Sony XB Bluetooth speakers: flashy technical marvels

Dominik Bärlocher
Dominik Bärlocher
Zurich, on 15.02.2018
Video: Stephanie Tresch
Translation: Eva Francis
They’re small, loud and capable of playing non-stop music for a whole day. You probably won’t get around Sony’s Bluetooth speakers this summer. We’ve had the chance to put these colourful mesh speakers to the test.

Bluetooth speakers can be annoying – in fact, they usually get on everyone’s nerves who’s forced to listen to someone else’s music. They’re loud, intrusive and indestructible. Despite all this, these compact loudspeakers are packed with impressive features and are undeniably rather impressive. From a technological point of view, they’re a real marvel. And they’re exceptionally cool. Not only the new Sony speakers, but the concept of wireless Bluetooth speakers in general. They’re small, loud, durable and deliver great sound quality.

Coming April, right on time for summer, Sony is launching new Bluetooth speakers: Three new models from the Sony SRS-XB series will be available:

  • SRS-XB21: Plays music, has light effects, is charged via USB, has a battery life of 12 hours without light effects
  • SRS-XB31: Plays music, has light effects, is charged via USB, has a battery life of 24 hours without light effects, doubles as power bank
  • SRS-XB41: Plays music, has light effects, is charged via USB or power adapter, has a battery life of 24 hours without light effects, doubles as power bank

Want to know what Sony’s new speakers are all about? Here’s a sneak preview.

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Small, colourful, loud. The new SRS-XB series is ready for summer

A bit of multiroom with ad hoc mesh network for music

What I wanted to show you with the minimalistic overview above is that the model number indicates the range of features the speaker has. Comparable to Sony soundbars and multiroom systems, these speakers also come with NFC and Bluetooth connections. Plus, they can be connected to a mesh network of up to 100 XB speakers, delivering bass pounding beat without having to turn the volume to maximum. Connect devices at the touch of a button and – just like in a mesh network – let the speakers do the rest.

As indestructible as possible

On top of their impressive features, these speakers are extremely durable. And they can swim. Never mind splashes from the pool or pouring rain, they’re water-resistant. Beer or ketchup stains? No problem, just wipe your speakers off and they’re as good as new.

Try this: Place the speakers in water and play a song with strong bass in high volume. You’ll see water splashing out of your speakers in the rhythm of the music. Cool, isn’t it?

A few buttons. That’s it.

These small devices are easy and intuitive to us: NFC is the easiest way to connect speaker and smartphone. Activate Near Field Communication on your phone, hold it close to your speakers and the two will establish a Bluetooth connect within just a few seconds. NFC itself is the authorisation mechanism and negotiation protocol. It makes sure your smartphone activates Bluetooth and audio data is sent to the speaker.

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Rather flashy in the dark, but elegant by light

One of the buttons on the speaker says «ADD». Press this button and – my guess – the speaker searches for nearby devices that are already playing music. It sends a signal to these devices and sets up a connection. Within just a few seconds, your speakers set up a wireless chain of music.

All in all, we might have to prepare for a summer that’s louder and more intrusive than usual, but two things are for sure: The sound quality will be great and the technology within the speakers will be highly impressive.

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Dominik Bärlocher
Dominik Bärlocher
Senior Editor, Zurich
Journalist. Author. Hacker. A storyteller searching for boundaries, secrets and taboos – putting the world to paper. Not because I can but because I can’t not.

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