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Sony Bluetooth Speaker Xb33 Review

It might look quite unassuming but the Sony SRS-XB33 Bluetooth speaker packs a punch when it comes to audio performance and is a great addition to any party. It might look quite unassuming but the Sony SRS-XB33 Bluetooth speaker packs a punch when it comes to audio performance and is a great addition to any party. Under that fairly average exterior, this Bluetooth speaker comes with fun LED lighting and, more importantly, plenty of power when it comes to music playback. With surprisingly powerful low frequencies, you might be worried that it sounds a little too bassy at times and, well, you’d be right –but it’s a small issue for a portable speaker that costs $150 / £150 / AU$229 and is already available for less at third-party retailers. While audiophiles may be a little disappointed by the sound, those wanting to create a party atmosphere will adore what the Sony SRS-XB33 has to offer. As a party speaker primarily, the Sony SRS-XB33 lacks the finer features of a more home-focused speaker such as a microphone or voice assistant support, but that doesn’t feel like an issue, because Sony has focused on one core aim for this device – being the highlight of the party. At the top of the speaker are sunken buttons for power, volume, Bluetooth pairing, and Live Sound. The only predictable downside here is that it means that orchestral pieces in particular can feel a little inaccurate at high volumes with trebles and mids not quite having the clarity we’d like. It’ll take a bit of practice to find what works best for you with the Sony SRS-XB33, but at least there are plenty of ways to adjust its performance.

If you’re looking to buy a Bluetooth speaker, you may be able to save a lot of money over Black Friday – and the deals are already rolling in ahead of the big day.

Keep your eyes peeled for models from Ultimate Ears, JBL, and Anker, which are likely to be heavily discounted. More premium models like the Sonos Move should see some discounts too, but don’t expect enormous drops in price.

Rugged to a quite impressive degree for the price, the Sony SRS-XB33 is waterproof (IP67), rustproof, dustproof, saltwater resistant and shockproof up to 1.2m / 3.9ft. The buttons on the to of the speaker feature slightly recessed plastic symbols that are easy to feel around, although not entirely clear to see in reduced light conditions. They dictate power, volume, Bluetooth pairing, the Live sound mode, and play and pause.

The Sony SRS-XB33 boasts a powerful sound, deep punchy bass, and decent clarity, and we can’t fault it too much.

It has dual passive radiators and the promise of Sony’s Extra Bass, which means the lowest frequencies are very much where the attention lies. Thanks to that, you don’t have to turn the volume up much to get punchy and bold bass that feels quite exciting depending on your chosen track.

It does a fairly good job of maintaining clarity and clearness at higher volumes, which we certainly appreciated – though we’d like to hear a little more detail in the trebles. Bold rich bass means you can’t help but feel thrilled at what comes up next on your playlist, whether it’s The Weeknd’s Blinding Light or an old favorite like David Bowie’s Life on Mars.

In our time using it, we found that estimate plummets if you’re playing around extensively with the light show or you turn up the volume. During a party, we’d recommend making sure the speaker is fully charged or ideally plugged in, but it should still suit you reasonably well if you decide to take it hiking for a few days as hopefully, you won’t be scaring off wildlife with high volumes.

Alongside that is Fiestable which controls lighting effects and allows you to add DJ-style audio. It lacks any kind of smart speaker functionality, relying on your smartphone to cover that side of things if need be.

Sony SRS-XB33 Review

That said, in-app EQ allows for some sound signature tweaking, and built-in LED lights add a fun factor, making the SRS-XB33 a solid outdoor-friendly option for the price. On either end, the Sony SRS-XB33 has a band of LED lights that continually change colors and flash to the beat (they can be controlled or disabled in the app). Behind the cloth grille, dual full-range drivers, aided by passive bass radiators on both ends of the speaker, deliver a frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz. A rubber strip on the top panel houses the controls, with buttons for power, Bluetooth, play/pause (which also answers/ends phone calls), minus/plus for volume, and Live, which adds an unnecessary spatial effect to the audio.

On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the SRS-XB33 delivers notable low-frequency thump for a speaker this size. The drums on this track can sound overly thunderous on larger, bass-forward systems, but here, they find a nice balance between robust, full bass depth and not overdoing it.

Callahan’s baritone vocals are delivered with plenty of added low-mid richness—thankfully, there’s a solid high-mid and high-frequency presence to keep things clear and defined. Generally speaking, this is a sculpted, scooped sound signature, with lots of rich bass depth and crisp high-frequency contour, but the midrange takes a bit of a vacation.

On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop receives enough high-mid presence for its attack to retain its punchiness in the mix, while the sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are delivered with a solid amount of bass depth, but nothing approaching what you’d hear on a larger system with subwoofer capabilities.

Orchestral tracks, like the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, get more bass presence than purists will want to hear, but it doesn’t throw the entire balance of the mix out of whack.

Between this model and the $100 SRS-XB23, which we also like, we more strongly suggest this one—the increase in price is not insignificant, but what you get in return (more powerful audio and bass depth) will be worth it to some.

Customer Reviews: Sony SRS-XB33 Portable Waterproof & Rustproof Speaker with USB Charging Port Taupe SRSXB33/C

EXTRA BASS is the highlight of this speaker and also my Grand Kids favorite sound setting. This speaker reproduces the BT music choices from my cell phone into near CD quality. ** SOUND ENGINEERING – The Sony SRS-XB33 Portable BT Speaker has been totally redesigned to deliver live, breathing, extra bass. The Sony engineers built two side passive radiators on either end of this speaker to enhance the richness of the delivered bass output.

This speaker sits front-facing at an slight angle to project the Live Sound as a three dimensional experience to my ears. Sony uses its own proprietary DSP chip (Digital Signal Processing) to intensify the listening area of the speaker and improve the width and depth of the projected sound. It has two non-slip, extended supports, on its bottom, which give this speaker the angle it needs to project Live Sound and keep it stable too. This app allows me to enable DJ Control by customizing my music genres using Isolator, Notch, Noise, and Jet.

I can also add Drums, Scratch, Audience, Voice (Cool Sayings), Phaser, Reggaehorn, and Rhythm by simply tapping or using my finger swirling around on a circle on the pad of my Smartphone when I enable DJ Controls. Again, tapping or swirling my finger around on a circle on the pad of my Smartphone that appears when selecting this setting makes these fantastic party effects. My Grand Kids love to dance with their cell phones in hand and change the light show to the rhythm, beat, add DJ effects, or, anyway they choose using the Fiestable App. And, the illumination effects are only used when the Grand Kids come over at night for a dip in the pool, and to dance to the music on our deck.

This speaker would make a great gift to a young teen, family member, or friend, who enjoys spending time outdoors.

Sony SRS-XB33 review

While lifestyle images on the company’s website show the Sony SRS-XB33 portable speaker set against white sands and sun-drenched swimming pools, its rugged exterior and waterproof features mean it should keep going in any weather – ideal for winters as well as summers, then. It’s dustproof, so sand, soil and dried mud are of little concern, and it has undergone extensive shock testing for knocks, bumps and scrapes, meaning you can drop it and it’ll keep working. Those include some flashing lights – controlled via the Sony Music Center and Fiestable apps – which can also dance in sync with up to 99 other compatible wireless speakers thanks to Party Connect.

You’ll notice the Extra Bass advertising, which nods to this speaker’s dual passive radiators, but it’s the main driver units that are most interesting.

Sony calls this its X-Balanced Speaker Unit, where non-circular diaphragms make for a maximised surface area, and an increase in sound pressure aims for punchier bass. Not that this Bluetooth speaker needs the extra help; we connect our smartphone (NFC is available) and immediately the party starts, the SRS-XB33 throwing its voice across the room with real energy and verve.

This might be a speaker built to shout across busy rooms and fill a space in the infinite outdoors, but we’d still appreciate a little greater subtlety and maturity that would hold our interest better when not in party mode ourselves. There are speakers around this price, such as the Audio Pro Addon C3, that combine expert rhythm and sensitive dynamics with striking richness and clarity, but these are only built to be portable in the sense they needn’t constantly be plugged in.

Sony SRS-XB33 Review

Its treble is also underemphasized, resulting in dull and veiled vocals and lead instruments.

Sony SRS-XB33 Speaker review: Party sound to go

Weighing just 1.1 kilos, or about 2.4 pounds, the XB33 has an IP67 rating, meaning it is waterproof, and Sony adds that it can actually be washed. The speaker can be paired or added to groups of like devices, and flashing LED lights add a visual element to the party.

Sony says its design is unique, with a non-circular diaphragm that the company says results in more punchy bass and less distortion. Tested with Motorola WSPK for music and Xiaomi Mi TV Box S for video content About DXOMARK Wireless Speaker tests: For scoring and analysis in our wireless speaker reviews, DXOMARK engineers perform a variety of objective tests and undertake more than 20 hours of perceptual evaluation under controlled lab conditions. Though small, the device seems engineered to maximize its party potential, with an emphasis on low-end and bass that sometimes comes at the cost of other aspects of the audio experience.

In this section, we will take a closer look at these audio quality sub-scores and explain what they mean for the user, and we will show some comparison data from two of the device’s competitors, the Sonos Roam and the JBL Charge 5. On the bright side, that tendency allows voice-related content to cut through in noisy environments such as in the kitchen use case. Despite the added color, extreme low end could be more present, especially in high SPL scenarios where there are more downsides than positives. Our dynamics tests measure how well a device reproduces the energy level of a sound source, taking into account attack, bass precision, and punch.

Attack is adequate, but feels quite rounded instead of sharp and on point most of the time, and somewhat blurry and imprecise in the video use case. Added compression and slight distortion make the bass envelope sound the most processed.

Punch is fairly on target, despite the slight lack of low-mid energy and muddy low end. With two forward-facing speakers, the SRS-XB33 does produce stereo sound, although the wideness, while decent considering the small size of the device, is not exceptional. The Sony SRS-XB33 produces pretty good loudness at maximum volume for a speaker of its size.

Here are a few sound pressure levels (SPL) we measured when playing our sample recordings of hip-hop and classical music at maximum volume:

In our perceptual testing, engineers perceived compression and a multi-band dynamic treatment as well as some distortion, especially on bass — which was probably intentional, considering the brand’s pitch for the XB33 as a party device. When playing in high SPL scenarios, the speaker produces erratic distortion, and the dynamics sub-attributes also suffer flaws at the same time. The Sony SRS-XB33 has a few drawbacks, especially in the artifacts and spatial attributes, but overall, and especially for its size and price point, it delivers a satisfying performance that puts it among the better devices we’ve tested in the Essential category.

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