Sony SRS-XB12 Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Feb 01, 2021 at 07:52 am
Sony SRS-XB12 Picture
6.0
Music
5.8
Videos/Movies
7.4
Podcasts
4.2
Voice Assistant
6.9
Outdoors
This speaker was replaced by the Sony SRS-XB13
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
No
Speakerphone
Yes
Voice Assistant
Yes
Battery Powered
Yes

The Sony SRS-XB12 is a Bluetooth speaker that's easy to take with you on-the-go. Thanks to its sturdy, well-built design and excellent battery performance, it can easily handle long days outdoors. Although it has to downmix stereo content into mono to play this content, it also has a wide soundstage. However, like most small speakers, it lacks low-bass, and it doesn't have an EQ for you to tweak its sound. It also doesn't get very loud, but there's minimal compression at max volume, so your audio sounds clean.

Our Verdict

6.0 Music

The Sony SRS-XB12 is acceptable for music. It has a balanced mid-range for reproducing vocals and lead instruments clearly. However, it lacks low-bass, and the upper harmonics of vocals and lead instruments can sound a little bright. It also lacks an EQ, which is disappointing if you want to tweak its sound. Although it can't get very loud, there are minimal compression artifacts at max volume.

Pros
  • Wide and large soundstage.
  • Few compression artifacts at max volume.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • Lacks low-bass.
5.8 Videos/Movies

The Sony SRS-XB12 is disappointing for videos and movies. It lacks low-bass, so action-packed sound effects don't sound as immersive, and it doesn't get very loud. However, there are minimal compression artifacts at max volume, which ensures clean and pure audio reproduction at a high volume. It also has low latency on Android and iOS, which is great for streaming videos.

Pros
  • Low audio latency on Android and iOS.
  • Few compression artifacts at max volume.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • Lacks low-bass.
7.4 Podcasts

The Sony SRS-XB12 is decent for podcasts. It can reproduce voices clearly, although it can sound a little bright, and it's portable enough to easily move it to different rooms of your home. It also has outstanding directivity so your podcast sounds clear from all angles. However, it doesn't get very loud. It also can't be paired with more than one device at a time.

Pros
  • Wide and large soundstage.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
4.2 Voice Assistant

The Sony SRS-XB12 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
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
6.9 Outdoors

The Sony SRS-XB12 is alright for outdoor use. It's well-built, has a carrying strap to make it easier to take with you on-the-go, and has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, although we don't currently test for this. It also has an excellent battery performance, which is great for long days outside. However, its sound profile really lacks low-bass, and it doesn't get very loud.

Pros
  • Wide and large soundstage.
  • Few compression artifacts at max volume.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • 6.0 Music
  • 5.8 Videos/Movies
  • 7.4 Podcasts
  • 4.2 Voice Assistant
  • 6.9 Outdoors
  1. Updated Feb 01, 2021: Review published.
  2. Updated Jan 27, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

The Sony XB12 has a cylindrical look that's somewhat similar in shape to the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2. The speaker is located on the top, and there's a detachable carrying strap so you can take it with you on-the-go. This speaker also comes in several colors.

9.5
Design
Portability
Volume
30 in³ (485 cm³)
Weight
0.4 lbs (0.2 kg)
Power Source
Battery & USB
One-Hand Carry
Yes

This speaker is very portable. It's very lightweight and has a detachable carrying strap that makes it easy to take with you on the go. It's also battery-operated, so you can take it outdoors.

7.9
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Good
Water Resistance
Submersible (IPx7)
Dust Resistance
Dust-Proof (IP6x)
Impact Resistance
Unspecified
Floats In Water
Unspecified

The Sony XB12 has a very good build quality. It's mostly made of plastic, which has a nice smooth finish but is prone to collecting fingerprint markings. There's a metal grille on its top side to protect its driver as well as a small cover to hide the AUX and micro-USB ports. Overall, it feels sturdy and even has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, although we don't currently 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

The Sony XB12 has very good controls. All the controls are located near the bottom of the speaker. In addition to playing and pausing your audio, the play button allows you to answer or end calls. Pressing this button twice also skips the track forward while pressing it three times skips the track backward. The power button doubles as a Bluetooth pairing button when long-pressed, and there's an 'ADD' button if you want to connect a second speaker unit for stereo or double mode sound, which allows both speakers to play the same audio at the same time. There are lights for the power, charge, and add buttons, and a chime plays when you're connected via Bluetooth. However, there's no cue when adjusting the volume level.

Design
In The Box

  • Sony SRS-XB12 speaker
  • Micro-USB cable
  • User Manual

Sound
5.6
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
-0.09
Std. Err.
2.95 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
119.9 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
18.5 kHz

The Sony SRS-XB12's frequency response accuracy is sub-par. It lacks a lot of low-bass and struggles to produce a boomy sound. While the mid-range is fairly well-balanced, which results in clear and accurate vocals and lead instruments, the treble range is a bit uneven. The upper harmonics of vocals and lead instruments sound bright, while sibilants like cymbals are slightly dull. If you're looking for a very similar speaker that can produce a deeper bass, check out the next generation of this speaker, the Sony SRS-XB13. Unfortunately, unlike the Anker Soundcore 3, it doesn't have an EQ to help tweak its sound.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
7.5
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
0.97 dB
Stereo
No (mono)

The Sony SRS-XB12 has a good soundstage. Although it has to downmix stereo content into mono, which doesn't sound as immersive, its directivity is large, so your audio should be heard clearly from any angle. For a small and portable speaker that can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono, check out the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore.

6.8
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
79.7 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
0.37 dB

This speaker has alright dynamics. It doesn't get very loud, so it's not suitable for large rooms or parties. However, there are only minimal compression artifacts at max volume, resulting in clean and clear audio. For a speaker that gets louder, check out the Alpine Corporation QLP542SLR-GR.

Active Features
8.7
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
13.3 hrs
Charge Time
3.5 hrs
Power Saving
Yes
Charging Port
Micro-USB

The Sony XB12's battery performance is excellent. It's advertised to have around 16 hours of continuous battery life. However, we measured over 13 hours. That said, battery performance can vary according to usage, so your experience may vary. The speaker also turns off after approximately 15 minutes if it isn't playing audio. If you want a speaker with an even longer battery life, check out the Limitless Innovations TikiTunes.

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. 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-XB12 doesn't have a companion app.

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

This speaker has an AUX port, so you can connect a smartphone or other device to the speaker using a wired connection.

8.3
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
4.2
Bluetooth iOS Latency
70 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
52 ms
Bluetooth Range
334.6 ft (102.0 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
No

The Sony SRS-XB12 has great Bluetooth connectivity. While you can't connect it to more than one device at a time, its latency on iOS and Android is quite low, which is great if you like to stream video. Some apps compensate for latency, though, so your experience may 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-XB12 Mini Bluetooth Speaker comes in several color variants: 'Black', 'Blue', 'Green', 'Pink', 'Red', Gray', and 'Yellow'. We tested the Black variant, and you can see its label here. We expect all color variants to perform similarly to our model.

If you come across another variant, please let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The Sony XB12 is a small speaker that's easy to take with you outdoors. Although it has a similar look to the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2, it only has a speaker on its top side and has to downmix stereo content into mono to play it. Even though it doesn't get that loud, it has very few compression artifacts at max volume. However, like many smaller speakers like the Sony SRS-XB01, it lacks low-bass. Check out our recommendations for the best Bluetooth speakers and the best cheap speakers.

Sony SRS-XB13

The Sony SRS-XB13 is a slightly better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB12, though they're very similar. The XB13 can produce deeper bass and has a better-balanced sound profile than the XB12. That said, the XB12 comes with an AUX port you can use to wire your devices to the speaker. It can also get slightly louder with slightly fewer compression artifacts at max volume.

JBL GO 3

The Sony SRS-XB12 is a better speaker than the JBL GO 3. The Sony has a slightly better-balanced sound profile and a wider soundstage. It also has longer-lasting continuous battery life, and can it can utilize your smartphone's voice assistant. However, the JBL is better-built, and some users may prefer its smaller design.

Bose SoundLink Micro

The Sony SRS-XB12 is a slightly better speaker than the Bose SoundLink Micro. The Sony can get a little louder but with fewer compression artifacts at max volume. It has a significantly better battery performance too. However, the Bose can reproduce slightly more low-bass. It also has a companion app.

Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2

The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2 is a better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB12. The Ultimate Ears is better-built and has a more balanced sound profile. Its soundstage is better as it can play stereo content and it can get much louder. However, the Sony supports voice assistants via your smartphone.

Sony SRS-XB01

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.

Anker Soundcore 2

The Sony SRS-XB12 is a better speaker than the Anker Soundcore 2. The Sony is better-built, has a more neutral sound profile, and its soundstage seems wider. It also has lower audio latency on Android and iOS. However, the Anker has a bit better battery performance.

Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore

The Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore is a better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB12 overall. The Bang & Olufsen has a better-balanced sound profile and is more customizable thanks to its 'Beosonic' sound customization feature and its EQ presets available on its companion app. It can also play stereo content without downmixing it to mono, which is more immersive. That said, the Sony is smaller and lasts over 13 hours from a single charge, though this can depend on your usage, and your experience may vary. It also supports voice assistants through your smartphone, though its performance isn't very good.

Alpine Corporation QLP542SLR-GR

The Sony SRS-XB12 is a better overall speaker than the Alpine Corporation QLP542SLR-GR. The Sony is smaller, more portable, and better-built. It has a more neutral sound profile and a better soundstage performance. It also supports voice assistants from your paired smartphone, which is handy. However, the Alpine Corporation has an outdoor-friendly, rock-like design with a built-in solar panel, and it has a longer battery life and gets louder.

Limitless Innovations TikiTunes

The Sony SRS-XB12 is a better speaker than the Limitless Innovations TikiTunes. The Sony is better-built, and its sound profile is more neutral. It also has a better soundstage performance, and it can support voice assistants from your paired smartphone. That said, some listeners may prefer the TikiTunes' unique torch light design with LED lights and its long battery life.

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