Review: JBL's Flip 6 portable speaker delights with strong performance on a budget

  • 22/04/2022
JBL's Flip 6 speaker
I'm told I should only use items that bring me joy - can JBL's new speaker do so? Photo credit: Newshub

I have yet to indulge in a Marie Kondo Netflix marathon and I fear I'm already way too late to that party, anyway.

But by the power of social osmosis, I understand it involves the need to keep items that bring you joy and rid yourself of others. 

Joy is associated with many things in my life - family, football, wrestling, movies and more. Right up there, however, is my love of music.

I can't even begin to estimate how much money I've spent on hardware, tapes, vinyl and CDs over the years. Some of it worthwhile, some of it definitely not... like Limp Bizkit.

Could JBL's new mobile speaker help me continue my love of music with its low price and range of colours?

I've been using the company's new Flip 6 for a week or so and here are my thoughts.

The good

One thing JBL has shown over the years is it knows how to make quality and affordable audio products, so my expectations were high.

And, to a great extent, they were met.

One of the most exciting developments is the Flip 6 is IP67 waterproof and dustproof, meaning it's good for the beach or the swimming pool. Or the shower, because that's where the Flip 6 comes into its own.

JBL's Flip 6 speaker
Photo credit: Newshub

I've always been a shower singer - not only does it help improve my mood, it gets me pumped for the day ahead.

The experience with the Flip 6 was very good indeed. My shower cubicle isn't quite enclosed, but with the right speaker and volume it's acoustically excellent. I was able to place the speaker flat and stable on my shelf thanks to its plastic foot, or hang it up on one of the pegs using the fabric strap. Both ways sounded great.

The first time I listened, I thought the high end was a little murky, certainly compared to the very impressive bass on offer, so I made some minor adjustments in the JBL Portable app to the mid and treble settings and got it sounding just right.

What followed was a concert for the generations: Jimmy Buffett, Foo Fighters and Debbie Gibson appeared on the same bill for the very first time, followed by Camera Obscura and, finally, Faith No More.

There's nothing like the best cover of classic funk pop track 'Easy' as the ideal way to end a show.

The sound is delivered via a two-way speaker system with a separate tweeter and, on either end, two plastic diaphragms (both adorned by decorative exclamation points) move in and out to ensure great bass.

JBL's Flip 6 speaker
Photo credit: Newshub

And therein I found a new experience. Putting on some of my heavier favourites, I sat with the speaker in my hand for hours, allowing those diaphragms to bounce off my fingers. Not only was I hearing the bass, I was truly feeling it too.

My tingly fingers gave a whole new way of adding to the experience. I dare say this isn't why JBL put them there, but who cares?

It's also truly portable, weighing in at around 550g, unlike some other party speakers I've tried. And despite its diminutive stature at just 18cm long and 7cm high there are no concerns over the loudness.

I've had others that you can struggle to hear over the sound of the shower, but not so with the Flip 6. It was more than loud enough while not even close to maxing out the volume.

It's also a robust speaker - at least robust enough to handle being dropped on my bathroom floor as I took my final bow. I wouldn't be concerned about handing it over to young kids to play with as it'll definitely take a bit of rough handling and throwing about.

The battery life is also pretty good, offering around 12 hours playtime - or 2.3 Kilpatrick showers.

JBL's Flip 6 speaker
Photo credit: Newshub

It handily charges via USB C and will fully juice up in just 2.5 hours so while some party animals may find half a day of battery a little too short, it should suit most just fine.

Overall, it's incredibly easy and pleasing to use. It pairs quickly with both iOS and Android smartphones, and the rubbery buttons on top are easy to find by feel alone. 

The bad

My biggest frustration with the Flip 6 was the lack of microphone that stops you from accessing your smart assistant of choice.

There's nothing worse than being midway through an all-time legendary shower show and the wrong song popping up and destroying the vibe.

Sometimes you just don't have time to curate your playlist beforehand and so asking Siri or Alexa to skip is a godsend.

It's also not perfect audio, but I think that's fair given the lower price of the speaker.

I'm not sure if this truly counts as a negative as it feels it delivers more bang than you might expect for its buck - but I don't want anyone expecting the stellar performance of a $2000 standalone speaker.

JBL's Flip 6 speaker
Photo credit: Newshub

Like other brands on the market, the Flip 6 can be paired with others to allow for better sound at a party. One downside here, however, is that it's limited to other Flip 6 devices, so you'd better hope your friends have all upgraded too.

The verdict

For Bluetooth speaker that costs less than $200, the JBL Flip 6 knocks it out of the park as far as I'm concerned.

Depending where you buy it from, you might even land one for around $140. You're very unlikely to get anything better for that kind of price, in my experience.

It's a functional speaker that does everything you want it to. It sounds great, it looks great and thanks to those moving diaphragms it feels great, too.

JBL's Flip 6 speaker
Photo credit: Newshub

Did it bring me joy, however? Unquestionably. Those long, hot showers accompanied by loud guitars and the banging of drums have given me respite when it was needed and a chance to belt out my favourites when I was feeling a bit more out there.

Maybe if you ask the neighbours you'll get a slightly different answer, though. I never said I was a good singer!

Regardless, if you're wanting something reliable and full-sounding that doesn't break the bank then look no further.


Newshub was supplied with a JBL Flip 6 for this review.

JBL's Flip 6 speaker
Photo credit: Newshub