The paradox of choice is ever present in the bluetooth speaker world. When looking to buy one, you’ll be faced with tons of options to the point you may feel so overwhelmed and spend weeks researching before you get the slightest idea of what you want. Even once you’ve narrowed your options down to a small price range and specific company, numerous options still exist without clear distinction from one another. JBL has a long standing reputation for making quality speakers, and in their bluetooth line we have a lot of options.
Their Charge 5 and Flip 5 models may leave a lot of buyers a bit stumped. Sitting not too far in price from one another, the Charge 5 at $179 and the Flip 5 at $119, they have the same look and build, though are significantly different sizes. Should you get the slightly larger, more expensive Charge 5, or can you opt for the extra portable, cheaper Flip 5 without sacrificing quality? Let’s do a deep dive into the sound of both of these speakers and see which seems best fitted for your needs. If you’d like to watch our video comparison of these two speakers, check it out here.
Both speakers offer the same functions, and of course bluetooth pairing. They also both have the ability to be paired with another JBL bluetooth speaker, which is a great added bonus. Both speakers are waterproof, though the Charge 5 is additionally dust proof
Flip 5: 2.5 hour charge time / 12 hour battery life (volume depending)
Charge 5: 4 hour charge time / 20 hour battery life (volume depending)
The Charge 5 has a more silky, filtered sound to it. Music has the edges taken off and the warmth boosted, with parts of their midrange somewhat subdued. The Flip 5, on the other hand, has a noticeably crisper, slightly sharper feel, likely in efforts to compensate for its smaller sound with some more intense presence. The mid range on the Flip 5 is a bit more biting compared to the Charge 5, which may be preferable for some listeners.
The Charge 5 has a heavier low end response, with a further reach into the deepest bass frequencies. Comparatively, the Flip 5 has a higher set bass response. The Flip 5’s shifted focus away from the more rumbling bass frequencies adds a bit more pop to drums, snares and claps, giving them a noticeably harder hit. If you want heavy bass, the Charge 5 will serve you better. However, those who opt for the Flip 5 will not feel robbed of low end by any means, just served a different flavor of it.
Flip 5: Elements are given more equal presence. The difference in distance and positioning from vocals to drums and keys will not feel extreme, as music is given a very glued-together presentation. This helps ensure no elements are lost when trying to fill a space.
Charge 5: We get more varied leveling and dimension. The drums may feel further away while the vocal feels closer and more surrounded by the rest of the instruments. A larger image of the song is created instead of one that is pulled together, allowing for a more nuanced listen.
Of course the Flip 5, being about half the size of the Charge 5, is not as loud. This being said, the Flip 5’s maximum loudness is not as low compared to the Charge 5 as you might expect. Their levels can actually compete with one another often, but how they translate sound at higher volumes differs.
At Higher Volumes
Charge 5: Its bass response looses some of its depth but stays strong overall. Its smoother character helps it from feeling harsh even at its loudest, and allows for a more holographic sound when filling a larger room.
Flip 5: Its bass response stays about the same, but its more forward mid range may become slightly harsh when maxing out the volume. However, this also means the Flip 5’s sound will not get easily drowned out in a louder room.
Closer to the listener: When put on your desk or a nearby surface, the Charge 5 has a noticeably wider sound from the Flip 5 despite their physical lengths not differing much from one another. The level of impact on the bass and low end are about equal, but the Charge 5 will have a bit of a deeper, slightly more sub heavy impact.
Further away (about 15 feet), on a table: The Charge 5 retains its deeper bass but with less sub rumble, while the Flip 5 gets some added punch on drums. Vocals cut further on the Flip 5, but feel less warmed up.
Further away (about 15 feet), on the floor: This proved the best positioning for both speakers. The bass of the Charge 5 develops a more physical sensation, not floor shaking but perhaps floor vibrating at times. While the Flip 5 doesn’t have this same bass rumble, its harder punch in the upper bass frequency is even further extended, along with its sharper midrange allowing vocals and other central elements to cut through from across the room. The Charge 5 cuts with slightly less sharpness than the Flip 5, but for those who want some more sonic smoothing this sound may be preferable.
These are surprisingly different in their sound, much more than their looks suggest. If you’re deciding between these, volume may feel like the main point of interest. While it is an important thing to consider, their sound characters seems to have larger differences than their volume capabilities. If you want a more cleaned up, smooth sound with heavier bass, the Charge 5 is very tailored and cinematic. If you want a more neutral across the board, overall crisper sound, the Flip 5 is better fitted for your ears.
You can purchase the JBL Flip 5 and JBL Charge 5 from Audio46
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