JBL seems to make a portable Bluetooth speaker for every budget and need, some of which are very large, but the Clip series has always been about being able to take it anywhere. The new JBL Clip 4 has a built-in carabiner and is completely waterproof. It’s designed for outdoor use and delivers solid sound without weighing you down. As you might expect, a speaker of this size and price doesn’t deliver a bass bomb, nor does it offer a ton of extra features. But the Clip 4 gets the important things right, delivering clear, rich sound from a waterproof enclosure, making it a solid, affordable portable option.
The Clip 4 measures 5.3 x 3.4 x 1.8 inches (HWD) and weighs about half a pound. It is available in nine color options, including black, blue, camo, gray, pink and red. The rounded front and back panels feature a grille that protects a single 40-mm, 5-watt driver. An integrated carabiner frames the top of the speaker, and there’s a USB-C port on the bottom.
On the front, a giant JBL logo protrudes from the grille, above which are the play/pause and volume down/up buttons. Double-pressing the play button skips forward a track, but there is curiously no rewind function. On the left side is a dedicated power button, as well as a Bluetooth pairing button. There are rubberized strips on the back that keep the speaker stable when it is flat on the desk.
The USB-C port is not covered, which is notable because the Clip 4 still achieves an IP67 rating, which means it is fully waterproof and dust resistant. The speaker can be submerged in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes without any problems. The Bluetooth signal cannot be played back underwater, but the Clip 4 can get very wet without any harm. The only included accessory is a USB-C to USB-A charging cable.
On tracks with intense sub-basses, such as “Silent Shout” by The Knife, the Clip 4 delivers a good sense of low-frequency depth at moderate volumes, but struggles with distortion at high levels. Considering its size and price, we wouldn’t expect the speaker to deliver anything close to true bass depth, but the previous model “teetered on the edge of distortion” when playing this track, to quote our own review, and the Clip 4 is fully engaged in distortion. It’s surprising to see a move in the opposite direction, but perhaps it’s in the name of providing richer bass depth for less intensely demanding tracks.