Sony XB20 Review: Portable Bluetooth Speaker

The Sony SRS XB20 is a portable Bluetooth speaker and Sony released a few new speakers in their Extra Bass lineup and this is the first one that we are going to review at. The Sony XB20 features a water-resistant design and a single colored LED light and it’s available in a few different colors and we’ve got the Blue here, but it is also available in Red, White, Black or Green. Let’s get into a detailed Sony XB20 review below:

Sony XB20 Review

Inside of the Box

You will get the typical documentation, there’s a quick start guide, a reference guide, warranty information and instructions on using the app which we’ve gone over later. You also get a micro USB cable to charge and like most of their speakers in this price range you don’t get a wall adapter, so you’ll need a phone charger or a computer to charge the speaker.

Design and Features

The Sony XB20 measure 7.8 inches wide, 2.7 inches tall and 2.7 inches deep and weighs just 1.3 pounds. When we first pulled it out of the box our first impression was how well-made it feels the outsides made of a mix of textured plastic and smooth plastic, there are two front-facing drivers as well as a passive radiator on the front with another passive radiator on the rear.

Sony XB20

Also on the back behind the weather sealed strap, there’s a microUSB port to charge, a reset button and an auxiliary input for non-Bluetooth devices. It has a textured plastic ring around the grille that lights up, it’s just a single color LED light, though it’s not changeable, it does pulse to the beat of your music. There are a few different modes you can select using the app, such as Rave, Chill, and Strobe. You can also turn the light off completely if you’re not into that. The lighting is pretty basic, but it is pretty bright and it’s easy to see even in well-lit rooms.

There are two rubber feet on the bottom that keep the speaker stable. All of the controls are on the top starting from the left, there’s an Extra Bass button that gives a good amount of bass boost. You can also hold down the button to turn lights off; next to that is the call button to answer or end a call. A single press will bring up Siri or Google Now and if you hold it down there are voice prompts to let you know the battery level. The play button will play or pause the music, a double press will skip forward a track and a triple press will skip back a track.

Bluetooth Speaker

The Sony XB20 Bluetooth speaker also comes equipped with an Add button to pair with additional speakers, if you connect this to another XB20 you can play the same thing on each speaker or add each function as a left and right channel to give you stereo sound effect. You can also combine up to 10 devices for simultaneous playback which Sony calls party chain. It will work with XB20 or the more expensive models in the lineup the XB30 or XB40.

Next to that of the volume buttons, an LED indicator for Bluetooth and the power button, holding down the power button will also put the speaker into pairing mode. This speaker is also water-resistant, its IPX5 certified, which means that it can withstand splashes of water, but it’s not meant to be fully submerged. The buttons feel really good and everything is super well-made and we like the feel of the smooth plastic, but it leaves fingerprints which will be noticeable only if the light hits it just right, otherwise we like everything about the looks of this and the speaker is a good size to throw in your bag and take with you.

Sony SRS XB20

Connectivity and Calling

Onto some of the features the Sony XB20 has NFC so if you have a compatible device just a quick tap to the speaker will pair it otherwise Bluetooth pairing is quick and easy. It will remember up to eight paired devices and you can connect it to three devices at the same time and take turns playing between them.

Bluetooth performance for us was as good as any other speaker we’ve tested, we can easily get about 50 feet of range all over in the house and only lose connection after a walk outside past 50 feet. There is also an app for iOS and Android devices, you do get some settings here like the ability to turn off the auto shutdown enable Bluetooth standby or change the lighting modes.

wireless Speaker

The Sony SRS XB20 is also comes with a built-in mic for voice calls, call quality is very good, but a little on the quiet side getting a little closer to the mic helps a lot otherwise voice quality is crystal clear.

Battery

On paper battery life is rated for up to 12 hours, but that’s with the lights off, we were able to get around 8 hours with the lights on at 75 to 80 percent volume, so if you are concerned with the battery life, we just leave the lights off. The Sony SRS XB20 speaker will turn off on its own after 15 minutes of inactivity and it takes about four hours for a full charge.

The speaker will turn off on its own after 15 minutes of inactivity and it takes about four hours for a full charge. The volume output will get decreased quite a bit when the battery gets low and you’ll be warned when it’s time to recharge.

Sound

Now moving on to sound quality, we are really impressed with the sound of the Sony SRS XB20 Bluetooth speaker, the passive radiators do a terrific job of providing enough space even with Extra Bass setting turned off. Bass is tight and punchy with no distortion even at full blast. The Extra Bass setting fills out the low-end without overpowering everything. It’s not a huge difference, but we found the Extra Bass setting to sound better and we preferred it to be on all the time it makes the speaker sound larger and fuller without sounding artificial.

Overall, this is a nicely balanced speaker the mids are clean and the vocals are crisp there is no muddiness in the mids. It is very smooth and it doesn’t get harsh at loud levels, highs are detailed and rich with a good amount of presence.

Extra Bass

The speaker is very loud for its size too easily enough to fill a room but doesn’t expect a ton of bass out of this it’s on par with other speakers this size. If you are looking for something with a lot of Bass, you’ll probably want to go for a larger speaker, but for a speaker this size the bass is very impressive.

Final line

We really like everything about the Sony XB20 wireless speaker, it sounds great with a nice balanced sound and powerful bass, especially for the size. It’s got a great build quality and decent battery life. The lights a cool feature, but not worth the extra battery drain in our opinion, but you can easily turn it off. The Sony XB20 goes for $98.00 in USA and £98.58 in the UK, if you want to like to pick one up.

About Ankeet Solanki

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