Rapid Review: Sony SRS-XB31 Extra Bass Wireless Speaker

Image: Sony

I've owned and used a stack of wireless speakers over the years. The one thing that has clearly changed over that time is that the bang-for-buck we receive is now excellent. The Sony SRS-XB31 Extra Bass Wireless Speaker delivers great sound, looks good and won't break the bank. It's quickly risen to be one of my favourite products of 2019.

What Is It?

The Sony SRS-XB31 Extra Bass Wireless Speaker is a wireless speaker that supports wired connections and works with an app to control the LEDs that can either be off, a solid colour or dynamic as they sync to the beat of the tunes you're listening to.

As well as sounding great, the SRS-XB31 looks attractive and has great battery life.

Specifications

Size and Weight 231mm x 87mm x 81mm, 890g
Connectivity Bluetooth 4.2 (30m range), NFC, 3,5mm jack
Charging and Power Battery life rated at 24 hours, charged of microUSB, can charge other devices over USB-A
Speakers Dual 48mm with 20 Hz - 20,000 Hz (44.1 kHz sampling) frequency transmission range
Audio profile support A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP, SPP

What's Good?

The SRS-XB31 is equipped with a bunch of extra features which I'll get to shortly. The real proof of the pudding with a speaker is in the listening. The speaker can look great and have all sorts of glitzy features but if it sounds crappy then it's nothing more than a glorified door-stop.

Sony has done a great job of extracting excellent sound at this price point. When the SRS-XB31 was initially released it cost in excess of $200 but the price is now a more reasonable $139 and, for that money, this is a very nice speaker.

Sound quality was great - you won't get the distinct separation of instruments you'll find in more expensive speakers but Sony's pitch with the SRS-XB31 isn't to audiophiles. The SRS-XB31 is pitched at the Spotify generation. And, for them, this is a great option, In any case, the Sony music Centre app lets you tweak the audio settings to suit your preferences.

As well as offering loud, deep sound - folks a little younger than me (OK, a lot younger) seem to value thumping bass more than I do - the SRS-XB31 is equipped with strips of LED lights along the top and bottom edges and a strobe light at each end of the body. These can be powered off completely through an app you're prompted to install when Bluetooth pairing is completed or with a button on the back. You can choose between different lighting patterns that change in time with the music.

With the focus on a younger market for the SRS-XB31, Sony has wisely chosen to make this unit waterproof, giving it an IP67 rating. That IP Rating means that the unit is rustproof and can handle immersion in water up to 1 metre in depth for 30 minutes. That should be good enough for summer pool parties, beach trips and other fun times. And the speaker is washable under running water.

Battery life is rated at 24 hurst's which is great but the bonus is that you can use the SRS-XB31's battery to charge other devices. Hidden behind a cover on the speaker's rear are USB-A and micro-USB ports as well as the 3.5mm input, a button that tells you the battery status.

You can also connect the SRS-XB31 with other compatible speakers so you can easily distribute your music. That's managed through the app.

Perhaps the most curious feature was the Party Booster. When enabled through the app, tapping different parts of the speaker's body produced sounds such as cowbells, snare drums and shakers. It's gimmicky but it's fun.

What's Bad?

I'm hard pressed to fault the SRS-XB31. It ticks all the boxes I'd expect for a speaker at this price. It's portable, has a few nice party features and looks good.

Should You Buy It

There are a lot of Bluetooth speakers on the market today. I walked into a couple of stores this week to check out what's available and the range is incredibly diverse with every size and budget catered for. With a recommended price of $139, although you can find the Sony SRS-XB31 Extra Bass Wireless Speaker for a little less, this is a great option and would make a sensational stocking stuffer this Christmas.

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