If you are looking for a Bluetooth speaker which has decent bass and can fit into your pocket, you have very few choices.
It is mainly because it is a hard engineering task to create a speaker which can provide powerful bass in a compact size.
Sony now tried to solve this task and extended its Extra Bass line-up with a tiny speaker, the SRS-XB10.
In the Extra Bass line-up, the XB10 is the smallest guy, but let’s see how big this small grenade can explode.
At the date of this review (13.11.2017), the speaker was available around 60 dollars.
It comes in a small box with only a micro USB cable accessory.
- 20 feet
- 70% volume: 15 hours
- Maximum volume: 6 hours 30 minutes
- IPX5 certified
- It can be used in rain or as a shower speaker, however, you cannot submerge it into the water.
- Deep, powerful bass
- Strong battery life
- NFC tap-to-pair
- Short Bluetooth range
- Muddy treble
- It tends to distort
Sony SRS-XB10 Review Video
Sturdy design, fit into a drink holder
Design-wise it resembles a can of soda but it is a bit shorter.
It was a good design choice because it fits well into any drink holder slot in the cars or bags.
Although, on the other hand, it is not the best friend of the slim notebook bags.
Looking at the speaker, it looks like a grenade especially with the strap on the top of it.
Overall, it fits well into your palm, I think this is still in the ultra-portable category although it is not something you can easily put into your pocket like for example the JBL Go.
The detachable strap is useful to hang the speaker on your bike or to attach it to your backpack, however, the solutions of the competitors like the carabiner of the JBL Clip 2 or the cord of the UE Roll 2 is much more versatile and useful.
It is a clever design element that the plastic ring at the end of the strap can be used as a stand, so you can lay the speaker on it and direct the sound towards you for example if you are watching a movie.
Except the metal speaker grille on the top and the hard plastic at the bottom, the Sony XB10 got a soft, matte finished, rubberized outer coating.
It is nice to touch and make the speaker really sturdy, you have the feeling that it can survive some accidental drops as well.
On the back, a rectangular, rubber cap covers the micro USB charging port and the audio jack input.
I like the design of it, it is easy to open and close and it seems to be a long-lasting element.
Comes in 6 different colors
The XB10 comes in 6 color options, it is available in black, white, blue, red, green and yellow.
My test device got the white color which is really more of a light gray.
It looks good, fits well with the sporty design of the speaker and on the other hand elegant enough to put it on a shelf in a modern living room.
If you will use it mainly outside, a black version might be a better choice because it’s easy to see the dust on this white one.
It is splash-proof
Fortunately, the XB10 got an IPX5 water protection, which means it is splash-proof so you can wash it off or use it as a shower speaker.
However, since it is not waterproof, you cannot submerge it in the water so you have to be careful if you use it by a pool.
It has lots of buttons and indicator LEDs
The XB10 has 5 buttons: a play/pause button, an ‘Add’ button which can be used to connect two speakers together and use them in stereo mode, two volume buttons, and a power button.
The buttons are only flat painted signs on the side of the speaker and they are quite small, so it can be cumbersome to use them especially in low-light conditions.
The speaker has a surprisingly lot indicator LEDs.
There are four under the buttons, a charging light, ‘L/R’ indicators and the Bluetooth pairing led.
Easy to set it up especially because it is NFC-enabled
When you turn the speaker on for the first time after purchase or there is no pairing information stored in it, it starts automatically in pairing mode.
The Bluetooth light starts blinking and the device is discoverable, you can easily find it with your phone or computer.
When you turn the speaker on, it will automatically connect to the last paired device.
If you want to connect a second device, you can turn it manually to pairing mode by pressing the power button till you hear the beep sound and the Bluetooth LED starts blinking.
When you pair your second device, it is suggested to turn off the Bluetooth on your first device otherwise the speaker will automatically connect to it and quite from pairing mode.
The Sony XB10 can be paired with up to 8 Bluetooth devices.
It is a nice plus feature and it is not common in this category that the XB10 got an NFC chip, what is situated under the ‘N’ sign at the side of the speaker.
This means that the NFC enabled devices can be easily paired and connected to the speaker just by touching the devices to the ‘N’ sign.
If the speaker cannot be turned on or cannot be operated despite it being turned on, open the cap on the rear side and push the 'Reset' button for about 2 seconds with a pin or other pointed objects.
If you cannot turn the speaker on or it does not work correctly, press the reset button next to the charging port using a pin.
If you want to reset the speaker, make sure to press it at least for two seconds.
You can initialize the speaker and delete all pairing information by pressing the 'Volume down' and the 'Power' buttons simultaneously for more than 5 seconds.
Short Bluetooth Range
According to Sony, the Bluetooth range is 32.81 ft which is an average in this category.
Unfortunately, in my outdoor test, I measured only 17-20 ft range which is a quite low number compared to the competitors and it can be less if there are obstacles or walls between your Bluetooth device and the speaker.
So if the Bluetooth range is an important factor for you then the XB10 is not the best choice for you.
Limited Music Control Capabilities
The Sony XB10 has limited music control capabilities, which means you can play/pause the music with the dedicated play button and you can skip a song by double pressing it.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to jump back to the previously played song or forward/backward in a song.
The Sony SRS-XB10 has a built-in microphone, so it can be used as a speakerphone to answer incoming calls by pressing the play button.
Two XB10 can be connected together
If you would like to amplify your sound level or would like to get a nice stereo sound, then you can buy two XB10 and make them work in pair.
To connect two speakers together, you have to connect the first speaker to your Bluetooth device then keep pressing the ‘Add’ button till you hear a beep sound, after that in the same way press the ‘Add’ button on the second speaker.
When two speakers were connected together the ‘L/R’ indicator LEDs light up.
By default, they are connected in double mode which means you get an amplified mono sound, however, by pressing the ‘Add’ button again you can switch them to stereo mode.
In stereo mode, the ‘L/R’ indicator LEDs show which one is the right and the left device.
If two speakers are connected then the ‘Add’, the volume +/-, and the power off buttons on either speaker will actually control both speakers.
Exceptional Battery Life
According to Sony, the battery life of the SRS-XB10 is up to 16 hours on a moderate volume and around 5 hours on the maximum volume level.
I can confirm this, in my test I measured 15 hours on 70% volume and 6 hours 30 minutes on full volume.
So it has a strong battery life, you are unlikely to run out of juice at the end of the day.
Unfortunately, there is no battery indicator, so it is not possible to find out the current battery level.
The only indicator is the ‘CHG’ charge led which starts flashing slowly in orange if the battery is low.
The speaker can be charged with its provided micro USB cable and according to the manufacturer, it takes 4 hours 30 minutes to fully charge it.
If the speaker is not connected to a Bluetooth device and a cable is not connected to the audio jack for 15 minutes, the speaker turns off automatically to save battery life.
OKAY BUT HOW IT SOUNDS?
Under the hood, the speaker has a 1.8in mono driver on the top and a passive radiator on the bottom.
Regarding the sound quality, the bass is much more powerful and deeper than by the most speakers in this size category, the bass level is definitely above the average.
However, the mids sound a bit muddy, they are not vivid and spacious enough compared to other speakers.
This means some songs can sound lifeless on the speaker.
Unfortunately, the sound of the speaker is not always clear, there are some noises here or there and it also tends to distort on full volume.
The volume level is nice by bass-heavy songs but otherwise, it is only average.
The XB10 is a stylish, sturdy Bluetooth speaker, which provides exceptional powerful bass.
It has some nice smart features like the strap on it what can be used as a stand for the speaker or the built-in NFC chip which is still uncommon in this category and makes the pairing process much easier.
The IPX5 water protection is a nice addition and improves its portability like the strong battery life which is definitely better than the average of the ultra-portable speakers.
However, some flaws keep it from excelling like the noise and the distortions on high volume, the muddy trebles or the weak Bluetooth range.
Overall, I suggest this speaker for those one who need long battery life and want powerful bass for EDM music.
Ultra-portable with most powerful bass
Deep, powerful bass
Strong battery life
Short Bluetooth range
Tend to distort
One alternative is the Creative Muvo 2c which is also splash-proof and has a passive woofer for deeper bass.
Its plus function compared to the XB10 is that it can play music also from a micro SD card.
However, its bass is not so powerful and has a much shorter battery life.
From the Ultimate Ears, it’s worth to mention the UE Roll 2 which is much louder and has nicer more pronounced mids.
It is not just splash-proof but can be submerged into water and with its small inflatable accessory, it can float on the water.
But it has much weaker bass and shorter battery life than the XB10.
In addition, it does not support NFC.
From the JBL the JBL Clip 2 is in this ultra-portable category.
It is completely waterproof and has nicer mids than the XB10.
It also has a built-in carabiner which makes it more portable.
However, it has much less bass and shorter battery life.
How does it compare to other speakers?
Sony SRS-XB10 vs UE Roll 2
The UE Roll 2 is also a rugged, portable speaker with water protection.
It has a larger footprint but slimmer design than the Sony XB10.
It is not just splash-proof but completely waterproof, it can be submerged into 1-meter-deep water for 30 minutes.
So if you would like to use your speaker for watersports or at a pool, then the UE Roll 2 is a safer choice.
It has a built-in elastic cord on its back, which is very useful, much more versatile than the strap of the XB10.
The Roll 2 does not have an NFC chip but it has a longer 50 feet Bluetooth range.
Unlike the XB10, it does not have a microphone and any music control capability; you can only adjust the volume level, you cannot even pause/play a song with it.
It has a shorter battery life, 11 hours 30 minutes at 70% volume and 2 hours 10 minutes at full volume compared to the 15 hours and 6 hours 30 minutes of the XB10.
Regarding sound quality, it does not have so strong, punchy bass as the XB10, it sounds rather flat, however, it has a clearer sound and nicer highs.
You can check my detailed comparison of the two speakers here: UE Roll 2 vs Sony SRS-XB10 Full Comparison
Sony SRS-XB10 vs JBL Clip 2
Both speakers are covered by a matte finished, rubberized plastic and are solid, durable devices.
The Clip 2 is not just splash-proof but completely waterproof, it can be submerged into 1-meter-deep water for 30 minutes.
It has a built-in carabiner on its top which is even replaceable and more useful than the strap of the XB10.
It does not have an NFC chip but it has a similarly weak 20 feet Bluetooth range as the XB10.
In terms of battery life, the XB10 is the winner with its 15 hours playtime at 70% volume compared to the 13 hours 20 minutes of the Clip 2.
Regarding the sound quality, the XB10 has a much more powerful, punchy bass, however, the Clip 2 has a clearer overall sound with better treble.
You can check the detailed comparison of the two speakers here: JBL Clip 2 vs Sony SRS-XB10 - Which One To Buy?
Sony SRS-XB10 vs JBL Go
The JBL Go is a smaller, more portable device with a lower price tag.
It does not have any attachment option, only a loop which can be used to attach a lanyard or a carabiner to the speaker, so the strap of the Sony is more useful when you carry the speaker around.
It does not have any water protection and NFC chip, however, it has a longer 60 feet Bluetooth range.
Its battery life is much shorter than the XB10’s, it provides only 6 hours 50 minutes play time at 70% volume.
Despite its small size, the JBL Go has a nice clear sound, however, its bass is very weak, it feels a bit boxy compared to the XB10.
You can check my detailed comparison of the two speakers here: Sony SRS-XB10 vs JBL Go comparison
Dimensions: Approx. φ75 x H91
Weight: Approx. 9.17 oz
Mono Speaker: 1.81 in
Frequency response: 20 Hz–20,000 Hz (Sampling frequency 44.1 kHz)
Bluetooth version: 4.2