Sony XB32 Review - They Should Have Done More

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Sony has been killing it recently with their headphones. They currently have what are arguably the best premium ANC headphones on the market right now, and their redesigned Extra bass headphones are looking very promising. But their speakers on the other hand… that’s a different story. Technically, the new Sony XB32 does have some improvements over the Sony XB31… but I feel they should have done more.

The Sony XB32 is Sony’s newest mid sized speaker that currently retails for $150… which is the same that the Sony XB31 used to retail for… but now it's typically on sale for $100. If you want to pick either of these speakers up I’ll have them linked down below. 

tech spec wise, under the hood the Sony XB32 is identical to the Sony XB31. They both have the same IP67 rating which means they’re both water and dust proof. They both have an advertised battery life of 24 hours. But realistically with extra bass mode and the light featured turned on and with the volume on these speakers set to 80% we’re lookin at a real world battery life of 8 hours. They both charge via a micro USB port, which sucks cause I know a lot of people wanted to see USB C on the XB32 and they both have a USB A out so you can charge your own devices. They both even still have the same speaker set ups under neath. Both the XB32 and XB31 are rocking dual 48 millimeter frontward firing transducers and dual passive radiators that shoot out the front and back. 

Both of these speakers are also still using Bluetooth 4.2. Now in general that isn’t a problem cause they have stable connections that have no problems going through multiple walls… But they do have very different ranges. In my testing, I found the XB32 was able to match its advertised range of 30 feet, but I also found that the XB31 has a wireless range that’s twice as much as the XB32.

Now I know wireless range isn’t a huge deal for some people, but I just feel that if you’re looking into getting a portable speaker that you wanna use in your back yard or at the park you’ll might wanna know which of these two speakers can go farther. And in this case the range on the XB32 has been down graded from the XB31. 

But also if you use an android device with either of these speakers you’re going to get extra benefits like NFC pairing and LDAC support. But more importantly both of these speakers have Zero Latency across board when watching videos. Where as when you use these speakers with an apple device these speakers have a lot of latency when watching youtube videos and theres a very slight latency when watching Netflix but its easy enough to ignore. 

But what isn’t easy to ignore is the new redesign found on the XB32 from the XB31. Now design is subjective and personally I like how the XB32 looks… three quarters of this speaker is covered in soft touch material that feels great in the hand, the front grill of this speaker is covered in a fabric mesh similar to the XB31 and we’ve got the same wrap around RGB light strip that looks great in dimly lit rooms or at night. But personally I think going back to a soft touch rubber body on the XB32 wasn’t the greatest idea, cause this speaker isn’t as rugged as the all fabric covered XB31. My XB31 looks as good as the day I got it. And this is a speaker that is constantly taken to cook outs, taken to the beach, its been dropped, and constantly submerged in water. But still, thanks to its all fabric body it still looks like new. But now, since the XB32 has gone back to a soft touch body like the XB30 its going to show wear and tear over time. If you get this speaker wet there are going to be some water marks just don’t come out and whether you like it or not this speaker is going to be a scratch magnet. So like I said, I like how this speaker looks but I think going back to a soft touch rubber body is a step in the wrong direction.

But something Sony did improve on the XB32 from the XB31 is how this speaker sounds with extra bass mode turned on… which is Sony’s default EQ setting for their speakers and its their sell that their speakers have lots and lots of bass. And just so you can see for yourself we’re about to jump into a sound test. All of these speakers are playing with Extra Bass Mode turned on and they’re all playing at the same loudness. 

So definitely, Sony has improved their Extra Bass settings on their new XB32. The Sony XB32 keeps that rich punchy bass but since the mids are much more pronounced the vocals on the XB32 doesn’t sound muddled out like on the XB31 or XB41. And personally I think the XB32 sounds better than the XB41 and XB31 when they all have Extra Bass mode turned on. But through Sony’s music center app you can easily go in and adjust the EQ on any of these speakers. And if you were to go in and raise the Mids and High’s on the XB31 its going to preform just as well as the XB32. And when it comes to max volume, again the XB31 gets just as loud as the XB32. Now here in this demo it may seem like the XB32 gets slightly louder than the XB31, but keep in mind since Extra Bass mode on the XB32 has more pronounced mids than the XB31… that’s what making this speaker seem a little louder. But if you were to raise the mids in the XB31 its going to get just as loud. But in general both of these speakers are good sounding speakers. They get decently loud making them great for indoor and out door use, they have very rich bass, and distortion at higher volumes isn’t a problem. 

But through sony’s app you can also go in and select from a few different lighting modes for either of these speaker’s light strips. The main light modes here are Rave, chill, strobe, and a rave mode without the annoying strobes lights. And like I mentioned earlier the light strips on both the XB32 and XB31 look great in dimly lit rooms or at night. But besides a minor redesign the light strips on both of these speakers perform exactly the same. They both get just as bright and they both hit the same colors. However, the XB32 can connect to Sony’s fiestable app. Now besides being an eyesore, the fiestable app gives you some control over the XB32’s light feature. Basically you can set your own color. Personally I don’t care that the XB31 can’t connect to the fiestable app, but I’m doing my best here to show case the minor differences between the XB32 and XB31.

But now lets talk about pairing multiple sony speakers together. Sony’s wireless party chain allows you to pair up to 100 sony speakers together. And you do this by first pressing the WPC button on all of your Sony speakers, you then go into the music center app on your phone and press on the wireless party chain tab and say a little prayer. Now Sony’s WPC feature is fairly stable but sometimes speakers will get out of sync or sometimes you have to go through the pairing process multiple times to establish a connection between all of the speakers you’re trying to connect cause sometimes it just fails… and sometimes when you do manage to establish a connection not all of the speakers you wanted to pair actually connect. Personally, Sony’s WPC protocol falls a little low on my list compared to other companies pairing method cause its not as stable or as easy to initiate. So for that reason I would only recommend looking into getting a sony speaker if you only want one speaker. And for those wondering… yes the XB32 can connect to older speakers like the XB31 or XB30 but no even though the XB31 and XB32 are basically the same speaker they can’t be paired up to play in left and right stereo mode. If you want to do left and right stereo mode you need to have two XB32’s. 

So, with all things considered… personally I can’t recommend the new Sony XB32 when the Sony XB31 is still on sale and for $50 less. And in some cases I feel the XB31 is superior than the XB32 cause of its longer Bluetooth range and much more durable body. Even though yeah, the XB32 sounds better than the XB31 with Extra Bass Mode turned on… you can easily get the same sound out of the XB31 by manually adjust its EQ. And depending on when you’re watching this you can also get the Sony XB41 for the same $150 cause it routinely goes on sale. But personally, even though I really like Sony’s current line up of headphones… the Sony XB32 is a hard pass for me given that the XB31 is still readily available.