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JBL Xtreme 2 vs Sony XB41. If you’re in the market for a large portable speaker then these two are perhaps your most popular and eye catching options. Both the Sony XB41 and JBL Xtreme 2 were recently released, have gotten noticeable improvements and they cost about the same. But they have some key differences between one another. So lets find out which one is right for you.
Just so we’re clear, this isn’t a full review on either of these speakers… im just trying to point out the most important differences between them so I can help you with your purchase decision. If you want to learn more about either of these speakers then watch their full reviews. Both of these speakers were announced at CES 2018 and they were released shortly after. The Sony XB41 retails for $250 and the JBL Xtreme 2 retails for $300. If you want to pick either of these speakers up I’ll have links in the description below and if you use the links it really helps out the channel. I suggest you check them out cause Sony speakers routinely go on sale so you’ll might get lucky.
First lets talk about design, the JBL Xtreme 2 didn’t change too much from the original Xtreme. It has the same basic shape and it has a fabric mesh covered body. But the Sony XB41 has a completely new design from the previous XB40. The XB41’s new design has proven it self to be polarizing but personally I love it. It looks much sleeker and the light feature is way better. The XB41 is also much lighter and narrower than the Xtreme 2. But more importantly the XB41 now also has a fabric mesh covered body which lets it stand up to bumps and scrapes when you take it on the go with you as good as the Xtreme 2. The Sony XB41 is also IP67 rated for its both dust and water proof. Basically, Sony upgraded the XB41 to make sure it was as durable and portable as the Xtreme 2. The JBL Xtreme 2 is IPX7 rated so water isn’t an issue, but I think the reason its doesn’t have a dust certification is cause of the exposed radiators on each side. But as long as you don’t get sand in them or push them in you’ll be fine.
Even though Sony tried to make the XB41 as portable as the Xtreme 2 by making it light weight and durable… the Xtreme 2 has the upper hand when it comes to portability thanks to the carrying strap. Sure you can throw the XB41 into your back pack or just hold it, but with the Xtreme 2 you can just swing it over your shoulder and get moving. Honestly do not under estimate how handy the carrying strap is. The new carrying strap on the Xtreme 2 also now has a built in bottle opener which is a very nice touch on JBL’s part
Ok now lets about how you charge these speakers cause it matters. Both the JBL Xtreme 2 and Sony XB41 come with AC wall chargers. But the XB41 also allows you to charge it with a Micro USB cable as long as you have a wall adopter that supplies 5 volts. And personally I love this, I can charge my camera, drone and speaker all with one cable. Being able to charge the XB41 via an AC or micro USB port is a very nice touch on Sony’s part.
When it comes to battery life, JBL Advertises a 15 hours battery life on the Xtreme 2 and Sony Advertises a battery life of 24 hours on the XB41. But in my testing with the battery set to 50% the Xtreme 2 averaged 16 and a half hours of playback time. And the XB41 averaged 20 hours of playback time with the light feature turned on. And With the volume set to 80% the Xtreme 2 averaged 10 hours of playback time where as the XB41 averaged 12 hours of playback time.
OK, now lets talk about speaker set up cause things are very different. The Sony XB41 has dual 58 millimeter diameter woofers and dual passive radiators in the center that shoot out the front and out the back of the speaker. But the Xtreme 2’s set up is a little more impressive. It has slightly larger 70 millimeter diameter woofers, dual 20 millimeter tweeters that are not present on the XB41 and significantly larger dual passive radiators on each side of the speaker. Now before we get into the sound test, even though you can manually adjust the EQ on the XB41 to what ever you’d like I decided to use the XB41 in it extra bass mode and live sound modes cause those are kind of the main selling points Sony is trying to push on this speaker.
First off, I absolutely hate how the Sony XB41 sounds when set to Live Sound mode… I never use it. But Sony’s Extra Bass line up is geared towards people who listen to music with lots of bass. And since I listen to a lot of rap, hip hop and EDM, I like the XB41 and I prefer to listen to the XB41 with Extra bass turned on. But even though you can quickly and easily turn off the Extra bass or adjust the EQ on the XB41, no matter how much you adjust the EQ on the XB41 its audio quality is not as good as the JBL Xtreme 2. The Xtreme 2 sounds clearer and more defined. Don’t get me wrong, both of these speakers sound good, but if you want the better audio quality go for the Xtreme 2.
Now when it comes to loudness both of these speakers get pretty loud, but the Sony XB41 does manage to get louder than the Xtreme 2. But when the XB41 is set to max volume the Extra Bass feature is automatically turned off and as a result the XB41 does start to sound a little bright. Where as the JBL Xtreme 2 might not get as loud as the XB41, but it does sound better. But using the JBL Xtreme 2 at max volume is like using the Sony XB41 at 90 percent volume.
Now if you plan on routinely pairing multiple speakers together on a regular basis I highly advise you invest into JBL’s eco system. With JBL Connect plus you can easily pair multiple JBL speakers together. You just press button on each speaker and the speakers will figure the rest out by themselves. You don’t have to mess around with any bluetooth settings or any other apps.
Where as pairing multiple sony speakers together is like stacking dominos. You have to do everything just right and if you mess up you’re going to have to start all over again. And even sometimes if you follow the instructions perfectly it just doesn’t work. And even if it does work there are times where an echo will start to form and the only way to get rid of it is to turn the speakers off and pair them up again. But when these sony speakers do pair up the light features also sync up which admittedly do look pretty good.
And finally lets talk about the light feature. Its not as impressive as the JBL Pulse 3 but it does look pretty good. You have a few light mode to choose from and you can also customize your colors a little bit. The light feature on the XB41 makes it more than just a speaker in your room, it also makes it a decoration. And when the XB41 is turned off its very inconspicuous.
So heres my final verdict, both of these speakers are good, rugged and durable enough to take with you almost anywhere. But if we were to base this off of purely looks then I would go with the XB41 cause of its smaller form factor and light feature which I personally really enjoy. It also has the better battery life. But if you want something with better audio fidelity then I would go with the Xtreme 2. I feel the Sony XB41 is great if you only want one speaker. But if you plan on routinely pairing multiple speakers together then I highly advise you get the Xtreme 2 cause of JBL Connect Plus.