Sony XB41 Review With The XB40 And JBL Xtreme

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The New Sony XB41 is a completely different beast from last years XB40. Last year if you asked me to choose between the XB30 or pay the premium and get the XB40, I  would say just get the XB30. But now, the XB41 is a genuine step up from the XB31. The XB31 is great… but the Xb41 kicks it up a notch. Heres whats new on the near perfect XB41. 

The Sony XB41 is the largest model in Sony’s latests bluetooth speaker line up. It currently retails for 249.99 and it comes in 3 colors, Black Blue or Red. The out going XB40 can currently be found for 150 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. Check them out cause sony speakers routinely go on sale so you might get lucky. 

The differences between the XB41 and XB40 are much more apparent than the differences between the XB30 and XB31. The new XB41 shares the same new sleek design found on the XB31 but bigger. The XB41 has a new fabric mesh covered body thats way more durable than the soft touch rubber body on the XB40. Its really easy to scratch up that XB40. Both of these speakers feature identical light feature sets ups, a color changing light strip, strobe lights on each sides and light up speakers. But the light feature on the XB41 is much better than the one on the XB40. Its much more detailed, much more vibrant and way easier to see in brighter environments. And I personally really like how the light strip now wraps around the sides of the speaker. The new XB41 is also a little longer and a little taller than the older XB40. Both of these speakers have very similar set ups, dual transducers and dual passive radiators that shoot out the front and out the back. But the larger XB41 has slightly smaller 2.28 inch diameter transducers while the XB40 has 2.40 inch diameter transducers. The size difference is negligible, but I thought I would mention it. 

One of the improvements on the XB41 that I like the most, is the way you charge it. Before with the XB40 you had to use the 9.5 volt DC in port to charge it. So if you planned on taking it on the go with you then you had to bring a long the charging cable. But now with the XB41, you have 2 options, you can use the included 5 volt DC charging cable… or you can use a micro USB cable. And this is great cause if you take the XB41 to a friends house and I run out of juice you can just ask to borrow a micro USB cable and a powerful enough wall adaptor. And just like before, the XB41 has its own USB out so you can charge your phone up.

Sony’s new speaker line up is all about durability. Sony’s previous XB20, XB30, and XB40 were all IPX5 rated so a little splash of water here and there wouldn’t be a problem. But you shouldn’t submerge them and due to the exposed speaker design, sand and dirt can get behind the metal grill. The new XB41 is now shock proof and IP67 rated so this means its dust and dirt proof thanks to the new fabric mesh, its water proof… and I also found this behemoth floats. 

Battery life on the XB41 has also been improved. The XB41, XB40, and XB31 all advertise a battery life of 24 Hours, but I found that real world use with the light feature turned on and with the volume set at 80% both of these speakers average 9 hours of playback time. But under the same conditions the XB41 averages 12 hours of playback time. In my testing I’ve found that there is a battery improvement between the XB41 and XB40. Now lets get into the sound test

Audio quality on the XB40 and XB41 is still very similar but I did find the XB41 gets slightly louder than the XB40, and for those who aren’t familiar with Sony’s Extra Bass line up, as the name implies these speakers are going to put an emphasis on the bass. At the beginning of this song you might have noticed that the vocals on the XB40 and XB41 didn’t sound as clear as the JBL Xtreme cause that one puts an emphasis on the mids and has a lot of treble. But when the drop came, the Xb41 and XB40 sounded much better than the JBL Xtreme. The XB41 is better suited for people like me who listen to a lot of Rap, Hip Hop, EDM and so on. But if you listen to a lot of Rock or music that puts an emphasis on the Vocals then you’re going to think these speakers sound muddy. 

But my biggest problem with the XB41 is how sony completely missed the mark with their new Live Sound Setting. On the smaller XB31 if you turned live sound on, the bass is tamed a bit and the mids and vocals are pushed forward. And I feel this is a good setting for rock. But on the XB41 for some reason theres just a bunch of echo thrown in. And it most cases it just distorts the music. Heres an additional 30 second clip of the XB41 and XB31 in live sound and the JBL Xtreme again. 

I just feel this was Sony’s chance to appeal to everyone and they blew it by adding a whole bunch of echo in their live sound on the XB41. Live sound on the XB31 doesn’t have all of this echo, and if live sound on the XB41 was similar to the XB31’s then you could have all of that bass goodness on the XB41 and then at the press of a button have a JBL Speaker. 

But if you open up Sony’s music center app you can go into the sound settings and adjust the equalizer from there so its not the end of the world. But when you use your own EQ settings then you do give up clear audio plus, so at higher volumes you’ll start to hear some distortion. But since I listen to a lot of rap I just keep the extra bass feature and clear audio plus on so I don’t get too much distortion. But with the extra bass feature turned I do find the XB41 isn’t the best for listening to podcasts, so in order to turn off the extra bass feature all you have to do is press and hold the play and minus button until the indicator light turns green, and then press and the hold the same buttons again until the light turns white to turn extra bass back on. 

Sony’s music center app also allows you to choose from a few different lighting modes. Theres rave, chill which is my personal favorite, a rave mode without the strobe lights and strobe. There are a few others to choose from but these are the main 4. The XB41 also connects to Sony’s fiestable app, and oh my god, its awful. Aside from being a complete eye sore, all you can really do I just change the color of the light strip. Its better than nothing, but I wish we had more customization options and Sony needs to completely redesign this app. Fiastable also allows you to jam in random sounds while your speaker is playing music, do I actually use it? Absolutely not. 

Like I said that the beginning of this video, the Sony XB41 is nearly perfect. I think it sounds great for the type of music I listen to, I love that you can charge it with a micro USB cable now, that added durability is a very big plus and I really like the new sleek design. But I would improve the XB41 by switching the micro USB port to a USB C port. I would also get rid of all of the uanessacry echo in live sound mode. I would also like to be able to cycle between the 4 main light settings directly from the speaker like I can on the JBL Pulse 3 without having to open up the app every single time. Sony’s apps also need improving cause sometimes there are connection issues or they’ll just crash. 

But even with its flaws I still really like the New Sony XB41. Like I’ve said before, you cant go wrong with the XB31 but if you upgrade to the XB41 you’re getting more wall shacking bass, a longer battery life, it’s still just as durable, and you can charge it up with the Micro USB cable which I think is a very big deal. We still have to wait and see what the JBL Xtreme 2 has to offer, but for right now I think the Sony XB41 is a strong contender for this years most improved award.