STEREO GUIDE verdict
The Sharp XParty Street Beat offers a lively light spectacle and proves to be a tool for hobby DJs that is suitable for parties if you are sensitive to its sound characteristics. Otherwise the overloaded basses will start to boom. While not flawless, it remains a viable alternative for those looking for a party speaker on a budget.
- Very good equipment and operation
- Excellent app with level control for the microphone inputs
- Light effects including stroboscope
- decent sound for the price
- Easy to transport thanks to low weight and castors
- Bass boost and equalizer can make the bass boom
- Hum and noise sometimes affect Bluetooth playback
Sound:tonal balance / transparency7.3
Sound: Bass / Dynamics9
Ease-of-use / Connectivity9
With its devices, Sharp has become an integral part of many offices. With products such as the new PS-949 aka XParty Street Beat, the Japanese electronics giant is also taking care of its customers’ after-work activities. The Bluetooth speaker with microphone inputs and light show is aimed directly at party speakers from JBL or Sony. It even comes with app control and castors – ingredients that we know from the larger JBL Partybox 310 or the Sony SRS-XV800.
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The mix is right
The first thought: Okay, now Sharp has built a really fat party box. With all the trimmings. Then the surprise: it weighs nothing! Anyone who has moved the speaker before will probably not be quite so surprised when they look at the price list. The Bluetooth box weighs just 9.2 kilograms and costs a relatively moderate 280 euros. That’s less than the cost of a comparatively tiny and purist Marshall Middleton. Nevertheless, it has to be said that the price is even more of a surprise than the weight. As the look and feel of the wireless speaker is not cheap and there is nothing to complain about in terms of features, the Sharp XParty Street Beat has two arguments in its favor, even though – or perhaps because – it doesn’t have a lot to offer.
We recently photographed the new party speakers from Sharp and Teufel at various locations. This also provided a practical comparison in terms of manageability and mobility. The Teufel Rockster Air 2 is a powerful sounding and robust device. But when you have carried it through parking garages, streets or train stations for photos, the enthusiasm for the Sharp PS-949 increases in proportion to the distance covered – especially as, unlike the Rockster, it can be moved on its own wheels. The speaker, which is almost 70 centimeters high, is also easy to carry both up and down stairs.
Big drivers for little money
The XParty Street Beat uses its large cabinet for two impressive 8-inch basses (20.3 cm) and a small tweeter horn. With a total of 132 watts of impulse power, it is well equipped even within the level-fixed party scene. Only the battery capacity, which only lasts for a maximum of 12 hours if you don’t turn it up too far, correlates with the low weight of the PS-949. At least Sharp has integrated a power supply unit, whose power cable connection is carefully protected from moisture and dirt by a rubber flap.
The easily accessible connections(2 x USB and 2 x 6.35 mm jacks), which are located further up on the rear panel, are also concealed behind a rubber flap. With details like these, Sharp ensures that the XParty Street Beat meets the IPX4 standard for splash water protection. Although Sharp has done away with the usual controls next to the microphone inputs, it has found a much more elegant solution in the app. And a microphone is even included.
Functional design for hobby DJs
The layout on the top is truly exemplary. Sharp has grouped the most important buttons in operation in a semi-circle around the centrally positioned, large volume knob. On the left are the buttons for playback control, selecting the two channels for microphones or musical instruments and for pairing two speakers to form a TWS stereo pair. On the right, six DJ sound effects from horns and sirens to laser guns can be called up at the touch of a button. A wide slot behind the keypad acts as a holder for smartphones or tablets. Also practical: the party box from Sharp has a mute button – very handy if you’re partying until the police arrive.
Despite its low price, the Sharp XParty Street Beat has a small display that provides useful feedback. This is useful, for example, when you use the additional buttons to call up the equalizer presets (“Pop”, “Dance”, “Rock”, “Live”, “Club” and “Flat”) or switch between the six light modes “Blink”, “Club”, “Glow”, Prism”, “Infiniry” and “Rollerz” of the switchable lighting. There is a separate button for the strobe effect and reverb can also be switched on for microphones and instruments. The PS-949 can play back audio files in MP3, WAV and even FLAC format from a USB storage medium.
App-solutely brilliant solution
But it gets even better. With the Sharp Life app (the QR code for the download is on the right-hand side of the housing), the smartphone or tablet is transformed into a remote control – and looks like one too. In the free app available for iOS and Android, the designers use the same layout as for the buttons, including the rotary knob for the volume control on the top. This can also be used to level the two channels for microphones and instruments. How cool is that? So far, Sharp is challenging the established party giants with smart solutions and a very competitive price.
There was only one crucial question: What would the listening test do? I should perhaps explain that Sharp has always been good for surprises when it comes to sound. Unfortunately, we had to admit that the GX-BT480 has a certain self-destructive instinct when the bass boost is activated. It simply couldn’t control itself in the bass reproduction and then quickly began to boom violently. In contrast, the small Sharp PS-929 party speaker made it into the FAZ Kaufkompass, for which I have been reviewing Bluetooth speakers for years, as a recommended purchase despite its toy look.
Just short of a buy tip
STEREO GUIDE should have given the PS-949 a purchase tip in a certain way. The inexpensive party speaker initially performed really well with a whole range of tracks. Despite a somewhat thin mid-range reproduction with a slightly artificial aftertaste, the tonal tuning was in a range that could still be described as balanced. The bass was precise and tight. He skillfully avoided obscuring the midrange with exaggerations.
Not a trace of humming. On the contrary. Even as someone with a hi-fi focus, I just wish there was more steam at the bottom. Apart from the fact that I also enjoy listening to live music or DJs in clubs: even a much smaller boombox like the Tronsmart Bang Max – the name says it all – produces a much better bass. Dynamically, the Sharp XParty Street Beat also failed to meet the expectations that its sheer size and martial appearance with its strobe light show had raised.
The brightly colored Bluetooth speaker is not a volume miracle, but it is certainly louder and more impulsive in the mid-high range than most smaller Bluetooth speakers that are usually available for less than 300 euros. At least in this case, the old truism applies: size doesn’t matter. Instead of a hurricane, there was more of a gentle breeze. Great for the neighbors, less great for partying on the beach.
What should be avoided at all costs: too much bass is no fun
At least the bass could be remedied with the equalizer. With the “Club” sound preset, the PS-949 could certainly live up to its entertainment claim – especially if you keep the price and features in mind. With the other presets, the bass reproduction didn’t knock our socks off. But there was something else: like James Bond in a tricky situation, we pressed the button.
With Bass Boost, the party speaker sounded more or less as you would expect in this speaker category in standard mode. So far, so good. A bit of tam-tam makes things exciting. Most of the titles even had a pretty good punch. But then the PS-949 made quite a slip-up. When we selected our favorite sound preset “Club” with Bass Boost activated, it happened: “Woooom!” Then we asked ourselves: Has nobody at Sharp listened to this? In addition, if you had listened carefully during pauses in the music, you would have noticed that even using the Sharp Life app on the iPhone led to intermodulation noise almost like a portable radio.
This serious faux pas does not devalue the entire loudspeaker. You can avoid this tragedy by not combining the bass boost with the club preset. Or if you don’t play bass-heavy music and only turn the volume up halfway at best. But one wonders how something like this can happen? After all, the very small Bluetooth speakers in particular can only achieve their relatively extreme levels because DSP controllers inside them ensure that the drivers do not reach areas where they distort.
Sharp XParty Street Beat: Summary and alternatives
It is apparently not for nothing that they say: where there is a lot of light, there is also a lot of shadow. With a strobe light and colorful, flickering light rings around the two bass speakers, the Sharp PS-949 offers a magnificent light show and the entire equipment, including the Sharp Life app, also proves to be very party-ready. The sound is also good for partying if you can overcome the speaker’s weaknesses in the bass with a little feeling for the sound settings and the volume control. And the occasional noise that creeps into the Bluetooth connection is not noticeable when partying – at least if the DJ can achieve smooth transitions between tracks. However, if you want everything to be perfect, you should perhaps rely on a price promotion for the regular 120 euro more expensive JBL Partybox 110, or dig a little deeper into your pocket.
Technical specifications: Sharp XParty Street Beat (PS-949)
- Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: 280 Euro
- Dimensions: 32.5 x 69.7 x 32.5 cm
- Weight: 9.2 kg
- Playback time with battery: up to 12 hours
- Special features: 6 equalizer modes, light organ, stroboscope, app control, 2 microphone inputs, integrated power supply unit, microphone included
- More at: www.sharp.com