Sony's 2019 Portable Speaker Line Up Explained

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Sony has for the most part updated their portable speaker line up for summer 2019. We have the new Sony XB12, the Sony XB22 and the Sony XB32. But weirdly enough, sony hasn’t released an updated Sony XB42… instead the year old XB41 is still Sony’s largest portable bluetooth speaker that doesn’t have a built in voice assistant like the XB501G or the XB402M. So if you’re think about picking one of these speakers up for this summer, lets see which ones right for you. 

The XB12 is the smallest speaker here and it retails for $60, the XB22 is a small sized portable bluetooth speaker that retails for $100, the XB32 is a mid sized speaker that retails for $150, and the XB41 is a large sized speaker that retails for $250. If you want to pick any of these speakers up they will be linked down below and if you want to learn more about either of these speakers please watch their full reviews cause we’re only going to be covering so much. 

So first off, Sony’s entire portable bluetooth speaker line up is rocking an IP67 rating. Which means all of these speakers for the most part are water proof so you don’t have to worry about any of them getting wet, and they’re all dust proof. But like I’ve mentioned in past videos, I’m not the biggest fan that sony has gone back to a mostly soft touch rubber body on their XB22 and XB32 speakers. Now don’t get me wrong, these speakers feel very high quality in the hand… but my problem with a soft touch rubber body portable bluetooth speaker is that they’re going to get scratched very easily. Personally I prefer my portable bluetooth speakers to be super rugged so I don’t have to worry about them. So objectively, if you’re looking for a super rugged speaker then you’re probably going to be better off with the XB41 cause its entire body is covered in a fabric mesh. My XB41 in particular is over a year old now and its gone through a lot, but it still looks like its brand new. 

But all of the speakers here minus XB12 have a light feature that flashes to beat of your music. The XB22 has two single colored LEDS on the front, the XB32 has a color changing light strip with strobe lights on either side, and the XB41 also has a color changing light strip like the XB32, but it also has an extra pair of lights that illuminates its speakers. 

But now lets get into tech specs, the XB12 has an advertised battery life of 16 hours but realistically with its volume set at 80% its more of a 7 hour battery life. The XB22 has an advertised battery life of 12 hours but again, realistically with the light feature and extra bass mode turned on this speaker is good for about 6 hours of playback time. Where as both XB32 and XB41 both have an advertised battery life of 24 hours but under the same conditions as the XB22 both the XB32 and XB41 are good for about 8 hours of real world playback time… 

But something that I feel is very important to point out about Sony speakers is that when any of these speakers get down to 20% battery they are going to intruprut your music, say please charge, and they won’t get any louder than 50% volume until you put them back on the charger.

Personally this in one of my biggest pet peeves about sony speakers and from my knowledge there’s no way to turn this off. I’ve looked through the manuals and looked through their music center app on both iOS and Android and there’s no way to turn this off.  But to charge all of these speakers, they all charge via a micro USB port. Except for the XB41, if you want you can charge it through the AC in port with its included charging cable, but personally I always just charge it with a micro USB cable.

But when it comes to bluetooth connectivity all of Sony’s speakers do tend to perform a little when used with an android device versus an apple device. If you have an android device you’re going to get benefits like NFC pairing and LDAC support, but more importantly you’re going to get Zero latency across the board if you’re watching videos on your phone. Where as with an apple device you’re going to notice there’s a lot of latency whenever you’re watching youtube videos and a slight latency when watching Netflix. 

But when it comes to speaker set ups, the XB12 has a single upward firing transducer and a downward firing passive radiator. Personally I only like using single transducer speakers like these for listening to podcasts or playing music in the shower. But the rest of Sony’s portable speaker line up has the same type of speaker set up. They all have dual frontward firing transducers and they all have dual passive radiators that shoot out the front and out the back of the speakers. Now we’re going to jump into a sound test, the XB22, XB32, and XB41 are all playing with extra bass mode turned on and at the same loudness… but the XB12 is actually playing at max volume. 

Ok, first lets address the XB12… since its a small upward firing speaker you’re not going to be getting the full affect as you would with a speaker that’s actually aimed at you. That’s why I only recommend the XB12 if you want something to listen to podcast with or if you want something small to use in the shower. But the real performance difference I want to talk about here is between the XB22, XB32 and XB41. In the past people have complained that Sony’s extra bass speakers tend to sound very muffled with extra bass mode turned on. Case and point, the XB41 sounded very muffled in this sound test compared to the other 2 speakers here. But Sony has obviously taken steps to improve how their newer speakers sound with extra bass mode turned on… you can obviously tell that vocals are much clearer on the XB32 and XB22  than on the XB41. And right out of the box I gotta say I prefer how the XB32 sounds compared to the XB41. But through sony’s music center app, which works on all of the speakers here minus the XB12… you can easily go in and manually adjust how any of these speakers sound. And if you go in and raise the mids and highs on the XB41 you’re going to get the same performance out of it as the XB32. But what differentiates these speakers from one another is how loud each speaker gets and how much bass they really have. The XB22 has a decent amount of bass for its size and its great for indoor use. The XB32 has slightly more bass than the XB22 and again its great for indoor use and its decent out doors as well. But obviously the XB41 is the loudest speaker here and has significantly more bass than the XB32. It has no problem filling a large room and its also great out doors. Personally I think the XB32 is a safe bet size wise, but if you really wanna aim out then I would recommend the XB41. 

Now just like a lot of other brands out there, Sony allows you to pair up to 100 sony speakers together so that they can all play in sync. But just keep in mind the XB12 can’t be paired with larger speakers like the XB22, XB32, or XB41… You can only pair it up to another XB12. Even though Sony’s Wireless Party Chain isn’t my favorite speaker pairing protocol out there cause its not the easiest or fastest, it does work a little better with Android devices than with iOS. If you’re an android user if you have all of your speakers turned on and paired with your phone you can go into the Music center app and create a group. It does take a little bit of time but it technically works. Where as if you’re an iPhone user the easiest way to pair your sony speakers together is by pressing the WPC button on all of your speakers, you then open up the music center app on your phone and press on the party chain tab. But even though Sony’s Wireless party chain feature does work most of the time there can sometimes be connection failure issues, sometimes not all of the speakers you actually wanted to pair up actually connect, and sometimes an echo effect might form. Personally I prefer JBL’s JBL Connect plus cause all you gotta do is press one button on each speaker and they’ll figure the rest out by themselves. You don’t gotta open up any apps and its significantly faster. 

So for those reasons, I would only recommend picking up a sony speaker if you only want one speaker. If you plan on constantly pairing multiple speakers on a regular basis I highly recommend you invest into JBL’s ecosystem.  But still like I mentioned earlier the XB12 is a decent little speaker if you just want something to listen to podcasts with or to use in the shower… but if you want something to really listen to music with I would recommend going with something a little larger. Personally I think Sony’s Mid Sized speaker is a safe bet for most people cause it performs well both indoors and out. But if you do decide to go with Sony’s Mid sized speaker then I highly recommend that instead of getting the brand new XB32 get last years pervious model XB31. The XB31 is identical to the XB32 under the hood and performs just as well, but its now typically on sale for $100. The only thing is that you gotta manually adjust its EQ just like with the XB41. But if you’re someone that’s really trying to jam out, or if you’re looking for a portable bluetooth speaker to use mostly out doors than I would recommend going for the XB41.