Sometimes, even the best Bluetooth speakers aren’t booming enough to start the party. That’s when a speaker like the new Sony SRS-XV800 — a 40-pound standing speaker on wheels — might come in handy.
Sony just released two new speakers that essentially fall on opposite sides of the category’s spectrum. The first is the SRS-XB100, a $59 ultra-portable and durable Bluetooth speaker that comes in fun colors. The second is the XV800 multi-purpose party speaker, priced at $649 and outfitted with more bells and whistles than you probably need.
Despite its size, the XV800 is built for portability. It can work wirelessly thanks to a 10,800mAh battery that gives up to 25 hours of listening. This speaker also has a quick charge feature that gets you 3 hours of playback with a 10 minutes on the charger, which will come in handy if you’re running late to the party.
I gave the XV800 a listen and the best way to describe the sound quality is big and bassy. The speaker diaphragm, which has a bit of an unusual shape, is wider than you might see on other speakers. This gives the drivers more room to prevent distortion at higher volume levels.
Sony’s new speaker offers omni-directional sound with 2 tweeters on the back that help with listening for those who are situated facing the rear side of the speaker. Meanwhile, the 3 tweeters on front are motion-detected based on how the speaker is oriented. It might look like one is missing, but when you switch the speaker between horizontal and vertical standings, it’ll automatically adjust which tweeters are needed to carry vocals higher.
The XV800 also comes with a huge range of inputs including two, 3/4 inch jacks for a guitar or microphones with individual volume knobs. Paired with a physical key control and echo reverb, this would make a great karaoke speaker. Or, you could use it as a subwoofer, thanks to the digital optical port for a TV hookup (Sony includes an optical cable in the box.) I’m also a fan of the USB-A out for charging other devices, as well as the battery status button that commands the speaker to tell you its battery level.
Using the music center app you can access advanced speaker controls. This includes lighting settings, with 9 presets that can kind of curate the effects to your sounds party. Or you could set it as a static individual color with the color wheel if that’s more your speed.
Best value Bluetooth speaker of the year?
If you’re not throwing parties every weekend, but instead need a more personal and on-the-go listening experience at a good price, the new SRS-XB100 is a fun-looking ultra portable wireless speaker that weighs a mere 0.6 pounds.
At $59, it’s also very value-centric, but it doesn’t necessarily prioritize form over function — it packs some neat features and strong specs. The open design helps diffuse sounds better, supporting the speaker’s sound diffusion processor. Between that and the passive radiator, it does a solid job at a wider soundstage while the cutout helps with bass, giving more breathing room and preventing the sound from becoming tinny. The sound was much fuller than I was expecting.
The XB100’s IP67 rating and UV coating means you won’t need to worry about outdoor use — it’ll clip onto a backpack and can face sun or weather exposure. I could see myself using it as a shower speaker as well; the built-in microphone does a good job cutting background noise during calls, but I’ll let you decide if you want to take a call in the shower.
Using USB-C, 4.5 hours worth of charging will give you 16 hours of playback, so it should be able to keep up with whatever you have planned for a given day. How it fares in a full review is yet to be seen, but based on the cost and features, this could be one of the best cheap Bluetooth speakers of the year.