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JBL Clip 4 Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Jan 15, 2021 at 09:01 am
JBL Clip 4 Picture
5.9
Music
5.7
Videos/Movies
7.3
Podcasts
3.1
Voice Assistant
6.4
Outdoors
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
No
Speakerphone
No
Voice Assistant
No
Battery Powered
Yes

The JBL Clip 4 is a small, portable speaker with a built-in carrying hook. It's easy to take with you on-the-go since it's battery-powered and easily fits in your hand. However, it struggles to reproduce thumpy low-bass and has a muddy sound profile. Its around 5.5-hour battery life falls short of the advertised up to 10 hours, which means you may need to recharge it more often. That said, it has a great build quality and is rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, although we don't currently test for it.

Our Verdict

5.9 Music

The JBL Clip 4 is sub-par for music. It has a muddy sound profile that lacks low-bass, and it doesn't have an EQ that could help customize its sound profile to your liking. While it has a spacious soundstage, it has to downmix stereo content into mono which doesn't sound very immersive. It also doesn't get very loud, and there are compression artifacts present at max volume.

Pros
  • Great build quality.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • No EQ.
  • Lacks low-bass.
5.7 Videos/Movies

The JBL Clip 4 is disappointing for videos and movies. It struggles to produce low-bass and has a muddy overall sound. While its soundstage is wide and spacious, it has to downmix stereo content into mono to play it. The speaker also struggles to get loud, and there are compression artifacts at max volume. That said, it has low audio latency on iOS and Android, but some apps compensate for this differently.

Pros
  • Great build quality.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • Lacks low-bass.
7.3 Podcasts

The JBL Clip 4 is decent for podcasts. It has a slightly muddy sound, and while dialogue is accurately reproduced, it's also a bit bright. It struggles to get loud and there are compression artifacts at max volume. It also can't be paired with more than one device at a time, and you can't link it with other speakers in your home. On the upside, it's very portable thanks to its small design.

Pros
  • Great build quality.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
3.1 Voice Assistant

The JBL Clip 4 doesn't have voice assistant capabilities.

6.4 Outdoors

The JBL Clip 4 is acceptable for outdoor use. It's very portable and has a built-in hook so that you can hang it on your bag when you're on-the-go. It also has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, although we don't currently test for this. However, it doesn't get very loud, and there are compression artifacts at max volume. Its battery performance is unremarkable, and you may need to recharge it if you're using it for a full day outside.

Pros
  • Great build quality.
  • IP67 rating.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • No EQ.
  • 5.9 Music
  • 5.7 Videos/Movies
  • 7.3 Podcasts
  • 3.1 Voice Assistant
  • 6.4 Outdoors
  1. Updated Mar 12, 2021: Updated our Bluetooth latency results with iOS and Android devices.
  2. Updated Jan 18, 2021: After re-evaluating our subjective scoring, we updated the Ease of Use score for this speaker's controls to 'Great'.
  3. Updated Jan 15, 2021: Review published.
  4. Updated Jan 13, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

The JBL Clip has a squarish design that can easily fit in your hand. It comes in several colors so you can find a style that best suits your preferences, and it has a carabiner hook built-in so that you can securely hang it from your bag. It also has a large JBL logo on its front side, which some users may find a little in-your-face. For another small and portable speaker you can hook to your bag, check out the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore, which comes with a built-in carrying strap and a removable carabiner hook.

9.5
Design
Portability
Volume
29 inยณ (468 cmยณ)
Weight
0.4 lbs (0.2 kg)
Power Source
Battery & USB
One-Hand Carry
Yes

The JBL Clip 4 is outstandingly portable. It has a small and lightweight design that's meant to be used while you're on-the-go. It's also battery operated, so you don't always need to be near an outlet, and it has a hook for hands-free portability.

8.3
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Great
Water Resistance
Submersible (IPx7)
Dust Resistance
Dust-Proof (IP6x)
Impact Resistance
Unspecified
Floats In Water
Unspecified

The JBL Clip 4 has an impressive build quality. A tight netting wraps most of the speaker, and it has a rubber base. This speaker also has a thick and sturdy built-in hook. It's rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, although we don't currently test for this.

5.9
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Great
Feedback
Good
Music Play/Pause
Yes (Physical)
Call Answer/End
No
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Physical)
Track Next/Previous
No
Microphone On/Off
No
Additional Controls
Yes

Update 01/18/2020: After reviewing our subjective testing scores, we determined that the Ease of Use score for this speaker's controls should be changed to Great. We often re-evaluate our subjective scoring to provide greater consistency and accuracy across our reviews.

The controls are sub-par. This speaker has dedicated buttons so that you can turn it on/off, play/pause audio, pair it via Bluetooth, and adjust the volume. You can also press the play button twice to skip to the next track, but there isn't a way to go to a previous track. The buttons are easy to press, and there's a chime that plays each time you increase the volume. There's also a chime that plays while you're pairing a device. A white light appears to let you know when the speaker is on, and it flashes to also let you know when you're pairing with a device.

Design
In The Box

  • JBL Clip 4 speaker
  • USB-C to USB-A charging cable
  • Quick Start Guide

Sound
5.8
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
-0.54
Std. Err.
3.35 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
93.8 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
13.3 kHz

The JBL Clip 4 has sub-par frequency response accuracy. When placed flat with its logo facing upwards, it struggles to reproduce thumpy low-bass. It has a boomy sound that some users may find a little muddy, though. Unfortunately, it doesn't have any sound enhancement features to help tweak its sound.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
7.4
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
1.12 dB
Stereo
No (mono)

The JBL Clip 4 has a decent soundstage. Even though it's not a 360-degree system, its soundstage is perceived as wide and spacious. However, unlike the Anker Soundcore 2, it has to downmix stereo content into mono, which doesn't sound as immersive.

5.3
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
79.2 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
3.13 dB

This speaker has middling dynamics. It doesn't get very loud, and it has some compression artifacts at max volume, which doesn't make it very suitable for use at a party or in a large room.

Active Features
6.3
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
5.5 hrs
Charge Time
2.7 hrs
Power Saving
Yes
Charging Port
USB-C

The JBL Clip 4 has an acceptable battery performance. While the manufacturer advertises that its battery life lasts close to 10 hours, we measured 5.5 hours. However, battery life can vary according to usage, so your experience may vary. Luckily, the speaker turns off after roughly 20 minutes with no audio playing, which helps conserve battery life.

0
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
No
Google Assistant
No
Siri
No
Voice Activation
No
Microphone Mute
No Microphone
Far-Field Performance
No Microphone
Ambient Noise Performance
No Microphone

This speaker doesn't have voice assistant support.

0
Active Features
App
App Name
No App
iOS
No
Android
No
EQ
No
Stereo Pair Mode
No
Party Mode
No
Multi-Room
No

This speaker doesn't have a companion app.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Wired
Aux Input
No
USB Audio
No
Other Ports
No

The JBL Clip 4 can't be used wired. It has a USB-C port for charging.

8.3
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.1
Bluetooth iOS Latency
92 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
39 ms
Bluetooth Range
237.9 ft (72.5 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
No

Update 03/12/2021: After setting the Reaper Frames per Second to 60, we retested Bluetooth latency for both iOS and Android devices. The review has been updated accordingly.

This speaker has great Bluetooth connectivity. While you can't pair it with more than one device at a time, it has low latency on iOS. Its latency on Android is even lower, which makes it suitable for watching videos. That said, some apps compensate for latency differently, so your experience may vary.

0
Connectivity
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Version
No Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Frequency Band
No Wi-Fi
Apple AirPlay
No
AirPlay Latency
N/A
Google Chromecast
No
Chromecast Latency
N/A

This speaker isn't Wi-Fi compatible.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The JBL Clip 4 comes in several color variants: 'Black', 'Blue', 'Gray', 'Green', 'Orange', 'Pink', 'Red', 'Squad' which has a camo motif, 'Teal', 'White', 'Yellow', and 'Blue-Pink'. We tested the black model, and you can see its label here. We expect all color variants to perform similarly to our model.

If you come across another variant, please let us know in the discussions and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The JBL Clip 4 is the fourth generation of the JBL Clip. Just like other speakers from the Clip lineup, it has a locking mechanism on its top side so you can hook it to objects like bags while you're on-the-go or outdoors. However, this generation is more square-shaped and has a larger logo on its front. Compared to other portable speakers, it doesn't get very loud and it lacks low-bass, which is fairly common in small speakers. However, its battery life isn't as long as other speakers suitable for outdoor use, like the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2.

JBL GO 3

The JBL Clip 4 is a slightly better speaker than the JBL GO 3. While both speakers have a great build quality and are very portable, the Clip 4 can reproduce slightly more bass and has a wider soundstage. It also has lower audio latency on iOS and Android, although some apps compensate for this differently. However, the GO 3 can reach max volume with fewer compression artifacts.

Bose SoundLink Micro

The Bose SoundLink Micro is a better speaker for outdoor use than the JBL Clip 4. The Bose has better controls and while it doesn't get as loud as the JBL, it can reach its max volume with fewer compression artifacts. It also supports your smartphone's voice assistant, it has a companion app that allows you to connect it to other units, and you can pair it with up to two devices at a time. However, the JBL is better-built and has a slightly better-balanced sound profile.

JBL Flip 5

The JBL Flip 5 is a better speaker than the JBL Clip 4, though they have different strengths. The Flip 5 can get louder and has a better-balanced sound profile that can reproduce a deeper bass than the Clip 4. It also has a longer battery life, lasting over eight hours from a single charge, though this can vary depending on your usage. However, the Clip 4 is smaller and more portable with a built-in carabiner hook. It also has a wider-sounding soundstage than the Flip 5, and is better-built, with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, though we don't test for this.

Sony SRS-XB13

The Sony SRS-XB13 is a better speaker than the JBL Clip 4. The Sony has a better-balanced sound profile that can produce a deeper low-bass than that of the JBL. It can get louder with less compression artifacts at max volume, resulting in cleaner audio at louder volumes, and it has a wider-sounding soundstage than the JBL. However, the JBL is somewhat better built and comes with a built-in carabiner hook which can come in handy when you're on the move.

Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2

The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2 is a better speaker than the JBL Clip 4. The Ultimate Ears has a better build quality and due to its 360-degree design, it has a wider, more spacious-feeling soundstage, especially as it's in stereo. It also has a better-balanced sound profile, can get much louder, and has longer-lasting continuous battery life. However, the JBL has lower latency on iOS and Android.

Sony SRS-XB12

The Sony SRS-XB12 is a better speaker than the JBL Clip 4 overall. The Sony has less compression present at max volume, so your audio sounds cleaner at louder volume levels. It supports voice assistants through your smartphone. It can also last over 13 hours from a single charge, though this can depend on your usage, and your experience may differ. That said, the JBL can produce a more extended low-bass. It also comes with a built-in hook you can use to clip it to your bag.

JBL Charge 5

The JBL Charge 5 is a better speaker than the JBL Clip 4 overall, though you may prefer one over the other depending on your listening habits. The Charge 5 offers a better-balanced sound profile that can produce deeper bass than the Clip 4. It can also get louder and can last over 14 hours from a single charge, though this can depend on your usage. That said, the Clip 4 is smaller and more portable thanks to its built-in carabiner hook. It also offers a wider-sounding soundstage.

Anker Soundcore 3

The Anker Soundcore 3 is a better speaker than the JBL Clip 4 overall. The Anker has a customizable sound profile thanks to the graphic EQ and presets available in its companion app. It can get louder than the JBL and has a longer battery life, though this can vary depending on usage. However, the JBL is smaller and more portable than the Anker. The JBL is also better-built, with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, though we don’t test for this.

Anker Soundcore Motion+

The Anker Soundcore Motion+ is a better speaker than the JBL Clip 4. The Anker has a more balanced sound profile, and it's more customizable thanks to the graphic EQ in its companion app. Also, it has a longer battery life than the JBL and it can get louder. However, the JBL's soundstage is perceived as more open, though its bass can sound a bit muddy. Although both speakers are outstandingly portable, the JBL has a clip that lets you attach it to your bag.

Sony SRS-XB23

The Sony SRS-XB23 is a better speaker for outdoor use than the JBL Clip 4. The Sony has better controls and a better-balanced sound profile. Since it's a 360-degree speaker, it can reproduce a wider soundstage. It also has a better battery life and you can use your smartphone's voice assistant with it. It even has an app with a graphic EQ so that you can tweak its sound to your liking.

Anker Soundcore 2

The JBL Clip 4 is better for most uses than the Anker Soundcore 2. Both speakers struggle to reproduce low-bass, but the JBL has a more extended low-bass than the Anker. Also, the JBL has a better soundstage. However, the Anker has a longer battery life, and it supports voice assistants from your smartphone. It can also play stereo content, unlike the JBL, which has to downmix this audio into mono.

Sonos Roam

The Sonos Roam is a better speaker than the JBL Clip 4. The Sonos has a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box, and it gets louder. It also has a companion app with bass and treble adjustments, and it supports voice assistants.

JBL JR POP

The JBL JR POP and the JBL Clip 4 are similar speakers, so depending on your listening habits, you may prefer one over the other. The Clip 4 is better-built, and it has a more neutral sound profile. However, the JR POP is smaller and has a kid-friendly design. While it doesn't get as loud as the Clip 4, it has less compression when you play it at max volume.

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