle handlebars.

It introduced on-speaker controls to the front of the speaker, making it easier to use than the Clip 2.

The Clip 3’s bass is noticeably better than the Clip 2, with more depth and emphasis. It is louder than the Clip 2 and has a clearer sound, particularly in the midrange, helping vocals sound more defined than on the Clip 2. Additionally, the Clip 3’s battery life is improved from the previous generation’s.

An interesting fact about the Clip 3 is that it’s one of the few releases from JBL where the Bluetooth version was lowered compared to the previous generation.

JBL Clip 2

The JBL Clip Series 11

Pros

  • The carry latch is more versatile than the original Clip
  • Improved durability
  • IPX7 water-resistance

Cons

  • Limited bass
  • Relatively low battery life

The evolution from the initial Clip to the Clip 2 is arguably the biggest technological advancement in the Clip series. The Clip 2 introduced a number of new features to the series, including waterproofing, multi-speaker pairing, and significantly improved battery life.
The Clip 2 is larger and more powerful than the original Clip, and is also able to produce deeper lows. This larger size facilitated an increase in playtime from a meager 5 hours to 8 hours.

This was the first Clip to introduce waterproofing, moving from no protection to a comprehensive IPX7 rating that protects it from most water contact, including limited submergence.
It also saw a noticeable improvement to Bluetooth, moving from Bluetooth 3.0 to 4.2, and creating a lower-latency connection with better range.

JBL Clip

The JBL Clip Series 12

Pros

  • Very compact and lightweight
  • Was released with an affordable price tag
  • Innovative design

Cons

  • Low battery life
  • No waterproofing
  • Limited sound quality

The JBL Clip was first released in 2014 and was a unique approach to portable audio that included a built-in latch to attach it to things like belt loops, backpacks, and more. This initial design was very compact and lightweight, making it easy to put in one’s pocket.

Despite its clear intention for outdoor use, the original Clip design didn’t include any water resistance and was vulnerable to scratches, dust intrusion, and water damage.

The most 3W output power meant volume was somewhat limited and the Clip was primarily suitable for personal listening.

The Clip Legacy

The Clip remains one of JBL’s most popular portable Bluetooth speakers, especially for those who live active lives and need a speaker that can keep up with their adventures. Its compact size and built-in carabiner make it a great option for the outdoors and more recently, its impressive volume levels have facilitated group listening sessions and moved the Clip away from being a solo speaker.

It’s seen continued improvements to waterproofing, sound quality, wireless connectivity, and battery life – with the latest Clip 5 being the most impressive of all the Clips.

Just the Clip 3 and Clip 4 by themselves have had more than 100,000 reviews on Amazon, making it one of the best-selling speakers on the website.

With the release of the Clip 5 demonstrated JBL continues to focus on this series of speakers, and we anticipate that in a couple of years time, we’ll all be getting the first glimpse of the JBL Clip 6.

What To Expect From The JBL Clip 6

Looking towards the future, we can only speculate on what JBL’s vision for the Clip series going forward is. But one thing seems near certain at this point and that’s the release of the Clip 6.

With four years between the release of the Clip 4 and 5, it’s hard to say when the release date for the Clip 6 will be – however, it seems unlikely that we’ll have to wait as long as we did for the Clip 5. This will mostly come down to technological advances in the coming years. Taking that into consideration, here’s where I think JBL will go with the Clip 6.

Improved Battery Life

While technological advances have slowed down on some fronts, the field of energy and batteries is one that is constantly taking steps forward. It is reasonable to expect the Clip 6 to benefit from further refinements in battery technology, in conjunction with more efficient Bluetooth protocols, to offer even more battery life.

Eco-Friendly Design

It wouldn’t be surprising to see JBL be more aggressive in its implementation of eco-friendly materials into the design. While they are already incorporating some of this into their speakers, the future looks bright for recycled plastics.

Bluetooth Enhancements

Bluetooth is constantly evolving, shaping the way we can use our speakers and with the Clip 5 taking a bold step forward with Auracast multi-speaker pairing, we anticipate further refinements and enhancements to this technology. The Clip 6 will likely retain Auracast, but with the possibility of some extra benefits.

Carabiner Changes

There isn’t a single generation of Clip where the carabiner design hasn’t changed, so it seems likely the Clip 6 will also see some refinements. Perhaps we’ll get an extension of the rubber we saw added to the latch on the Clip 4 and 5. This could help the speaker stay more stable when latched onto a smooth object.

Improvements to Sound Quality

There are limitations with small drivers, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a new approach to the driver that results in a bit more bass, or clearer sound. Additionally, as Bluetooth efficiency increases, it has the potential for improved retention of sound data and a better sound.

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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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