The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of tech gear

Sony SRS-XB32 Review

Above average performances in most of our tests aren't enough to overcome its large size and weight
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Price:   $150 List | Check Price at Amazon
Pros:  Good sound quality, waterproof, long battery life
Cons:  Large and heavy
Manufacturer:   Sony
By Max Mutter and Michelle Powell  ⋅  Sep 3, 2019
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 21
  • Sound Quality - 40% 8
  • Portability - 25% 5
  • Volume - 20% 9
  • Battery Life - 15% 8

Our Verdict

Though the Sony SRS-XB32 is a good speaker overall, in our opinion it fails to find any sort of balance that makes it a compelling way to fill any particular niche. It doesn't feel quite loud enough to justify its extra weight, it doesn't sound quite good enough to justify its above average price, and its unique flashing lights don't add enough to the experience to cancel out the former two complaints. While we don't hate the Sony SRS-XB32, and we highly doubt anyone else would either, we just feel that most people could find a better speaker for their particular needs.


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Sony SRS-XB32
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Price $150 List
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Pros Good sound quality, waterproof, long battery lifeExcellent sound quality, very loud, long battery lifeExcellent sound quality, water resistant, great battery lifeGood overall sound, great volume, great battery life, waterproofGood sound quality, waterproof, long battery life
Cons Large and heavyExpensive, relatively large and heavyExpensive, relatively heavyNot the strongest bass, a bit priceyNot the best sounding nor most portable
Bottom Line Above average performances in most of our tests aren't enough to overcome its large size and weightTop notch sound quality and volume in a somewhat heavy packageThe best portable speaker for audiophilesA good mix of sound qaultiy/volume and durabilityA great balance of sound quality, portability, and price
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Rating Categories Sony SRS-XB32 Bose Soundlink... Bose SoundLink... UE Boom 3 JBL Flip 5
Sound Quality (40%)
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
7
Portability (25%)
10
0
5
10
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6
10
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7
10
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8
10
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7
Volume (20%)
10
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9
10
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10
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8
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8
10
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9
Battery Life (15%)
10
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8
10
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9
10
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8
10
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9
10
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9
Specs Sony SRS-XB32 Bose Soundlink... Bose SoundLink... UE Boom 3 JBL Flip 5
Dimensions (in x in x in) 10.6" x 4.5" x 5.5" 4.1" x 4.1" x 7.3" 5.97" x 3.24" x 3.24" 2.9" x 2.9" x 7.25" 3.64" x 3.6" x 8.5"
Inputs USB charging port, micro USB, 3.5mm auxillary input Charging port, Micro-USB, 3.5mm auxillary input 3.5 mm auxiliary input, Micro USB port Micro USB port none
Reported Weight 32oz 34 oz 24 oz 24 oz 19.04 oz
Measured Weight 32 oz 34 oz 24 oz 22 oz 19 oz
Wireless Range (feet) 32.81 30 feet 30 feet 150 feet Not Listed
Reported Battery Life (hours) 24 16 12 15 12
Measured Battery Life (hours) 18 24 18 24 27
Warranty 1 year limited 1 year limited 1 year limited 2 year limited 1 year limited
Receive Phone Calls Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Sony SRS-XB32 sounds good, is relatively loud, and is waterproof, but it's quite heavy and doesn't excel enough in any other category to make it feel worth lugging around the extra weight.

Performance Comparison




Sound Quality


The first hurdle for a Bluetooth speaker to clear is to make you forget you're listening to music on a relatively small and portable speaker. The Sony SRS-XB32 clears that hurdle with aplomb. It's higher ranges sound reasonably clear and lack any of that tinniness you'd fear from a small speaker. Its bass is also defined and deep enough to make the music feel well anchored and rounded. This is probably plenty of sound quality for 99% of those looking to listen to music away from outlets.


The next bar for one of these speakers to pass would be adding some impressive clarity, nuance, and balance to the music. Basically, to make you feel like you were listening to a proper speaker that must be plugged into a wall. The Sony SRS-XB32 stops a bit short here, as it lacks that over-the-top clarity and bass punch that the top-tier speakers have. We wouldn't call this a shortcoming, however, it's just that the Sony SRS-XB32's listening experience falls a bit below premium.

The SRS-XB32's party lights are kind of interesting  but in our opinion doesn't add much to the experience.
The SRS-XB32's party lights are kind of interesting, but in our opinion doesn't add much to the experience.

If you're a bass lover, the Sony SRS-XB32 does have a bass boost mode that provides noticeably more low end. However, that extra power is a bit muddled, so we preferred the sound with this feature turned off.

Portability


This is where the Sony SRS-XB32 lost some favor in our books. While it is IP67 fully waterproof, it weighs a whopping 32 ounces (that's a full 2 pounds). That weight is well above average, and is definitely noticeable in a bag or pack. Unless we weren't straying far from our car, we were pretty reluctant to tote the Sony SRS-XB32 along with us.


It should be noted that a lot of that additional heft likely comes from this speaker's "party" features — namely some LEDs that flash along with the music, and the ability to smack the speaker in certain spots to elicit electronic drum noises (a feature we found so laggy that it will likely offend anyone with a decent sense of rhythm). To each their own, but we found these features to be a bit gimmicky. They certainly didn't add anything to our musical experience, so we would have much preferred to do without them if it meant the speaker could be a bit slimmer.

The SRS-XB32 is fairly large and heavy  but still fits in most water bottle holders.
The SRS-XB32 is fairly large and heavy, but still fits in most water bottle holders.

Volume


The Sony SRS-XB32 is quite loud. It has plenty of power to fill a large apartment with sound or keep a campfire dance party raging. However, given its size we expected it to be a bit louder. We've run into much smaller speakers that can produce as much volume, and similarly sized speakers that can produce more sound, so this wouldn't be our first choice for those that place a premium on maximum volume.

The controls are fairly straightforward.
The controls are fairly straightforward.

Battery Life


In our testing the Sony SRS-XB32 lasted a full 24 hours, plenty for a weekend at the cabin or campsite.


Value


The Sony SRS-XB32's price is a bit above average. Its balance of attributes doesn't fit any specific use case scenarios as many other speakers we've found that cost the same or less. Therefore, we feel that most people will be able to find better ways to spend their speaker money.

The SRS-XB32 is IP67 waterproof.
The SRS-XB32 is IP67 waterproof.

Conclusion


Unfortunately, the Sony SRS-XB32 doesn't have any points strong enough to counterbalance its hefty size and weight, so we rarely found ourselves reaching for it anytime we had need for a portable speaker.


Max Mutter and Michelle Powell