Sony SRS-XB23 Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Jan 08, 2021 at 09:01 am
Sony SRS-XB23 Picture
6.3
Music
5.8
Videos/Movies
7.3
Podcasts
3.8
Voice Assistant
7.4
Outdoors
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
No
Speakerphone
Yes
Voice Assistant
Yes
Battery Powered
Yes

The Sony SRS-XB23 is a portable cylindrical speaker. Thanks to its 360° design, its soundstage is perceived as wide and spacious. While its sound profile lacks low-bass out-of-the-box, it also has a graphic EQ via its companion app, which is nice if you like to tweak its sound profile. Unfortunately, it doesn't get very loud and there are compression artifacts at max volume. That said, it's durable and well-built, making it a suitable option if you're looking for a speaker that you can take with you outdoors.

Our Verdict

6.3 Music

The Sony SRS-XB23 is mediocre for music. While it struggles to produce low-bass and it has a dulled treble right out-of-the-box, its companion app offers a graphic EQ so you can adjust its sound to your liking. Thanks to its 360° design, it has a very good soundstage as well. However, it doesn't get very loud and there are compression artifacts at max volume.

Pros
  • Graphic EQ.
  • Very portable and well-built design.
  • Wide and large soundstage.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • Doesn't support Apple AirPlay, Chromecast, or Wi-Fi.
  • Lacks low-bass.
5.8 Videos/Movies

The Sony XB23 is subpar for videos and movies. It has an even mid-range, so voices and dialogue are accurately reproduced. However, it lacks low-bass, so you won't feel the thump and rumble of action-packed scenes. It also doesn't get very loud and there are compression artifacts at max volume. However, it has low audio latency on iOS and Android devices.

Pros
  • Graphic EQ.
  • Very portable and well-built design.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • Doesn't support Apple AirPlay, Chromecast, or Wi-Fi.
  • Lacks low-bass.
7.3 Podcasts

The Sony SRS-XB23 is decent for podcasts. It has a neutral mid-range, so vocal-centric content sounds clear and accurate. The speaker is also very portable and you can pair it with up to two devices at a time. Unfortunately, it doesn't support multi-room audio, so you can't stream different audio from your smartphone to different speakers in separate rooms.

Pros
  • Very portable and well-built design.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • Doesn't support Alexa voice assistant.
3.8 Voice Assistant

The Sony SRS-XB23 is poor for voice assistant. You can connect your smartphone to the speaker to use your voice assistant. However, this speaker couldn't recognize the recorded commands that we use to test its capabilities. While it can respond to regular speaking voices, this isn't currently part of our testing process.

Pros
  • Very portable and well-built design.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
7.4 Outdoors

The Sony XB23 is decent for outdoor use. It has a great build quality with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, although we don't currently test for this, and it's very portable. It also has over nine hours of playtime, so you don't need to worry about battery life if you're away from an outlet. Unfortunately, it doesn't get that loud and there are compression artifacts at max volume.

Pros
  • Graphic EQ.
  • Very portable and well-built design.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • 6.3 Music
  • 5.8 Videos/Movies
  • 7.3 Podcasts
  • 3.8 Voice Assistant
  • 7.4 Outdoors

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

The Sony XB23 has a cylindrical look that can be placed vertically or horizontally, depending on your preferences. There are passive radiators on each end, and most of the speaker is protected by thick webbing. It comes in several colors, so you can find a shade that suits your style.

9.2
Design
Portability
Volume
71 in³ (1167 cm³)
Weight
1.1 lbs (0.5 kg)
Power Source
Battery & USB
One-Hand Carry
Yes

This speaker is exceptionally portable. You can easily carry it with one hand, and it has a strap so you can suspend it from a hook. It's also fairly lightweight. Since it has a battery, you can also use it outside.

8.1
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Decent
Water Resistance
Submersible (IPx7)
Dust Resistance
Dust-Proof (IP6x)
Impact Resistance
Yes (IK rating unspecified)
Floats In Water
Unspecified

The Sony SRS-XB23 has a great build quality. While we don't currently test for it, this speaker has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance. Most of the speaker is wrapped in thick netting, and the bottom side has a rubber base to keep it from slipping. There's also a compartment in the back of the speaker for its USB-C charge connection and a thick, adjustable removable carrying strap.

8.0
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Great
Feedback
Great
Music Play/Pause
Yes (Physical)
Call Answer/End
Yes (Physical)
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Physical)
Track Next/Previous
Yes
Microphone On/Off
No
Additional Controls
Yes

The Sony SRS-XB23 has great controls. Physical controls are located on the side of the speaker and allow you to manage calls and audio. They're easy to use, and there are mini display lights on some of the controls to let you know the status of the speaker. If you want to skip the track forward, you can press the play button twice. You can also skip the track backward by pushing the play button three times. The battery button can also be held for three seconds to enter 'Stamina Mode', which turns off the extra bass feature to help conserve battery life. There's also audible feedback on battery levels. This speaker has dedicated buttons for party mode as well as stereo pairing.

Design
In The Box

  • Sony SRS-XB23 speaker
  • USB-C charging cable
  • User Manual

Sound
6.1
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
0.08
Std. Err.
3.70 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
71.3 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
7.0 kHz

The Sony XB23 has mediocre frequency response accuracy. When placed horizontally and with its extra bass feature on, it still struggles to reproduce low-bass. While it's a little boomy, it also has a veiled and dull treble. That said, if you prefer a different sound, you can use the graphic EQ in the companion app to tweak the sound to your liking.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
7.9
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
3.98 dB
Stereo
Yes

This speaker has a very good soundstage. Thanks to its 360-degree design, it has an omnidirectional soundstage that sounds wide and large. You can set the speaker to either mono or stereo mode via the Sony app. If you really want to feel immersed in your favorite music, you can also check out the Marshall Emberton, which has a better soundstage.

5.2
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
84.9 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
4.79 dB

The Sony SRS-XB23 has a disappointing dynamics performance. It doesn't get that loud, and there are a lot of compression artifacts at max volume.

Active Features
7.8
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
9.2 hrs
Charge Time
2.8 hrs
Power Saving
Yes
Charging Port
USB-C

The Sony SRS-XB23 has a very good battery performance. It has over nine hours of playback time and turns off after approximately 15 minutes to conserve battery life. You can turn this feature on and off via the companion app. That said, battery life can vary according to usage, so your experience may differ. If you're looking for a similarly-styled speaker with a better battery performance, check out the Sony SRS-XB33 or the Sony SRS-XB43.

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

The Sony SRS-XB23 has a terrible voice assistant integrated performance. It uses your smartphone's voice assistant. As part of our methodology, we use recorded voice commands to activate the speaker. However, this speaker has trouble registering these commands and doesn't respond. While it can register commands from a normal speaking voice, this isn't part of our testing process.

7.9
Active Features
App
App Name
Sony Music Center
iOS
Yes
Android
Yes
EQ
Graphic
Stereo Pair Mode
Yes
Party Mode
Yes
Multi-Room
No

The Sony Music Center is a very good app. It's compatible with both iOS and Android. You can use it to pair two speakers together to create a stereo pair or link them together to play the same audio to cover a larger space. This app also includes a graphic EQ, so you can really tweak its sound to your liking.

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

The Sony SRS-XB23 can't be used wired. It comes with a USB-C cable for charging the speaker.

8.9
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.0
Bluetooth iOS Latency
52 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
90 ms
Bluetooth Range
311.7 ft (95.0 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices

This speaker has an excellent Bluetooth performance. It can connect with up to two devices at a time, and it has an outstanding range. It also has low latency on both iOS and Android, which is great if you like to watch videos. However, some apps and devices compensate for latency differently, 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

The Sony XB23 isn't Wi-Fi compatible.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Sony SRS-XB23 comes in several color variants: 'Black', 'Olive Green', 'Orange', 'Coral Red', 'Sky Blue', and 'Taupe'. We tested the Black variant, and you can see its label here. We expect each of the 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 XB23 is a cylindric speaker that can be used in a mono or stereo mode. While its soundstage isn't as wide as other 360° speakers like the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2, it still feels spacious. However, like most smaller speakers, it struggles to get loud and to reproduce low-bass. Luckily, thanks to its companion app, it also has a graphic EQ so you can tweak its sound to your liking.

Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2

The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2 is a better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB23. The Ultimate Ears has a better soundstage and can get louder with a lot fewer compression artifacts. Its battery lasts longer too. However, the Sony has less latency via Bluetooth and it has a companion app with a graphic EQ to tweak its sound. It can also be paired with smartphones if you want voice assistant support.

Bose SoundLink Revolve

The Bose SoundLink Revolve is a better speaker out-of-the-box than the Sony SRS-XB23. The Bose is capable of reproducing more low-bass and has a more even treble range. Its battery lasts longer too. However, the Sony has a companion app that offers a graphic EQ so you can tweak its sound to your liking. It also has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, although we don't currently test this, and it can be used in a stereo or mono mode.

Bose SoundLink Micro

The Sony SRS-XB23 is a better speaker than the Bose SoundLink Micro. The Sony is better-built, it can produce more low-bass, and it can get louder, although with more compression artifacts present. It also has a longer-lasting battery life as well as a graphic EQ so you can tweak its sound. However, the Bose is smaller, which some people may prefer.

Sony SRS-XB33

The Sony SRS-XB23 and the Sony SRS-XB33 are similarly performing speakers. The SRS-XB23 is smaller and has a 360-degree design, so its soundstage is perceived as wide. However, the SRS-XB33 is better-built and can get slightly louder with fewer compression artifacts. Its battery also lasts longer and it has customizable lighting, which some users may prefer.

JBL Clip 4

The Sony SRS-XB23 is a better speaker for outdoor use than the JBL Clip 4. The Sony has better controls and a better-balanced sound profile. Since it's a 360-degree speaker, it can reproduce a wider soundstage. It also has a better battery life and you can use your smartphone's voice assistant with it. It even has an app with a graphic EQ so that you can tweak its sound to your liking.

Sony SRS-XB43

The Sony SRS-XB43 is a bit better than the Sony SRS-XB23. Both speakers have a somewhat uneven sound profile, but the XB43 has a more extended low-bass. It also gets louder, and it has longer battery life. While the XB23 lists an IK rating for impact resistance, the XB43 doesn't. The XB23 also has a better soundstage performance.

Marshall Emberton

The Marshall Emberton is better for most uses than the Sony SRS-XB23. The Marshall's default sound profile is more neutral, and it has a better soundstage. However, the Sony offers a graphic EQ for sound customization. Also, the Sony is a better choice for outdoor use as it's better-built, and it supports voice assistants, unlike the Marshall.

+ Show more
Price trend (United States Last Year)
Deals

LOG IN

JOIN RTINGS.com

Be part of the most informed community and take advantage of our advanced tools to find the best product for your needs.
Join our mailing list:
Become an insider
EARLY ACCESS

Gain early access to all tests results for new products

Early Access UI
PRICES LISTED

Prices will now be listed directly in reviews and tables

product prices UI
MORE VOTES

Have 5 votes per product category to choose which product we’ll review next

Additional votes UI
UNLIMITED ACCESS

Gain unlimited access to detailed test results in tools and results (no blurred results)

test table UI

Create Post

Create Deal