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Sony SRS-XB33 Review

This speaker sets the mood with beat-synchronized lights speaker pairing capabilities, but doesn't offer the best audio quality
Sony SRS-XB33
Credit: Sony
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Price:   $148 List | $148.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Loud, app controlled party lights and EQ, waterproof
Cons:  Poor audio quality at higher volumes, heavy
Manufacturer:   Sony
By Michelle Powell and Matt Bento  ⋅  Jul 15, 2021
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 12
  • Sound Quality - 40% 8
  • Portability - 25% 5
  • Volume - 20% 8
  • Battery Life - 15% 8

Our Verdict

The Sony SRS-XB33 brings the party with impressive volume and fun lighting features. Folks looking to add some ambiance to their BBQs and backyard soirees will enjoy the app-controlled color-changing lights and the option to pair with compatible speakers for a stereo sound experience with a light show. Those looking for top-notch portable audio will be better served by the Bose Soundlink Revolve+ II, but the SRS-XB33 has a high fun factor and comes at a nicer price.

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Sony SRS-XB33
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Sony SRS-XB33
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Price $148 List
$148.00 at Amazon
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$169 List$70 List
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$49.99 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Loud, app controlled party lights and EQ, waterproofGood sound quality, waterproof, long battery lifeGreat audio quality, wireless charging, compact size, integrates with Sonos home systemsSuper-portable, waterproof, great battery lifePortable, great battery life, inexpensive
Cons Poor audio quality at higher volumes, heavyNot the strongest sounding bassPoor battery lifeSound quality diminishes significantly at higher volumesSub-par sound quality
Bottom Line This speaker sets the mood with beat-synchronized lights speaker pairing capabilities, but doesn't offer the best audio qualityAn affordable balance for those that want good sound quality and portability but don't want to pay a premium price for the absolute bestThis speaker delivers lush sounds in a compact size, is exceptionally portable, charges on a wireless pad, and integrates with other Sonos speakers seamlesslyThis mega-portable, waterproof, and durable speaker is perfectly at home on hikes, bike rides, out on the lake, or in the showerA much less expensive, but still enjoyable, portable speaker option for those sticking to a tight budget
Rating Categories Sony SRS-XB33 JBL Flip 5 Sonos Roam JBL Clip 4 Anker Soundcore 3
Sound Quality (40%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
6.0
Portability (25%)
5.0
7.0
7.0
10.0
7.0
Volume (20%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Battery Life (15%)
8.0
9.0
5.0
9.0
7.0
Specs Sony SRS-XB33 JBL Flip 5 Sonos Roam JBL Clip 4 Anker Soundcore 3
Dimensions (in x in x in) 10.39" x 4.96" x 5.35" 3.64" x 3.6" x 8.5" 6.61" x 2.44" x 2.36" 1.8" x 3.4" x 5.3" 6.9" x 2.4" x 2.2"
Inputs and Charging Ports USB-C port, USB output Micro USB port USB-C port, wireless Qi charging USB-C port USB-C port
IP Rating IP67 IPX7 IP67 IP67 IPX7
Reported Weight (ounces) 38.88 oz 19.04 oz 15.20 oz 8.48 oz 13.12 oz
Measured Weight 38.1 oz 19 oz 15.2 oz 8.13 oz 17.8 oz
Wireless Range (feet) 98 Not Listed Not Listed Not Listed 66
Reported Battery Life (hours) 24 12 10 10 24
Measured Battery Life (hours) 19.25 27 10.25 27 16.75

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Sony SRS-XB33 goes heavy on features and flash, including synchronization with other compatible speakers, controls for Siri and Google assistant, and LED lights that are programmable via an app. With fast Bluetooth 5.0 for minimal latency as well as NFC (near field communication) support, this speaker pairs easily with two devices at once. While fun and somewhat useful, these features don't make up for the weak bass sounds and diminishing audio quality at higher volumes.

Performance Comparison


This speaker has plenty of volume output but suffers a loss of...
This speaker has plenty of volume output but suffers a loss of clarity when we really crank it.
Credit: Laura Casner

Sound Quality


This speaker sounds excellent when listening under about 75% of its max volume. The mids have a full sound that carries well, and the highs are well-defined. However, we are disappointed with the low end, which is lacking, even when engaging the extra bass setting. For a speaker that projects some heavy festival vibes with its synchronized lights, we'd expect better support for bass-heavy dance music. The SRS-XB33 has dual passive radiators, plus an asymmetrical speaker shape that Sony claims create punchier bass sounds. Despite these features, our ears register this speaker a few notches behind the smaller Bose Soundlink Revolve+ II in sound quality, especially concerning the low end.

This speaker lost about a half of a decibel between our measurement...
This speaker lost about a half of a decibel between our measurement at 5 and 30 feet, making it plenty loud for small backyard parties, or intense matches at the tennis court.
Credit: Laura Casner

Portability


Tipping our scales at 38.8oz and measuring 10.39" x 4.96" x 5.35", the SRS-XB33 is one of the larger, heavier speakers in our review. It's quite portable compared to the boomboxes of yore, but somewhat bulky beside the sleek offerings from Bose and JBL. We'd expect a bigger sound from this bigger speaker as well. The SRS-XB33 has an IP67 rating, making it completely dustproof and can be submerged up to a meter, making it a safe choice for days out on the lake or at the beach. Drop it in the water, and you'll still have a totally functional speaker; don't push it, though.

This speaker is larger (but not louder) than its closest...
This speaker is larger (but not louder) than its closest competition.
Credit: Jason Peters

Volume


The SRS-XB33 cranks out plenty of volume for small parties, picnics, and campfires, confirmed by our max volume measurement of 87.5db. That aside, we've used smaller speakers from Ultimate Ears and Bose that produce more volume, and the sound quality of this speaker degrades significantly when we turn it all the way up, producing a flubby-sounding bass that overwhelms some of the other frequencies.

Battery Life


This speaker has a manufacturer-stated battery life of 24 hours, though it fell short in our testing, playing for 19.25 hours at 75% of max volume. This is still plenty of life for a weekend camping or to dance a night away. The SRS-XB33 charges with an included USB-C cord, and it also has a USB power output so you can charge your music-playing device directly from the speaker.

This speaker charges via a USC-C cord, and you can charge your...
This speaker charges via a USC-C cord, and you can charge your device directly from the speaker with the USB out. The power input, output, and special audio settings controls are protected by a silicone flap.
Credit: Jason Peters

Value


This party-centric speaker costs half as much as its top competitors, and though it's not the best sounding speaker we encountered, it brings plenty of volume and has several useful features. If you need your speaker to pack a punch and synchronized lights are appealing to you, the SRS-XB33 represents a decent value.

Credit: Jason Peters

Conclusion


We reckon this speaker is going to appeal more to the party animal than the dedicated audiophile. If you're scouring over charts and graphs while you search for the perfect speaker, you'll be more satisfied with a better-sounding offering from Bose. For those looking to host a mini burning man in their backyard, one (or three) SRS-XB33's should do the trick nicely.

The light bars sync up with whatever music you play and display...
The light bars sync up with whatever music you play and display multiple colors.
Credit: Jason Peters

Michelle Powell and Matt Bento