For its first three generations, JBL’s Clip micro Bluetooth speaker had a round design. But for the fourth-gen Clip 4, JBL has moved to a extra oval form and bulked up the speaker barely. It’s a tad heavier at 0.24 kilograms (0.53 kilos) vs. 0.22 kilograms (0.49 kilos) for the Clip 3. But it does appear extra sturdy, with a sturdier built-in carabiner “clip.” It additionally sounds higher, with extra quantity, clearer sound and extra bass. 

It’s not a giant bump in efficiency, however the general package deal looks like an improve over the Clip 3, which stays out there. Both record for $70, which converts to about £50 or AU$90. That’s a bit of costly, however anticipate to see reductions on each fashions over the course of the yr. (I’d counsel holding out for $50 or much less — notice that the Clip 3 often drops to as low as $30.) 

Like

  • Compact speaker with spectacular sound for its small dimension
  • IPX 67 water-resistance (waterproof and dustproof)
  • Up to 10 hours of battery life
  • Charges by way of USB-C
  • Integrated carabiner clip is extra sturdy

Don’t Like

  • Could price rather less
  • No speakerphone capabilities

Read extra: Best portable Bluetooth audio system for 2021

Available in a number of coloration choices, the speaker is designed to play in both a vertical or horizontal place, though it needs to be clipped onto one thing or propped up for use in a vertical place. Its bottom has a set of rubber ribs, so in case you lay the speaker on a easy floor, it will not transfer round. At greater volumes, the bass does make the speaker vibrate, so you may see why the rubberized again is important.  

The Clip 4 has USB-C charging and its underside is rubberized so the speaker would not transfer round if you lay it down on a easy floor.


David Carnoy/CNET

Like its predecessor, the Clip 4 places out extra quantity and higher sound than you’d anticipate, although it does have its limitations. The bass is ample and the speaker can sound first rate with much less demanding tracks (these little audio system are likely to excel with acoustical materials as a result of they’re sturdy within the midrange). It additionally works nicely for supplying richer sound for film playback than what your telephone or pill audio system are able to.

As at all times, there are caveats. Most importantly, do not anticipate the bass to have any severe kick to it: The speaker can find yourself sounding harsh at prime quantity (50% to 75% quantity ranges are optimum, with buttons on the speaker for controlling quantity and observe playback). In my listening assessments, efficiency assorted from observe to trace. While the X Ambassadors Boom observe sounded punchier than I believed it could, as an example, Major Lazer’s Know No Better sounded restrained. In quick, this small speaker performs above its dimension class however there isn’t any getting round that it is a small speaker. 

Competing merchandise embrace the Bose SoundLink Micro at $99 (generally it goes on sale for $79), the Tribit Stormbox Micro at round $40 (it is our price decide within the micro Bluetooth speaker class) and JBL’s personal Go3 at $40. All these audio system provide comparable sound with small variations. The Bose has extra bass and I’ve at all times preferred its design, but it surely’s additionally pricier and due for an improve because it got here out just a few years in the past. Meanwhile, the Stormbox Micro can match the Clip 4’s sound — and you may hyperlink two of them to create a stereo pair — however the Clip 4’s design is arguably superior.  

JBL Clip 4 (left) is barely larger than the Go 3 (proper).


David Carnoy/CNET

The JBL Go 3 could, the truth is, be the higher decide. The Clip 4 is louder and has higher readability and bass, however the Go 3 prices $30 much less and a few individuals could choose its design. It’s a tad smaller and lighter than the Clip 4, and whereas it would not have an built-in carabiner, it does have a rope loop, so you may connect a carabiner to it.

I additionally just like the Go 3’s rectangular design, which may be stood up on its aspect or laid flat (it is rubberized on the underside and its aspect). Its solely draw back is that its battery life is rated at 5 hours in comparison with 10 hours for the Clip 4. Your mileage will range based on your quantity ranges, so notice that battery life rankings are based mostly on taking part in audio at 50% quantity. Don’t anticipate to get anyplace close to 10 hours in case you crank your tunes.

jbl-clip-4-6

Clipped to a backpack.


David Carnoy/CNET

Neither the Go 3 or Clip 4 has speakerphone capabilities or pairs with a companion JBL app (the Clip 3 has a built-in microphone for speakerphone calls), so you may’t hyperlink up a number of audio system in “PartyBoost” mode like you may with a few of JBL’s step-up Bluetooth audio system such because the Flip 5 and Charge 4. Neither is a giant deal at this value, however you should not go in with out understanding that.

Also price mentioning: The Clip 4 makes use of upgraded Bluetooth 5.1 whereas the Clip 3 makes use of Bluetooth 4.1. Additionally, the Clip 4 is not totally waterproof just like the Clip 3. However, it’s dustproof and its IPX 67 water-resistance ranking permits it to withstand heavy sprays of water. 

JBL Clip 4: Final ideas

JBL Clip audio system have at all times been simple to advocate as a result of they ship first rate sound for his or her tiny sizes and their “clip” design makes them simple to connect to a backpack and carry round with you. The similar is true for the Clip 4, which has a properly upgraded design and barely higher sound than its predecessor. I’d be raving about it extra if it price rather less and if JBL hadn’t improved the inexpensive Go 3 as a lot because it did.