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

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights Yes

The Sony 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.

8.9
Design
Portability
Volume
125 in³ (2043 cm³)
Weight
4.2 lbs (1.9 kg)
Power Source
Battery & USB
One-Hand Carry
Yes

The Sony XB33 is amazingly 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. 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.

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.

9.1
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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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