There are several companies that provide inexpensive wireless speakers, but Sony is one of the oldest and most reputable names in the industry. The company makes some of the best Bluetooth personal audio products available, however they are frequently quite expensive. These items include headphones, earbuds, and wireless speakers. The Sony SRS-XB12 served as Sony’s standard low-cost Bluetooth speaker for many years. It was an economical entry point into portable audio with performance that was startling for its size for $39.99 (£39, AU$48), but its successor, the brand-new Sony SRS-XB13, will now carry that torch.
Sony created the speaker to give 360-degree audio, which is slightly more expensive at $59 (about £40, AU$80), but with superior sound dispersion, so that everyone at the party, beach, or bonfire can hear the music from wherever they sit. It has an IP67 classification, making it water and dust proof, making it ideal for outdoor enthusiasts. Additionally, Sony claims to have enhanced the built-in microphone for phone calls. However, we wouldn’t advise employing it for that reason.
After putting the Sony SRS-XB13 through its paces, we believe it to be a good ultra-budget alternative if you can only extend your budget to $60. However, the sound quality, limited maximum volume, poor call quality, and lengthy charge time are all significant drawbacks. Unfortunately, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum, so it’s worth spending a little extra to purchase the far better sounding Sony SRS-XB23 from last year instead. It usually costs just $79.99 on sale. The waterproof UE Wonderboom 2 is also recommended if you adore the form factor.
Sony SRS-XB13 review: Design
Although the Sony SRS-XB13 is priced extremely competitively, most people prefer Sony’s smaller speakers since they are portable, lightweight, and easy to carry. They now also have an IP67 classification, which makes them waterproof and dust-proof. The form is basically that of a large soda can; it is quite wide, rounded, and short. It can certainly fit in your car’s cup holder, but with the help of the strap, it can also hang off your backpack.
A passive radiator for improved bass response is located on the underside of the speaker, and a conventional 1.5-inch driver is protected by a grille at the top of the speaker. The speaker’s secret USB-C charging connector is positioned next to the controls on the side of the speaker. A rubber bass and tiny gaps in the plastic base at the bottom of the speaker allow sound to seep through; this design element was directly lifted from Sony’s 2020 speaker series.
The UE Wonderboom and UE Wonderboom 2 may come to mind if the Sony SRS-XB13 resembles a speaker you’ve seen previously. In truth, the design is rather similar, but the Wonderboom adds a second driver and a second bass radiator, as well as moving the controls to the top. According to our testing of both speakers, the Wonderboom is a little louder and clearer than the Sony and is the superior speaker overall. Having said that, the XB13’s new Sound Diffusion Processor deserves some praise because it truly aids in the speaker’s ability to fill a 360-degree sound field; however, we’ll cover that in more detail in a bit.
The final two design characteristics worth noticing are the ability to quickly pair with Android devices and the capability to pair two XB13s together by pressing and holding the Bluetooth pairing button. While the latter makes it exceedingly simple and quick to pair with any new Android phone or tablet, the former will configure the speaker into a left-right channel configuration for stereo sound that can significantly improve some of the sound issues the speaker has.
Sony SRS-XB13 review: Features
By eliminating all the unnecessary bells and whistles, the speaker is left with only the features required for its intended use. The companion app is not compatible with this specific model, and there is no WiFi connectivity or voice assistant capabilities. It would have been so much easier to couple two devices for stereo capabilities and monitor the battery life if the speaker could have been added to the Sony Music Centre app. If only to check the speaker’s battery life, the Sony Music Centre app compatibility was the sole feature we wished it had. Thankfully, the device compensates for this by having a long battery life and a specific LED indicator to show when it needs to be charged.
Nevertheless, we would classify the strap as a feature in and of itself because it is so useful and enables the speaker to be cleverly placed in a variety of different locations, making it highly versatile. The ability to hang the speaker is very helpful in constrained areas with little floor space, such as inside tents, but this feature is applicable even indoors, where the speaker can be easily hung from a tripod in the middle of the room (allowing the speaker to fill it) or from shelf handles or hooks close to the ceiling (great for creating ambience). This is a useful and adaptable travel speaker, even if you go out and choose to stay in a hotel.
Additionally, Google’s Fast Pair technology uses Bluetooth Low Energy to enable extremely quick connection with Android devices. When the speaker is turned on anyplace nearby, you receive a notification on select enabled Android devices, which genuinely works like magic. Once tapped, it pairs with the device.
The SRS-XB13 lacks an audio jack input, unlike the SRS-XB12, which we do not miss at all but which does result in the device receiving lower marks for features. An outdoor speaker that has a line-in jack is a huge benefit because hikers frequently use dedicated music players to preserve their smartphone batteries.
Sony SRS-XB13 review: Sound quality
The SRS-XB13 manages the deep low frequencies reasonably well on tunes with heavy sub-bass content, such as the Knife’s “Silent Shout,” flirting with distortion but never quite reaching there. The vibrations from the speaker’s base (and bass) are strong enough to produce a distortion-like sound, though, if you have the speaker sitting on a flat surface and play this music at high volumes. As a result, it would be prudent to suspend the speaker from something in order to prevent it from coming into contact with any resonant surfaces when turning up the volume.
Radiohead’s “Pyramid Song,” which doesn’t have a lot of bass, can also have this vibrating effect, and when we turned the volume up all the way, we did hear a little bit of distortion on a few recordings. The SRS-XB13 won’t attempt to reproduce sub-bass, but it will attempt to reproduce low-mids, which can cause issues if they are turned up in the mix.
As a result, it’s more likely to occur with tunes that have rich low-end and low-mids rather than thundering subwoofer bass. No speaker this size or budget is going to excel in bass response, though some manage to sound less overwhelmed at top volumes. Since this speaker costs $60, it’s hardly even a serious complaint.
Sony SRS-XB13 review: Price and availability
The Sony SRS-XB13 is currently available for purchase in amazon starting at $48 in the US, £38 in the UK, and AU$96 in Australia. See where you can get it in your area and the greatest offers available online right now by using the widgets on this page.
In conclusion, the Sony SRS-XB13 is far from ideal. In actuality, there are quite a few issues with it. The speakerphone microphone performs poorly when used as a speakerphone, the sound isn’t particularly accurate or loud, and it takes a long time to charge.
On the other hand, given how inexpensive it is, this speaker is still good. The sound issues won’t bother you too much if you’re not an audiophile, and it’s nice that you can use this practically anyplace. Not to mention the battery life, which will allow you to listen to music all day long. It’s undoubtedly a fantastic choice when compared to other speakers with comparable prices.