Get Them Here
Sony, JBL and Ultimate Ears have all updated their $100 bluetooth speakers for summer 2019. We have the Sony XB22, JBL Flip 5, and UE Wonderboom 2. Even though they're all just speakers… they’re all still very different from one another. So if you’re thinking about picking any of these speakers up… lets see which ones right for you.
So like I just mentioned all of these speakers retail for $100 but they do tend to go on sale from time to time. The Sony XB22 was released in May of 2019 where as both the Wonderboom 2 and Flip 5 were both released in the tail end of June 2019. So all of these companies are definitely fighting for your dollars. If you want to pick any of these speakers up they’ll be linked down below and if you want to learn more about any of these speakers please watch their full reviews cause we’re only going to cover the main differences here.
So first off, all three of these speakers are technically tough enough to keep up with you during your summer vacation cause they’re all water proof. But if you’re looking for the toughest speaker here then personally I would stay away from the XB22 cause of its soft touch rubber body. The XB22 has an IP67 rating technically making it both Dust and water proof, but that plastic body is really just a scratch magnet. So I would recommend the XB22 if you plan on mostly using it at home or if you don’t plan on being too tough on it. But the JBL Flip 5 and Wonderboom 2 are a very different story. Since they both have a mostly fabric body they both can stand up to constant abuse without showing any real wear and tear. But technically the Wonderboom 2 is the toughest speaker here cause with the flip 5 you still gotta be mindful of those exposed passive radiators. You don’t wanna get dirt trapped in there and you don’t went to accidentally push them in… which could happen if you cram this speaker into an over packed back pack.
But when it comes to battery life, both the Sony XB22 and Flip 5 have an advertised battery life of 12 hours. But in my testing with the volume set at 80% I got a real world battery life of 6 hours on the XB22 before it starts asking you to please charge it with its light feature and Extra Bass mode turned on and I got a real world battery life of 8 hours on the Flip 5. But the Wonderboom 2 actually has an advertised battery life 13 hours and again with the volume set at 80% I got a real world battery life of 9 hours. So plainly said if you’re looking for the speaker with the longest battery life here then the Wonderboom 2 is your guy.
But since we’re talking about battery lives, we also gotta talk about how you charge these guys. So both the Wonderboom 2 and XB22 charge via a micro USB port, where as the Flip 5 charges via a USB C port. And personally I just feel that both the XB22 and Wonderboom 2 should have had came included with USB C ports. But the XB22 is the only speaker here that still has an audio jack… where as these other two speakers don’t… you can only use them wirelessly. And like I mentioned in the full review, you can’t use the USB C port on the flip 5 as a wired connection and you cant use it to charge your own phone.
And unfortunately both of these speakers don’t support higher quality audio codecs like AAC and or APTX, just SBC. Which means both of these speakers do have a very slight latency if you plan on watching movies or videos on your phone. Both Android and apple. But I do wanna point out that the latency on the Flip 5 is way worse than the Wonderboom 2’s. Where as the XB22 supports AAC which is good if you’re an iPhone user and LDAC which is good if you’re an android user. So what this means is that the XB22 is going to be better to watch videos on your phone cause there isn’t any noticeable latency on both android and apple.
But when it comes to over all bluetooth connectivity all three of these speakers can be connected to 2 devices at the same so you and a friend can both be DJ. And all three of these speakers have a wireless range of over 100 feet with direct line of sight which is way more than what you actually need. So in general all three of these speakers are perfectly fine for listening to music but if you also plan on using them to watch videos than you’ll might be better off with the XB22.
But now lets talk about speaker set ups cause they’re all very different from one another. So the XB22 has a dual frontward firing transducers and dual passive radiators that shoot out the front and out the back of this speaker. This is a very standard speaker set up and you’re going to find it on smaller name brand speakers as well, and that’s perfectly fine. But the Flip 5 has a slightly different speaker set up. The Flip 5 has a single oval frontward firing transducer that has been offset to the left and its dual passive radiators shoot out the sides. But for all intents and purposes both the XB22 and Flip 5 are frontward firing speakers. Whereas the Wonderboom 2 is a 360 degree speaker. It has dual transducers and dual passive radiators just like the XB22 but its set up in an alternating pattern going all around the speaker to give you that 360 degree sound. And personally I really do like the Wonderboom 2’s 360 degree sound cause its great to use with friends at get togethers cause you can just put it in the middle of you and cover a larger area with music without having to crank the volume up super loud and it also does a great job of evenly filling a room with music. But with all that being said, we’re about to jump into a sound test. All of these speakers are playing at the same loudness, the XB22 is using Extra Bass Mode, and the Wonderboom 2 is playing with its standard EQ.
So personally, I think the Wonderboom 2 is the best sounding speaker here. It could be because of the 360 degree sound but the Wonderboom 2 has the best instrument separation and widest sound stage here. I also noticed that the highs on the Wonderboom 2 were a little crisper than both the Flip 5 and XB22. And regarding the XB22, I do think its the worst sounding speaker here cause its instrument separation and sound stage was the least impressive here. But in general all three of these speakers are good sounding speakers I’m just being hyper critical here, but if I had to line them up from best worst it would go first place Wonderboom 2 closely followed by the Flip 5 and then there’s the XB22.
But I do think its important to point out that the XB22 is the only speaker here that allows you to fully customize its EQ. Through Sony’s app you can go in and adjust how this speaker sounds depending on the type of music you listen to. But personally I just use it Extra Bass mode turned on when I’m going to listen to music and then switch it to Standard if I’m going to use the XB22 to listen to a podcast while I’m shooting B Roll. But the Wonderboom 2 also lets you change its EQ to an outdoors mode. And what it does is that it reduces the bass on the speaker and raises the mids and highs so that when youre using the Wonderboom 2 out side it gets louder and thus your music travels farther out.
Now in general the Wonderboom 2 is the loudest speaker even when its using its standard EQ, but when you switch it to outdoors mode it does get significantly louder. But keep in mind, the outdoors more EQ on the Wonderboom 2 sounds significantly brighter, there isn’t as much bass. But still even in its standard EQ the Wonderboom 2 is a little louder than the Flip 5. And unfortunately the XB22 is the quietest speaker here while in Extra Bass mode. But you can always get a little more volume out of this guy if you adjust its EQ. Im Just using and reviewing the XB22 the way Sony is marketing it.
But finally let's talk about speaker pairing protocols for those of you planning on buying multiple speakers to pair up together. So first off, the JBL Flip 5 is now using JBL Party Boost which you means you can’t pair it up to any other JBL Speakers that are using JBL Connect Plus. You either gotta get multiple Flip 5’s or wait until future JBL Party Boost Speakers are released. If you want to learn more about this you can watch the full review. Where as the Sony XB22 can be paired up to the Sony XB41, XB32, XB31, XB21 and a few other speaker Sony Extra Bass Speakers. And you can pair up to 100 Sony Speakers together which is way more than what you actually need. But I do want to point out that Sony’s wireless party chain isn’t the easiest or most reliable speaker pairing protocol out there. But I does work a little better if you have an android device. But if you only plan on getting a maximum of 2 speakers then the Wonderboom 2 is you guy. Its super easy to use and you can have 2 Wonderboom 2 speakers together and you can either have them play in sync or in left and right stereo mode. Or you can get a Wonderboom 2 and pair it up to an Original Wonderboom and have them play in sync. But do keep in mind the Wonderboom 2 can’t be paired up to UE’s other speakers. But in general pairing two Wonderboom 2 speakers or JBL speakers together is a lot easier than pairing 2 Sony speakers together.
But over all, out of this line up the Wonderboom 2 is my favorite and most recommend speaker here. I just find myself reaching for this speaker more often this summer than any other speaker here. Personally I’ve grown to really like the 360 degree sound coming from this speaker cause its great to use with friends at a summer cook out and it does a great job of evenly blanketing a room with music. Personally I really like how it sounds and the amount of bass coming out of this speaker is truly impressive. And since this speaker is so small and rugged I really don’t have to worry about it when I take it on the go with me. Now yeah it does suck that this speaker still charges via a Micro USB port and it does suck that this speaker doesn’t support higher quality Audio codecs so I would only recommend it for strictly listening to music. So if you’re someone that plans on using your speaker for more than just listening to music than I would recommend the Sony XB22 cause of its higher quality Audio Codecs. And also keep in mind this is the only speaker here that still has an audio jack if you need it. And then there’s the JBL Flip 5 which I would only pick up if you absolutely need something that charges via a USB C port or if you plan on investing into JBL’s new Party Boost Speaker eco system.