Bluetooth speakers are about a dime a dozen these days. So how do you set yourself apart? For Sony, the answer is always to provide the best sound quality possible. But recently, the company has looked to also ensure their new line-up of speakers is portable and, to a certain extent, life-proof. Sony’s SRS-XB13 best exemplifies this new ethos, making an extremely compelling case to be your new go-to portable Bluetooth speaker.
Sony sent SPY a sample to review. My thoughts on the SRS-XB13 Bluetooth speaker below.
Sony SRS-XB13 Bluetooth Speaker: What We Liked
The first thing you’ll notice when looking at the XB13 is its size. About as wide as a soda can and half as tall (the actual measurements are 3.43 by 3.43 by 4.41 inches), the XB13 is super portable. Even without the included (and removable!) strap, the XB13 easily fits in the palm of your hand. Less than a pound, it’s a tiny, tiny thing. This is great, as Sony clearly designed the unit to be your new portable best friend. Chuck it in a bag, put it in a cup holder, sling it over a chair — whatever you can think of doing, the XB13 can totally hang alongside you.
Sony didn’t just stop at its size, however. They wrapped the XB13 with a special UV coating to safeguard it against damage from the elements. It’s also IP67 rated, which means it can handle taking a swim, should it come to that. So, yes, Sony designed the XB13 to be a rugged speaker ready for the outdoors, capable of withstanding just about everything you throw at it — or even you throwing it. It’s as if the brand realized with the opening of the world again, post-pandemic, they needed to have a speaker that could keep up with the hustle and bustle of life. To that end, Sony has completely delivered here. Furthermore, the 16 hours or so of battery life is really, really impressive, which means I don’t have to fret about it losing power too quickly.
Additionally, the rounded design of the XB13 helps provide a 360-degree sound. Thanks to the single driver, passive radiator, and sound diffusion processor, the XB13 does a pretty good job of filling a space with sound. For example, when I was cooking dinner, I put the unit on the other side of the room and felt that it filled out the surrounding area rather well as I listened to Frank Sinatra. It also worked well at a small gathering of friends I had, defusing the area with music well despite its size. Plus, at $60, there’s so much value to be had in what I believe is a pretty reasonable price.
Sony SRS-XB13 Bluetooth Speaker: What We Didn’t Like
However, those expecting to have premium sound quality might find the XB13 lacking. That’s not an issue for me, as I often end up just playing music off my iPhone 9 times out of 10. Having the XB13 is a notable improvement compared to a smartphone speaker, but the audio quality of the one speaker isn’t going to blow anyone away. I’d say overall that the quality is good, but not great. For almost all of the cases in which I’d use the XB13, that’s more than enough for me. However, if you need to boost things, you can pair another XB13 together to create a stereo experience — although we didn’t end up testing that feature because Sony only provided one XB13 unit for review.
Additionally, there is a microphone included in the speaker, but I can’t say I’d recommend using it for important calls. It’s there if you need it, but it’s more of a nice to have than it is an essential feature.
The Verdict: The SRS-XB13 is a Speaker Ready for the Outdoors
It feels silly to say that portable Bluetooth speakers should be portable, but Sony realizes this and took it a step further. The XB13 is an outdoor-ready unit, capable of roughing it out in nature without you having to be overly concerned. As our world returns to normal, I couldn’t ask for a better companion than the XB13.