JBL Clip 4 Eco Review
A simple, good-sounding Bluetooth portable speaker
A simple, good-sounding Bluetooth portable speaker. Few techy extras, but the core design makes it useful in a bunch of situations in which other speakers may struggle
- Good punch for its size
- Pleasant sound tuning
- Quirky and versatile design
- Only supports the basic SBC codec
- Limited bass depth
- UKRRP: £59.99
- USARRP: $79.95
- EuropeRRP: €64.99
- CanadaRRP: CA$99.98
- AustraliaRRP: AU$89.95
- Integrated carabiner clipHas a metal carabiner-style clip to hook the speaker on to all sorts of things
- Passive radiatorA passive radiator to improve the bass response
- 10-hour battery lifeA charge will last around 10 hours with the battery charging over USB-C
The JBL Clip 4 Eco is a quirky and versatile portable speaker. It’s water resistant, and has a giant carabiner style clip to let it hook into all sort of things.
Sound quality is great too. JBL has established itself as a master of Bluetooth speakers, even ones you might think too small to give music any impact.
The JBL Clip 4 Eco uses a passive radiator to generate a good bass thump, while tasteful tuning stops it from clouding the sound. As in most JBL speakers, I don’t think the JBL Clip 4 Eco is quite as sleek or cute a design as you might see from arch rival Ultimate Ears. Like I said, it’s quirky. However, it’s the kind of style you grow to appreaciate more as the weeks roll by.
However, for the best deal make sure to check out the prices of the original JBL Clip 4 too. At the time of review they cost significantly less than the JBL Clip 4 Eco’s £59.99 recommended price, making them a better buy.
- Built-in carabiner
- IP67 water resistance
- 10-hour battery life
The JBL Clip 4 Eco is one of JBL’s smallest speakers, one step above the JBL Go 3. That model is a genuine pocket rocket. This one won’t fit in pockets, but its whole deal is hanging on things.
Its top part is a carabiner-style clip that can hook onto door handles, rucksacks — use your imagination.
This is a big part of the JBL Clip 4 Eco’s quirky style, though, and you can hold the speaker by its clip, turning it into a teeny-tiny handbag of sorts. There’s also a series of rubbery feet on its bottom, to make it seem just at home when sat in your bedroom playing tunes.
The build style is similar to that of a lot of JBL’s other Bluetooth speakers, reminiscent of the Ultimate Ears models but with a slightly less tasteful, or at least less minimal, design. Despite being a big fan of some of JBL’s speakers in sound quality terms, I’ve never loved its style that much, which often leads to giant JBL logos and brash external passive radiators.
The JBL Clip 4 Eco is a little different, though. At this scale the JBL style seems more oddball than brash — not a bad thing.
Its outer is a fabric mesh and the speaker is water resistant to an impressive IP67 standard. This means it can be fully submerged in water without issue to a depth of at least 1m.
The Clip 4 series has been around since 2020, and this new Eco model uses 100% recycled materials for the speaker grille, up to 90% recycled plastics elsewhere, and there’s no clear compromise to the finish.
A bunch of physical controls sit on its body. They let you play/pause, alter volume and enter pairing mode.
- 10-hour battery life
- Bluetooth SBC support
The whole point of this speaker is it’s simple. Unlike JBL’s higher-end Bluetooth speakers like the Charge 5, there’s no companion app to worry about. You’re not going to link two of these up as a stereo pair, or use a bunch in a wireless daisy chain. But would you want to?
The JBL Clip 4 Eco is meant to be good, simple and not too expensive. And that’s it. There’s no aux input, though, which may put some off.
Battery life is rated at 10 hours, which is possible if you use moderate volumes. It uses a USB-C to charge, but the charging speed is somewhat slow. It takes around three hours to charge the Eco 4, which seems an age in a world of super-fast charging phones. You also can’t use the USB to plug the speaker into a laptop — I tried with both Windows laptops and a MacBook.
This speaker only supports the SBC Bluetooth codec but, again, with such compromised drivers any money spent on licensing higher-spec codes would likely be better spent elsewhere.
- Expertly tuned sound has a pleasant tone
- Decent punch for its size…
- … but the bass floor isn’t that low
The JBL Clip 4 Eco has a single 40mm active driver, which sits under the top grille. And a passive radiator on the other side of the enclosure.
These radiators are essential for generating bass in a small enclosure like this. The JBL Clip 4 Eco manages to kick out a much better lower-frequency punch than the JBL Go speakers, because they use a bigger, better radiator.
I find the JBL Clip 4 Eco punchy enough to make music sound engaging and reasonably full. And the rest of the frequency range is handled as well as I’ve come to expect from JBL’s speakers.
You get a nicely balanced tone. No obvious unnatural skews, no super-harsh treble or stodgy, leaden low-end. I find speakers that try too hard to put out a lot of bass can make spoken-work content like podcasts and audiobooks sound too dark or muggy, but that does not affect the JBL Clip 4 Eco.
However, I would still recommend upgrading to something like the JBL Flip 6 if you want a speaker to use predominantly at home, to listen to music. The Clip 4 Eco, no surprise here, can’t properly render low bass. This means that while kick drums don’t sound like someone tapping a piece of cardboard, they aren’t full-blooded either.
JBL tells you as much. In its spec list JBL says the bass floor of the Clip 4 Eco is 100Hz, compared to a much lower 63Hz in the JBL Flip 6. It’s one of those rare occasions a frequency range actually tells you something useful. Even going by JBL’s own figures, the Clip only serves the upper half of the bass register.
I think the JBL Clip 4 Eco works brilliantly as a secondary speaker. It’s great for picnics or use while cooking, or bath time listening, and I find its less bassy tone avoids the boomy reverberation that often happens in tiled rooms.
Should you buy it?
If you like small Bluetooth speakers: An unusual but practical design and good sound tuning means you can’t go too far wrong with a JBL Clip 4 Eco as long as you enter with the right expectations.
If you want more bass: While the Clip 4 Eco has decent bass for a speaker of its size, you shouldn’t buy this one if you are going to miss the low-frequency bass offered in JBL’s larger speakers.
The JBL Clip 4 Eco is a slight tweak on an existing JBL Clip 4 design, one that uses a greater amount of recycled materials to lower the environmental impact of its manufacture.
You can’t tell from the look of the speaker, though, which is as quirky and cute as ever. This is a versatile and fairly portable design you could hook onto a rucksack, or any number of other things.
Sound quality is good too. Tuning is nice and clean, but the speaker predictably just lacks the deeper-reaching bass you’ll hear in some of JBL’s larger speakers.
How we test
We test every wireless speaker we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Tested for more than a week
Battery test conducted
Tested with real world use
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It has IP67 water resistance, a very high level for a speaker of this style.
There’s no aux input here for classic wired sourced.
This speaker uses the basic SBC Bluetooth codec, not more advanced ones.
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