Sony SRS-XB33 Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Jan 13, 2021 at 08:30 am
Sony SRS-XB33 Picture
6.2
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 with customizable lighting. It has over 12 hours of continuous battery life, and an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, although we don't currently test for this. Unfortunately, it has an uneven sound profile that lacks thump and rumble, even with its 'EXTRA BASS' mode activated. Luckily, its companion app offers a basic graphic EQ so that you can tweak its sound to your liking.

Our Verdict

6.2 Music

The Sony SRS-XB33 is mediocre for music. It has an uneven sound profile and even with its 'EXTRA BASS' mode on, it lacks a thumpy, rumbly low-bass. Vocals and lead instruments also sound a bit veiled and dull. That said, its companion app has a basic graphic EQ. Its soundstage is still perceived as narrow, and it doesn't get very loud.

Pros
  • Very portable design.
  • Basic graphic EQ via its companion app.
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.
  • Basic graphic EQ via its companion app.
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 are reproduced clearly. However, the dip in the treble range dulls and veils the upper harmonics of speech. This speaker also has a narrow soundstage, and it 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 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 design.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
7.5 Outdoors

The Sony SRS-XB33 is good for outdoor use. It feels sturdy, durable, and has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, although we don't currently test for it. 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.
  • Basic graphic EQ via its companion app.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • Struggles to reproduce low-bass.
  • 6.2 Music
  • 5.7 Videos/Movies
  • 6.6 Podcasts
  • 3.3 Voice Assistant
  • 7.5 Outdoors
  1. Updated Mar 19, 2021: Corrected an error in our weight measurements.
  2. Updated Jan 13, 2021: Review published.
  3. 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

Update: 03/19/2021: Thanks to user feedback, we identified an error in our previous weight measurement. We weighed the speaker again and updated our results accordingly.

The Sony XB33 is incredibly portable. It uses a battery so you can use it outside, and its small size makes it easy to transport, even with one hand.

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 also 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, although we don't currently test for this.

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 are located on the speaker's top side. There are call and music-related functions like play/pause and volume. Unlike the JBL Xtreme 3, the play/pause button can also be used 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 are located 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. That said, its mid-range is fairly well-balanced, so vocal-centric content like podcasts are accurately reproduced.

Note: By default, Sony ClearAudio+ is enabled when the EXTRA BASS feature is selected. The ClearAudio+ feature is advertised to automatically detect your audio content and adjust its sound field to better suit your audio. However, it can't be disabled if you just want to use the EXTRA BASS feature 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. This stereo speaker's directionality sounds small and narrow. There's a lot of overemphasis in the treble range, so the soundstage is perceived as uneven. For a speaker with a larger, 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

This speaker has an unremarkable dynamics performance. While it gets a bit louder than the Sony SRS-XB23, it's still not very loud, and may not be suitable for use in a large or crowded room. There are also quite a bit of compression artifacts present at max volume.

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

This speaker has excellent battery performance. We measured over 12 hours of continuous battery life. However, Sony advertises that it lasts up to 24 hours when its volume is set to 36, it's set to 'Stamina' mode, and its lights are turned off. 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 has a bad voice assistant performance. It uses your smartphone's voice assistant. As part of our methodology, we use recorded voice commands to activate the speaker. However, it has some trouble registering these commands, even without ambient noise, and doesn't respond. While it can register commands from a normal speaking voice, this isn't part of our testing process. For a speaker that can understand you easily, even if you're far away or in a noisy room, check out the Bose SoundLink Color II.

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 XB33 has a very good app. It's compatible with the Sony Music Center app, which offers a basic graphic EQ as well as three sound settings so that you can customize it to your liking: 'LIVE' is advertised to help reproduce a more 3D audio experience, 'EXTRA BASS' gives it a heavy-bass sound, and 'STAMINA' is a power-saving setting. This app also 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 change the colors of the speaker's lights as well as control party-centric features like allowing smartphones to mimic the lighting effects of the speaker.

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

This speaker can't be used wired. It only has a USB port for charging or supplying power to a USB device like a smartphone.

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, which makes it suitable for watching 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

This speaker isn't Wi-Fi compatible.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Sony SRS-XB33 comes in several color variants: 'Black', 'Light Blue', 'Taupe', 'Coral Red', and 'Orange'. We tested the Taupe variant, and you can see its label here.

If you come across another variant, 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. Just like the Sony SRS-XB23, it can be used horizontally or vertically, depending on your preferences, and is similarly well-built. However, it struggles to reproduce low-bass, even when using its 'EXTRA BASS' feature and it doesn't get very loud. Its companion app has a basic graphic EQ if you want to adjust its sound though. 

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's companion app comes with a graphic EQ you can use to adjust its sound to your liking. It comes with a ClearAudio+ feature that's 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.

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 is 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 is better-built, and its companion app offers a graphic EQ so that you can tweak its sound to your liking. You can connect your smartphone's voice assistant to the Sony, and its Bluetooth latency on Android and iOS is much lower.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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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