If you want to rock the house you need a big, heavy sub-woofer that moves a lot of air. The bad news is, car sound systems apart, it is hard to take big subwoofers with you.
That’s where you might want to turn to Sony’s $300 SRS-XB3 speakers. They are portable, battery-powered, Bluetooth speakers that can add respectable oomph-oomph at the bottom.
The front is a solid metal grill. On the top are buttons including one to use the SRS-XB3 as an over-powered speaker phone. The review model was dark blue. Sony offers a variety of colours, some are garish or as they say in the marketing world: fashionable.
Heavy, heavy monster sound
Each speaker is about the size of a supermarket packet of biscuits. They’re much heavier than biscuits, weighing-in at about 900 g. This weight is important. The extra heft is one reason the speakers can move enough air to do loud and low. It has the added advantage of stopping the speakers from jumping around while playing.
Sony packed a lot of battery into the case. That’s where some of the weight comes from. I can’t tell you how long the SRS-XB3 will play for on a single charge. I’ve used them for many hours over the past few days after only one initial charging session. Sony says they last for 24-hours on a charge. That seems plausible.
Buy two speakers and you can pair them for stereo. Sony only sent one, so I conducted my tests in glorious mono.
Electronic dance music
Sony says they’re ideal for electronic dance music — and they might be. It’s not my taste.
They do OK for other music styles too. to test the speaker I dug out some old, old Reggae to hammer out a heavy beat with a lot of bass. This works well in mono. Hell, some of the old Reggae tracks were only recorded in mono.
The sound is loud. You can crank one little speaker up to the point where neighbours might call the noise control patrol. It’s enough for a small party, but maybe not enough for a big house full of dancing, talking guests.
If you hit the Extra Bass button you’ll get the full doof-doof effect. It’s not clear to me as a casual listener if hitting the button pumps up the bass volume. It could just change the internal equalisation setting to emphasise low notes. Either way, it thumps.
You have to like bass to enjoy the extra bass feature. You have to like it a lot. With some types of music you can hear bass distortion. There’s a notable touch of mid-range compression.
My usual Bluetooth speakers are a pair of Logitech Z600s. The Logitech speakers sound better than the SRS-XB3 for most of my music. If anything they take the edge off the bass and treble. I tried classical, jazz and blues and prefer how the Z600s sound. It’s a line-ball call on some flavours of rock music.
Made by Sony
Remember, Sony made the SRS-XB3 for electronic dance music. That seems niche to me, but I’m not working for the marketing department of a large corporation.
Sony’s speaker has the advantage of portability over the Z600s. At the same time Sony might beat the Logitech’s on loudness. I say might because cranking both up to the top for comparison is antisocial. And at those volumes it is hard to hear which is louder.
Would I buy the Sony speakers? I’m not the kind of customer Sony is aiming for. Sony optimised the speakers for a different sound to my normal listening. That said, they’d be great to take away to a bach or similar.