Portable wireless Bluetooth speaker systems with both a right and left speaker seem to be on the wane. Most manufacturers are making 360 degree portable monaural speakers. If you want stereo sound, you have to pair both speakers together in a somewhat complex process.
But sometimes, I don’t need a cylindrical speaker to fill up a whole room with sound. I like listening to stereo sound systems, where you can differentiate between the right and the left. And I like a system with a lot of bass, but not so much that when you turn the volume up, the bass sounds crumbled. I was happy to receive Sony’s brand new SRS-XB41 Bluetooth (and waterproof) speaker, even though I haven’t been absolutely thrilled with Sony’s previous efforts.
The SRS-XB41 is advertised as a “party” speaker, and it certainly lives up to that reputation. It has different lighting styles that can be changed through Sony’s “Music Center”app. And the lightning patterns look really nice on the rectangular speaker that is covered with a sturdy mesh for waterproofing.
But what really stands out about the SRS-XB41 is the sound. Sony took the fantastic sound from the WH-1000MX2 headphones and put it into their new “Extra Bass” speaker, which thumps without distorting the sound. The mid ranges and high ranges are also prevalent in the SRS-XB41, but you’ll need to change the equalizer settings if you want them to stand out more.
Sony’s speaker has a “Live Sound” mode to make it sound like you are in the middle of a live concert. This mode is very gimmicky — not only does it fail to sound “live,” but it also deletes many of the details from the overall sound. And speaking of sound, the SRS-XB41 has an AUX input if you, like many audiophiles, prefer wired sound. And even though the Bluetooth sound is great, you will get noticeably more detail in your music by connecting your iPhone or any other device with an audio cable.
The battery life on the SRS-XB41 is correctly rated at 24 hours, which is fantastic for the size of the speaker. There is a USB-A input that allows you to charge your phone or other USB devices. If that’s not enough, there is also a Party Booster feature that turns Sony’s speaker into an instrument when tapping on different places. It’s certainly a gimmick, but a fun one!
It’s pretty obvious that we’re moving toward Wi-Fi speakers instead of Bluetooth. But we’re not there yet. And if you want a powerful portable wireless speaker that doesn’t skip on sound quality, the Sony SRS-XB41 is a great — although pricey — choice.