STEREO GUIDE review
+ Rich, deep and clean basses
+ clear, quite natural voice reproduction
+ Huge level reserves
+ power supply, microphone jack and USB powerbank, two apps available
+ USB playback possible
+ light organ
- Mega Bass function inflates basses unnaturally and costs precision
Sound: Tonal Balance / Transparency8
Sound: Bass / Dynamics8.8
Ease-of-use / Connectivity9.6
With the Sony SRS-XG500, the PlayStation makers from Japan throw a real sound sumo into the ring. With almost 6 kilos of combat weight, it gives less the smart companion for on the go. Rather, he competes as a party performer with all sorts of gadgets. Its most visible feature is undoubtedly the light organ, which gives the passive radiators on both sides for the bass colorful illuminated rings. This function can be controlled via the Sony Music Center app. Playlists can also be created and karaoke functions can be used via the Sony Fiestable app.
The battery of the almost half-meter wide sound machine is rated for up to 30 hours of operation, but this is rather theoretical for high volumes and light effects. However, a small beach party can easily be managed with the XXL Bluetooth speaker. And if it should be a pool party: The Sony SRS-XG500 offers IP66 water and dust protection.
Because the round Sony, equipped with a practical carrying handle, arouses high level expectations with its stately appearance, the developers use the available space in the baffle to the fullest with X-Balanced Speaker Unit. Behind the PR term are two low-mid speakers with rectangular diaphragms. The Japanese placed the two tweeters on the very outside to conjure up the widest possible stereo stage from the one-box system.
Connectivity also for microphone: Karaoke can come!
The Sony SRS-XG500 is also generous with the connections. In addition to an AUX input with a 3.5 mm jack for analog sources, the heavyweight also has two USB-A ports. One can be used to play music from USB sticks while the other is used to charge your smart device like a power bank. This is convenient when the battery quickly drains when playing via Bluetooth.
Speaking of Bluetooth: The Sony does not support AptX. But it accepts AAC besides SBC and LDAC after all. This should please Apple users because they can then stream their songs from the iPhone or iPad to the SRS-XG500 without sound-reducing conversion.
Besides the Sony Fiestable app for playlists, there is the Sony Music Center app. It can be used not only to control the lighting effects of the wireless speaker via Bluetooth or to switch on sound effects. Besides the normal standby mode, you can also activate a Bluetooth standby mode, which then only stops transmitting. Thus, the speaker does not save as much power as in standby, but at least it reduces the consumption to 1.5 watts.
A power when it comes to celebrating
You can also connect up to 100 Sony speakers that support Party Connect mode via Bluetooth to create a small PA. Want some karaoke? The SRS-XG500 even allows for a real live performance. For this, it provides a 6.35 mm jack input for microphones or guitars. The top configuration even includes a power adapter that allows charging the barrel wrapped in wool-like fabric in ten minutes for at least three hours of playtime.
The operation also proved to be practical. The buttons are easily recognizable and pressing the Start/Stop button twice, for example, skips to the next track on the smartphone connected via Bluetooth. However, the Sony Music Center app did not run overly stable on our iPhone 11 Pro.
Rich sound without end
The Sony sounded extremely sonorous in the listening test. The most important thing, of course, was its clear, clean and balanced voice reproduction. At least that’s true for seasoned test editors with many years of hi-fi background. And yes, we also love rich bass. For party people, they are even essential for this type of device. Again, Sony’s SRS-XG500 delivered exactly as its martial appearance suggested. He got exceptionally low in the bass cellar and could play remarkably loud without showing signs of strain. Its good punch is likely to heat up parties. You don’t really need to activate the bass boost. Because with that, not only the precision in the bass itself suffered. The low-frequency emphasis also pushed the lead vocals into the background, overlapping the midrange and costing transparency. But if quantity is more important than quality when it comes to bass, the Sony can make quite an impression with Bass Boost (“Mega Bass”).
At least the bass remains quite clean even during such escapades, which we savored with the disco classic “Spacer” by Sheila, for example, and does not distort like some competitors, which also include the Sharp GX-BT480 .
Also noteworthy: For a one-box system, the Sony SRS-XG500 produces a stately large sound stage or rather sound cloud. It fills even a large living room with rich sound.
The various sound modes are, as usual, a matter of taste. For example, “Live Sound” may be quite nice with some tracks in some moments, but we older gentlemen still liked the unadulterated “Clear Audio” setting best. (Which is not only due to associations with the German record player manufacturer of the same name from Erlangen).
Conclusion and alternatives to the Sony SRS-XG500
The Sony SRS-XG500 is one of the best Bluetooth speakers we know. This is especially true for the sound. But the equipment and operation are also absolutely top. Even if it is not quite in the same weight class, the JBL Xtreme 3 would be the best option – as an inexpensive alternative (which does not happen every day to a brand manufacturer like JBL). If you need more level and bass power for parties and are willing to spend more, you can reach for the JBL PartyBox 310. If you are looking for something similar to the Sony in terms of sound, but do not value parties with microphones and light shows, you can even get a strong DAB tuner for a comparable price in the Teufel Boomster.
Specifications Sony SRS-XG500
- Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: 350 Euro
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 46 x 25.6 x 21.5 cm
- Weight: 5.6 g
- Battery life up to 30 hours
- Features: IP66, Mega Bass, Analog AUX input, Microphone input, Party mode with light effect sync, Powerbank, 2 USB-A ports, Apps.
- More at: www.sony.de