Sony is one of the most recognized technology companies worldwide, and it’s not difficult to see why. Renowned for unique, high-quality gadgets, Sony consistently sets the benchmark for many innovations like intelligent speaker systems, noise cancellation technology, and so much more.
Alongside other premium brands like Bose or B&O, Sony ranks among the global leaders of audio technology with many products to offer.
The Sony SRS-XB33 Extra Bass is a portable wireless speaker designed to give you premium audio on the go. But is this speaker the messiah of sound we’ve been expecting?
I don’t think so.
Read on to find out why this speaker is good and the reason you can do better.
The Sony SRS-XB33 isn’t much to look at, but underneath that exterior lies a powerful Bluetooth speaker with fancy LED lighting and loads of power for continuous music playback.
The frequency is surprisingly low, and I felt it did disappoint sometimes, but it’s no big deal for a portable Bluetooth speaker that costs around $150. However, the taste is in the pudding, and the sound may let down audiophiles.
- Release date: May 11, 2020
- Price: $148
- ASIN: B086D4JNGM
- Weight: 2.42 pounds
- Waterproof: Yes
- Robust and Sturdy
- Waterproof, dustproof, rustproof, and shockproof
The Sony SRS-XB33 weighs slightly over 2.2lbs, but the ingenious design makes it easy to carry just about anywhere. It doesn’t look out of place in the home, but perhaps more importantly, the speaker is sturdy enough to place by the pool or party grounds.
Crucially, it is waterproof, dustproof, rustproof, even resistant to saltwater! The wireless speaker is shockproof up to 3.9ft/1.2m and will work well even in the most adverse conditions.
I think the indestructible quality of the Sony SRS-XB33 is because of its robust design. It feels sturdy enough even though it doesn’t look any different than any other portable speaker on the market.
Some of its controls include the power button, Bluetooth, volume buttons, and Live Sound.
The Live Sound feature gives your music that extra boost, even though it drains the battery at a quicker rate. It was hard for me to find the buttons on my late-night walk, but the symbols are embossed on the surface, making it easier to use the controls in the dark.
All of this would matter if the audio quality were fantastic, but the Sony SRS-XB33 lacks in that department. Don’t get me wrong; it does the job but not as well as some of its less expensive competitors.
Unlike other Bluetooth speakers, you’ll need to press down on the play/pause/call button twice, while you’ll have to hit the same button three times to skip the track backward.
I’ll admit it’s a bit hands-on, but it helps that there’s a standard USB port for recharging your smartphone while listening to your audio.
This feature is pretty handy, especially in the great outdoors when you have a low battery and need to make an emergency call. The SRS-XB33 also has a USB-C port for charging the device, along with buttons to help you monitor your battery levels.
The Sony SRS-XB33 comes in four different colors, including Black, Cream, Red, and Blue.
The SRS-XB33 has a slightly off-center shape that can be bothersome for music lovers who like a symmetrical design. However, Sony claims this design distributes the weight and helps to widen the soundstage and enhance clarity.
- Pair up to 100 compatible Bluetooth speakers
- App support
Its features shine brightest as a party piece but lack the more nuanced features that make it an essential home accessory like voice assistant support and microphone.
For me, this isn’t an issue because Sony’s aim for this device is to be the life of the party. In addition, the speaker has extensive support, and you’ll need two separate apps to extract the best performance from your Sony SRS-XB33.
The first app takes care of essential functions like volume and connectivity, while the other app allows you to play with the LED lights with the freedom to sync with the music tempo.
Neither app is necessary for its operation, and you can play your music just fine without using either app. I like to fiddle with the sound, and Sony gives me the free reign to tweak the EQ.
Sony also gets top marks for in-app support. Firstly, if you download the Sony Music Center, you get the ability to update the speaker.
Apart from the music playing options it covers, you also get Fiestable, a pretty feisty feature that controls the lighting and gives you that DJ effect you can only find at the club scene.
I have to say the lights are pretty impressive especially considering the device size, with the two eye-like circles in the speaker and vertical lines flashing in time with the beat.
- Up to 24 hours playback time
Sony claims the XB33 lasts 24 hours on a single charge. But this shouldn’t be taken as gospel truth. I used it continuously only to find that the battery drops rapidly with the light display or volume turned up.
The battery life depends on the situation, but I reckon it can last a good 12 hours. I’d recommend ensuring the speaker has a full charge or preferably plugged in for parties, but it will still serve you well if you decide to go camping for a few days and use a lower volume.
- Big Bold Bass
- An excellent Party accessory
- Treble could be clearer
As expected from a party speaker, the bass is deep and powerful, courtesy of the dual passive radiators and the renowned Extra Bass. Live Sound uses digital signal processor (DSP) technology and aims to replicate 3-D surround sound and does it well.
The Sony SRS-XB33 does a decent job of providing clear sounds at higher volumes; however, I’d like a little more oomph in the trebles.
Listening closely to the bass almost feels out of place when playing classical music or other calmer instrumental sounds, especially with the volume turned up.
The speaker also features the X-Balanced Speaker Unit fresh from the lab and designed to reduce distortion while delivering a punchier bass.
Extra Bass aims to boost low-frequency sound, while Stamina Mode helps you conserve your battery by limiting the volume input.
The Sony SRS-XBR33 can do the job, but it doesn’t stand out from the pack. The speaker is built to get the party going, but it lacks the subtle refinement and clarity craved by lovers of authentic sound.
Pros and Cons SRS-XB33
- Loud sound
- Excellent battery life
- IP67 rating weather-proof design
- Amazing controllable lighting
- Intuitive EQ is controllable through an app
- Bluetooth 5.0 with SBC, AAC, and LDAC codec
- AptX codec unavailable
- Smart assistant unavailable
- Distortion at high levels
- Mediocre sound
Ultimate Ears Hyperboom
The UE Hyperboom may cost more than the Sony SRS-XB33, but the difference in quality is like the chasm between heaven and earth. The Hyperboom features integrated precision subwoofers that deliver a deep bass the XB33 can’t hope to match.
JBL Charge 4
Another option is the JBL Charge 4, a far better option in the price, quality, and sound department. The Charge 4 delivers more dynamic sound and pristine clarity for cheaper. I prefer the Charge 4.
A few years ago, Sonos entered the home audio market, taking on the best with their multi-room system and has continuously redefined the audio experience. The Sonos Move is an incredible standalone speaker with over 10 hours of battery life.
At six pounds, it is the lightest speaker on the list and the loudest. It is the closest thing to perfection, suitable for any situation, whether outdoor camping or poolside celebration.
The SRS-XB33 is a wireless speaker that struggles to live up to its name. While it gives you what you’d expect, the XB33 lacks the power to match its physique. The bass is deep and resonant but becomes fuzzy and distorted at high levels.
The speaker is well made, has an excellent build, and is durable, but for all that it is, the XB33 lacks the dynamic sound you’d find in Bose, Sonos, or JBL products of the same price range.
The Sony SRS-XB33 has a feature called ClearAudio+ that helps the speaker adapt the soundstage to the music, yet the sound quality at outdoor events appears rather wishy-washy.
If I were to describe this product in one word, it’d be “underwhelming.”