STEREO GUIDE verdict
+ tonally well-balanced
+ given its size good bass
+ elegant, valuable design
- dynamically a bit slow
- lacks resolution
-very few connectivity options
Sound: tonal balance / transparency7.2
Sound: Bass / Dynamics6.2
Ease-of-use / Connectivity7.2
Price / Performance9
A brief look at both specs and shape of the Sony SRS-XB23 might reveal some similarities to the bestseller JBL Flip 6 (which we already reviewed here). However, the Sony looks simply more elegant due to its classic tube shape, but it is noticeably taller than the JBL.
Four trending metallic colours mainly in pastel shades are available, plus black. Thus, many people might consider placing the Sony in a design environment. We did not check whether the painted grille still looks as elegant after some rough outdoor use. However, offering protection class IP67, the Sony definitely defies some elements as it is dust-protected and waterproof.
Maximum battery life is promised to hit either 10 or 12 hours, depending on whether you activate or deactivate Extra Bass mode. You find a hook to attach a strap making it a pretty good option to attach to any backpack.
Full stereo with full range drivers
Instead of monaural playback with a woofer/tweeter combination, Sony has implemented two ovals-shaped fullrange drivers into the baffle. Given the rather small distance between each other and the fact that a lot of users might to tempted to operate the XB23 in upright position, we do not see any significant advantages in terms of stereo imaging.
As known from other tube-shaped bluetooth speakers, two passive compound drivers are positioned at both ends. Similar in effect to a vented enclosure, we expect to show a decent low-end performance from a pretty compact enclosure therefore.
Some unusual features
The Sony remains minimalistic in terms of source selection: there is Bluetooth. However, accepting calls is an option, as is the use of a voice assistant. The back reveals the usual function keys, as well as some useful LEDs, such as for activated stereo pairing and party mode.
Deactivating the factory-enabled extra bass mode is only possible using a trick, well-hidden in the manual. You simply have to hold the voice assistant button longer until ´Stamina´ mode is selected adding some hours to the battery life.
Well-balanced with crisp bass
In the listening test, the Bass Boost always remained active and battery-saving mode therefore deactivated. Tonal balance in this case appeared to be convincing with a full and rich tone given the enclosure´s volume, although one should not expect any excessive punch. The Sony SRS-XB23 delivered tonally well-balanced to subtle timbre, adding just a little dose of silverish treble at times. Max SPL reserves turned out to be astonishing given its size, even if you could hear the bass running out of steam at higher levels, resulting in what we might call thin overall sound.
However, one should not expect an audiophile-style fine treble resolution nor a stereo-like ambience. Despite its lack of a tweeter, however, the Sony manages to produce quite surprisingly natural reproduction adding fun to a wide range of musical genres.
Conclusion and alternatives to the Sony SRS-XB23
Sony or JBL? That is the question. Sony´s SRS-XB23 is significantly cheaper than the current Flip 6 and on par in terms of sound compared to predecessor Flip 5. Only regarding subtlety of treble and the grippy dynamics at higher levels make the JBL Flip 6 a clear winner of the 3.
Specifications Sony SRS-XB23
- Retail price: 130 dollars/pounds/euro
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 7.6 x 21.8 x 7.6 cm
- Weight: 580 g
- Battery life up to 12 hours
- Features: waterproof and dustproof according to protection class IP67, stereo pairing, party mode
- More at: www.sony..com