Bluetooth speakers are all the rage these days, and, this summer, it seems like more and more outdoors brands are jumping on the blue-tech bandwagon to put out their own versions. Gone are the days of cranking up the volume on your phone and hoping to make out some semblance of a melody. Gone are the days of plug-in speaker gadgetry. Gone are the days of facing an eternity of silence. We’re starting a series to review some of the highest rated speakers out there. If you’re in the market or speaker-curious, follow along.  

The JBL Flip 4

As far as size-to-sound ratio goes—maybe the most important metric for outdoor bluetooth speakers —the Flip 4 is the best we’ve seen, er, heard. The bass is huge, and the fullness is on par with speakers twice the price. We can’t emphasize how many people have said, “That little thing is making that sound?”

For something smaller than a burrito, the Flip 4 has amazing low end. The most impressive thing? It’s not just bass-y, its full. Like Paradigm, home-theatre soundsystem full. Like fingers-on-the-sliders EQ’d. Like even Macklemore’s “Spoons” sounds good through it. Just kidding, Macklemore is not less annoying with the Flip 4. It’s not a miracle-worker—just a really good speaker. (Sorry if you like Macklemore.)

It’s waterproof, durable, and has great signal range—you can walk around with your phone without worrying about the music cutting in and out. It also has user-friendly controls built into the speaker, which means you don’t have to fiddle with your phone when you’re straight chillaxing on the beach and your hands are sandy.

Compared to some other speakers we tested, the only category that the Flip 4 came up not-first is interface/design. We do love the gray woven texture (like a Fender reverb amp cover!) but it’s still the Microsoft to the other speakers’ Apple. But—you know what—bluetooth speakers are made to be heard, not seen. So, still my favorite. And also my cat’s favorite.

What happens when you play bird sounds on the JBL Flip 4—laser-like interest from the resident backyard jaguar.

The JBL Flip 4 can be found here.