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Sony SRS-XB23 Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Updated Jan 17, 2022 at 11:11 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-degree 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 isn't bad for music. Its sound profile has a touch of extra boom in the bass range, and it can sound a bit veiled due to its recessed treble. That said, vocals and lead instruments are still reproduced pretty clearly and accurately. Also, you can customize its sound using the graphic EQ in the Sony Music Center app. However, even with its Extra Bass feature turned on, it still struggles to reproduce the deep rumble in the low-bass, so it's not ideal for bass-heavy genres like EDM.

Pros
  • Graphic EQ.
  • Very portable and well-built design.
  • Extra Bass feature.
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 middling for videos and movies. It has fairly low latency with both Android and iOS devices, so you shouldn't notice a delay between the audio you hear and the video you see. Some apps can compensate for latency differently, though, so your real-world experience may vary. This speaker doesn't get very loud, unfortunately, and it can't reproduce the deep rumble found in action-heavy scenes.

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 XB23 is decent for podcasts. Dialogue is reproduced pretty clearly and accurately, though voices can also sound a bit veiled due to its recessed treble. It also doesn't get very loud. On the upside, its portable design makes it easy to bring this speaker with you from room to room.

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

Theย Sony SRS-XB23 is compatible with the voice assistants on your paired smartphone. Per our testing methodology, we use a series of recorded voice commands to test a speaker's voice assistant performance to ensure consistency across our reviews. However, like other Sony Extra Bass speakers we've tested, the Sony XB23 didn't respond to these recorded commands. It did register commands given in a normal speaking voice, but this isn't part of our testing process.

Pros
  • Very portable and well-built design.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • No built-in voice assistant.
7.4 Outdoors

The Sony XB23 is satisfactory for outdoor use. It has a very lightweight, portable design, so you can easily bring it with you on the go. There's even an adjustable strap to help you attach it to your bag or backpack. It has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance that certifies it to be fully dust-tight and immersible in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes. Unfortunately, it can't get very loud, so it can't fill up a large space with your audio.

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
  1. Updated Jan 08, 2021: Review published.
  2. Updated Jan 05, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

The Sony XB23 has a cylindrical design. You can place it 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. For a speaker with a fairly similar design, check out the JBL Flip 4.

9.2
Design
Portability
Volume
71 inยณ (1,167 cmยณ)
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. It has a durable build, and most of it is wrapped in a thick netting. The removable strap is also quite thick and sturdy, and you can adjust it based on your preferences. There's even an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance that certifies it to be fully dust-tight and immersible in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes.

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 physical controls on the side that 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 speaker's status. If you want to skip the track forward, you can press the play button twice. You can also skip backward by pushing the play button three times. You can hold the battery button for three seconds to enter 'Stamina Mode', which turns off the Extra Bass feature to help conserve battery life. There are also 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. We tested this speaker horizontally with its Extra Bass feature turned on to simulate the average listener experience. Its sound profile has a touch of extra boom in the bass range, and its recessed treble can make audio sound a bit veiled. It also struggles to reproduce the deep thump and rumble in the low-bass found in bass-heavy music like EDM. That said, thanks to its balanced mid-range, vocals, and lead instruments are still reproduced pretty clearly. There's also a graphic EQ available in the Sony Music Center app so you can customize its sound.

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

The Sony SRS-XB23 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 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. If you want a speaker that reproduces audio more clearly at max volume, check out the DOSS SoundBox Plus.

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. There's even a Stamina Mode that turns off the Extra Bass feature to help save battery life. Ultimately, battery life can vary according to usage, so your experience may differ. If you're looking for a similarly-styled speaker with 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

As part of our testing methodology, we use recorded voice commands to activate the speaker. However, like other Sony Extra Bass speakers we've tested, the Sony SRS-XB23 has trouble registering these recorded 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, meaning you can tweak its sound to your liking.

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

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

9.0
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

The Sony SRS-XB23 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 iOS and Android, which is great if you 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

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's part of Sony's Extra Bass lineup. It has a smaller, more portable design than the Sony SRS-XB33 and the Sony SRS-XB43, but it doesn't come with customizable RGB lighting, and it doesn't offer Sony ClearAudio+ to automatically adjust the speaker's sound field based on your audio content. That said, unlike the Sony SRS-XB12, it's compatible with the Sony Music Center app, and it comes with a graphic EQ for sound customization.

See also our recommendations for the best portable speakers, the best Bluetooth speakers, and the best Bluetooth speakers for bass.

JBL Flip 5

The Sony SRS-XB23 is a better speaker than the JBL Flip 5. The Sony is better-built, can play stereo content, and has longer-lasting continuous battery life. It also has a companion app with a graphic EQ so that you can tweak its sound to your liking. However, the JBL can get a bit louder with fewer compression artifacts.

JBL Flip 4

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the JBL Flip 4 or the Sony SRS-XB23. The JBL offers a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box and can get a bit louder with less compression present at max volume, so audio sounds cleaner at louder volumes. That said, the Sony offers a wider-sounding soundstage, and you can customize its sound profile to your liking via the graphic EQ featured in its companion app. It's also better-built with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, certifying it to be dust-tight and immersible in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes.

Ultimate Ears BOOM 3

The Ultimate Ears BOOM 3 is a better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB23. The Ultimate Ears offers a much wider-sounding soundstage thanks to its 360-degree design. It can get louder with less compression present at max volume, so your audio sounds cleaner at louder volumes. It can also last over 13 hours from a single charge, though this can vary depending on your usage. That said, the Sony offers a better-balanced sound profile that can produce a deeper bass than that of the Ultimate Ears. It also supports voice assistants through your smartphone, though its performance isn't very good.

JBL Charge 5

The JBL Charge 5 is a slightly better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB23. The Sony offers a wider-sounding soundstage thanks to its 360-degree design, and can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono. It also supports voice assistants through your smartphone, though its performance isn't great. However, the JBL offers a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box, and can produce a more extended low-bass. It can also get a bit louder with less compression present at max volume, resulting in cleaner audio at louder volumes. Additionally, it has a longer-lasting battery life, though this can depend on your usage.

Sonos Roam

The Sonos Roam is a better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB23. The Sonos is better-built, has a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box, and it supports voice assistants. While it comes with bass and treble adjustments, the Sony has a graphic EQ for sound customization. Also, the Sony supports stereo content and has longer battery life.

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.

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.

Sony SRS-XB13

The Sony SRS-XB23 is a slightly better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB13 overall. The XB23 can produce a more extended low-bass than the XB13, and is more customizable thanks to the graphic EQ featured in its companion app, so you can tweak its sound to your liking. That said, the XB13 is smaller and more portable than the XB23. Also, while it doesn't get as loud, it has fewer compression artifacts present at max volume, so your audio sounds cleaner at louder volumes. 

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.

Anker Soundcore Flare 2

The Anker Soundcore Flare 2 is a slightly better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB23. With its default settings and BassUp feature enabled, the Anker has a better-balanced sound profile that can produce a more extended low-bass. Thanks to its 360-degree design, it has excellent directivity, resulting in a more open and natural-sounding soundstage. That said, the Sony is better-built, and can be paired to up to two devices at once, which can come in handy when you need to quickly switch between audio sources.

Bose SoundLink Color II

The Sony SRS-XB23 is a better speaker than the Bose SoundLink Color II. The Sony has a somewhat more balanced sound profile, and its companion app has a full graphic EQ that lets you customize its sound to your liking. It also has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, while the Bose is rated IPX4. That said, the Bose has less compression at max volume, and it understands you more easily when using the voice assistant from your paired smartphone.

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.

Anker Soundcore Motion+

The Anker Soundcore Motion+ is a better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB23 overall. The Anker can produce a more extended low-bass than the Sony. It can also get louder with less compression at max volume, resulting in cleaner audio at louder volume levels. That said, the Sony has better directivity thanks to its 360-degree design, resulting in a wider-sounding soundstage.

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.

Anker Soundcore 3

The Sony SRS-XB23 is slightly better than the Anker Soundcore 3. Thanks to its 360-degree design, the Sony has better directivity, resulting in a more open-sounding soundstage, so your audio sounds clear from most angles. You can also pair it to another speaker to create a stereo pair or multiple speakers when you want your audio to fill a large room. That said, while both speakers feature a graphic EQ, the Anker comes with presets you can use to customize its sound. It also has a longer battery life, though this can depend on your usage, so your experience may vary.

Bose SoundLink Revolve II

The Bose SoundLink Revolve II is a better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB23 overall. The Bose does has better voice assistant performance than the Sony, and has no trouble understanding you from far away, and in noisy environments. It also has a more neutral and well-balanced sound profile in comparison to that of the Sony out-of-the-box. However, you can customize the Sony's sound thanks to the Graphic EQ feature available on its companion app. It can also play stereo content, resulting in a more immersive soundstage.

Sony SRS-XB12

The Sony SRS-XB23 is a slightly better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB12. The XB23 can get louder and can produce a more extended low-bass than the XB12. It comes with a graphic EQ, meaning that you can customize its sound to your liking. It can also play stereo content without downmixing it to mono, which is more immersive. That said, the XB12 is smaller, making it more portable. It also has less compression present at max volume, so your audio sounds cleaner at louder volumes.

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, and it can be used in a stereo or mono mode.

DOSS SoundBox Plus

The Sony SRS-XB23 is a better speaker than the DOSS SoundBox Plus. The Sony is better-built. Its default sound profile is more neutral, and it has a better soundstage. Also, its graphic EQ allows for greater sound customization. However, the DOSS has less compression with played at max volume, and its voice assistant performance is better.

Sony SRS-RA3000

The Sony SRS-RA3000 is a better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB23, though they have different strengths. The SRS-RA3000 is a wired speaker designed for home use, with a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box and an incredible soundstage performance. It can also get louder than the SRS-XB23, with fewer compression artifacts at max volume. That said, the SRS-XB23 is battery-powered, making it more portable than the SRS-RA3000. It also is better-built, with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance.

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