Sony XB501G Review

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I think Sony has been recently killing it with their headphones. Their 1000XM3’s are currently the best ANC headphones on the market and their WH-CH700N are a really good pair of budget friendly headphones packed with a lot of features. But their speakers on the other hand could use some work. Namely, their Audio clarity could be better and their Software and Wireless Party Chain feature could be more stable. So let's see what the new Sony XB501G is all about.

The new Sony XB501G is a google assistant enabled smart speaker that retails for $300… Which is just $50 more than what the Sony XB41 retails for. But depending on your needs, one of these speakers is definitely going to be better suited for you. So if you want to pick either of these speakers up I’ll have links in the description below, and if you use the links its really helps out the channel. I highly suggest you check them out cause Sony speakers routinely go on sale so you’ll might get lucky. 

The XB501G shares the same design and build quality of the larger Sony XB60. It has a built in carrying handle, a light feature, a hard plastic body and metal frame on the front. And its pretty durable cause its rocking an IP65 rating which means a splash of water shouldn’t be a problem, but you shouldn’t submerge this speaker. But unlike the XB41’s fabric body that can really take a beating, the XB501G’s plastic body can get scratched pretty easily if you plan on traveling with it on a regular basis. Now, even though the XB501G is considerably larger than the XB41… due to its built in carrying handle, rounded design, and since it only weighs 7 pounds, taking it on the go with you isn’t that bad. 

Now, what makes the Sony XB501G very different from Sony’s other Extra Bass Speakers is its google assistant integration. You can use it to control your smart devices, play music or just ask it questions.

And the mics on this speaker have no problem hearing you when you say Hey Google all the way up to 80% volume. But keep in mind, in order for google assistant to work the XB501G has to be connected to wifi. So thats why I’m very happy Sony made it very easy to manually toggle Bluetooth on or off on this speaker… and if you want you can strictly just use this smart speaker like a standard bluetooth speaker. I’m also very happy Sony decided to include a full set of media controls buttons up top so you can manually control your music playback. Unlike other manufactures that omit certain physical control buttons on their smart speakers forcing you to use voice commands even when you don’t want to. Namely the Google Home Max, and UE Megablast.

But Something that I really don’t like about this speaker is its port set up. The XB501G charges via a 12V DC in port but you can also charge it using its USB-C port. And I think its awesome Sony is finally embracing USB C. But I think its less awesome that this speaker doesn’t have an Audio jack and theres no USB A out port to charge your own devices. Personally I don’t mind when smaller speakers don’t have an audio jack, but I think larger speakers like these should still have it. Now you can use the USB C port to charge your own devices… but unfortunately this USB C port doesn’t support data transfer so you can only play music off of this speaker using a wireless connection. And oddly enough Sony’s new speaker doesn’t support LDAC or Apt-X audio codecs. Cause for comparison, the XB41 does have an audio jack, USB A out port, and can be charged using a Micro USB port. 

Now when it comes to battery life… I’ve seen better. Sony Advertises a battery life of 16 hours on the XB501G but that’s with the volume set at 50%, Extra Bass mode turned off, and with the light feature turned off. So technically they’re not lying. But in my testing with the volume set at 80%, extra bass mode turned on, and with the light feature turned on this speaker only managed to average 6 hours of playback time. 

But given its speaker set up and the size of that sub woofer it's understandable. The XB501G has a single 4.92 inch frontward firing sub woofer and dual 1 and three quarter inch satellite speakers. Where as the smaller XB41 has dual 2.28 inch frontward firing transducers and dual passive radiators firing out the front and back of the speaker. Now, we’re about to jump into a soundest… both to the Sony speakers are in Extra bass mode, and to make things a little interesting I'm going to be including the JBL Boombox here. 

Without a doubt, one of the best things the XB501G has going for it is its clarity. The new XB501G sounds much clearer with its extra bass mode turned on than all of Sony’s other recently released speakers. Vocalists aren’t as pushed back and they don’t sound as muffled. But thanks to that 5 inch subwoofer this speaker still has an impressive amount of bass for its small size. The XB501G has as much bass as the JBL Boombox  even though it's half its size. But due to its lack of tweeters the mids and highs aren’t as defined as the Boombox and its soundstage isn’t as wide as the boombox. But if you’re somebody who’s just looking for bass, but doesn’t have the room or the budget for the Boombox, then the XB501G is a good option to consider.

And just like Sony’s other speakers, the XB501G still connects to Sony’s music center app. From here you can select from a few pre made EQ settings or you can make your own. You can  also go in a select from a few different light modes. Theres Rave, Chill, Strobe, and a rave mode without the strobe lights. But unfortunately, the XB501G doesn’t connect to Sony’s fiestable app like the XB41, so you cant directly adjust the colors of the light mode. 

But another thing I don’t like about this new speaker is that you cant pair it up to any of Sony’s other Extra Bass speakers through wireless party chain. Like I’ve said in the past, Sony’s pairing method for their speakers is very finicky but I was under the impression that I would be able to pair the XB501G with other Sony speakers. But you can’t, you can only pair this speaker with other smart speakers using chrome cast, which I think is technically cheating and its not going to work if you don’t have wifi. 

So over all, I feel the Sony XB501G is a bit of a mixed bag… It sounds much better than Sony’s previous speakers and packs an impressive amount of bass in a very small package. But due to that subwoofer its real world battery life doesn’t make it the best portable speaker to take with you on the go. But thanks to its google assistant integration the XB501G is a pretty good at home speaker that you can take outside to the back yard and entertain guests with. And if you’re looking for a speaker to use mostly at home than I think you’re much better off going with the XB501G than the XB41. But if you’re looking for more rugged speaker to take with you to the basketball ball court or skate park then you're still better off going with the XB41 cause of its tougher body, smaller design, and longer lasting real world battery life.