If you see a Sony audio product with “XB” in the model number this year, it’s part of the colourful, bold new Sony Extra Bass range. At the moment the key models include the XB650 headphones and three speakers – the portable XB2 and XB3, and the big XB7 floor standing power house. I want to focus on the XB3 because, in my opinion, it’s the coolest.
But first, here is what you need to know about its siblings. The SRS-XB2 is a battery power bluetooth speaker that packs a punch for something that’s a mere 19cm in length. It replaces the SRS-X2 from 2015 and has a similar spec line-up on paper. It will give you up to 12 hours of playback via bluetooth and you can also plug in via 3.5mm jack. You can pair two together for a wide stereo experience and like its big brother, the XB3, it’s water resistant (IPX5 rated) so you can fear not when taking it outside by the pool or… in the shower?
The GTK-XB7 is a new ‘party speaker’, in the same vain as Sony’s previous Muteki ranges. It has a lot of bass and it’s loud – there’s a bunch of processing applied to make it sound pretty decent. You can link two (or more) together if you really don’t like your neighbours. It’ has bluetooth and NFC built-in. I think that’s pretty much all you need to know. It’s loud and bassy.
The Extra Bass MDR-BX650BT headphones are characterised by many of the previous points. They’re bluetooth headphones with excellent bass response. Again, NFC is available and they have a built-in microphone so you can take calls. They’re very comfy, with swivelling ear cups, self-adjusting headband and very soft, cushioned pads so you can listen for extended periods of time.
Now for the SRS-XB3. It replaces the SRS-X33 from 2015 but unlike the XB2, the feature line-up is quite a bit different from its predecessor. The battery life is most notable and certainly impressive. You’ll get up to 24 hours of playback at a ‘medium’ volume or around 12 hours at high volumes. The X33 could charge via USB – that’s not the case with this model, however with such great battery life it’s not a major issue (charging is via included power adapter only). This speaker can charge your phone/tablet via USB too.
This new speaker looks great, feels great to handle and naturally you then expect it to sound great. It does. Two 48mm drivers and two bass radiators produce rich, crisp audio that, when you close your eyes and listen, sounds like it’s coming from a much larger speaker. To be super critical, at higher volumes the signal can start to sound over compressed but this is typical for small, high powered bluetooth speakers.
Similarly to the XB2, IPX5 water-resistance is featured as is the audio input and again you can pair two together in stereo. Additionally you can take calls from your bluetooth connected smart phone. Due to the slanted design, the XB3 can either be placed on its base on on the end to save space.
With unparalleled battery life and a stellar audio performance, the new Sony Extra Bass SRS-XB3 is a sure winner.