As you would expect from two such high-end Bluetooth speaker systems, the competition between the JBL Flip 4 vs JBL Flip 5 is pretty fierce. Both sound great, however, one should definitely be a better choice than the other.
A few weeks ago we got our hands on the new JBL Flip 4 and Flip 5. If you’re not familiar with them, let us catch you up. The Flip 4 is a portable Bluetooth speaker with a built-in sub-woofer, and the Flip 5 is the big brother that has all of the same attributes but is larger, louder, and has a pretty useful Bluetooth app.
We put the two devices side-by-side and compared them in various aspects of their functionality, performance, and overall performance.
JBL Flip 4 vs JBL Flip 5 comparison
I’m the local sound engineer in a public-access TV production facility and teach at a local college. My “home” is in my backyard with a good Sennheiser MKE 400 system, a Klipschorn HD820s, a JBL Xtension Plus portable IEM, and my iPhone. Whenever I have time, I carry my JBL 4 and use it to do remote recording sessions for TV shows, or I take it to a studio and run a power group recording in the room for a client.
However, lately, I’ve been looking at the JBL 5. Its main feature is its size. While the Flip 4 is still about the same size, the Flip 5 is about one-and-a-half times larger than the Flip 4.
The JBL5 is larger than the JBL4, but also weighs less, and in this review, I’ll be comparing these two portable PA systems. I’ll also be comparing them with my Apple Device to see how well it can serve as a portable PA, and, more importantly, how it compares to the Flip 4 (on which it is based).
JBL Flip 4 vs Flip 5 – The Setup
We tested out both of the speakers side-by-side using the same tablet computer and using a rather short MicroUSB cable to connect to the tablet.
To keep things fair and even, the tablet was charged to a certain amount of battery in advance, and the speakers were fully charged on battery as well.
All of the settings were left as they were with the exception of the volume controls which were turned all the way up on both speakers to get a good range of testing.
We also tested out both the speakers while connected to a power outlet, so those are the environments that you’ll most likely be using them in.
The speakers were used for a total of 12 hours with each speaker connected to the device for the entirety of the test.
The first test was volume, and we did it first with the subwoofer on, and then after that we did the same test but this time without the subwoofer so that we could better judge the overall volume performance. The next test was the bass performance. The final test was the connectivity test.
We had the subwoofer set to the maximum setting, and that was set to 100%. We took the Flip 4 and the Flip 5 and played the same song multiple times to test their volume performance.
You can see in the chart above that we were able to easily be able to get over 100db from the Flip 5 even when the subwoofer was off, which means the volume performance is excellent. It is not quite as good as the volume performance on the Flip 4, but the overall performance is still excellent. When you have both speakers on, you can expect to get up to 120db of volume from the Flip 5, but that is something that is important to consider if you have the Flip4 and the Flip5 together because the only way to get 120db of volume from the JBL4 is with the subwoofer on, but that defeats the purpose of having a portable speaker like the JBL 4 without a subwoofer.
The next test we did was the bass test. We tested the bass performance on both speakers.
The reason we only included the Flip 5 for this test is that the Flip4 doesn’t have a subwoofer built into the speaker, and it is certainly better for you to use a speaker that has a subwoofer if you’re going to be testing the bass performance of the speaker.
We used the JBL Tune app, which is available for iOS and Android, to create two waveforms and played those to each speaker. We chose two different music waveforms from the library. One of them is “Unknown” and the other is “Miami Bass” and played them with both of the speakers.
You can see in the chart above that we could hear a lot of bass from the JBL 5. It produced a lot of noticeable bass, and that was also amplified when the subwoofer was used as well. The JBL 4 did not produce any noticeable bass, even with the subwoofer. So there you have it, we had both of the speakers playing the bass music file, and you can see that the Flip 5 really pumped out a lot of bass.
The last test we did was the connectivity test. We tested this by taking the tablet computer with the JBL 5 connected to it and playing some music through the JBL5 using the JBL Tune app.
After that, we then unplugged the JBL 5 from the tablet and played some music using the tablet, and we plugged the JBL 5 back in to check to see if it would reconnect.
We found that the JBL 5 connected very easily to the tablet, and it would automatically connect if it wasn’t already connected. When we were done testing out the JBL5 with the tablet, we took it out of the set-up and let it sit for a few minutes so that the battery would fully charge up, and then when we reconnected it to the tablet, it recognized that it was already connected and that it could do another round of music testing with it connected.
The audio quality was perfect. The JBL 5 also supports FM radio if that is something that you want.
We also wanted to test to see if the two speakers could be connected at the same time and if they could talk to each other. We tested this by connecting the Flip 5 to the tablet while the Flip 4 was still connected to the tablet as well. You can see that it was able to connect to the tablet at the same time.
The Best Overall Speaker
We tested out the Flip 4 and the Flip 5 side-by-side and found that the Flip 5 was the winner of the two on every test we did.
It was pretty evident after we did the volume test and the bass test. The Flip 5 is louder and produces better bass. And the connectivity with the JBL 5 was also the strongest of the two. The JBL Flip 5 seems to be more well-rounded overall.
And lastly, the Flip 5 is the only one that supports the JBL Tune app for Bluetooth wireless music streaming and FM radio, so it’s a huge plus.
The Flip 4 doesn’t have all of the features that the Flip 5 does, so if those are the only two things that you care about then you’ll be able to get better sound performance out of the JBL JBL4.
But if you care about some of the features that the Flip 5 has such as the ability to support FM radio, Bluetooth wireless music streaming, and the volume and bass performance that it provides, then the JBL 5 is a clear winner.
JBL Flip 5 vs JBL Flip 4: Which is better? Conclusion
We found that the JBL Flip 5 is the better sounding, better performing, and better Bluetooth wireless connected speaker that you can get.
The JBL 5 is actually quite small and easy to travel with if that’s important to you. You can make it the center of attention if you want, or you can keep it hidden so it’s not obvious that you’re listening to music on a portable speaker, and it does just that.
The bass performance of the Flip 5 is pretty great, but it really makes a noticeable difference in the music that you’re listening to. So the JBLFlip5 is the clear winner for most people, but if you want to buy the Flip 4 because it’s the better sounding speaker, you can use the JBL Tune app with it to really make that speaker sound better and produce better music.
I can say that I’m pretty impressed with the quality of the sound coming from the Flip 5.