You want one that produces rich sound, won’t weigh you down with a bulky build, and has an easy setup experience. Many brands are in the Bluetooth speaker space, and prices range from ultra-affordable to high-end.
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A Lightweight, Durable Speaker
The biggest advantage of Sony’s SRS-XB100 is what feels like unstoppable portability. Like the XB13 that the XB100 is replacing, this speaker is ultra-compact and less than 4 inches tall, specifically just 3.7 inches tall. That is smaller than a can of coke–or insert your favorite soft drink here–and about the size of a human fist.
You can easily toss the XB100 into a backpack, a cup holder in a car, a fanny pack, or even a purse. Of course, with the integrated woven strap, you can let it hang from a bag or even strap it to a mode of transportation like a bike or scooter. Similar to the short stature of the speaker, it’s lightweight at 0.6 pounds. It won’t weigh you down even if you bring it along for a hike.
I’m torn between my two favorite aspects of the design, though. It comes in four colors with two punching above the rest. The light blue and feisty orange (my color names, not Sony’s) offer a touch of vibrancy and make the speaker easily findable. You could also opt for it in black or white if you want something more subtle.
Alongside colors is Sony’s continued inclusion of tactile buttons. Near the bottom of the XB100 are five buttons: power, Bluetooth, play/pause/call-end, volume-down, and volume-up. A USB-C port for easy charging is hidden behind a rubber flap beside the volume-up button. I’m just thankful this isn’t another affordable Bluetooth speaker that opts for micro USB.
Much of the XB100 is made from plastic, with vertical lines wrapping around the main column of the device. It gives the speaker more texture over the XB13, which is smooth. This way, if it just took a dip in the pool or was caught in the rain, you can still get a hold of the speaker. The entirety of the XB-100 IP67 is rated for water and dust, which means it is ready for any adventure this summer.
The top-firing speaker grille is made from metal and has plenty of holes to let sound pass through. The bottom has four ovular cutouts, which allows the bass and lower tones to escape the speaker. There is a fifth one at the bottom of the XB-100 and some rubber gripping to ensure it doesn’t rock around too much at higher volumes. More on this in the next section, but the XB100 packs a big punch of sound–especially for its sheer size.
Sony’s SRS-XB100 is one of the most compact Bluetooth speakers around, which lets you take it anywhere, and it’s a very functional design that aids in usability.
Clear, Rich Audio That Gets Surprisingly Loud
Before discussing the hardware inside and sharing some tech jargon, know this: Sony’s SRS-XB100 speaker sounds really good. For personal or small-group listening, either inside or outside, it produces a wide soundstage that can reach high volumes.
For this price point, it is everything you could really ask for. One of the biggest surprises is just how loud the XB100 can get; even at those levels, it doesn’t sacrifice the audio quality. Tones across the spectrum–lows, mids, and highs–come through clearly and with a certain amount of vibrance. Most audio comes through the top through that all-important grille, but lower tones like bass come out the bottom sides.
Most importantly, though, the XB100 doesn’t sound tinny or add in distortion. It’s just good playback for any genre, assuming your source is good. I tested it from an iPhone 14 Pro Max, a Pixel 7 Pro, and a Galaxy S23 Ultra over Bluetooth via Apple Music, Nugs.net, and Spotify.
With a more recent Android phone, you’ll be able to pair fast with the speaker, while with an iPhone or another device, you’ll turn it on and then connect via Bluetooth settings. Either way, it’s easy to get going and delivers a strong connection.
With “Liability” by Lorde, the artist’s vocals come through clearly and richly over a deeper piano that doesn’t muddy the mix at all. It’s clear. Joe- and Nick-Jonas’ vocals come flowing through the XB100 with high clarity in front of a packed track containing drums, guitars, beats, and even piano on “Waffle House”.
Last but certainly not least, in the wall-of-sound “Born to Run,” the XB-100 manages to pack the exuberant ramp-up with clear drums, guitar, piano, and horns before Springsteen’s vocals come in full throttle. Regardless of the track, the XB-100 comes to play, is up for the challenge, and delivers excellent audio far exceeding expectations.
Powering the audio here is a passive radiator and a full range speaker with a custom sound diffusion processor. All of this comes together for great audio and the processor is likely the key to the wide soundstage that spreads the audio throughout a room.
Plenty of Battery Life and Improved Speakerphone Functions
While I couldn’t tell you the exact battery size inside Sony’s new XB100, it is clear that the technology giant didn’t make it smaller than the one in the XB13. The XB100 still offers up to 16-hours of battery life and that means multi-day listening, which is great. It also still charges with the excellent USB-C standard and a short USB-A to USB-C cable is included in the box. You’ll have no issue bringing this down the shore for a beach day or any trip.
While it might not be on the top of the most requested feature list, Sony is boosting the abilities of using this Bluetooth speaker as a speakerphone. Essentially, when you pair an iPhone or Android with the XB100, you can use this as a giant speakerphone. You can hit the combination play/pause/call button to answer or end a call.
As far as vocal qualities go, Sony is using some echo cancellation technology to ensure the person on the other end doesn’t hear themselves and that whomever is speaking into the speaker comes through clearly. It works pretty well, and is an improvement over the XB13, but it also goes farther to cancel some environmental noise like wind.
Bottom Line: Is the Sony SRS-XB100 Worth It?
In the end, Sony’s SRS-XB100 is one of the best Bluetooth speakers around and delivers a crazy amount of value at under $100. We don’t yet know what the song of the summer will be for 2023—though Waffle House by the Jonas Brothers is up there–but I’m calling the XB100 the portable speaker of the summer.
It’s lightweight and durable enough to go anywhere, features long battery life, is easy to set up, and does all this with robust, rich playback. What more could you want for $59.99? Rhetorical yes, but then again it has an included lanyard and comes in two fire colors.
Prices are accurate and items in stock at time of publishing.