Last updated on June 3, 2018
I wrote about the build and sound quality of the JBL Clip 2 around this time last year, and I am still using it as my daily driver to watch Netflix and to listen to music on my MacBook Pro. It has not failed me yet, but when Sony asked if I would like to take a look at their portable speakers, I couldn’t say no because the grass is always greener on the other side. So I had Sony delivered two speakers, the SRS-XB10 and the SRS-XB40, for my review.
The reason for choosing these two, in particular, is because the former is the cheapest (S$79) of their SRS-XB series and the latter (S$329) is the most expensive of its range. I’m also always curious if our naked ear can hear a distinct difference between devices of the same series at a different price point. Hence, the decision.
Looking at the specifications and features on paper, the SRS-XB10 is light and small, and the battery can last up to 16 hours. It has an extra bass so we should expect the “boom boom” sound when we test it. Plus, it is water-resistant, which is a must for all portable speakers.
The XB-10 also has the NFC function for users to tap and play their music. As a user of portable speakers, the NFC function certainly adds value, especially at its price point but it’s not a must-have. Like what I always say, “more is more,” which in this case, more functions mean more value.
Now to the SRS-XB40. At S$329, the higher-end portable speaker by Sony has to live up to its price tag, and it does when it comes to its functionality.
Similar to the XB10, the XB40 is water-resistant and NFC-enabled. The main differences? The XB40 can/has:
- Connect up to 10 wireless speakers via Bluetooth
- Add another Sony capable speaker for a broader stereo sound
- Better Bluetooth connection for better audio experience thanks to LDAC that transmits data faster than regular Bluetooth audio
- Adjust speaker lights (yes, you will see it in our sound test below.)
- Up to 24 hours of battery life
- “Dual passive radiators work together with two full-range speakers to enhance low-end tones, giving the bass a boost.“
Now with the specifications and features out of the way, let us do the sound test.
Based on the sound test, the answer to my earlier question before the review is clear. The more expensive Sony SRS-XB40 did sound a lot better than the SRS-XB10. Although both speakers have extra bass functionality, audio produced by the XV40 sounded deeper and more vibrant than the XB10. However, with the extra bass turned off for the XB40, the audio sounded flat. So, I cannot think of any reason why anyone would turn it off.
At first, I had thought that the colourful lights and the LEDs on the left and right side of the XB40 were gimmicks and that they were added to the speaker to get more monies from you. After reviewing the product and experiencing how it works, I do have a new appreciation for these lights. Like its latest range of Xperia smartphones, Sony wants to enhance product experiences through our external senses. In this case, the Japanese tech giant wants us to see audio than just hearing it, and they did it on the XB40.
Yes. I am full of praises for the XB40. However, it does not mean that the XB10 is not worth taking a look because it does. Given its small and compact size, the XB10’s extra bass is good enough for watching videos on your computer and listening to music in your room. It’s not suitable for a noisy environment for sure. The audio quality is just right for the ears although I wish it could get a little louder and hold its bass even at the maximum volume.
The Sony SRS-XB10 and XB40 have no significant bad points that I need to highlight because these are well-built speakers, and they function like how they are made to do. Any other value-added functions are bonuses, which should not be faulted on because Sony always learns, research and improves.
One thing I need to point out is that these speakers are not for audiophiles because their ears are built to sift out flaws that average consumers won’t notice.
All in all, I do recommend you guys to check out these two speakers and try them out at the Sony stores to experience the audio quality for yourself. If you are always out for gatherings and home parties, get the Sony XB40. If you are a stay-home kind of person and it’s always just you and your laptop or Spotify, get the Sony XB10. 😉