JBLflip2-cards

Hey! It’s summer here, time for vacations and sun.

Anyone who knows me, realizes that I’ve got music in my ears just about every moment I’m able. The folks over at VerizonWireless must have heard through the digital grapevine (or my Spotify data usage on my cell) that this was the case. They were kind enough to supply me with a shiny new JBL Flip2 Wireless (bluetooth) speaker to take on my trip to the beach.

I took the device with me and jotted down my notes and findings and I’ll provide them here. To save you time, here’s the short version:


Good:

Loud, clear, full sound with minimal distortion until high volume.

Bad:

Actual battery life varies between 3.5-5 hours. Charger does not fit in carry case. 

Overall Verdict:

I like it a lot, nice and portable, great sound, and the price is half of the slightly nicer UEBoom.


I’ve broken this review into the main sections of observations on the use and experience when using the JBL Flip2.

JBLflip2-sand

About the device:

The JBL Flip2 gets its name from its ability to be used either laying flat (horizontally) or standing on one end (vertically). It has a soft rubber coating on the ends that keeps it nicely secured when in either position, while keeping vibrations under control when the system generates bass. Connecting to the device via bluetooth is easy using either traditional methods of pairing or by using the NFC system. The JBL Flip2 packs 2 40mm drivers and a tuned bass port into a 6.25″ x 2.5″ cylinder (which is smaller than the dimensions mentioned on the sales site). The portable speaker system also functions as a bluetooth speakerphone. The system charges using a standard USB Micro charger and features a 1/8″ auxiliary port for non-wireless audio sources. The end of the device has a bluetooth pair button, a power button, and a speakerphone button.


Sound quality:

If you’re on your computer, you can click on the album covers to listen to the music selections on Amazon Digital Music


For the first test of sound quality, I utilized my nice quiet office to really get a feel for the detail the speaker could provide. My initial thought was that in this small room the volume is massive. It’s very adequately loud for my office which is a 10’x10’x9′ space. Even at near full volume, there was only minimally detectable distortion in sound. The sound is quite full, even when playing something as poorly mixed as Europe – The final countdown at full blast.


My next test was Louis Armstrong’s version of Summertime feat. Ella Fitzgerald, the remastered version of the 1957 recording. The volume was quite loud yet the vocals are incredibly clear. Subtle drum and high hat and vibraphone come through the strings in the mix nicely. The upright bass is also clear, I can hear the buzz on the fingerboard. Awesome.


The next track was Frank Glazer’s rendition of Erik Satie’s Trois Gymnopédies: Gymnopédie No. 1.  The piano sounds full and haunting. The detail in the recording really comes out. I can hear his piano hammers rebounding, also creaks from the piano bench. These are all good things, the amount of sound dimension from such a small device, over wireless no doubt is tough to achieve. At higher volume (80%+) the left hand notes cause a slight distortion, and much of the clarity is lost. However, overall sound quality is still fantastic. 


A major departure from the solemn rainy-day music from Frank Glazer, the next track was The Flaming Lips’ – The Sparrow looks up at the Machine. This song is designed to sound distorted. However it seems to be too much for the flip. The previously clear-ish vocals are buried in the fuzz from the mix. This could be just the nature of pushing so much noise through 2 40mm drivers. The mix is very hard clipped; most definition is lost at high volume.

Outdoors at the beach, the sound was sufficiently loud enough for non-distorted listening even during high wind and surf noise. The range of sound was about 15 feet.


Battery/Power:

The device had zero charge when I took it from the package, so this was a perfect time to test charge time. It took 1.5 hours to charge from dead to full charge using a 2A USB micro wall charger.

My first battery life test started at 7:05am and ended with a zero battery shutdown at 11:53am – 4.5-5 hour battery life, just like it says on the spec sheet.

At the beach we only had access to a 1A USB micro wall charger, charging time was upwards of 3 hours, and battery life after that charge was only 3.5 hours.

Charging using a laptop USB port made almost no progress at all before we gave up.

Another important thing to note is the very nice hard leather case provided by JBL to protect the speaker, has no space for the factory provided USB micro charger. Making it difficult to carry with the speaker.


Range:

Bluetooth range is as advertised, about 25-30 feet. In my house, I could get about 15 paces away from the unit (2 rooms away) before audio degraded and eventually stopped.


Other observations:

The price is decent, I’d say it’s definitely worth it. At the time of posting this review it’s on sale at VerizonWireless for $89.99.

Pairing multiple devices to the unit will cause them to fight for the output, it gets a little weird sometimes when two devices try to send different streams.

It took more to explain to the normal user what NFC was than it was worth. Most users just used the standard bluetooth pairing method.

I personally dislike the lack of play/pause and next track controls on the unit, and feel the speakerphone is useless. If you’re paired and listening to music, you may not have time to think about switching your bluetooth audio source before answering a call. Though, people on the other end said I sounded loud and clear.


JBLflip2-tall

Alright, this is kinda cool, I’d like one.

The exact model I reviewed is at this link:

VerizonWireless Store: JBL Flip2

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