Sony SRS-XB22 Review – Does This Sound Good?

If you are out of gift ideas for a friend or colleague why don’t you gift them the Sony SRS-XB22? It is compact, beautifully designed and can be used by almost everyone. Sony is a household name when it comes to small speakers and they have replicated their genius with the SRS-XB22. It is ergonomically created and can fit well in your hand. This small speaker is the perfect party starter. With the ability to sit vertically and horizontally, you are sure to always have a place for this speaker.

Features of the SRS-XB22:

Sleek design

Out of the box comes a somewhat cylindrical speaker with a charging cable but no charging brick. The 1.2 lbs oblong SRS-XB22 has a dimension of 2.9 x 8 x 2.8in (HWD). It comes in three colors of black, teal and gray. The surface is covered with fabric while the body is covered with a matte silicone/rubber material. There are rubberized hoofs for sitting on tabletops and other flat surfaces. There is a thin LED strip which runs through the front grille of the speaker and is in sync with the music.

The control panel is laid out across the top and is pretty straight forward. There is a playback button which also doubles as track forward/backwards and calls answer/end depending on the number of times you tap it. The plus/minus ( +/-)  is for volume and power and pairing and a Live button that operates as the control for the Extra Bass mode.

At the back is a mesh for air movement and a connections panel covered by a snap-shut lid. It houses connections for a 3.5mm aux input and a Micro USB Charging cord. There are buttons marked Add, WPC and Batt. The Add button is for adding another speaker and designating it to left/right channels when making a stereo pair. The WPC (Wireless Party Chain) is for connecting multiple speakers to a sound source. The Batt is for showing battery life and control of the LED light, that is on and off.

There is a Near Field Communication NFC button on the far end away from the control panel. When you tap your phone on this button it enables instant pairing with the device. Many people often ignore this button probably because they would much rather use the Bluetooth interface.

The Bluetooth speaker fits perfectly into the bottle holder of your backpack and you can keep jamming in public from the speaker. The only downside is that it doesn’t contain any beverages like a water bottle would.

Insulated exterior 

Thanks to its IP67 rating, it is completely waterproof and dustproof. It can be immersed in water up to a meter deep and it will continue blaring. It can survive the dry sands and thin specks of dust of the desert and the wet sands of the beach. The Bluetooth speaker is also shockproof which means a fall will cause no damage to it. You can simply pick up your device and continue your listening. In the event that your speaker falls into a pool or off the boat, you can easily retrieve it as it floats.

Audio performance 

The SRS-XB22 Bluetooth speaker can fill up a small room and do well in a medium-sized room. With the live button on it will be enough for casual listening in a small open space. Now let’s talk about the Live button. While some people think the live button is a great idea others don’t. The live button expands the sound produced by the speaker.

There is a free music app for Android and IOS that is easy to use. You can access the Adjustable Audio Equalizer, a feature which allows you to zero in on your preferred high frequency and bass depth. The live button has three modes in the app, Off, Live and Extra bass which widens the stereo field. You can also tweak the LED lights and dial in your chosen bass settings.

About the bass, it feels like Sony went back, got its act together and came up with the SRS-XB22. Unlike last year’s release which had a boxy and distorted bass, the Bass is clearer and cleaner with little distortion. Distortions can not be eliminated because of its price and size.

The midrange is where you hear most of your musical instruments and vocals. The SRS-XB22 is good with having singers sound present and instruments are clear. The entire midrange is forward and bright. The high notes for snares, cymbal crashes and most high frequencies could use a little more detail. They are however not underwhelming and will just be enough.

The speakerphone is decent. There will be a bit of reverb on the other end. Standing at 3 feet away from the speaker the person on the other side will hear you with a bit of an echo. At more than 5 feet away you become less audible and of course, have to speak louder.

Battery life 

The SRS-XB22 Bluetooth speaker has a battery life of 12 hours on a full charge with the LED and Extra Bass off. It everything on it can last about 7 hours which is fair for a speaker of this price range. It offers a Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connection which is known to not sap battery life. In an apartment of about 102 square meters, you can get 90% Bluetooth connection. Played at mid volumes, this speaker can last longer than 12 hours with battery life to spare.

SRS-XB22 Overview:

Pros of SRS-XB22:

  • It is cheap. We’re not talking less than 200 USD cheap, but with less than 100 dollar you can get this for yourself. Sometimes it drops to under 80 dollars and that’s pretty much a steal.
  • The live button gives you an option to choose from. You can listen to music in low volume without disturbing the next person. You can also turn on the live button and entertain your guests in your room.
  • You can go back and forth on a track. Many speakers allow you to go from one track to another but not within a track. You just have to figure out how much taps on the triangle does what.
  • When you check the battery life it gives you a verbal response.
  • It is compatible with older models in the series. As an existing owner of a Sony XB portable speaker, you can pair your old device with this piece and it will work just fine. This means you can increase the sound in a room by pairing your speaker with other Sony XB owners.
  • It is durable. It is water-resistant, dust-proof and shockproof. You can use it in the shower and by the poolside. The production material is durable, doesn’t leave any scruffs when dropped and looks like it can’t hold off water. But when attacked it resists water so well you’d think it was hydrophobic. If it drops into a pool you can easily retrieve it as it FLOATS. Dust and a drop have got nothing on this speaker. It can survive a ride in the desert and a fall from a camel’s back. You can throw it in an ocean and all you need to do is attach a physical tether to it and you can get it back. Except if run over by a truck you can expect this speaker to keep working.
  • It allows for audio separation. You can mix and match two speakers and set each to left and right for stereo.
  • The app is intuitive and easy to use. It also allows you to tune the EQ and determine what depth of bass you want on your track all within the limits of the drivers.

Cons Of SRS-XB22:

  • The LED display light show is dull and underwhelming. It is white and offers nothing much else. Even switching between the different lighting modes in the app didn’t make much of a difference. It is boring and soon you’d get tired of it.
  • There isn’t any much difference between Live and Extra Bass modes. You don’t hear the audio change and it is pretty much the same.
  • It can only be held in one way, a firm grip. There is no bungee rope to hang in up in or something you can put your finger in.
  • It is not easy to toggle between the various paired devices.

Conclusion

If you need an affordable Bluetooth speaker for your personal entertainment, the SRS-XB22 is a great choice. It is Exquisitely designed and you can throw it from one hand to the other. It has a decent sound for the price and the Live mode opens up a larger stereo area. If you enjoy hiking or picnicking, this speaker will sure add some colors, pun intended to your experience.

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