Sony SRS-XB30 Bluetooth Speaker Review
You can take the party anywhere with the great sound and built-in multi-color light show of the Sony SRS-XB30 Bluetooth speaker.
Sony's new SRS-XB30 speaker features great sound, a multi-color LED light ring and easy pairing for NFC-equipped phones. The optional "Extra Bass" setting does a great job of kicking it up a notch if you're all about the bass.
- Great bass performance
- Built-in light show
- Impressive feature set
- Proprietary charging
- Buggy app
- Sound quality: Obviously, one of the most important features of a speaker is the sound quality. The Sony XB30 certainly does not disappoint. Highs and mids come through clear and bass had some kick to it (if it’s not enough for you, you can press the “Extra Bass” button for an enhanced effect). I tested streaming music from Apple Music, Pandora and Slacker Radio and was not disappointed with the sound quality of this speaker.
- Lights: I know some may find this gimmicky, but I really like the lights on this speaker. There is the outer ring that surrounds the speaker on the front that changes different colors and two white LED “strobe” lights on either side. You can set the lights to dance with the music, set a more calming lighting effect or turn off the lights completely by using the SongPal app. The lights really to add a bit of a party atmosphere and helps this speaker stand out from other brands.
- Bass booster: A quick press of “Extra Bass” button substantially increases lows and adds a great bass effect, especially considering the size of this speaker. However, it can make some songs sound a little “muddy” with an overemphasis on lows.
- NFC pairing: If your phone features an NFC chip, it can be used to quickly pair to this speaker with a tap.
- Speakerphone support: You can answer incoming calls on this speaker by tapping the “phone” button. I tested this out and my friend said the sound quality was very good and he could hear me fine. However, if I stepped too far to one side, the noise cancellation feature seems to kick in and makes my voice harder to hear, so be sure you’re in front of the speaker while using the phone feature.
- Siri/Google Assistant support: You can also call up Siri or Google Assistant by tapping the phone button and speaking a command.
- Bluetooth standby: A unique feature of this speaker is that you can leave it plugged in to an AC outlet and it will automatically turn on when you start playing music on your phone. It will go into standby mode (waiting for the next time you play music) if nothing plays for a period of time. This feature can be enabled in SongPal app.
- Charge your phone: The speaker has a USB port on the back. You can use your own charging cable to plug into this port and charge your phone while the speaker is on. This would obviously decrease the runtime of the speaker, but it can come in handy in a pinch.
- Pair with other Sony XB30 speakers: Another unique feature is the ability to pair this Bluetooth speaker with another similar Sony Bluetooth speaker. The other speakers must support the “Wireless Party Chain” function, which currently includes the SRS-XB20, SRS-XB30 and SRS-XB40. Up to 10 speakers can be connected.
- Aux in: Non-Bluetooth devices can be used by using an audio cable with stereo mini plugs (not included).
- Proprietary charger: Unfortunately, this speaker cannot be recharged with a standard Micro USB or USB-C charger. It uses a barrel connector, meaning that you need to remember to bring the included charger with you (and make sure you don’t lose it!). Fully charging the speaker takes about 4 hours.
- No battery life indicator on iOS: Many newer Bluetooth speakers display their battery level on the iPhone/iPad status bar, so you can see when your speaker needs recharged. This Sony XB30 speaker does not do that, although you can use the SongPal app to find it (it’s buried under the Settings option in the app). You can also hold down the “phone” button for about 3 seconds and the speaker will announce its current charge.
- Buggy SongPal app: This speaker seems to use a separate Bluetooth connection when using the app, as I frequently receive messages from the SongPal app that my speaker needs to be paired even while it is currently streaming music from the same device. I’ve also seen multiple instances of the speaker appear in the app even though I’m only using one, so it looks like the SongPal app has some kinks to work out.
Overall, the sound quality and built-in lights of the Sony SRS-XB30 Bluetooth speaker are sure to keep you entertained. You can start the party anywhere!