Sony's New Speaker Line Up Explained - XB41 Vs XB31 Vs XB21

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Sony’s new speaker line up isn’t all that different from their previous line up. But in order to compete with JBL’s line up, Sony refined and toughened up their new XB21, XB31, and XB41. Here are the main improvements on Sony’s new speaker line up as a whole, and I’m going to break down the main differences between them so you can decide which of these three speakers in right for you. 

The ultra portable Sony XB21 is the smallest and most affordable speaker here retailing for 99.99. The XB31 is the middle child of this line up and currently retails for $149.99. And both the XB21 and XB31 come in 4 color ways, black blue red or white. The Sony XB41 is the big daddy of the group and currently retails for 249.99, but only comes in 3 color ways. Red Blue Or black. 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. 

First lets go over the general improvements found on Sony’s new speaker line up. First up is the design which I really like. Gone is the soft touch rubber body industrial exposed grill design of the previous line up and now the new line up is much sleeker and is covered in a fabric mesh similar to JBL speakers. The fabric mesh body of these new speakers is much more durable than the previous soft touch rubber body. The XB31 and XB41 are also rocking much better looking light features than the ones found on the XB30 and XB40. With out a doubt, I feel the XB31 and XB41 look much better than their older counter parts. But I don’t think the smaller XB21 looks better than the XB20. 

The new design also brings with it a new simplified button layout. The buttons are raised and have great tactile feed back but they can feel a little cramped at times. But after a while you’ll get used to the new lay out. And in Sony fashion, you get full music playback controls straight from the speakers. You can adjust the volume, play or pause your music, skip a track, and go back a track. On the back, all three of these speakers have a compartment that houses their battery button which if you press and hold you can turn off the light feature, the WPC button which is for wireless party chain, and an add button for left and right stereo mode if you have two of the same speakers. And I’ll go into that in a minute. All three of these speakers also have an AUX jack, a micro USB port for charging and the XB31 and XB41 both have a USB out so you can charge your own devices. And when it comes to the rubber grommet, its rather easy to remove and I’m not to worried about it ripping off. But remember to close it properly cause you don’t want these ports to get wet. 

Another improvement found on Sony’s new speaker line up is how durable they are now. Sony’s previous speaker line up was only IPX5 rated, so a little splash of water here and there isn’t going to be a problem, but I wouldn’t submerge them. And due to their exposed speaker design, dirt and sand can easily get trapped behind the metal grill. Sony’s new line up is now IP67 rated, so this means a few things. They’re now dirt and dust proof thanks to the new fabric mesh that protects the speakers and they are now water proof so you can submerge them. And all three of these speakers also float. JBL’s speakers are also just as durable, but they don’t have an official dirt and dust rating cause of their Exposed passive radiators. But if feel that if you took them to the beach sand isn’t going to be a problem. 

Another improvement that I really like in Sony’s new speaker line up is the way you charge the XB31 and XB41. On the previous XB30 and XB40 you could only charge them with a 5 volt or 9.5 Volt DC charger. So if you were going to take the XB30 or XB40 to a friends house you would have to bring the charging cable along. But now with the XB31 you can charge it with a micro USB cable. Unfortunately it doesn’t come with a wall adaptor so you’re going to have to use your own. The Sony XB41 comes included with a 5 volt DC charger, but you can also charge it via the micro USB port. Personally, I exclusively charge the XB41 via the Micro USB port with my DJI spark’s charging cable and I Love the convenience of not having to use the DC charger. Its one less things that cluttering my power strip. And the XB21, just like the older XB20 also charges via a micro USB port. 

When it comes to battery life the XB21 advertises a battery life of 12 hours and both the XB31 and XB41 advertise a battery life of 24 hours. But thats when they are used at lower volumes and with the light features turned off. In my testing with the light feature turn on and with the volume set at 80% which I feel is closer to real world use, the XB21 averaged 6 hours, the XB31 averaged 9 hours and the XB41 lasted all the way up to 12 hours. But this wasn’t until their batteries died… it was until the speakers hit 20% cause at that point the speakers will interrupt the music, say please charge and then they’ll only play at a max volume of 50%.

Now when it comes to audio quality, as the name implies… these speaker are going to put an emphasis on the bass. Sony’s Extra bass speaker line up is meant for people like me who listen to a lot of rap, hiphop, R&B, EDM and so on. But if you’re someone who listens to Rock or anything that puts an emphasis on the Vocals and mids then you’re going to think these speakers sound muddy. Sony’s new speaker line up sounds very similar to their previous line up.   But if you’re trying to decide between the XB21 XB31 and XB41, obviously the larger the speaker, the louder and more bass you’re going to get. For personal listening the XB31 gets the job done just fine, but if you want something a little more epic then the XB41 is a genuine step up. But believe it or not, I actually think the XB20 still sounds better than the XB21. 

Even though I like a lot of bass when I listen to music, it can get over whelming when listening to podcasts. Sony’s new speaker line up doesn’t have a dedicated Extra bass button like their previous line up. But you can turn off extra bass feature on either of the new speakers by pressing and holding the play and minus button at the same time until the indicator light turns green. And to turn it back on you just press the same buttons again until the light turns white. 

All three of these speakers also connect to Sony’s music center app. Now let me be the first to tell you, I love the hardware here but the app can be a pain in the but sometimes. But when it does work you can turn on live sound which sounds much better on the XB31 than it does on the XB41 or you can also adjust the EQ of either of these speakers to better suite the type of music you’re going to listen to. But if you use you’re own EQ you are going to get a bit of distortion at higher volumes. But since I just use these speakers with the Extra Bass feature turned on and with Clear Audio Plus on, I don’t get too much distortion. 

Sony’s music center app also allows you to select from a few different lighting modes on these speakers. Theres Rave, Chill, a Rave mode with out the annoying strobe lights off to the sides on the XB31 and XB41 and strobe. The new light features on the XB41 and XB31 have been improved from their previous generations, but I feel the light feature on the XB21 doesn’t look as good as the XB20’s. The light feature set ups on the XB41 and XB31 are very similar, but the XB41 has the additional back lit speakers in the center. The XB41 also connect’s to Sony’s fiestable app which is an eye sore, but you do get some customization options on the XB41 while the XB31 doesn’t connect to the fiestable app.

Finally lets talk about connectivity… all three of these speakers are good for 50 plus feet and in general I haven’t had any connection issues period. What I do want to talk about is pairing and syncing these speakers. First, yes these newer speakers can connect to the older speakers… but only in sync. Anything from the XB20 all the way up to the XB90. And Sony allows you to connect up to 100 speakers together just like JBL does. But if you want to get left and right stereo sound going then you need to have two of the same speakers. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get the XB40 and XB41 to play in stereo mode. And the same goes with the XB21 and XB31 pairs. Also, Sony’s syncing process of these speakers isn’t as easy and the connection quality isn’t as good as JBL’s. If you want to learn how to pair these speakers up watch my tutorial. Pairing multiple sony speakers together can sometimes be a hair pulling process cause you have to press certain buttons in a certain order and you have to also use the mobile app to establish the party chain. With JBL speakers you literally just press one button on each speaker and they’ll figure out the rest by them selves. JBL’s audio is also much more in sync. With the Sony’s you might get some echo going but it’ll go away after awhile. Personally I really do think these new Sony speakers are great but if you plan on constantly chaining multiple speakers together I would look into JBL instead. 

Now this isn’t a full review on either of these speakers, Im just trying to give you a quick run down on whats new in Sony’s New Speaker Line Up. If you want to learn more about either of these speakers then watch their full reviews. Personally if I were looking into Sony’s new line up I would skip the XB21 and go for the XB31. I just don’t think you can go wrong with the XB31. But if you want something with a little better battery life, something that gets louder with more wall shaking bass, and something that looks a littler cooler then I would pick up the XB41. I feel the XB41 is worth the upgrade this time around. Personally going forward I would like to see sony improve their software, I would like to see them start using a USB C port, allow you to cycle through the different light modes directly from the speakers, and I would like to start seeing quick charging make an appearance on either Sony or JBL Speakers. Like Stop jamming voice assistants everywhere and get me some quick charging.