Review: Sony SRS-XB33

The best portable

The Sony SRS-XB33 is, in short, the best wireless travel speaker in its class.

Sony SRS-XB33 spread
Karakter
Sony SRS-XB33
We think
Impressively full and good sound. Good battery life, several can be connected.
The sound may need adjustment before it sounds at its best. Pretty slow charging.
Specifications
  • Connections: Bluetooth 5.0 NFC (SBC, AAC, LDAC)
  • Output power: 2x8W
  • Features: App control, stereo pairing, party mode, powerbank function
  • Robustness: IP67 (dust and waterproof)
  • Battery: 24 hours (USB-C)
  • Dimensions/weight: 24.6 x 9.7 x 10.6 cm/1.1 kg
  • Web: sony.co.uk
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Sony has updated its portable Extra Bass speakers. The SRS-XB32 did win our group test of portable speakers last autumn, with its long battery life of 24 hours and good sound. But neither it nor its siblings had USB-C charging, this is in place in the new series.

The XB33 has the same battery life as its predecessor, but seems more robust. Upholstered in impregnated fabric, it seems more resistant. Also note that it is dust and waterproof.

SRS-XB33 is the middle family member of the Extra Bass family. It is not among the smallest portable speakers, in fact a little bigger than the JBL Charge 5, but it fits nicely in a backpack and does not take up much space in your hand luggage.

Sony SRS-XB33 Black vertical
Photo: Sony

Features and usability

The speaker has a USB port that can charge the mobile phone. Charging the speaker takes a long time with the included 1.5A cable, up to 5 hours. You can buy a USB-C cable that supports 3A and thus charge slightly faster if your charger supports it.

Android users can easily connect wirelessly with NFC: you just place the phone next to the NFC logo on the speaker. iPhone users need to pair up using the standard method.

Multiple speakers can be connected wirelessly, either in party mode or in stereo. It has built-in, flashing party lights, and you can change the color and rhythm of in the app. They can also be turned off completely.

Sound quality

Like the SRS-XB23, the XB33 sounds pretty flat and tame with Extra Bass turned off. Therefore, make sure that this is activated. The sound balance is then warm and full, and is the most entertaining we have tested in this class. I prefer to raisee the treble a few notches, and, conversely lower the bass notch to avoid it being too oppulent.

The sound is impressively vibrant. Electronic music sounds rhythmic and tough, and it was born to rock. Vocals sound rounder and better than with the JBL Charge 5, the XB33 is just simply a better speaker. It has both the bass, the sound pressure, and the ability to separate instruments and voices better from each other. And if you’re wondering if Marshall Emberton rocks better, I do not think so either. No matter what kind of music you like, the Sony speaker does it better. After doing a few important adjustments to the sound in the app.

Sony SRS-XB33 lifestyle
Photo: Sony

Sony SRS-XB33: Conclusion

The Sony SRS-XB33 has impressively rich and good bass, and extends beyond the size. It outperforms its closest competitors in sound quality.

Download the app to get the most out of the speaker, here you can make various sound settings and change the rhythm, pattern and color of the flashing lights. Or turn them off completely. Here you can also make settings for the sound, that may be necessary to get the full experience.

The SRS-XB33 is simply the best speaker in its field right now, so we are adjusting the rating to 6, from the fiver it got last autumn.

Also in this test

JBL Charge 5

Party on the trip

JBL Charge 5 plays loud and powerful, and is the one you want to take with you on a ride.

Powerful sound, good battery life, several can be connected.
Slightly sharp treble, no sound settings in the app.

Marshall Emberton

It looks tougher than it sounds

The unmistakable Marshall design will appeal to many rock lovers. But the sound of Emberton is rather tame.

Rough and tough sound, robustly built, a look that appeals to rock lovers.
Thin midrange.

JBL Link Portable

Both smart and portable

JBL Link Portable is a portable speaker in a practical format. Google Assistant is built-in for smart home management.

Combines portable use with Google Assistant for convenient smart home management. The sound is balanced and straightforward, and the charging plate is practical.
We miss dynamics and control, it gets pretty tame. Does not support fast charging.

Sony SRS-XB23

Good sound in a handy format

The cylindrical SRS-XB23 is smaller and more convenient than its big brothers. But it lacks a bit of sound.

With a little adjustment, the sound is quite engaging, with a rich bass that does not dominate too much.
Slow charging. The speaker requires sound tuning to sound good.

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