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Sony SRS-XB33 Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Updated Sep 21, 2022 at 12:14 pm
Sony SRS-XB33 Picture
6.1
Music
5.7
Videos/Movies
6.6
Podcasts
3.3
Voice Assistant
7.5
Outdoors
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
No
Speakerphone
Yes
Voice Assistant
Yes
Battery Powered
Yes

The Sony SRS-XB33 is a portable, battery-powered speaker from Sony's EXTRA BASS lineup, with a similar design to the larger Sony SRS-XB43. Like other speakers from this lineup, it comes with customizable RGB lights and is compatible with the Sony Music Center app and Sony's Fiestable app, which lets you access sound customization features, sound effects, and light show effects.

Our Verdict

6.1 Music

The Sony SRS-XB33 is mediocre for music. It has an uneven sound profile, and even with its 'EXTRA BASS' preset on, and like most speakers its size, it lacks a thumpy, rumbly low-bass. Vocals and lead instruments also sound a bit veiled and dull at times. That said, you can customize its sound profile thanks to the graphic EQ featured in its companion app. Its soundstage is still perceived as narrow, and it doesn't get very loud.

Pros
  • Very portable design.
  • Graphic EQ and presets.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • Struggles to reproduce low-bass.
5.7 Videos/Movies

The Sony XB33 is sub-par for videos and movies. It struggles to produce a thumpy low-bass commonly found in action-packed movies. It also doesn't get very loud, and its soundstage seems narrow. That said, its companion app has a basic graphic EQ so that you can tweak its sound. It also has low latency on iOS and Android, although some apps compensate for latency differently.

Pros
  • Very portable design.
  • Graphic EQ and presets.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • Struggles to reproduce low-bass.
  • Doesn't support Apple AirPlay, Chromecast, or Wi-Fi.
6.6 Podcasts

The Sony XB33 is not bad for podcasts. It has a neutral mid-range, so vocals reproduce clearly. However, the dip in the treble range dulls and veils the upper harmonics of speech. This speaker also has a narrow soundstage and doesn't get very loud. That said, it's very portable, and you can pair it with up to two devices at the same time.

Pros
  • Supports NFC and multi-device pairing.
  • Very portable design.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • Doesn't support multi-room mode.
3.3 Voice Assistant

The Sony XB33 is compatible with the voice assistants on your smartphone. However, while this speaker couldn't recognize recorded commands during our tests, it can still register regular human voices just fine, so this can vary depending on your real-world usage.

Pros
  • Very portable design.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
7.5 Outdoors

The Sony SRS-XB33 is good for outdoor use. It feels sturdy and durable, with 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. It's also fairly small and very portable as it's battery operated. It has over 12 hours of continuous playback time, which is excellent. Unfortunately, it doesn't get that loud, and there are some compression artifacts at max volume.

Pros
  • Supports NFC and multi-device pairing.
  • Very portable design.
  • Graphic EQ and presets.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • Struggles to reproduce low-bass.
  • 6.1 Music
  • 5.7 Videos/Movies
  • 6.6 Podcasts
  • 3.3 Voice Assistant
  • 7.5 Outdoors
  1. Updated Sep 21, 2022: Minor updates to the review's text for consistency and accuracy.
  2. Updated Aug 23, 2022: Changed the test result for 'EQ' from 'Graphic' to 'Graphic + Presets' in the App box.
  3. Updated Aug 09, 2022: Added a comparison with the Sony SRS-XE200 in the 'Portability' box.
  4. Updated Mar 19, 2021: Corrected an error in our weight measurements.
  5. Updated Jan 13, 2021: Review published.
  6. Updated Jan 08, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights Yes

The Sony SRS-XB33 has a trapezoid-like shape that slightly tapers down in the back. It has a passive radiator on both ends of the speaker and two lights that you can customize via the Fiestable app. You can also place it vertically or horizontally, depending on your preferences. It also comes in several colors to better suit your style.

9.0
Design
Portability
Volume
125 in³ (2,043 cm³)
Weight
2.4 lbs (1.1 kg)
Power Source
Battery & USB
One-Hand Carry
Yes

The Sony XB33 is incredibly portable. It uses a battery, meaning you can use it outside, and its small size makes it easy to transport, even with one hand. If you're looking for something a bit smaller, check out the Sony SRS-XE200, which comes with a removable carrying strap.

8.5
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Good
Water Resistance
Submersible (IPx7)
Dust Resistance
Dust-Proof (IP6x)
Impact Resistance
Yes (IK rating unspecified)
Floats In Water
Unspecified

The Sony SRS-XB33 has an excellent build quality. Most of the speaker is wrapped in a thick netting that doesn't seem prone to ripping easily. There's a rubber cover to protect its rear opening, which has its inputs and some of its controls. Overall, it feels durable, and it's even rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, meaning it's certified 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 (Physical)
Microphone On/Off
No
Additional Controls
Yes

The Sony SRS-XB33 has great controls. There are two sets of buttons. The first set of controls is on the speaker's top side. There are call and music-related functions like play/pause and volume. Unlike the JBL Xtreme 3, you can also use the play/pause button to answer calls. You can skip tracks forward by pushing this button twice quickly and return to the previous track with three quick presses. There are also mini display lights for some of the buttons to show you the speaker's status. The second set of controls is on the speaker's rear side. They control party mode, stereo pairing, turn the speaker's lighting on/off, and enter 'LIVE Sound' mode. You can also use the 'BATT' button to hear the battery level.

Design
In The Box

  • Sony SRS-XB33 speaker
  • USB-C to USB-A charging cable
  • User Manual

Sound
6.0
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
-0.46
Std. Err.
5.37 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
58.2 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
9.3 kHz

The Sony XB33's frequency response accuracy is just passable. Even with the 'EXTRA BASS' and 'Sony ClearAudio+' features enabled, this speaker has an uneven sound profile. It struggles to reproduce bass, so audio lacks thump, rumble, and punch. Its treble is also underemphasized, resulting in dull and veiled vocals and lead instruments. Its mid-range is fairly well-balanced, so vocal-centric content like podcasts accurately reproduce.

Note: By default, Sony ClearAudio+ is enabled when the EXTRA BASS preset is selected. The manufacturer advertises the ClearAudio+ feature to automatically detect your audio content and adjust its sound field to better suit your audio. However, you can't disable it if you just want to use the EXTRA BASS preset on its own.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
6.3
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
6.89 dB
Stereo
Yes

The Sony SRS-XB33 has a mediocre soundstage. It can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono, so instruments and sound effects in your audio move from one side of the speaker to the other. For example, If a song normally has the drums on the left and the bass on the right, you'll hear the drums coming from the left side of the speaker and the bass coming from the right, the way the sound engineer intended the song to be heard. This distinction is still hard to notice when passively listening due to the speaker's size.

However, since the Sony XB33 is mainly a front-facing speaker, it only projects audio from one general direction, and there's some overemphasis in the treble range. As a result, its soundstage is perceived as narrow, directional, and uneven, and your audio doesn't quite sound the same when you listen from different angles, like from behind the speaker. For a speaker with a wider and more open soundstage, check out the Marshall Emberton.

6.2
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
86.2 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
3.00 dB

The Sony SRS-XB33 has an unremarkable dynamics performance. While it gets a bit louder than the Sony SRS-XB23, it's still not very loud and doesn't fill a large or crowded room with sound. There's also some compression present at mac volume that degrades audio quality as you bump up the volume, so your audio isn't as clean or clear when the volume is maxed out.

Active Features
8.5
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
12.3 hrs
Charge Time
4.0 hrs
Power Saving
Yes
Charging Port
USB-C

The Sony SRS-XB33 has excellent battery performance. It could last over 12 hours in our tests with its lights off and its 'EXTRA BASS' feature turned on, making it suitable for long listening sessions. However, Sony advertises that it lasts up to 24 hours when its volume is set to 36, its 'Stamina' mode is turned on, and its lights are turned off. That said, it's important to note that battery performance varies depending on your listening habits, chosen settings, and volume level, so your experience may vary. The speaker also turns off after approximately 15 minutes when not in use.

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 XB33 uses your smartphone's voice assistant. However, like many Sony speakers we've tested, it has some trouble registering recorded voice commands during our tests, even without ambient noise. That said, it can still register commands from a normal spoken human voice, so this can vary depending on your usage habits and may not be a problem. For a speaker that had less trouble registering commands overall, check out the Bose SoundLink Color II.

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

The Sony XB33 has a very good app. It's compatible with the Sony Music Center app, which offers a basic graphic EQ and presets so you can customize its sound to your liking. The manufacturer advertises its 'LIVE' preset to help reproduce a more 3D audio experience, and 'EXTRA BASS' gives it a bass-heavy sound. There's also a power-saving feature called 'STAMINA' which cuts the bass in your audio to optimize battery life. The app allows you to pair two speakers together to create a stereo pair and connect multiple units to cover a large area.

This speaker is compatible with the Fiestable app. This app is another Sony app that works in tandem with the Sony Music Center App. It allows you to customize its RGB lights and control party-centric features like DJ sound effects and more.

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

Aside from its charging port, you can use the Sony SRS-XB33 to charge devices like your smartphone via its USB port.

9.2
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.0
Bluetooth iOS Latency
37 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
76 ms
Bluetooth Range
334.6 ft (102.0 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices

The Sony SRS-XB33 has an outstanding Bluetooth performance. It can connect with up to two devices at once, and it supports NFC pairing for quick Bluetooth pairing. It also has low latency on both iOS and Android, making it suitable for watching videos. However, some apps and devices compensate for latency differently, and 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-XB33 comes in several color variants: 'Black', 'Light Blue', 'Taupe', 'Coral Red', and 'Orange'. This review represents the test results for the Taupe variant, you can see its label here.

If you come across another variant of the Sony SRS-XB33, let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The Sony XB33 is a small and portable speaker with customizable lighting and a similar design to the larger Sony SRS-XB43. Just like the Sony SRS-XB43 and the Sony SRS-XB23, you can place it either horizontally or vertically. It's similarly well-built with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, meaning it's certified to be fully dust-tight and immersible in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes. However, it struggles to reproduce low-bass, even when using its 'EXTRA BASS' feature, and it doesn't get very loud. Fortunately, there's a graphic EQ and presets you can use to customize its sound to your liking.

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

JBL Charge 5

The Sony SRS-XB33 is a slightly better speaker than JBL Charge 5. The JBL has a better-balanced sound profile and slightly longer battery life, though battery life can vary depending on usage, so your experience may differ. However, the Sony comes with a ClearAudio+ feature advertised to automatically adjust its sound according to your audio. It also supports voice assistants through your smartphone, though its performance isn't very good.

Bose SoundLink Flex

The Bose SoundLink Flex is a better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB33, though they have different strengths. The Flex is smaller, making it more portable. It has a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box and has better directivity, so its soundstage sounds wider than that of the Sony. The Sony's sound profile is more customizable thanks to the graphic EQ in its companion app. It can also play stereo content without downmixing it to mono and has a longer-lasting battery life, though this can vary depending on your usage.

JBL Flip 6

The Sony SRS-XB33 is a more versatile speaker than the JBL Flip 6 overall, though they have different strengths. The Sony can produce a more extended low-bass with its 'EXTRA BASS' and 'ClearAudio+' features enabled. It can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono, which is more immersive. It has a longer-lasting battery life of over 12 hours, though this varies depending on your usage. It also supports voice assistants through your smartphone, though its performance isn't very good. However, the JBL offers a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box. It offers a much more spacious and open-sounding soundstage. It's also smaller and easier to bring along with you on the move.

JBL Flip 5

The Sony SRS-XB33 is a better speaker for most uses than the JBL Flip 5. The Sony is better built and can get louder with fewer compression artifacts. It also has a longer-lasting battery life, supports voice assistants from your smartphone, and its companion app has a graphic EQ so that you can tweak its sound profile. However, the JBL sounds better-balanced out-of-the-box.

JBL Charge 4

The Sony SRS-XB33 is a better speaker than the JBL Charge 4. Unlike the JBL, the Sony has a graphic EQ in its companion app, which lets you adjust the sound profile to your liking. It has voice assistant features, though it relies on your smartphone's voice assistant. The Sony can also play stereo content without downmixing it to mono, which creates a more immersive sound.

Sony SRS-XB43

The Sony SRS-XB43 is better for most uses than the Sony SRS-XB33. Though both speakers have an uneven sound profile out-of-the-box, the XB43's are better balanced. It can also get louder. While the XB33 lists an IK rating for impact resistance, there isn't an IK rating specified for the XB43. Also, the XB33 has lower latency via Bluetooth with Android and iOS devices, though some apps compensate for latency, so your experience may vary.

Sony SRS-XB23

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 BOOM 3

The Ultimate Ears BOOM 3 is a slightly better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB33 overall. Thanks to its 360-degree design, it has better directivity, resulting in a wider and more natural-sounding soundstage. It has less compression present at max volume, resulting in cleaner audio at louder volume levels. It's also smaller and more portable than the Sony. That said, the Sony can produce a more extended low-bass than the Ultimate Ears. It can also support voice assistants through your smartphone, though its performance isn't very good.

Marshall Emberton

The Marshall Emberton is a better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB33 for music. The Marshall has a better soundstage and a more neutral default sound profile, though both lack a bit of low bass. However, the Sony supports voice assistants, unlike the Marshall. It's also a better choice for outdoor use since it's better-built with longer battery life. Also, the Sony's app offers a graphic EQ for sound customization, which the Marshall lacks.

Bose SoundLink Revolve

The Sony SRS-XB33 is better for outdoor use than the Bose SoundLink Revolve. Although we don't currently test for it, the Sony is rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, which makes it more sturdy. Its companion app also offers a basic graphic EQ so that you can customize its sound, and you can even adjust its lighting scheme to match your style. It has lower latency on iOS and Android, although apps seem to compensate for latency differently. However, the Bose is better suited for podcasts as its sound profile is more neutral right out-of-the-box and its soundstage is wider.

Sonos Roam

The Sonos Roam is a better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB33. The Sonos 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.

Anker Soundcore Motion+

The Anker Soundcore Motion+ is a better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB33 overall. The Anker has a better-balanced sound profile, a wider-sounding soundstage, and gets louder than the Sony. It also has a longer battery life lasting over 15 hours from a single charge, though this can depend on your usage, and your experience may differ. That said, the Sony is better built, with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, though we don't test for this.

Sony SRS-XE300

The Sony SRS-XE300 and the Sony SRS-XB33 are similar speakers, though the XE300 is slightly better overall. The XE300 can get a bit louder, though it has a touch more compression at max volume, so audio quality doesn't sound as clean at louder volume levels, but not by much. It also has a longer-lasting battery life of almost 17 hours. While they both support voice assistants through your smartphone, the XE300 performs better at registering your commands. It can also produce slightly deeper bass. That said, the differences between the XB33 and the XE300 are not all that pronounced, so if you already own the XB33, it isn't worth the upgrade.

Sony SRS-XE200

The Sony SRS-XE200 is a slightly better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB33. Overall, the speakers perform fairly similarly at a similar price point, only the XE200 is smaller, making it more portable. It has a slightly longer-lasting battery life too. Also, while both speakers support voice assistants through your smartphone, the XE200 is significantly better at registering your commands from far away and in noisier environments. That said, while the XB33 gets a touch less loud than the XE200, it has less compression present at max volume, so audio quality doesn't degrade as much as you increase the volume.

Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM 3

The Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM 3 is a better speaker than the Sony SRS-XB33. The Ultimate Ears offers a more natural-sounding soundstage thanks to its 360-degree design. It can also get louder with less compression at max volume, so your audio sounds cleaner during louder listening sessions. That said, the Sony supports voice assistants through your smartphone, though its performance isn't great. It can also be paired to two devices at once, which can come in handy if you need to switch between audio sources.

Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2

The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2 is a better speaker for outdoor use than the Sony SRS-XB33. The Ultimate Ears feels better-built, has a more neutral sound profile, and its soundstage seems more wide and spacious. However, the Sony has better controls, it supports your smartphone's voice assistant, and it has a companion app with a basic graphic EQ. It also has low iOS and Android latency, although some apps seem to compensate for latency differently.

Anker Soundcore Flare 2

You may prefer either the Anker Soundcore Flare 2 or the Sony SRS-XB33 depending on your listening habits. The Anker offers a wider-sounding soundstage thanks to its 360-degree design and has a slightly better-balanced sound profile with its Default EQ and BassUp features enabled. That said, the Sony is better built and can be paired to up to two devices at once, which is handy when you need to quickly switch between audio sources. It also has a longer-lasting battery life, though this can vary depending on your usage.

Bose SoundLink Color II

The Sony SRS-XB33 is a better speaker than the Bose SoundLink Color II. The Sony is better built and has a longer-lasting battery life, though this can depend on your usage. With its 'EXTRA BASS' feature enabled, it has a better-balanced sound profile that can produce a more extended low-bass than the Bose. Also, you can customize its sound thanks to the graphic EQ featured in its companion app. That said, the Bose is smaller, making it a bit more portable. It also offers better voice assistant support and does a better job of understanding your commands.

Anker Soundcore 3

The Sony SRS-XB33 is a slightly better speaker than the Anker Soundcore 3. The Sony is better built and can be paired to up to two devices at once, so you can easily switch between audio sources. It can also produce a more extended low-bass than the Anker. That said, the Anker is smaller, making it a bit more portable than the Sony.

JBL Xtreme 3

The JBL Xtreme 3 is a slightly better speaker for most uses than the Sony SRS-XB33. The JBL has a better-balanced sound profile and a more immersive soundstage. It can also get louder than the Sony, although there are more compression artifacts at max volume, and its battery life is outstanding. However, the Sony supports voice assistants through your smartphone. Its Bluetooth latency on Android and iOS is also much lower.

Sonos Move

The Sonos Move is a better overall speaker than the Sony SRS-XB33. The Sonos has a more balanced sound profile, supports built-in voice assistants, and has a better companion app. You can also wirelessly stream audio to it via Wi-Fi. However, the Sony feels a bit better-built, its companion app offers a basic graphic EQ, and it has lower Bluetooth latency on iOS and Android.

Bose SoundLink Revolve II

The Bose SoundLink Revolve II and the Sony SRS-XB33 are similar, though they have different strengths. The Bose has a more balanced sound profile out-of-the-box. It also offers better voice assistant support since it can hear you when you're far from the speaker or in noisy environments. That said, the Sony's companion app comes with a graphic EQ you can use to tweak the sound to your liking. Its ClearAudio+ feature is also advertised to adjust the speaker's sound reproduction according to your audio content. 

Alpine Corporation Solar Bluetooth Rock Speaker

The Sony SRS-XB33 is a better speaker than the Alpine Corporation Solar Bluetooth Rock Speaker overall. It can produce a more extended low-bass, and you can customize its sound to your liking thanks to the graphic EQ featured in its companion app. It can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono, which is more immersive. It also supports voice assistants through your smartphone, though its performance isn't very good. However, the Alpine has less compression present at max volume, resulting in cleaner audio at louder volumes. Some users may also prefer its more outdoor-friendly rock-like design, and its built-in solar panel.

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