Which is the best JBL speaker

The best JBL Bluetooth speakers 2021

from Wiebke

Last updated: December 4, 2018

I am capable of learning. Even if I have clear ideas about sound and quickly sort a certain brand into the drawer “unsuitable for my sound perception”, I of course always keep my ears open for you.

So it could happen that I got a lot warmer with the JBL Flip 4 than with the predecessor and other JBL models.

Similar to the Sunday morning top picks The best Bose Blutooth speakers 2021, in this article I want to bring you closer to the special features of JBL, disassemble the different models and for the device test winners we have tested so far Best bluetooth speakers exclaim in certain categories. For a complete overview, just have a look at our Bluetooth speaker test. We have over 20 devices in the test there.

After all, who of us can infer the real suitability of a loudspeaker from Amazon reviews alone? This requires tests!

Small disclaimer: So far we have only not tested the current JBL Clip 2, all other model series have already been examined by us. That's why I can't tell you anything specific about this model yet. But as always: if you want, we will be happy to make up for this test.

The ultra-expensive JBL Flip Boombox with its almost 500 euros is completely out of the question because, in our opinion, it completely bypasses the idea of ​​Bluetooth boxes - or the target group. 500 euros, so please!

What is special about JBL Bluetooth speakers?

In my tester's brain, I have divided our various candidates in the test into broad brand categories: Bose is the oomph and hi-fi specialist, Anker is the value for money and JBL is the party-outdoor fan.

When I think of waterproof Bluetooth speakers, I always end up with JBL first. The Americans are based near LA, which for me only cemented the brand image. The JBL Bluetooth speakers should provide proper sound on the go and in the open air, be handy and colorful and do credit to their outdoor functionality.

So while Bose appears as a dignified uncle in a pinstripe suit, JBL wears streetwear and hangs out in the park or on the beach. Practically every JBL device is therefore also offered in "cheeky" colors and "casual" patterns, which vary in price depending on their popularity.

The fact that this image works and that it works is not only evident from the brand's successful market presence. I once paid attention: As soon as a horde of young people in Berlin want to show publicly what cool music they are listening to, the riot blares out of a JBL box. Almost without exception, I would like to add.

Personally, I've always been a bit ambivalent about the JBL sound. In particular, the outdoor muscle man JBL Charge 3 sounded a bit bleak to me, and the JBL Flip 3 wasn't immediately on fire. “Cross-section listeners” with party ambitions seemed to me to be the most important target group here. However, the Californians must have heard my gripes. To do this again.

Test winner JBL Charge 3 2021: The best speaker for outdoor

If there is a blueprint for the best outdoor functionality of a Bluetooth speaker in our test, then it is without a doubt the JBL Charge 3. Because it shows what you can really always use with audio technology on the go:

  • waterproof with protection class IPX7
  • Battery life 20 hours
  • Party mode for coupling multiple speakers
  • Power bank function
  • 360 degree sound

The whole thing is available on Amazon in different "fun" colors, which make a difference in price of 10 to 25 euros (camouflage, what the hell ?!). However, the price of around 120 euros is absolutely justified for what you get.

Despite all the functionality, the JBL Charge 3 has two problems:

  • It's a little too big for the suitcase
  • It sounds a little too small for its size

Here there is really a clear "small box feeling", which I explain in more detail in the Bluetooth speaker guide. The bottom line: Actually, the Charge 3 has the best prerequisites to ensure a party with absolute abundance and great bass. He can do that too. But unfortunately you can also hear that the sound is rather compressed and small.

You only notice this as long as you listen carefully. An outdoor party is about the overall impression and the oomph. And the Charge 3 is also doing splendidly here.

Since all other models in the test also follow the outdoor postulate, it is difficult for me to name a second or third place in this category. They all do a great job outside.

If I add the sound, I would personally put the JBL Flip 4 on the silver medal and the JBL Flip 3 on the bronze stairs. The JBL GO Ultra is handy and mobile, but a joke from a sound point of view.

Test winner JBL Flip 4: The best speaker for the home

As you may have noticed by now, I don't really care about outdoor functionality. I want a good-sounding loudspeaker that can fill the booth at home without taking up space. At most, a long battery life is relevant for me because I don't feel like charging the box all the time.

Maybe it's because I didn't take JBL seriously as a candidate for home speakers for a while. After all, what should I do with party sound when the quieter and nuances are lacking?

Fortunately, JBL has probably heard my nosing - or wondered why music nerds don't take their boxes for full. Because now there is the JBL Flip 4, which solved many of the problems of its predecessor and also added a shovel in terms of sound:

valueFLIP 4FLIP 3
Battery life12 h10 h
Frequency range70 to 20,000 Hz85 to 20,000 Hz
Water resistanceIPX 7"Splash-proof"
Weight515 g450 g
Dimensions6.8 x 17.5 x 70 cm6.4 x 16.9 x 6.4 cm

So you have more bass, more water resistance, longer battery life and an overall wider sound on a similarly small footprint. This means that the Flip 4 moves in front of the Flip 3. Unfortunately, the Flip 4 also lacks a convincing sound center.

But I am sure that most of you will not even notice it. Or only if there is a Denon Envaya mini or Libratone Too box next to it. Both of them are just awesome when it comes to the middle of the sound.

The JBL Flip 4 is around 100 euros on Amazon, even the camouflage version (whyyyy ?!) is only marginally more expensive here. And for what comes out of the box overall, the money is really reasonable. Especially since you can always take them outside without any problems. "Real" home boxes have to fit completely. Sound or not.

Test winner JBL Flip 3: The best loudspeaker for cross-section use

The nice thing about JBL Bluetooth speakers is that you can practically not go wrong if you choose a device from the Flip or Charge series. For me, this applies in particular to the JBL Flip 3, which combines reliable performance with a pleasantly reasonable price tag.

In other words: If you already have the Flip 3, there is hardly any reason to upgrade to the Flip 4. I just find it a very successful cross-sectional loudspeaker in the JBL range that has a little something in store for everyone - and delivers good party bang.

In the overview it looks like this:

PER

  • high quality
  • Controls and connections self-explanatory and sufficient
  • Telephone function
  • Sufficiently waterproof
  • Several loudspeakers can be linked
  • Good sound requirements
  • Sufficient battery power
  • 360 degree sound

CONTRA

  • Strange focus or strange position
  • Less functionality than its big brother Charge 3

The focus is important here because the role sounds best when it is upright on a gently swaying surface. Even then, the sound is not a revelation, but at JBL you always have to think about the target group in my ears.

The anti-test winner: JBL Go Ultra

Even a reliable audio supplier sometimes fails. And at JBL this failure is called JBL Go Ultra. At least in large part. Because the ultra-small rectangular box can basically not reproduce anything but sound. The battery only lasts 5 hours, and all other typical JBL functions such as water resistance or the ability to connect multiple speakers are missing here.

You don't even pay 25 euros for this on Amazon and still get quite clean mids and highs - but the bass, which is so important for the party, is practically completely missing.

Sure, if you should definitely be looking for an ultra-small, ultra-light, super-cheap speaker, the investment would be okay.

If we stay within the narrow framework of the JBL test devices, the JBL Go Ultra is of course the cheapest idea. But with a view to the entire Bluetooth speaker test, you are in better hands elsewhere with a similar amount - see, for example, Anker SoundCore Mini.

Test winner of all classes? JBL Bluetooth speakers compared to other manufacturers

As in our other top picks, I want to compare the JBL Bluetooth speakers in general with other big and well-known brands. The duels are sometimes not entirely fair, but this gives you an impression of how JBL positions itself in the offer.

Test winner outdoor: JBL vs. Anker vs. Bose

There are actually no questions in this category: JBL Bluetooth speakers are pioneers and real experts when it comes to outdoor functionality. The JBL Charge 3 alone proves this. BUT: My darling Bose in particular has caught up a lot in terms of outdoor friendliness and delivered extremely well with the Bose SoundLink Micro.

Anker, on the other hand, is always based on Bose and has consequently also come up with its own devices for their outdoor offensive (which is based on JBL). This update is particularly successful with the Anker SoundCore 2. But its functionality does not come close to JBL - although the price tag is much cheaper.

Test winner price-performance: JBL or anchor

If I found the comparison of Bose anchors on the subject of price-performance ratio somewhat unfair, I see things a little differently with JBL vs. Anker. Taken individually, both deliver extremely decent performance at a decent price.

However, Anker often doesn't even cost half as much and has very convincing devices on offer. This is particularly evident in the mini versions, such as the Anker SoundCore Mini, which not only overtakes the JBL Go Ultra by miles, but also practically crushes it.

But as soon as we go a little higher and arrive in the upper middle class, Anker has to give up and JBL takes the crown. Just like practically every other major manufacturer in this segment. Anker is an inexpensive expert, everything with the addition of "Premium" and Co. is again bad for the price.

Test winner Sound & Design: JBL or Bose or Libratone

You can guess what the verdict is here: The JBL sound is good and beautiful, but doesn't even begin to have the presence of a Bose box or the clarity of a Libratone loudspeaker. And the other two providers also look better. Now I've never been a fan of bright colors and happy design, so my judgment here is definitely not objective.

When it comes to party suitability, JBL and Bose do not take anything. The two sound monsters definitely get the crowd to dance. Only when you want to listen more closely are you in much better hands with Bose and Libratone than with JBL. And always (so far).

JBL vs. everyone else: is the competition sleeping?

In our steadily growing Bluetooth speaker test, there are also a lot of brands and offers that are not among the top players in the audio industry. Especially when it comes to outdoor performance, the competition makes fun of digging the water off JBL and sometimes copying it a bit. I'll show you whether this works in a selected quick run-through:

  • Ultimate Ears BOOM 2 vs. JBL Charge 3 (and also Flip 3) - tie. The Ultimate Ears has much better mids and highs
  • EasyAcc Mini vs. JBL Go Ultra - EasyAcc advantage. Cheaper, more functional, more powerful
  • Wirezoll Bluetooth speaker vs. JBL Flip 4 - JBL advantage. The Wirezoll just sounds absolutely crap. Good outdoor functionality at a low price or not.
  • Bose SoundLink Revolve vs. JBL Flip 4 - tie. As a complete package, JBL is just as impressive as the more expensive Revolve.

Which JBL should I buy? - The 'ultimate' ranking

JBL knows very well that the party target group is as fleeting as a sauna infusion. That's why they regularly bring out updates of their bestsellers - easy to recognize by the ascending numbers after the type designation.

Therefore it is quite possible that my current ranking of the best JBL Bluetooth speakers will be upset very soon. Because JBL is also at the forefront in our test selection. Still, in my opinion the JBL ranking is currently as follows:

  1. JBL Flip 4
  2. JBL Charge 3
  3. JBL Flip 3
  4. JBL GO Ultra

If you think that's not right or you have any other questions, please feel free to leave me a comment as always.