Get Them Here
If you’re in the market for a mid sized speaker, you’re probably being over whelmed with options cause there are countless small or no name speaker brands out there. But today we’re going to be looking into 2 mid sized speakers from perhaps the 2 biggest names in this space… and that’s the Sony XB32 and the JBL Charge 4. Even though they’re just speakers, they do have some major differences between them to take into consideration.
Now both the JBL Charge 4 and Sony XB32 are brand new for summer 2019 and they both typically retail for $150. If you want to pick either of these speakers up I’ll have them linked down and if you want to learn more about either of these speakers, please watch their full reviews.
Design wise, both of these speakers are basically the same size… but obviously one of the biggest things the Sony XB32 has going for it looks wise is its built in light feature. Its a good looking light feature that flashes to the beat of your music and through Sony’s app you can select from a few different lighting modes. But unlike the JBL Charge 4 which has a mostly fabric covered body, the majority of the XB32 is covered in a soft touch plastic and only the front grill is covered with a fabric mesh. Now looks are subjective and I don’t mind how either of these speakers look, but since the XB32’s body is mostly soft touch plastic… expect it to show much more wear and tear than the JBL Charge 4. But both of these speakers are fully water proof so you don’t have to worry about either of them if you drop them in the pool or if it starts raining
Now tech spec wise, the Sony XB32 has an advertised battery life of 24 hours and the JBL Charge 4 has an advertised battery life of 20 hours. But realistically, with the volume on both of these speakers set to 80% the JBL Charge 4 managed to last for 11 hours where as the XB32 only managed to last for 8 hours. But keep in mind if you were to turn off the Extra Bass mode and the light feature on the XB32 you should be able to stretch out the battery life on the XB32. But what I’m trying to get at here is that even though on paper the XB32 seems like it has a longer battery life than the Charge 4, in reality they’re evenly matched.
But one of my biggest pet peeves about the Sony XB32 and sony speakers in general that I think is super important to point out is that when Sony speakers get down to 20% battery they’ll drastically lower their volume, say please charge every few minutes and they won’t let you raise their volume past 50% until you put them back on the charger. I find this to be super annoying, and you can’t turn this feature off.
But when it comes to charging these speakers there is a huge difference. The JBL Charge 4 charges via a USB-C port which I think is great especially if you’re an android user… and it also comes included with a decently long cable. Where as the Sony XB32 is still using a micro USB port for charging which kind of sucks if you’re an android user cause you can’t charge your phone and speaker with the same cable. And while we’re here I thought I’d also mention that both of these speakers have a USB A out port so you can charge your own devices and they both still have an audio jack.
Both of these speakers are also still using Bluetooth 4.2, but they have some very different performance differences to take into consideration. I found the wireless range on the XB32 is a hard stop at 30 feet, where as the wireless range on the Charge 4 is a little over double than the XB32’s. Now I know wireless range isn’t a big deal for some people, but I think it is something to take into consideration when you’re looking into a wireless portable bluetooth speaker that you’ll might want to use at the basket ball court or in your back yard.
Also, whether you use an Android or apple device with the Charge 4 there’s going to be a considerable amount of latency making the charge 4 not suitable for watching videos on your phone. Where as if you use the Sony XB32 with an android device you’re going to get extra benefits like NFC paring, LDAC support, and zero latency across the board. And if you use the XB32 with an apple device you’re going to see much less latency compared to the Charge 4. Theres still a little bit of latency, but its nowhere near as bad as the charge 4.
But when it comes to speaker set ups these speakers are very different. The Sony XB32 has dual 48 millimeter frontward firing transducers and dual passive radiators that shoot out the front and out the back of the speaker. Where as the JBL Charge 4 has a single frontward firing oval transducer and its dual passive radiators shoot out its sides. Now JBL’s switch to a single transducer set up has proven to be rather controversial over the last few months, but I feel it has no problem keeping up with other speakers out there. But just so that you can see for yourself we’re about to jump into a sound test. Both of these speakers are playing at the same loudness and the Sony XB32 is playing with Extra Bass mode turned on.
Sony has obviously taken steps to improve how their speakers sound with Extra bass mode turned on. In the past people have complained that mids and vocals on Sony speakers always sounded very muddy. But on the XB32, the mids and vocals are much more pronounced than before which is a good thing. But still, the mids and vocals on the Charge 4 are a little more pronounced than on the XB32. But the thing about the XB32 is that through Sony’s app you can go in and easily change the XB32’s EQ settings so you can make it sound how ever you want. Where as with the Charge 4, JBL doesn’t let you change its EQ setting as easily. But in general both of these speakers are good sounding speakers cause they both have a decent amount of bass even though the XB32 does have a little more bass than the Charge 4 and distortion isn’t a problem at higher volumes on either of these speakers. But when it comes to max volume, the charge 4 does manage to get slightly louder than the XB32.
But finally, one of the biggest things to take into consideration when choosing between the JBL charge 4 and Sony XB32 is their speaker pairing protocol. Both Sony and JBL let you pair up to 100 speakers together so that they can all play in sync. But to be frank, Sony’s wireless party chain isn’t the most reliable or easiest to set up. First you gotta go to all of your Sony speakers and press the WPC button and then you gotta go into your phone, open up Sony’s music center app, press on the party chain tab and hope that all of your speakers connect. And even if your sony speakers do manage to all pair together sometimes they’ll get out of sync when you’re playing music. Which means you’ll have to turn off all of your sony speakers and pair them all up again. Where as JBL’s JBL connect plus is much easier and much more reliable than Sony’s Wireless Party chain. All you gotta do is press the JBL connect plus button on all of your speakers and the speakers will figure the rest out all by themselves. You don’t have to open up any other apps and they never get out of sync. So from my experience if you plan on pairing multiple speakers together on a regular basis I highly advise you invest into JBL’s eco system cause Sony’s Wireless party chain can be a headache.
So over all, if you just want one speaker I suggest you go with one of Sony’s speakers… but instead of getting the Sony XB32 I highly advise you save yourself some money and get yourself the Sony XB31. The Sony XB31 is currently going for $100 and in many ways I feel its superior to the newer Sony XB32. And if you want to see exactly what I’m talking about please watch the XB32’s full review. But if you plan on picking up multiple speakers in the future then I think you’re better off with the JBL Charge 4. JBL Connect plus is in my opinion the best speaker pairing protocol out there, and keep in mind the JBL charge 4 has a much farther wireless range than the XB32 and its still slightly longer than the XB31. And finally the JBL Charge 4 also has USB C charging which in 2019 I think its a must have.