JBL Clip+ (LA Lakers)

Everyone needs a Bluetooth speaker…right?

I didn’t want to spend a whole lot of money on a Bluetooth speaker, but I wanted something that would at the very least, sound decent. Another thing that I absolutely needed was portability. Now technically I suppose almost all Bluetooth speakers are portable to a point, but I needed something that I could fit in my backpack and take with me when I travel. My first choice was the JAM Rewind Speaker. The main reason? It looks like a cassette tape, how awesome is that? The problem was I didn’t want to spend $40 on such a small speaker. The Clip had the same problem, it was just a bit more than I wanted to pay, that is until it went on sale for $30….done.

Unboxing and first thoughts

The box was fairly simple. In the box were the speaker, manual/warranty info, and a short micro USB cable. Like I said fairly simple. I got the LA Lakers version of this guy so it is purple and yellow with a Lakers logo on the front. If you’re looking at the speaker, with the clip side up, on the left side you’ll see the Bluetooth, power, and call answer buttons in that order. The right side has the volume up and down buttons and 3.5mm output (I’ll come back to this later). This next thing is probably one of the coolest features, if you flip the thing over you will see a 3.5mm aux cord nicely tucked into the back. When you pull it out you will see that it is coiled around the outer edge of the speaker, I don’t have to look for an aux cord if I’m too lazy to turn the Bluetooth on, on my phone.  Fairly simple design, although I must say the clip part is smaller than I would like, it’s just a bit too small to clip on my Ogio backpack, oh well I suppose.

Functionality

So the first thing I have to say is this thing is a bit too simple, at least at first. The reason I say that is because on most Bluetooth speakers it requires you to hold the power button down for a few seconds, so when I first turned it on I held the button until the saw the light come on. I audibly heard it turn on, then I heard it turn off. Seriously what the hell, did I get a defective one? I did this a few times until I decided to just push the button and what do you know, that actually worked! And guess what, the Bluetooth pairing button works the same way. Just push that bastard and boom it’s in pairing mode! All the buttons are flush with the device, which does make them a bit hard to push, and forget about trying to fumble with them in the dark. A little bump or two would help here. They are just a bit hard to find. The volume buttons work just fine, I do like the fact that there’s nothing that interrupts playback when you change the volume. What I would like is some sort of audible tone to tell you when you’ve reached max volume. Obviously you can just listen to when whatever you’re listening to stops getting louder, but the lazy person inside me would like to hear a beep or something. Holding the button continuously raises or lowers the volume so that helps. Coming back to that 3.5mm input, apparently you can connect two of these speakers together to create a stereo sound. If for some reason I ever get a second one I will definitely test this feature. This is something that has the potential to be really cool.

Sound

The most important thing of a Bluetooth speaker. Everything could be absolutely perfect with the looks and button functions but if it sounds like crap, I don’t care if it’s free, I probably won’t listen to it. I’ll note that I’ve used this with 2 different devices, my phone (Note 5) and what I’m currently listening to it on, my laptop a Lenovo X250. For the size this speaker does get pretty loud, it’s not ‘start the party’ loud but it gets the job done. Let’s put it this way, I’ll be listening to it when I’m cooking steaks on the grill this summer. The sound quality is just ok. The very first thing I noticed was that it sounds a bit muffled, it almost sounds like when you have to ‘pop’ your ears, just not nearly as annoying. Honestly if sound quality isn’t your thing you may not notice. Bass is decent for a speaker this size. Obviously you aren’t gonna get the lowest of lows, but for the majority of music, you aren’t gonna miss much. Honestly if you are getting a speaker this size and expecting it to rattle your windows, you have issues and should probably seek professional help. If you have realistic expectations of a speaker this size you won’t be disappointed, possibly even pleasantly surprised. When I have the speaker full volume the music fills my house. Truth be told my house isn’t huge, but being able to hear it all over my house is a huge plus. This does have a speaker phone function…

Call Quality

The overall sound quality carries over here. That’s not to say it’s bad, but it does sound noticeably muffled. The voice wasn’t distorted or hard to understand at all, just not that ‘crystal clear’ sound. My parents are usually my go to call when I want to test out Bluetooth, so they generally know what kind of feedback I’m looking for. My Mom answered the phone, and she didn’t say anything until I let her know I was on a Bluetooth speaker. She said my voice was very clear and there was no echo on her end, she even had a bit of a conversation with her 5 year old grandson. I do have to say I could even hear my Dad in the background telling my son he will see him tomorrow. In all honesty I won’t use this on calls, not because of the quality but because I don’t really care for talking on a speakerphone. It is good to know that this will definitely work fairly well if the situation arises.

Battery

JBL claims up to 5 hours on a single charge. I’ve gotten through about 5 hours on the last use and I’m through about 4 hours so far on this one. I would say that 5 hour claim by JBL is pretty spot on. Yes over time that number will get smaller, but as of now it’s definitely a legit claim.

Final Thoughts

I can’t really say I’m disappointed at all with this speaker. Sure the audio quality isn’t the greatest, but considering how much I paid for it, it is definitely better than it could be, especially for a speaker this size. If/when this one breaks, if they still make them, I will buy another one. I paid 30 bucks for this one, normal price is 50. I would without a doubt spend $50 on this thing. If you are looking for a smaller, very portable, Bluetooth speaker look no further than the JBL Clip.

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