Sony SRS-XB01 Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Jan 28, 2021 at 08:35 am
Sony SRS-XB01 Picture
5.3
Music
5.2
Videos/Movies
6.8
Podcasts
3.6
Voice Assistant
6.5
Outdoors
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
No
Speakerphone
Yes
Voice Assistant
Yes
Battery Powered
Yes

The Sony SRS-XB01 is a portable Bluetooth speaker that comes with a removable strap so you can hang it off your bag or backpack while you're on-the-go. It can reproduce vocals and lead instruments clearly and accurately, but like many small speakers, it really struggles to reproduce low-bass. It doesn't get very loud, and it doesn't offer any sound customization options, either. That said, it has an IPX5 rating for water resistance, though we don't currently test for this.

Our Verdict

5.3 Music

The Sony XB01 is disappointing for music. While it can reproduce vocals and lead instruments clearly, it really struggles to reproduce a deep, thumpy low-bass. As a result, it probably isn't ideal for listening to bass-heavy genres like EDM or hip-hop. Its soundstage is perceived as narrow, directional, and uneven, and it has to downmix stereo content into mono to play it. Also, it doesn't have any sound customization options.

Pros
  • Not a lot of compression at max volume.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • No sound customization features.
5.2 Videos/Movies

The Sony XB01 is inadequate for videos and movies. Dialogue is reproduced clearly and accurately, but it lacks low-bass, so you don't feel the deep thumps and rumbles in action-packed scenes. It doesn't get very loud, and its soundstage isn't very immersive. That said, it has low latency with Android and iOS devices, though some apps compensate for latency differently.

Pros
  • Not a lot of compression at max volume.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • No sound customization features.
  • Doesn't get very loud.
6.8 Podcasts

The Sony XB01 is adequate for podcasts. Its balanced, neutral mid-range can reproduce dialogue clearly and accurately. It also has a very portable design, so you can bring it with you from one room to the next with ease. That said, it doesn't get very loud, and you can only pair it with one device at a time, which can be annoying.

Pros
  • Not a lot of compression at max volume.
Cons
  • No multi-device pairing.
3.6 Voice Assistant

The Sony XB01 is poor for voice assistants. It just uses the voice assistant from your paired smartphone, but it doesn't have any built-in features. Also, as part of our methodology, we use recorded voice commands to test the speaker. However, this speaker didn't respond. While it responded to normal speaking voices, this isn't part of our testing process.

Pros
  • Not a lot of compression at max volume.
Cons
  • No multi-device pairing.
  • Doesn't get very loud.
6.5 Outdoors

The Sony SRS-XB01 is okay for outdoor use. It's portable, and it even has a removable strap so you can hang it from a tree branch or a backpack while outside. It even has an IPX5 rating for water resistance, though we don't currently test for this. However, it doesn't get very loud, and its soundstage isn't very open or immersive.

Pros
  • Not a lot of compression at max volume.
  • IPX5 rating for water resistance.
Cons
  • No sound customization features.
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • 5.3 Music
  • 5.2 Videos/Movies
  • 6.8 Podcasts
  • 3.6 Voice Assistant
  • 6.5 Outdoors
  1. Updated Mar 12, 2021: Updated our Bluetooth latency results with iOS and Android devices.
  2. Updated Feb 03, 2021: Updated 'Additional Controls' from NO to YES.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

The Sony SRS-XB01 is a small speaker that can fit in your hand. It has a metal grille on the front and plastic surrounding the other sides. It comes with a removable strap, which you can use to attach the speaker to your bag or backpack. It comes in lots of different color variants, so you can find a color that suits your style.

9.5
Design
Portability
Volume
14 in³ (234 cm³)
Weight
0.2 lbs (0.1 kg)
Power Source
Battery & USB
One-Hand Carry
Yes

This speaker is incredibly portable. It's small and lightweight, so you can easily carry it with one hand. Since it has a battery, you can bring it outside, too. If you're looking for a small speaker with a more kid-friendly design, check out the JBL JR POP.

7.4
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Great
Water Resistance
Waterproof (IPx5)
Dust Resistance
Unspecified
Impact Resistance
Unspecified
Floats In Water
Unspecified

The Sony SRS-XB01 has a satisfactory build quality. It feels quite solid and durable, and the metal grille helps to protect the drivers. There are also two horizontal rubber tracks on the bottom of the speaker so it can sit facing forward. The removable strap has a good length given the size of the speaker. Also, it has an IPX5 rating for water resistance, though we don't test for this.

7.9
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Great
Feedback
Good
Music Play/Pause
Yes (Physical)
Call Answer/End
Yes (Physical)
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Physical)
Track Next/Previous
Yes (Physical)
Microphone On/Off
No
Additional Controls
Yes

Update 02/03/2021: We updated our score for Additional Controls from 'NO' to 'YES' to better reflect that the Power button also acts as a Bluetooth pairing button.

The controls are very good. Buttons on top of the speaker let you turn it on/off, adjust the volume, and play/pause your audio. Hold down the power button for three seconds to activate Bluetooth pairing mode. You can press the play button twice to skip to the next track, and three times to skip to the previous track. Overall, the buttons are easy to press.

Design
In The Box

  • Sony SRS-XB01
  • Micro-USB to USB-A charging cable
  • Reference Guide

Sound
5.3
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
-0.04
Std. Err.
2.44 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
142.5 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
14.3 kHz

The Sony SRS-XB01 has disappointing frequency response accuracy. It lacks a lot of low-bass, so you don't feel the deep thump, rumble, and punch in bass-heavy genres like EDM. Fortunately, its balanced mid and treble ranges help produce clear and accurate vocals and lead instruments.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
5.2
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
5.17 dB
Stereo
No (mono)

The soundstage is inadequate. This speaker has to downmix stereo content into mono to play it, which doesn't sound very immersive. Also, its mediocre directivity makes the soundstage seem narrow, directional, and uneven rather than open and spacious.

6.6
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
78.1 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
0.30 dB

The Sony SRS-XB01 has an alright dynamics performance. It doesn't get very loud, so it may not be ideal to use at large, crowded parties. That said, there isn't a lot of compression when you play it at max volume, so audio reproduction is clear and pure. If you're looking for a portable speaker that can get louder, consider the JBL Charge 4.

Active Features
9.0
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
11.5 hrs
Charge Time
2.0 hrs
Power Saving
Yes
Charging Port
Micro-USB

The Sony SRS-XB01 has an outstanding battery performance. It lasts for over eleven hours off of a single charge, which is much longer than its advertised battery life of six hours. However, battery life can vary depending on usage, so your real-world experience may vary. The speaker also shuts off after about twenty minutes without an audio signal, which can help preserve battery life.

1.7
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
No
Google Assistant
Yes (Requires Smartphone)
Siri
Yes (Requires Smartphone)
Voice Activation
No
Microphone Mute
No
Far-Field Performance
Bad
Ambient Noise Performance
Bad

This speaker has terrible voice assistant capabilities. Just like the Sony SRS-XB12, it uses voice assistants from paired smartphones, but it doesn't have any built-in capabilities. As part of our methodology, we use recorded voice commands to test the speaker. However, it didn't respond to these commands, even when there wasn't any ambient noise. While it responded to normal speaking voices, this isn't part of our testing process.

0
Active Features
App
App Name
No App
iOS
No
Android
No
EQ
No
Stereo Pair Mode
No
Party Mode
No
Multi-Room
No

The Sony SRS-XB01 doesn't have a companion app.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Wired
Aux Input
Yes
USB Audio
No
Other Ports
No

This speaker has an AUX port, which you can use to plug in smartphones to play audio.

8.4
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
4.2
Bluetooth iOS Latency
46 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
45 ms
Bluetooth Range
326.4 ft (99.5 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
No

Update 03/12/2021: After setting the Reaper Frames per Second to 60, we retested Bluetooth latency for both iOS and Android devices. The review has been updated accordingly.

The Sony SRS-XB01 has impressive Bluetooth connectivity. It has an outstanding range, so it stays connected to your device even if it isn't very close to the speaker. Thanks to its low latency with iOS and Android devices, it's suitable for watching videos and movies. However, some apps compensate for latency differently, so your experience can vary.

0
Connectivity
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Version
No Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Frequency Band
No Wi-Fi
Apple AirPlay
No
AirPlay Latency
N/A
Google Chromecast
No
Chromecast Latency
N/A

This speaker isn't Wi-Fi compatible.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Sony SRS-XB01 comes in several different color variants, including: 'Blue', 'Black', 'Gray', 'Yellow', 'Green', and 'Red'. We tested the 'Blue' variant, and you can see the label for the model we tested here. We expect the other color variants to perform similarly.

If you come across another version, let us know in the discussions so we can update our review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The Sony SRS-XB01 is a small, portable Bluetooth speaker that comes in lots of different colors. Like many small speakers, it really struggles to reproduce low-bass, and it doesn't get very loud. Unlike other speakers in Sony's SRS-XB lineup like the Sony SRS-XB23 and the Sony SRS-XB33, it isn't compatible with the Sony Music Center app, so you can't customize its sound or create a stereo pair. That said, it comes with a removable strap, so you can hang the speaker off your backpack while on-the-go. See our recommendations for the best cheap speakers.

Sony SRS-XB12

The Sony SRS-XB12 is a better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB01. The XB12 is better-built, and its default sound profile is more neutral with a more extended low-bass. It also has a better soundstage, and its graphic EQ allows for greater sound customization. However, the XB01 has longer battery life.

JBL GO 3

The JBL GO 3 and the Sony SRS-XB01 are very similar speakers, so you may prefer one over the other depending on your listening habits. The JBL is better-built, and it has a better soundstage. However, the Sony supports voice assistants, and it has longer battery life.

Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2

The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2 is a better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB01. The Ultimate Ears is better-built, and it gets louder. Its sound profile is more neutral, and it has a more extended low-bass. Also, its soundstage is better. That said, Sony supports voice assistants, unlike the Ultimate Ears, and it's much smaller, which can be ideal for you're looking for something to bring with you on-the-go.

JBL JR POP

The Sony SRS-XB01 and the JBL JR POP are both small, portable speakers with similar overall performances, so you may prefer one over the other. The Sony has longer battery life and it supports voice assistants, unlike the JBL. Both speakers struggle to reproduce low-bass, but the Sony has a better-balanced sound profile. However, the JBL has a better soundstage performance and is designed for kids.

OontZ Angle 3

The OontZ Angle 3 and the Sony SRS-XB01 are very similar speakers, so depending on your listening habits, you may prefer one over the other. The OontZ gets louder and has longer battery life. Also, it can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono, unlike the Sony. However, the Sony supports voice assistants, and it also has a more balanced sound profile.

DOSS SoundBox Plus

The DOSS SoundBox Plus and the Sony SRS-XB01 are very similar speakers, so depending on your listening habits, you may prefer one over the other. The Sony is better-built and much smaller, so it's easier to bring with you on-the-go. However, the DOSS has a better soundstage performance, and it gets louder. Also, it has a better voice assistant performance.

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