Review of Sony Speaker- SRS-XB21 (Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker)October 28, 2018
In the CES 2018, Sony showcased their latest upgrade devices in the popular extra bass lineup XB series. The older model XB-20 was a strong contender in the mini party wireless Bluetooth speakers and appreciated for the sound quality in the small power pack types of speakers.
The new SRS-XB21 Portable Wireless Bluetooth speaker has two additional unique features which should appeal a certain section of the crowd. Which I have mentioned in the review.
The Sony SRS-XB21 speaker features a traditional oblong bar shape of wireless speakers with its audio drivers facing one direction but the speaker can be paired with other Sony Bluetooth speakers to either amplify sound or to play in stereo. It is 193 mm x 72 mm x 65 mm (W x H x D) is the size and weighs around 530gs. Sony’s marketing claims, the body is made of Mica Reinforced Cellular (MCR) with high-quality fabric made exclusively in Japan and has silicone rubber covering for the buttons and back panel. It is rated IP67 for water resistance and dust and can withstand against moderate pressure from jets, provided the cap covering the connections panel is closed.
Behind the grille, the speakers are made with (MRC), the rigid and lightweight speaker cone contributes to the sound quality. Thanks to the MRC structure and the speakers, the device is rust proof, so you can take to the sea and even it gets wet, the salt water will not ruin your speaker. It has a dual 1.65 -inch speakers which can deliver the audio with the help of the front speakers and rear-firing passive radiators to enhance bass response. There are two LED lights ring around the grille on the front of the speaker that lights up – the Sony SRS-XB21 provides a light show that syncs up with the beat of the music. So if you are having a party, the LED ring will add a light effect to your party. It has a preset mode for lights on the Sony Music Center App.
All the control of the speakers is on the top panel on the right-hand side of the speaker. From left to right, these include Phone Answer/End (which doubles as a battery life indicator), Play/Pause, Add (to create a stereo pair with another SRS-XB40 speaker), Volume Down and Up (these work in conjunction with your mobile device’s master volume levels), and a Power/Pairing button. Compared to the SRS-XB40, SRS -XB-21 is IP67 certified, so you can so can take the speaker anywhere and even dunk in the water up to 1 meter and nothing to worry about sand or dust and it can float on water.
To connect with SRS – XB 21 portable wireless Bluetooth speaker, Sony suggest to download Sony’s Music Center App from Google Play Store. With this App, you can use the full potential of the SRS -XB-21 Speaker which includes features like crossfade between songs, so that you can get uninterrupted music like a DJ would change between songs in the party.
Another feature which works only if you are using through Sony’s Music App that is extra electronic sound effect drum beats like a snare, kick, or record-scratch which can be played on hitting on the speakers on five different spots (Top, Bottom, front and both left and right-hand sides). So far it has the only range of sound effect and maybe in future, you can download and change the sound to your liking and add your own beats or sound loops to make it interesting for people to hear. Interesting fact, you have to hit it quite hard to get the sound from each side of the speaker and Sony has built a quite a sturdy design to withstand the hits on the speaker and I did a drop test up to 4 feet. You can connect to XB-21 Speaker via NFC and Bluetooth. I have tried playing music from my smartphone and XB-21 has a 9-meter Bluetooth range in a straight line without any obstruction.
As always, I have certain songs and sound testing music which I use for testing any kind of sound system from portable speakers to a home theatre sound system. The Sony SRS-XB21 speaker was tested on lower volume and higher sound level. On the lower sound level, the SRS-XB21 performed very well, the Mids and the highs of was great and could hear each cymbal and high-frequency sound. While the bass sound was much better and improve compared to XB-40. The thump of bass was better and clarity for the sound was better but on high volume, it started to distort.
Personally, I would prefer to listen on lower or half volume range to enjoy music on the Sony SRS-XB21. You can’t expect SRS-XB21 to audiophile standards, it’s certainly much more than you’d ever expect from a speaker small enough to fit in your pocket.
As I had only one XB-21 speaker and I could not test the multiple paring speakers as Sony says that using the (WPC) wireless party chain, speakers can be connected to each other to enable users to enjoy a performance featuring synchronized lights and great sound up to 100 units can be interconnected via Bluetooth®.
Sony claims 12 hours’ continuous play on a single full of battery. But obviously, it is under standard conditions like low volume and maybe lights are off. But I could get around 8 hours on average to listen of 2 hours per day. It took around 4 hours of charging the XB-21 speaker. When trying to receive telephone calls via Bluetooth, the speaker was good and loud but the speakerphone mic is average, I had to be close to the speaker unit to speak to the caller.
Other additional features
At the back, under the silicon tightly sealed cover, it has the 3.5mm jack for the people who would like to connect the XB-21 speakers via the wire. It has the “BATT” Button to check the level of the battery and to turn ON/OFF the effect of the light. The “WPC” Wireless Party Chain) button to connect multiple speakers together and an ‘ADD’ button to connect two SRS-XB21 devices together. And a micro USB Type- B charging port by which you can charge the device with the USB cable which comes along as accessories along with the product.
SRS -XB21 speaker is a good portable Bluetooth speaker which has a good Bluetooth range, much better-improved sound compared to Sony’s XB-40 speaker. Major point compared to XB-40, it is IP67 certified, so you have nothing to worry about the device from water submerged up to one meter or dust issue or washing the device. It is a sturdy product and passed 4 feet drop test. As per my preference listening at 50% volume, the speaker’s Highs, Mids and Bass pretty good compared to XB-40. The Bass improvement is much better and you can change the sound preference via the Sony Music Center App. I am not a great fan of lighted speakers but sure some consumer will like it, it has some preset mode of sound and control via the App. Also, the new feature about making music with hitting 5 different places on the speaker, didn’t appeal to me but maybe children will love it.
So overall good buy for consumers who are looking to sturdy, beautiful, premium looking, IP67 Certified portable Bluetooth speaker.
Price: AED 398.98 (price as per Jumbo.ae)
Colours: Black, Blue & Red.