Sony Speaker: Looking for a small, portable wireless Bluetooth speaker? The $130 Sony SRS-XE200—one of the company’s newest and smallest speakers seems to fit into that Goldilocks zone: small and light enough to fit anywhere, durable enough to handle almost any condition, and even double as speaker tapping, which is something that keeps getting better. harder to find on bluetooth speakers. But is that enough? And most importantly, how does it sound? We’ve tested it all.
What’s in the Box – Sony Speaker
Sony packs the XE200 in a box with recyclable materials, which is nice. Inside you’ll find a USB-C charging cable and a quick start guide. The line is USB-A to USB-C and there’s no wall charger in the box, so you can plug it into any other charger you already have.
Sony designed the XE200 primarily as an upright speaker. You can lay it horizontally for optional stereo sound, but it’s remained tuned for best performance when standing up. It’s lined with fabric, while the rest of the body is rubberized with silicone, giving the unit some IP67 protection as a more durable speaker.
It fits right on the beach, by the pool, or near the bathtub or hot tub. You can soak it in water, but be careful not to get sand and salt water into the crevices of the fabric. Although Sony claims to have built the speaker to withstand salt, it’s wise to rinse it with clean water.
Sony rates the XE200 for up to 16 hours on a single charge, assuming you don’t turn up the volume and leave all default settings as they are. Once you start tweaking, including Battery Care, which limits a full charge to 90% and boosts the bass EQ and overall volume, you knock it down a pound or two.
At 60% to 70% volume, with a V-curve in the EQ to boost bass and treble, I managed to get up to 12 hours – still very respectable for a speaker of this size. Stamina mode can always stretch things out, but you lose a lot of bass, so unless you play classical music or listen to a podcast, you probably won’t like how it sounds with it on.
If you’re in a hurry for some tunes, join for 10 minutes and get up to 70 minutes to play them. But again, the same parameters apply, so if you turn up the volume, you won’t get very far.
Sony proves that the design and construction of the XE200 is no slouch, offering excellent sound quality from a well-built speaker. Plus, its $130 price tag isn’t unreasonable for what you get, simply because you can take it with you and enjoy what and how it plays in different situations.
Is there a Better Alternative?
Bluetooth speakers at this level face stiff competition. If you spend more, you can get a nice boost in sound quality and battery life. Within the family, that means the Sony XE300, a taller, heavier alternative that costs $200 but is louder and offers better midrange intelligibility.
Moving on to something bigger, the size of the XE200, the $170 Marshall Emberton II, is smaller and delivers superior sound with almost double the battery life. It also has the same level of durability and offers a way to pair or group with other Marshall speakers.
At $130, the JBL Flip 6 is the closest competitor in terms of price. Unfortunately, it’s deafening and can be exhausting. Although this is one of the company’s best wireless speakers, it won’t let you talk to anyone because there’s no speakerphone. Still, you can pair the stereo with other Flip 6 speakers or group them with other compatible JBL speakers. The battery also doesn’t last as long on a single charge, though at least the JBL app’s EQ gives you more flexibility to tweak things to your liking.
How Long it takes?
Sony has built this speaker to take some punishment thanks to its IP67 rating, but don’t start throwing it around like a football. It’s a shock-resistant body, though without the rubberized bumpers on the sides of the other speakers. You can have fun with it in the sand or in the water as long as you rinse it after each one. Sony’s one-year warranty only covers malfunctions, not water damage, so keep that in mind when pulling it out.
Yes. It may lack the LEDs and flashy looks of Sony’s more distinctive portable speakers, but it’s small and durable enough to go anywhere without sacrificing sound quality.
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