Sony SRS-XB31 Bluetooth Speaker Review

Sony SRS-XB31 Bluetooth Speaker Review
9.4 Total Score

$55.00 $149.99

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  • Great bass performance
  • Built-in light show
  • Micro USB charging

Music? Check. Lights? Check. Bass? Check! This year’s Sony SRS-XB31 knows how to start a party and features several improvements over last year’s SRS-XB30 model.

Sound Quality

You’re likely most interested in the sound quality of the Sony SRS-XB31.  If you love bass, it definitely does not disappoint. Highs and mids come through clear and bass has some kick to it (more on that in a second). Streaming music from Apple Music and Pandora both sounded great, but the speaker does tend to over emphasize low frequencies and can sound “muddy” at time, expecially with the bass enhancement feature on.

Using Sony’s Music Center app, you can also access the “Live Sound” feature that Sony states will provide a more 3D sound experience with “festival vibes.”  Well, I’m not sure about the festival vibes, but what I found is that it does is maintain the bass of the “Extra Bass” mode while increasing the volume and enhancing some of the mids.  It definitely sounds good and I actually prefer it over the “Extra Bass” feature.

Bass Performance

Sony’s Bluetooth speakers tend to be bass heavy and that’s definitely the case with the SRS-XB31.  Unlike last year’s model, there’s no dedicated “EXTRA BASS” button.  You can turn the Extra Bass feature on and off using the Sony Music Center app, or by holding down the Volume Down and Play buttons for 3 seconds, until the power indicator changes colors.

Features

  • Lights: This is one of my favorite features of the speakers, although some people may find it gimmicky.  There is the outer ring that surrounds the speaker on the front and the sides that changes different colors.  There are also 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 Sony Music Center app. The lights really do add a bit of a party atmosphere and helps this speaker stand out from other brands. If you don’t like the lights, you can hold down the BATT/LIGHT button inside the cap on the rear side of the speaker for about 3 seconds.
  • Party Booster: You can add some sound effects to the music that you’re playing on the speaker by tapping it in different places.  Depending where you smack it, you can add a snare scratch, kick drum or cowbell.  The harder you hit it, the louder the sound.  You can turn this feature on/off by holding the the volume + and – buttons for 3 seconds.
  • Rustproof, Waterproof, Dustproof: The IP67 rating means you can take it to the beach and not worry about salt water ruining the speaker.  So you take the party virtually anywhere.
  • Wireless Party Chain: You can sync this speaker with other compatible models to play the same music simultaneously. Works with SRS-XB21, SRS-XB31, SRS-XB41, SRS-XB20, SRS-XB30, SRS-XB40, GTK-XB60, GTK-XB90.
    • To pair the XB31 with the XB30:
      • With the XB31 paired to your phone, lift the flap on the back and tap the WPC button.  You’ll hear a beep, then about 6 seconds later you’ll hear another beep.  The Bluetooth LED should flash.
      • On the XB30, hold down the ADD and Volume + buttons for about 3 seconds until you hear a beep.
      • Wait about 6-10 seconds and the two speakers should find each other and pair together.  Start playing music on your phone and you should hear it on both speakers.
  • Micro USB charging input: My biggest complaint of last year’s SRS-XB30 was that it used a proprietary charging cable.  This year’s SRS-XB31 solves that issue with a standard Micro USB input (although, USB-C would have maybe future-proofed this speaker a little more).
  • USB charging port: If your phone runs low on power, you can grab your phone’s charging cable and plug it into the full-sized USB port on this speaker.  The speaker then serves as a power bank for your phone (but reduces the runtime of the speaker).
  • Phone and Siri support: I found this feature handy on last year’s model while the speaker was poolside and my phone was tucked away in my bag.  You can answer a call on the speaker by tapping the Play button.  You can also access Siri or Google Assistant by holding down the Play button for about 3 seconds and you hear the activation sound. You then use the speaker’s built-in mic to talk to the caller or Siri.

Battery Life

The SRS-XB31 gives you up to 24 hours with the lights off and with the sound mode set to “Standard”.  However, with the lights on and the Extra Bass feature enabled, you can expect more like 4 to 6 hours of battery life.  So definitely keep that in mind if you’re trying to plan an all-nighter.  You can check the battery status in the Sony Music Center app on by tapping the Battery button under the flap.

9.4 Total Score
Excellent

Sony's new SRS-XB31 speaker features great sound, party lights and (finally) Micro USB charging! The optional "Extra Bass" setting does a great job of kicking it up a notch if you're all about the bass and it can be paired with other Sony speakers if you want to get loud.

Sound Quality
9.6
Bass Performance
10
Features
9.5
Bluetooth Range
9.5
Battery Life
8.5
PROS
  • Great bass performance
  • Built-in light show
  • Micro USB charging
CONS
  • App sometimes doesn't connect
  • Short battery life with lights on

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