For the past three years, Sony’s portable speakers in the “Extra Bass” line have made themselves the stars of the summer year after year. The heart of the 2020 vintage series, the SRS-XB33 proudly carries the torch of first place… and we can say that it does a little more than that.
The Sony SRS-XB33 is the fourth annual model in the portable speaker line launched with the SRS-XB30 in 2017 and a member of the speaker lineup that also includes the SRS-XB23 and 43.
This portable speaker clearly embodies the essential elements of its predecessors: the promise of bass-rich, powerful sound reproduction (that’s what the speaker’s slogan “Extra Bass” means anyway), adorned with synchronized lighting effects. Let’s see together why this highly acclaimed speaker is appreciated in our detailed whitepaper.
Table of Contents
Sony SRS-XB33: Pros and Cons
- Very dynamic sound even at maximum volume.
- Exceptional accuracy and sound distortion control.
- Very balanced and versatile sound.
- perfect stereophony
- Very solid construction, waterproof.
- Multipoint connection.
- A USB-A port for charging a mobile device.
- High control options
- No wired input, Bluetooth only.
- The battery doesn’t last long when all sound and light effects are activated.
At first glance, the SRS-XB33 looks like a twin sister to the SRS-XB43, but we notice a change in size. The intermediate model measures 24.6 x 9.7 x 10.6 centimeters and weighs 1.1 kilograms, half the weight of the most expensive model.
Smaller and lighter, the SRS-XB33 is easier to use and can be placed upright or reclined depending on the direction of sound you want. At the front, a grille protects the two main drivers working in conjunction with passive radiators located on the sides of the speaker.
At the top are buttons for on/off functionality, Bluetooth, Live Mode, and everything else you need to control music playback. Sony logo on the front and top left corner.
There is a fabric grille that completely surrounds the body of the speaker, freeing up only the space on the sides. As with the more expensive model, you can see an LED light strip that is activated and follows the rhythm of the music.
On the back there are main ports, a USB-C, a micro USB for charging, but no 3.5mm jack, so the only way to send sound to the speaker is the Bluetooth system. Here we also find the buttons to activate the party mode and pair it with other compatible devices.
The top of the speaker contains extensive controls: playback control, volume adjustment, activating Bluetooth pairing, nothing is missing. An NFC chip is also available for fast pairing with compatible devices.
What’s even better is that the main speaker settings are also accessible via buttons hidden under the back cover: so you can turn the lighting effects on and off, or even combine several speakers in stereo or simultaneous broadcast.
For more fine-tuning, you’ll need to turn to the companion Sony Music Center mobile app. Sound settings, lighting effects, activation/deactivation of automatic standby… the options available in the app are extensive.
SRS-XB33: Waterproof Test Video
On the battery side, the SRS-XB33 offers a very variable battery runtime, of course depending on its use.
At most economical use (SBC codec, lights off, all sound enhancements off), we were able to achieve a runtime of just over 24 hours with a volume set to 50%. This time appears as a result in line with the manufacturer’s commitment.
At the other end of the spectrum (lighting effects enabled, LDAC codec, “Live” sound mode), it can last for about ten hours. That’s an acceptable result, but it’s important to note that it’s significantly below average for speakers of this size.
Bluetooth communication latency is just under 200ms. When that delay turns into audio/video delay when watching a video, the dissonance is pretty clearly noticeable without being unbearable. Fortunately, in most mobile video playback apps (YouTube, Facebook, Netflix…) the speaker can set automatic lag compensation.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the SRS-XB33 is equipped with a microphone that allows for use as a handsfree, but still disappointing: even in a quiet environment, we tested that the speaker struggled to identify our voice, despite noise reduction algorithms. Most of the time we had to do the voice command function using our smartphone’s microphone.
In fact, we did not take these poor results into account in our rating, as this is also a rather rare feature in recent portable speakers.
Unlike the SRS-XB43, this model lacks tweeters (high-frequency speakers), so capturing fine details in the sound is sacrificed to preserve powerful bass. This feature can cause the sound to be reduced sometimes, but it’s still something Sony has to offer, keeping the good quality.
As with other models in this series, the Extra Bass system is not missing. The X-Balanced Speaker Unit technology, which refers to the way diaphragms are manufactured and in this case egg-shaped, is also missing. This change in the shape of the diaphragm allows it to provide higher acoustic pressure, which increases power and further accentuates frequencies at high volumes.
The elongated shape of the diaphragms in this particular model helps expand the sound, creating a much wider and more spatial feel.
There is also Live Mode, which allows you to create an even greater sense of ambient sound by utilizing the tilt angle of the speaker to deliver an ambient festive and lively sound experience.
As with other models, the cones covering the drivers are equipped with mica reinforcement and a dust cap that improves sound quality by not allowing the filtering of unwanted elements that can distort the sound.
In addition, the SRS-XB33 has one more luxury: stereophony. Despite the standard sound modes and the limited width of the speaker, you can detect Stereo sound by standing within two meters of the speaker to perceive a true separation between the left and right channels. It’s not too obvious to exaggerate, but we can get the sense of clarity of the soundstage compared to a monophonic sound.
However, when you activate the “Live” mode, the speaker can produce 3D sound of a much different quality and height. When we centered ourselves on the speaker, we were able to get a much better quality and dynamic sound experience.
Of course, this experience creates a sense of space for a portable speaker. Admittedly, a small asterisk should be added to this: This effect only works when you’re positioned towards the speaker.
Sony SRS-XB33: Conclusion
The RS-XB33 is Sony’s speaker in a modern and sophisticated design. It’s designed for active people who want to buy a portable speaker at a reasonable price. We did not do the water test, but after watching the videos, we can say that it is very resistant to water.
It is true that there are cuts in sound and lights, but the essence of the SRS series is still present. We can conclude our review by qualifying it as a speaker with excellent quality, luxurious finishes and sound that does not disappoint. You may also want to check our Best mini Bluetooth Speaker list as well.
Current Best Price on Amazon: $68.99
Price History on Amazon
|Months||Lowest Price on Amazon|
Sony SRS-XB33: Specifications
|Battery with effects||10 Hours|
|Supported Bluetooth codecs||SBC, AAC, LDAC|
|Number of Channels||2|
|Number of speakers||2|