The JBL Clip 4 is a mono BT speaker with a carabiner clip – take it anywhere, any time. And the music quality belies its small size. The JBL Clip 4 is quite an update to Clip 3, not only in looks, functionality (better clip) but in music quality. And there are seven two-tone colours to select from as well. In fact, we were delighted when we compared them both. Not that Clip 3 was inferior – just no as loud and refined.
JBL (Est. the mid-40s) is short for James B Lansing (Yes, he was the Lansing in Altec Lansing as well.) Now it’s part of the Harman group of companies owned by Samsung. You can read more GadgetGuy JBL news and reviews here.
First impression – cute and fun
Where the Clip3 looks at home on a Scout backpack, this has a more unicorn appeal. Bright, bold and brash and some really lovely two-tone (well, four-tone if you count them up) colours. The clip is now majorly easy to use (versus the metal clip before).
Up to 10 hours of playtime. 3.885Wh battery requires USB-C minimum 5V/.5A for a 3-hour recharge
1 x 40mm 5W speaker with 100Hz-20kHz frequency response and >85dB volume
134.5 x 86.3 x 46 (mm) x 239g
BT 5.1 SBS and AAC with 50m+ range – single pairing
IP67 1m for 30 minutes waterproof (does not float)
Maximum volume is 80dB, and there is a little harshness then. Back off 5dB, and it is fine. Now you can’t expect a 40mm speaker to be hi-fi, but this does a good job. There are hints of high-bass, solid flat response to 13kHz and then a gradual drop off to 20kHz.
It has no L/R sound stage (it is mono), but it has an almost 360° sound emanating from the front and back (there is a passive bass radiator in the back panel – see teardown later). Like the JBL Extreme 3 (9.5/10), the JBL 2021 series has moved to a neutral signature that neither adds nor subtracts from the original music. It is warm without the sweet and fine for what it is.
JBL claims battery life in lab tests is up to 10 hours of playtime. We used it for two hours a day at 75% volume, and it achieved 6.6 hours. Recharge time claim is 3 hours with any USB-A/C charger. That is accurate, and you can use any USB-C PD charger as well.
Perfect, personal, portable mono speaker. You can stick religiously to the review ‘paradigms’ or look more at the rationale and purpose of a device. It is an above-average BT speaker and being small, all you will hear is average BT, SBC or ACC music. Things like Podcasts and most lightweight music are terrific – just don’t even think of heavy metal or string quartets. So, I eschew reviews that say it lacks bass, volume or needs an EQ – at $89.95, it is what it is – an outstanding mini-portable, and that is pretty good.
For what it is, it is a 9/10 – an excellent low-cost mono speaker. For how it looks and its improved use over Clip 3, it gains points.
JBL Clip 4
A terrific portable IP67 mono take anywhere clip-on speaker
Value for money
Ease of use
IP67 and well made
Easier to use carabiner
Great rangeof colours - now a fashion item
Battey life is volume and content dependent but closer to 6-7 hours