JBL, the “aam janta” consumer arm of Harman, now owned by Samsung and is well attuned to what its users want. Flip 3 is a product that fills the gap for a mid-range Bluetooth speaker that strikes a balance between cost and good sound.
Build and Design: 8.5/10
The speaker for some reason has a playful looking design. I don’t know what it is with the cylinder shaped form factor but when holding one, it makes you want to try different orientations and fit it into a pocket (I roamed around it in my jeans pocket at home with people wonder where the music was coming from) or a bag side-pocket truly makes this speaker portable.
It is a splash-proof design and this shows with the covered back sockets, however, it isn’t waterproof, so don’t go about submerging it in water, a few splashes or holding under a running tap is fine too.
The entire unit is made from durable fabric material and rugged rubber housing, so even if the speaker rolls off the table on the ground, it isn’t going to crack.
The speakers are stereo (L+R channel) and use passive radiators on the side to provide that extra oomph in the bass. While at the same time are a real pleasure to watch vibrating to the music. It is a strangely mesmerising effect that the Flip 3’s have.
JBL Connect allows one to connect multiple JBL speakers together. I kept mistaking it for the Bluetooth connection button with many frustrated moments staring at the speaker wondering why it wasn’t syncing with my phone.
What’s in the box?
The Flip 3’s are skimpy in the accessories department. It comes with an orange coloured USB cable no matter what the colour of the main unit is, a quick start guide, a safety sheet and a warranty card.
Objectively: The speaker provides rich sound for its size. Instantly you can make out the difference between stereo sound vs mono output that cheaper Bluetooth speakers spill out. What you get is a loud and powerful speaker that can handle bass admirably well around 85Hz and upwards. It goes without saying that you will feel the lack of low sub-bass no doubt.
The mids and the highs are good and the speaker doesn’t clamp up with complex sounds, all music thrown at it sounded good even at higher volumes with jarring occurring only with heavy bass tracks at high volumes.
The positioning of the speaker, on a table, on a soft bed, near the corner, etc speaks volumes in terms of the speakers throw, power and clarity in sound. So be aware of that when listening.
Subjectively: Everyone at home loved the speaker. I would play the speaker especially at dinner or when doing some work for background effect, this almost always got the foot stomping and requests for family’s favourite tunes to be played.
In order for the speaker to sound a little better or livelier in some settings, I’d use the EQ enhancement for mids and highs especially; pushing up bass wouldn’t sound all that good in modern music as the speaker would jar or gasp a bit to keep up. Old recordings like the 40’s and 50’s were a charm no doubt.
The stereo sound in speakers is a ‘must’ if you really want to enjoy the music, otherwise, a mono-sound Bluetooth speaker like a cheaper Altec Lansing Orbit unit would suffice for background music effect.
Call Quality: 7/10
The mic input is hidden in this speaker, so locating the optimum centre speaking into the mic would require some trial and error. Understandably so, this isn’t as advanced as the Quad mic technology in Harman Kardon Esquire 2, so you’ll need to be close to the speaker when calling otherwise your voice would sound too distant to the caller on the opposite end.
The battery rated at 3000 mAh can last for about 10 hours. The charging time is about 3.5 hours with a regular 5v 1A charger. We used a 2A fast charger and 2.4 Amp cable which certainly shortened the charge time by almost an hour.
Verdict and Price in India:
For an approximate street price of Rs 7,500, Flip 3 makes a good buy. Casual listeners looking for cheaper alternatives will need to put up with mono-sound speakers that aren’t particularly good with music. For those who really want to enjoy music, you’ll be hard pressed to find better alternatives with these features at a lower rate.
Many sellers are selling JBL Flip 2 (now discontinued) for less than Rs 4,500 which is a good buy for that price.
Go for Flip 3 for:-
- Truly portable design
- Great sound
- Mesmerising (side) passive bass radiators
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