REVIEW: Sony SRS-XB23 wireless speaker
Planning to hit the beach again? Don't forget to bring this durable boomer along
Before we proceed any further, let's get this out of the way right now. An appeal to Sony: Please start branding your really good stuff with names that also really sound good and easy to remember.
And speaking of sound, our friends at the Japanese giant have refreshed their Extra Bass wireless speaker line-up, and we're happy to look at - er, listen to - one of them, the SRS-XB23. Just in time, if the (somewhat) cooling weather is an indication of a good time to hit the beach again without burning yourself to a crisp (social distancing, people, please).
TALE OF THE TAPE
The SRS-XB23 is a cylindrical audio device that is practically the size of your regular 165g Pringles can (same diameter and a tad shorter). Firmly fitting into your hand, it's also easy enough to chuck at something that annoys you (more on its durability a little later).
Its body is (almost entirely) wrapped with a mesh grille to give you that 360-degree sound feel. For good measure, two passive radiators are both on top and at the bottom; watch them vibrate as you hike up the sound. Combined, its design is built to give maximum sound wherever it's placed, wherever you are.
Also, you don't use it by just standing alone - you can let it lie down as well. The grille goes thinner towards its rear, which is where most of its weight rests; as such, when you lay it down (on flat, smooth surfaces), it'll roll itself into that position. And even in situations where it doesn't lie that way, sound would still be everywhere.
And if there's no place suitable to place it, it comes with a strap that'll allow you to hang it around. Try it on your shower handle.
Right behind are some controls, including the power, Bluetooth, play/pause and volume up/down. Below those is one for both finding out its battery level (short press) and activating stamina mode (long press), which will give you longer battery but will sacrifice a bit of sound quality. Well, depending on how your ears want it, that diminished quality can really be a miss, because you'll lose all the extra bass, even if you tinker with the EQ on the app.
Further below are a couple more that will define how you party.
Yeah, party - that's one of those two buttons. Party mode will allow you to pair the device with up to 100 Sony speakers, so imagine how loud and surrounding that sound would be. If you're in a smaller area or want to be just a little mellow, the last button is for studio pairing, which lets you pair two of them.
Either way - or even on its own - the SRS-XB23 belts out great sound. And bass lovers will appreciate it even more with the solid sound coming out of it. In case you don't know, that's what the XB in its names stands for - extra bass.
Meanwhile, below all those buttons is a little containment unit that houses a USB-C port. While understood that the cover protects the port, there are some other wireless speakers that don't require such to do so. We're not saying this is a bad thing, but it's an extra step to do when trying to access it.
Circling back to its durability, the SRS-XB23 is rated IP67, meaning its dust-proof, water-proof and shock-proof. Sony says it'll able to withstand those unfortunate knocks, but of course don't overlook this feature and do still take care of it; always remember that damage will vary from different situations, and the more it's knocked, scraped or dropped, its durability would deteriorate.
That said, it's a perfect companion for getaways like at the beach, or just your simple just-you-and-the-bathtub break at home. You won't have to worry with the little splashes it may get subjected to.
Of course, go to your app store and download the Sony Music Center app for the full monty of features. However, we find the app a bit too bland; there aren't any icons for, say, adjusting tones, or any other functions off the fly.
It does, though, give you direct access to a number of apps, including your music library and YouTube.
Another annoying thing about the app is that when you exit it and go back, it automatically redirects you to the home screen, meaning you'll have to slide all the way to whatever setting you were earlier dealing with again.
Battery, meanwhile, is slated for up to 12 hours - and that's on Stamina mode and at 50 per cent volume. If you want Extra Bass mode all the time, that'll whittle down to 10 hours.
Actually, there are three models in the new Extra Bass, the others being the XB33 and XB43, and they have up to 24 hours of battery, but they go up at Dh599 and Dh849, respectively, in price. Oh, well.
The Sony SRS-XB23 is a very nice wireless speaker, but at its price point you'll readily know that it's an entry-level one, meaning, pound-for-pound, it may not be the best-sounding one if you'd ask real audiophiles. Entry-level or not, sound quality is quite solid - so as long as you don't use Stamina Mode.
Still, it's a pretty good deal for those who want those beats anywhere but are frugal. Its durability would make up for its other shortcomings and, to borrow one of the company's taglines, it's a Sony.
And forget about that chuck thing we mentioned earlier. Violence is bad; just hit 'em up with the great sound that's in your hands.
GOODIES: Reasonable price point, solid build, great bass
GOOFIES: Battery life could've been longer, iffy app,
EDITOR RATING: Not too technical when judging wireless speakers? Be our guest. It's affordable and very durable. 4.0/5
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