Get Them Here
I’ve always really liked the Sony XB30, its a good sounding mid sized speaker for someone who really likes bass heavy music, it has a built in light feature and its very reasonably priced. And now theres the Sony XB31, its not entirely new… but its much more refined. So here are the improvements on the Sony XB31, heres what I like, what I don’t like, and do you really have to run out and upgrade if you already have the XB30.
The Sony XB31 sits right in the middle of Sony’s new portable speaker line up and it retails for $149.99. And the XB31 comes in 4 color ways Black, blue, red or white. The out going XB30 is now going for $90 bucks. If you want to pick either of these speakers up I’ll have a link in the description below and if you use the link it really helps out the channel. Personally I think $90 bucks for the XB30 is a very good deal and I highly suggest you check out XB31 cause Sony speakers routinely go on sale so you might get lucky.
At a glance the Sony XB31 is just a re-skined Sony XB30, they both have identical speaker sets ups. They’re both rocking 1.89 inch diameter transducers, and dual passive radiators that fire out the front and out the back. And you’ll get a better visualization of the speakers at work when we get over to the water portion of the video. Both of these speakers also have identical light feature set ups, a light strip on the front and strobe lights on the sides.
The biggest difference from the XB30 to the XB31 is design, the XB31 has a much more sophisticated yet futuristic look to it with a fabric mesh covering the whole body and a light strip that wraps the front and the sides of the speaker. Where as the XB30 has a much more industrial look to it with its exposed speakers, painted metal grill, and soft touch material covering its body. Personally I prefer the new design language of the Sony XB31… its much sleeker, the new control buttons are small but they very easy to tell apart, they have great tactile feed back and they do their job just fine… I like how the light feature extends to the sides, and in general the light feature on the Sony XB31 looks much better than the one on the XB30. The light feature on the XB31 is much more vibrant and easier to see in brighter environments, and I really like the new vertical pattern built into the light strip. Where as on the XB30 its really only worth using the light feature if you’re in a dimly lit room or at night. And regarding size, the XB31 is just slightly longer and slightly thinner than the XB30. And for those wondering, both the XB31 and XB30 can either be laid flat or on their sides. And surprisingly the XB31 does a better job of staying up right than the XB30. If the XB30 gets hit by the slightest tap it’ll topple over but the XB31 is much more resilient.
Another improvement the XB31 has over the XB30 is just its overall durability. The XB30 is IPX5 rated so a splash of water here and there wont harm it, but personally I wouldn’t submerge it just to be safe. And since the speakers are so exposed I would really try to be extra careful not to get sand in it if I were to take the XB30 to the beach. The XB31 on the other hand is IP67 rated and that means 2 things. Its dust proof thanks to the fabric mesh on the front so dirt or sand isn’t going to be a problem and its water proof so submerging it isn’t going to be a problem either. And I also found that it floats which makes retrieving it much easier if it falls into a pool or a lake.
Another improvement the XB31 has over the XB30 is the way you charge it. The XB30 uses a 5 volt DC in port, so if you’re going to be taking the XB30 with you somewhere you have to bring the charging cable along and you better not lose it. But the XB31 now charges through a micro USB port and this is great, you can use any micro USB cable you have lying around. The XB31 does come with its own short micro USB cable but unfortunately it doesn’t bring a wall adaptor so you’re going to have to use your own. Both of these speakers also have a USB out so you can charge your own devices and they both also have an AUX jack if you want to use a wired connection.
Both of these speakers advertise a battery life of 24 hours and they both perform pretty much the same. But advertised battery life is different from actual battery life. I can hit 24 hours of playback time with these speakers but with the light feature turned off and with the volume set at 50%. But thats no fun, with the light featured on and with the volume set at 80% I averaged 8 hours of playback time. Which is still pretty good.
And when I say 8 hours of playback time, I mean 8 hours until either of these speakers get to 20% battery cause unfortunately, the XB31 still does that thing that when its battery gets to 20% it’ll stop the music say please charge and then it will continue playing music but no louder than 50% volume. Personally I hate this feature but I guess its there to help you prolong the life of your battery. And like I mentioned earlier… both of these speakers have identical speaker set ups and they sound exactly the same. The only difference I managed to notice between these two speakers is that the XB31 manages to get a little louder than the XB30.
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this video, these speakers are great for people who listen to bass heavy music. Rap, Hip Hop, EDM and so on. But if you’re listening to rock, or to something with a lot of emphasis on vocalists then you might think these speakers sound a little muddy. In their default setting these speakers are going put an emphasis on the bass and they are going to push the mids back a little bit. The bass on these speakers isn’t going to punch you in the chest like the google home max does but the lows do get pretty deep and these speakers do a very good job of preventing major sound distortion at higher volumes with clear audio plus enabled.
But if you go into Sony’s music center app and go through the settings you will find a preset mode called Live sound. And I like to call this the JBL button. When Live Sound is turned on the bass on the XB31 is tamed down a little bit, mids and vocals are brought front and center and the treble gets dialed up a bit as well. This mode is good for rock and vocals but I do find you’re a little more prone to sound distortion at higher volumes. But its nice to have options. But unfortunately, the XB30 doesn’t have this setting. But you can go and adjust the equalizer on either of these speakers directly from the app as well.
Even though I love bass in my music there are times where the bass on these speakers can get a little over whelming. And for those situations I would just turn off the extra bass feature on the XB30 with a single tap. The XB31 doesn’t have a dedicated Extra Bass button any more, but you can turn off the Extra bass feature by pressing and holding the Play and minus button simultaneously for a few seconds until the power indicator light turns green. I usually turn off the extra bass feature when I’m going to watch Just kidding news or listen to H3H3 podcast.
Sony’s app also allows you to choose from a few different lighting modes, and both of these speakers share the same light settings as well. Theres rave mode where the light strip and strobe lights will flash to the beat of your music, theres chill which is my favorite where the light strip will gradually change colors, theres a rave mode without the annoying strobe lights off to the sides and theres strobe which looks much better on the XB31 than it does on the XB30. And there are a few other color settings to choose from. But even though the light feature on the XB31 is much better than the one on the XB30, Sony doesn’t allow you to customize it. You cant dim the light feature and you cant choose your own colors. Sony’s fiestable app which used to connect to the XB30 and gave you some customization options now wont connect to either to the speakers. And its a shame cause theres a lot of potential here.
Regarding connectivity, both of these speakers are using bluetooth 4.2 and they both have a range of about 50 feet with direct line of sight before the signal starts to stutter. And at closer range I really didn’t have any connection issues. But in my testing I did notice the XB31 had slightly less latency when watching video compared to the XB30. Theres still a little bit of latency, but its not as bad as the XB30. Since we’re on the topic of connectivity… you can pair up to 100 sony speakers together, anything from the XB20 all the way up to the XB90. And the newer XB31 does pair up with the older XB30. And they’ll play in sync. But unfortunately, the XB31 and XB30 wont play in left and right stereo mode… in order to get that going to do need to have two of the same speakers. If you want to learn how to get party chain going on these speakers check out my tutorial . Both of these speakers also have an NFC touch point so pairing is a little easier if you have an android device and they can be connected up to 3 devices at the same time.
Even though I really do like the new Sony XB31 I think there is still room for improvement. First lets talk about the apps cause if Sony wanted to they could fix it with a software update. Sony’s music center app can be a pain in butt sometimes due to connectivity issues. Sony’s fiestable app is an eye sore and a nightmare to use, but I really do want to have more customization options regarding the light feature on both of these speakers. I also think its ridiculous I cant get stereo sound going with the XB30 and XB31 given that they sound exactly the same. And I think all of these issues can be fixed over a software update. And here are the hardware improvements I would like to see on the Sony XB31… First up I would like to be able to cycle through the 4 main light settings directly from the speaker rather than having to open up the app like I can on the JBL Pulse 3. Right now you can only turn the light feature on or off by pressing and holding the battery button. I would have liked if this speaker used a USB C port instead of a micro USB port but still kept the USB A port as well. I would like to be able to charge this speaker through the USB C port but also be able to use that same port to charge my Pixel 2 XL or get a wired connection going with it as well, And I would like to have that USB A port just in case I need it.
But still, I really like the new Sony XB31… they got the sony XB30, toughened it up and refined the over all look. If you already have the XB30 you don’t really have to upgrade unless you’re constantly taking it on the go with you. The XB31’s added durability and ability to charge via a micro USB cable should make a life a whole lot easier. If you’re looking for a bargain and you’re only interested in sound I would pick up an XB30 before they’re gone. But I think the Sony XB31 is the whole package, whether you like bass or want an emphasis on vocals the XB31 can do both, its super durable, and it has a much better light feature.